TIME Cycling

The 2015 Tour de France Will Include Its First African Team

Race leader Astana team rider Nibali of Italy rides near the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the final 21st stage of the Tour de France in Paris
Race leader Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali of Italy rides near the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the final 21st stage of the Tour de France cycle race in Paris, July 27, 2014. Jean-Paul Pelissier—Reuters

MTN-Qhubeka was one of five teams to win a wildcard entry to the 2015 race

MTN-Qhubeka will become the first African team to compete in the Tour de France, after securing one of five wildcard entries to the 2015 race.

The team, which is registered in South Africa but includes a roster of both African and European cyclists, will compete when the Tour de France kicks off July 4 in the city of Utrecht, The Guardian reports.

“I believe in the riders we have and the talent,” general manager Brian Smith told Cyclingnews in October. “We can light up stages of the Tour, and we bring this incredible story to the Tour. We’re putting African kids on bikes, and being at the Tour de France would help that immeasurably.”

The other teams to receive wildcard invites are Bora-Argon 18, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, Cofidis and Europcar.

[The Guardian]

TIME Aging

Here’s How to Make Sure No One Can Ever Guess Your Age

man cycling
Getty Images

As you get older, your body reliably falls apart. Right? Not even close, finds a new study published in the Journal of Physiology. Age really is nothing but a number—but if your number happens to be high, that only applies if your exercise levels are, too.

The study from King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in the U.K. looked at older adults all between ages 55-79 who were very active cyclists. The researchers collected extensive physiological information of every person, including heart stats, respiratory and metabolic levels, endocrine functions, hormones, brain power and bone strength. Many of these measures showed a significant association with age—but they varied so much from person to person that no single measure was able to reliably predict a person’s age.

That’s probably because exercise levels have such a strong influence over many of those numbers, the study authors note, and being sedentary arguably plays the biggest role. Said Norman Lazarus, study co-author and professor at King’s College London, in a press release, “Inevitably, our bodies will experience some decline with age, but staying physically active can buy you extra years of function compared to sedentary people.”


Tour de France Prize Money Way Up

Tour de France 1934
Frenchman Rene Vietto tries to break away from Spanish rider Vicente Trueba as they climb the mountain pass of the Tourmalet (Col du Tourmalet) on July 23, 1934 during the 18th stage of the 28th Tour de France AFP / Getty Images

With Wednesday’s official announcement of the route for the 2015 Tour de France, the best cyclists in the world know exactly where they’ll be next July. They also know what they stand to win: there are about 2 million euros (about $2.6 million) at stake, with a €450,000 prize for the final winner and €22,500 for the winner of each stage (that’s about $576,000 and $28,800, respectively).

That’s considerably less than the prize pool available for the famously lucrative International Dota 2 video game championships, but it’s plenty to get excited about — especially compared to the money that used to be available for Tour de France winners.

When TIME first covered the world’s most famous cycling event, in 1934, only 60 competitors were entered (versus 198 today) and the stakes were much lower:

L’Auto, Paris sportpaper, founded the race in 1903 as a circuit of the Auvergne highlands, enlarged it by stages to its present scale. L’Auto foots the bills for meals & lodging, furnishes to each contestant his bicycle, as many tires as he can wear out, $2.64 per day for pin-money. This year publicity-seeking merchants have scraped up 800,000 francs ($52,800) for prizes. The winner of each of the 23 daily laps gets 1,.000 francs ($660).

Even accounting for inflation, that’s not much compared to today’s prizes: $52,800 in 1934 dollars is $937,207.88 today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, and $660 is $11,715.10. That means the winner of each stage stands to make twice as much as he did 80 years ago, and the overall prize pot is nearly three times as big. And the prizes haven’t exactly climbed steadily: in 1954, TIME reported that the winner of each stage would take home a mere $570 (about $5,000 today).

At least 1934’s racers could afford a train ticket, if not necessarily first class. And, as TIME wrote in its coverage of the race, that was important: “One race was so swift and grim,” reported the magazine, “that after the finish a rider was reported to have bought a train ticket over the route so that he could inspect the scenery.”

