The 106th edition of the Tour de France is going to be truly exceptional, with a multitude of milestones for its passionate fans to celebrate. Going to the very heart of the event, 2019 marks a hundred years since the debut of the Yellow Jersey, the most cherished item of clothing for an aspiring champion. Through a century of competitive cycling, this “golden fleece” has been worn by some of the greatest athletes in the sport.
Indeed, the other anniversary concerns a cycling hero who has worn the jersey more often than any other – Eddy Merckx. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of his first victory at the Tour in 1969; thereafter, he went from strength to strength, wearing the jersey 111 times in the course of his storied career. Merckx’ example continues to inspire today’s generation spiritedly to test themselves – and each other – for glory and fame.
Last but not least, Continental is proud to embark on its first year as one of the Tour’s five main partners alongside LCL, E.Leclerc, Krys and Skoda.
“We are delighted to play a major part in the biggest cycling race in the world in 2019,” says Christian Kötz, Head of Tyre Division at Continental. “Being the stage-winning partner of the Tour de France matches our core value, the ‘passion to win’, perfectly. We are very much looking forward to contributing to the race with our wide range of high-performance tyres.”
As one of the five main partners for the event, Continental will have great visibility throughout the tour. The Continental logo of the rearing horse will appear on the arch above the finish line for each stage, and a representative from Continental will present the trophy to the stage winner on the podium.
At 3,460 kilometres in length, the 106th edition of the Tour de France presents an especially gruelling challenge: three mountain finishes at altitudes of more than 2,000 metres, at the Col du Tourmalet Pass, Tignes, and Val Thorens. Such a programme is unmatched by anything in the history of the Grand Boucle and will take riders to the limits of their mental and physical endurance.
The official presentation of the 176 riders representing the 22 teams participating in the 2019 Tour de France will take place on Thursday, 4 July at the famous Grand-Place in Brussels. This year, there are six World Tour teams (Ineos, FDJ, Movistar, Bahrain-Merida, Katusha-Alpecin, and Sunweb) racing on the high-end Competition Pro LTD tyre from Continental, specially designed and hand-made in Korbach, Germany.
The tour consists of 21 stages – 7 flat stages, 5 hilly stages, and 7 mountain stages – with only two days of rest for the weary riders. The Grand Départ is from Brussels – only the second time since 1958 – and will honour not just Belgian Eddy Merckx but also a speciality of the country: sprinting. After visiting three Belgian regions (Bruxelles-Capitale, Flanders and Wallonia), the tour will continue through 37 departments of France.
Three of the stages will take place in sites visited for the first time in the history of the Tour. Binche for the start of Stage 3, Saint-Die-des-Vosges for the start of stage 5, and Pont du Gard for the start of stage 17. In Foix, which is stage 15, the finish will take place at the 1,205 metre summit of Prat d’Albis.
An innovation carried over from 2018, a pair of time-trials will once again be a feature of the Tour. The first is a team time-trial taking place at stage 2, from Bruxelles Palais Royal to Brussel Atomium, with a distance of 27 km. The second is an individual time-trial at stage 13 in Pau, for 27 km distance.
Statistically, this Pyrenean mountain has been climbed the most in the annals of the Tour – an astonishing 82 times. However, this occasion is only the third time that the Tourmalet has been designated for a finish. The first was in 1974 (won by Jean-Pierre Danguillaume) and the second in 2010 (won by Andy Schleck).
The col de l’Iseran has not been climbed for twelve years. This period of inattention winds to a close, as it becomes the summit of the 2019 tour. It represents a formidable altitude of 2,770 metres, and will be climbed for the eighth time since records began.
The yellow jersey
The leader in the overall standings – that is, the rider who has covered the total distance so far in the shortest amount of time – wears the yellow jersey.
The mountain jersey
Climbing specialists enjoy special recognition during the tour – and use a separate classification system, for which points are awarded at each pass height. The more difficult the mountain (divided into five difficulty categories), the higher the score. The rider who currently has the most points in the mountains classification wears the white jersey with the red polka dots.
The green jersey
In tribute to the fastest men, the best sprinter rides in a green jersey. For this purpose, two scores will be tallied and points awarded per stage: after about two-thirds of the course and at the finish.
The white jersey
The best young rider (under 26 years old) in the general classification also stands out daily, as he wears a white jersey.
Drivers of the official vehicles of the Tour will be travelling in complete confidence and safety thanks to the PremiumContact™ 6 tyres fitted to their wheels. These tyres will empower specialist personnel – ranging from doctors to time-keepers to race referees and commissioners – to focus purely on the task at hand, which is to deliver the best Tour possible for the uncompromising competitors and the jubilant audience. And further on the topic of tyres, the Tour de France is indubitably a Franco-German triumph of cooperation; the PremiumContact™ 6 is manufactured with Gallic flair and Teutonic precision at the Continental factory in Sarreguemines, France.