Types of stages赛段类型
In an ordinary stage, all riders start simultaneously and share the road. The real start (départ réel) usually is some 2 to 5 km away from the starting point, and is announced by the Tour director in the officials' car waving a white flag.
Riders are permitted to touch (but not push or nudge) and to shelter behind each other, in slipstream. The latter is called drafting and is an essential technique. The one who crosses the finish line first wins. In the first week of the Tour, this usually leads to spectacular mass sprints.
Individual time trial
In an individual time trial each rider rides individually. The first stage of the tour is often a time trial, known as a prologue. Here, riders start in reverse order of race number, meaning the weakest rider on the lowest ranked team will be first off, with the final rider being the defending champion, wearing Number 1. The purpose of the prologue is to decide who gets to wear yellow on the opening day, and provide a large and prestigious spectacle for one lucky city.
Team time trial
Often in the first week of the Tour there is a team time trial (TTT). Each member of the team who crosses the finish line ahead of or with the fifth (or last, if the team has less than five riders) member of the team is credited with the time of the fifth (last) team member to cross the finish line; this is the middle member of a nine-person team. Members who finish clearly behind the fifth member of their team receive their individual actual time for the stage.
Culture and customs 文化&习俗
The Tour is immensely popular and important in France, not only as a sporting event but also as a matter of national identity and pride. Any Frenchman who has won the Tour becomes an object of public adoration in his native land. It is said that any rider who has worn the yellow jersey, even for a day, will never go hungry or thirsty again in France.
Millions of spectators line the route every year to see the Tour first-hand, some of them having encamped a week in advance to get the best views. In the hours before the riders pass, a carnival atmosphere prevails. Any amateur rider or, in fact, just about anyone, is free to attempt the course on his bicycle in the morning, and after that there begins a garish cavalcade of advertising vehicles blaring music and tossing hats, souvenirs, sweets and free samples of all sorts. As word passes that the riders are approaching, the fans begin to encroach on the road until they are often just an arm’s length from the riders.
The riders, unlike some of their fans, have traditionally tempered their competitiveness and enthusiasm with an elaborate but unwritten code of honor. Whenever reasonably possible, one allows a rider to lead the peloton (platoon) when the race passes through his home village or on his birthday, and it often happens that the winner of the stage held on Bastille Day is French. One does not attack a leading rider who has suffered a mechanical breakdown or other misfortune, one who is eating in the feed zone or one who is enjoying un besoin naturel (roughly translated to a natural need, the practice of answering nature's call). Unless the final stage is a time trial--or in the case of Pedro Delgado attacking the yellow jersey of Stephen Roche in 1987 on the Champs-Elysées--riders generally do not launch attacks on the leader of the tour on the final stage, giving the leader one final day to bask in the glory of winning the yellow jersey.