Read more: A Brief History of the Tour de France

TIME Cycling

Tour de France: Determination, Dirt and Damage

With the world's most epic cycling competition concluding Sunday with Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali victorious, TIME takes a look back at the monthlong contest with a photo from every day of the race.

TIME Cycling

The Gritty Faces of the Tour de France

Wet conditions in the fifth stage of the Tour de France made for a dangerous ride--defending champ Chris Froome dropped out after two falls--but they also made for some incredible images of riders persevering

TIME Cycling

Reigning Tour de France Champion Exits Race After Crashes

Le Tour de France 2014 - Stage Four
Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky chases back to the peloton after being involved in a crash just after the start of stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014. Doug Pensinger—Getty Images

Two crashes lead to an injured right arm

Defending tour Tour de France champion Chris Froome bowed out of the cycling race Wednesday after crashing twice.

The conditions were slick on Wednesday’s Stage 5 section, running from Ypres in Belgium to northern France. Rain poured onto the course, adding an extra challenge to an already demanding race. Froome, of the British Sky team, crashed at the 29-km mark, according to the race’s website, before eventually crashing again at the 83-km mark. He exited the 152-kilometer stage with an injured right arm.

Froome injured his wrist on Tuesday after a crash in Stage 4, but was cleared to race again.

“The wrist is painful and it’s certainly not ideal going into tomorrow’s cobbled stage,” Froome said Tuesday night, “but I have a great team around me and we’ll get through the next few days as best we can.”

TIME Cycling

Tour de France Riders Will Travel 2,277 Miles This Year

Cyclists will burn a combined 19,800,000 calories by the end of this year's Tour de France. And other cool stats.

When the Tour de France began in 1903, cyclists made a 1,509 mile trek. 111 years later, they’ll travel 2,277 miles – a 768-mile difference.

The event holds some big numbers: more than 20,000 security staffers will watch over the event and more than 600 journalists will cover it.

But no matter the numbers, one thing stays the same: Only one person can be the winner of the yellow jersey. Watch the video above for more cool Tour de France facts, images, and numbers so when it starts this weekend, you’re in the know.

TIME Cycling

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Tour de France

Team Garmin-Sharp is greeted by supporters as they ride through Millenium Square enroute to the Team Presentation prior to the 2014 Le Tour de France on July 3, 2014 in Leeds, United Kingdom.
Team Garmin-Sharp is greeted by supporters as they ride through Millenium Square enroute to the Team Presentation prior to the 2014 Le Tour de France on July 3, 2014 in Leeds, United Kingdom. Doug Pensinger—Getty Images

Breaking down the spokes and wheels of the world's most prestigious cycling event, which begins Saturday

Here’s all the information you need on cycling’s most prestigious race.

When and where is the Tour de France?

The 2014 Tour de France will kick off in Leeds, England on Saturday, July 5. Three stages will take place in the U.K. over the course of three days before the race continues on the mainland. The race will move to Belgium, Spain and France, making it one of the most geographically diverse races in years. The race lasts a total of 23 days, including two rest days (i.e. 21 days of actual cycling). It will end on July 27 in Paris. The entire race will play live on NBC.

How do the teams work?

The teams have nine members. The team includes a leader, sprinters, climbers and domestiques—members who get water from the team car and protect the leader by chasing down breakaways and riding in front of him to create draft in which the leader can ride. Drafting can save 20% to 40% of the team leader’s energy.

The riders take turns being at the front of the tight formation called a peloton, allowing the other cyclists to benefit from drafting. When the rider at the front—the puller—grows tired, he will drop to the back and someone else will take his place. If a rider from another team “attacks” by breaking away from the peloton to gain distance, its a few team members’ job to quicken the pace of the whole peloton to catch the opponent.

How hard are the various stages?

Traditionally the race is easier at the beginning, which contains a lot of flat stages. These stages are usually won in a sprint where the sprint specialists will compete to close out the race with a last kick, riding about 40 miles per hour. These sprinters compete for both stage wins and sprint points in intermediate springs. The first few riders to cross the “sprint line” are awarded points.

Next, the race moves into the mountains, where the climbers excel. The first riders over the the top of various climbs win climber’s points.

