There are few sports that signal that peak of summer as much as the world famous Tour De France.
The annual multi-stage cycling race that is mostly located in the glorious French countryside offers a routinely brilliant example of the sport as the world’s greatest cyclists converge to compete in this spectacular tournament.
Since its inception in 1903, the Tour De France has been traditionally held in July in France and the nearby countries. As a stage race, it offers a gruelling cycling challenge through an array of different landscapes with a route that changes each year.
However, there are several aspects of the tour that are featured each year such as passages through the Pyrenees and the Alps, and a triumphant finish at the Champs Élysées in Paris. And with a total racing distance of over 2000 miles over 21 day long segments, it has provided some amazing races in a bid to gain the coveted yellow jersey.
These include the Frenchman Bernard Hinault’s incredible string of victories in the late 1970s and early 1980s, along with Britain’s Bradley Wiggins’ famous win in 2012.
This year the Tour De France started on 10 July, and it aims to follow on from the great success enjoyed by the 2014 event that started in Yorkshire by this time beginning in the historic city of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Already sites like Bookies are speculating as to who will manage to triumph over the mammoth journey that heads from the Netherlands, through Belgium and across the northern coast of France, before finishing the first half in the north eastern French town of Plumelec.
After a relatively flat ride, the second half of the Tour De France begins in the mountains of the Pyrenees in Tarbes before heading across southern France where it encounters the dramatic scenery of the Alps. And then the final stage is the famous Parisian segment that is traditionally held before crowds of cheering fans welcoming their cycling heroes across the finish line.
The Italian defending champion Vincenzo Nibali is again widely tipped to be leading the field, although there is fresh competition from a number of riders. Key amongst these is fantastic British cyclist Chris Froome, along with the popular Spaniard Alberto Contador and the Columbian newcomer Nairo Quintana.
Ultimately, the sheer variety of cycling terrain and intense endurance challenges are key to what is going to separate the winners and the losers in this epic battle for that prestigious yellow jersey.