The 105th Tour de France starts on Saturday 7 July in the Vendee. Some 3500 km later, the 22 teams and 176 riders will aim to complete the 21 stages in Paris, on Sunday 29 July.
To see the final stage in Paris, book an early departure (c.7am) on Eurostar (St Pancras to Gare de Nord) on Sunday 29 July and return at around 8pm. You can stay an hour later for the closing ceremony – but, unless you have tickets the view is restricted. Tip: take a (bagged up) folding bike if you have one – it’s free on Eurostar and you can spend a few hours touring Paris, before the ‘Caravan’ (i.e. team cars and sponsor floats) arrives.
Get in position at around 3.30pm. In 2018, head to the Place de l’Alma or Avenue Montaigne. These locations are on the north side of the River Seine (near the Alma Marceau metro). The Caravan comes through from c.4pm, will last around 90 mins and will be topped off by an air force flypast and tricolour gas streams over the Eiffel Tower. The lead riders will arrive at about 6pm. Once the riders are through, immediately head to the Champs-Elysees (Arc de Triomphe) and see them race the 7km circuit eight times; from Arc de Triomphe to Le Jardin des Tuileries. The race will finish around 7pm.
A brief summary of the race. The ‘General Classification’ (GC) riders are seeking the shortest time to complete all the stages – and by doing so, be the winner of the Tour. The leader of the GC wears the yellow jersey throughout the race. The green and polka-dot jerseys go to the riders who accumulate the most points; awarded for sprinting (green jersey) and climbing (polka-dot jersey). Riders will complete the tour with an average speed of around 41kph – try maintaining that on a flat never mind the hills.
France has won 36 of the 104 races (‘editions’), UK five and USA three. This year, USA has three teams (BMC Racing Team, Team EF Education First – Cannondale and Trek-Segafredo) and GBR has one team, Team Sky – ranked number one in the world. (Chris Froome, Team Sky, is chasing his 5th win, which aside from netting 500K Euro, would equal four other cycling greats; Merckx, Hinault, Anquetil and Indurain).
Before you go: the event is televised on Eurosport and ITV4 (evening highlights for 60mins). Watch it all, or at least the punishing Stage 12; Alpe d’Huez – a 14km ascent and 5000m vertical climb.