The third part of the race is a time trial where riders sprint for intervals of around two minutes from lowest to highest place and try to finish first, solo, at the finish line.

Who is favored to win?

Chris Froome, a Kenyan-born British cyclist won the Tour de France last year and is expected to do so again this year. Much of Froome’s success can be credited to his Team Sky teammate and number two, Richie Porte.

Froome’s biggest competition this year is Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador, a Spanish cyclist. He has won the Tour de France twice (in 2009 and 2007). Contador recently beat Froome in the Critériumdu Dauphiné.

What do the jersey colors mean?

The yellow jersey is awarded to the rider with the fastest overall time (when the stages are added up); the green jersey to the fastest sprinter; the red polka-dotted jersey to the best climber; and the white jersey to the best young rider. Whoever wins the race gets to don the yellow.

Is there a women’s race?

For the first time this year, there is a women’s race called La Course by Le Tour de France. It will coincide with the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France on July 27. The race will be a circuit in Paris.

For the curious, here’s the full schedule of the Tour de France:

Stage Date Start Finish Distance Profile
1 July 5 Leeds Harrogate 190.5 km Flat
2 July 6 York Sheffield 201 km Hill
3 July 7 Cambridge London 155 km Flat
4 July 8 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage Lille 163.5 km Hill
5 July 9 Ypres Arenberg Porte du Hainaut 155.5 km Flat
6 July 10 Arras Reims 194 km Flat
7 July 11 Epernay Nancy 234.5 km Flat
8 July 12 Tomblaine Gerardmer La Mauselaine 161 km Hill
9 July 13 Gerardmer Mulhouse 170 km Hill
10 July 14 Mulhouse Planche des Belles Filles 161.5 km Mountain
/ July 15 Rest Day
11 July 16 Besancon Oyonnax 187.5 km Flat
12 July 17 Bourg-en-Bresse Saint-Etienne 185.5 km Hill
13 July 18 Saint-Etienne Chamrousse 197.5 km Mountain
14 July 19 Grenoble Risoul 177 km Mountain
15 July 20 Tallard Nimes 222 km Flat
/ July 21 Rest Day
16 July 22 Carcassonne Bagneres-de-Luchon 237.5 km Mountain
17 July 23 Saint-Gaudens Pla d’Adet 124.5 km Mountain
18 July 24 Pau Hautacam 145.5 km Mountain
19 July 25 Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour Bergerac 208.5 km Flat
20 July 26 Bergerac Perigueux 54 km Time Trial
21 July 27 Evry Paris 137.5 km Flat



TIME Transportation

Study Finds People Feel Safer With ‘Protected Lanes’ for Bikes

A new study finds around 79% of residents feel safer with bicyclists in protected lanes on city streets

The installation of protected lanes in U.S. cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. has resulted in greater peace of mind, not just for cyclists, but for residents in surrounding neighborhoods, too, a new study found.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities, a transportation research program out of Portland State University, evaluated the use of protected lanes—areas with strict barriers dividing lanes for cars and bikes on city streets—in select neighborhoods in Chicago and D.C., as well as Austin, Portland and San Francisco.

Almost 100% of cyclists and over three quarters of residents surveyed said biker safety increased when bike lanes were protected.

Perceptions of safety for motorists, on the other hand, was less dramatic. Only about 37% of respondents thought driver safety had increased, while 26% thought safety decreased. About 30% said they thought there had been no change.

The study also collected and analyzed 144 hours of video surveillance footage and tallied zero collisions–not even near-collisions. There were approximately six “minor conflicts,” described in the study as sudden slamming of brakes or a change in direction, discovered in that same video footage.

Overall, the study found an increased overall support for the addition of protected bike lanes in areas around U.S. cities, even in urban areas where the primary mode of travel entails four wheels, not two.

TIME viral

Watch This Cyclist Celebrate Winning a Race Before Realizing He Still Has Another Lap to Go


Spanish cyclist Eloy Teruel was on the 7th stage of the AMGEN Tour of California when he crossed the finish line and started to celebrate, thinking he’d won the whole race. It takes him an awkwardly long time to realize he still has another lap to go. So close.

(h/t Digg)

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