It's the time of the year that all cyclists look forward to and luckily Stephen McGovern's here to explain what we should all know about it...

1. Le Tour Yorkshire!

Not all of the Tour takes place in France, would you believe. This year’s race begins in England, with Leeds-Harrogate being the route for Stage 1, York-Sheffield for Stage 2, while Stage 3 goes from Cambridge to London.

 

Here’s some of the best cyclists struggling up Jenkin Road in Sheffield.

This isn’t the first time the Grand Depart has taken place outside of France: in 1998, the race began in Dublin!

 

2. The Route

This year’s route should make for a very exciting (and gruelling) three week race. On top of the nine flat stages, there are five hilly stages, six mountain stages, one stage with treacherous cobblestones, and just one individual time trial.

 

3. The Jerseys

You might notice that certain riders will be wearing particular types of jerseys that are different to that of their team’s. These are a part of the Tour’s rich history and tradition, but what do they mean?

Otherwise known as the maillot jaune, the yellow jersey is worn by the rider with the lowest cumulative time, but not necessarily the stage winner.

The green jersey (maillot vert) is awarded after each stage to the rider with the most amount of points. Riders are given points at certain checkpoints, usually in the middle of the race and at the end, with the first 15 riders across the checkpoint receiving points. The polka dot jersey (maillot a pois) goes to the ‘King of the Mountains’, the rider with the largest cumulative number of mountain points.

 

The white jersey (maillot blanc) is given to the fastest young rider in the competition. In order to win the white jersey, a rider must be under 26 and have the fastest overall cumulative time among young riders. The rainbow jersey is worn each year by the reigning world champion. The jersey is white with a rainbow-like stripe around the center.

 

4. Irish Riders in the Tour

 

There are a number of professional cyclists coming out of Ireland these days, but only one will take part in the Tour this year: Nicholas Roche. Riding in his sixth Tour, Roche is on Team Saxo-Tinkoff and is the top Irish cyclist at the moment.

 

Dan Martin, the other top Irish talent at the moment, misses the Tour after suffering a broken collarbone while riding the Giro d’Italia for Team Garmin-Sharp in Belfast. Sam Bennett (NetApp Endura) and Philip Deignan (Sky) missed out on their respective team’s rosters despite performing well so far this season.

5. Irish Success on the Tour

Stephen Roche, father to Nicolas, was the first and only Irish winner of the Tour de France in 1987. He won the Yellow Jersey by a mere 40 seconds in a hugely successful season, winning the Giro and World Championships as well.

Sean Kelly, who competed at the same time as Roche, is the most successful Irish rider in the Tour in terms of stage wins, taking five in his career.

6. Defending Champion

Chris Froome of Team Sky won last year’s Yellow Jersey in impressive fashion. Froome, who sees himself as British, was born in Kenya and is also half-South African. In 2012, Froome finished second overall in the General Classification behind teammate Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first Briton to ever win the grandest of Grand Tours.

Wiggins, who missed last year’s race through injury, was left out of Sky’s roster this year amid rumours that the two didn’t get along and thus couldn’t possibly ride for each other over three weeks.