Think I’ve worked out the Tour de France scoring scheme

Yay!  Even more sports on TV to watch – now that the World Cup is nearly over, the Tour de France has started.  A chance for me to get inspired by these lycra wearing machines.  I can’t believe they do stages of over 200km day after day, up massive hills, and with overall average speeds over the whole tour of around 40km/h.  This is absolutely crazy.  I can just barely get up to 40km/h as my top speed now!

Mornings of 0 to 2 degrees Celcius have unfortunately stopped me from riding as much as I’d like too. 

Along with the Tour de France comes my total confusion on how the scoring works.  Now that the Tour has just started, I thought, what an ideal time to try and figure out how the different competitions work.   I know there’s different jerseys like the Yellow, Green, Polka Dot.  I know that some are for the total cumulative time, some for points.

So as of today, I know that there’s been the Individual Time Trial, and 1 stage so far.

According to the standings, Cancellara is leading the Yellow Jersey with a time of 5h, 19’38” but Petacchi is the Green Jersey leader with 35 points.

How can this be if there’s only been 2 races?   I was thinking – if Petacchi crossed the line first, then shouldn’t he have the most points AND have the shortest time at the moment?

Looking at the Stage 1 standings, Petacchi came across the line first, and thus scored 35 points.  Points are given to the first 25 to cross, so Cancellara didn’t get any points on stage 1.   However, I noticed that all the top 184 riders all have a stage time of 5h 09’38”, including Cancellara. 

And that’s where something clicked for me – Cancellara AND Petacchi have the same time for Stage 1, but Petacchi got 35 points but Cancellara got none.  It seems points are handed out to riders in the order they finish, but the times for riders are deemed to be the same the gap is less than 1 second – basically, all the riders in a peleton that cross the line get the same time.

So, Cancellara missed out on points for Stage 1, but got 15 points for winning the Individual Time Trial.   Whereas, Petacchi didn’t get any points on the Individual Time Trial, but got 35 points for winning Stage 1.  So this explains why Petacchi is winning on points.

But as for times – since the whole peleton was registered with a time of 5h 09’38”, the time for Petacchi and Cancellara is the SAME for Stage 1.   So the only differing factor so far is the Individual Time Trial where Petacchi was 48 seconds slower than Cancellara’s 10’00”.   So Petacchi’s overall time is 5h 09’38” + 10’48”. 

All make sense?   Or have I made a mistake?

Some useful links:

The overall Tour de France Standings –
Wikipedia’s Tour de France page –
Wikipedia article on Tour de France point classification –
Tour de France FAQ –


One thought on “Think I’ve worked out the Tour de France scoring scheme”

  1. I think you’ve got it.

    The yellow jersey wearer is the rider who is leading the general classification (GC). The times are cumulative over the three weeks so you’ll sometimes see the big names of the tour allow break aways get 10 or 20 minutes ahead on a stage, knowing that they’re still half an hour or more behind overall.

    Each day the Tour de France website will list the stage results and the overall results.

    The guys who lead the race in the early days are generally not the guys who are real contenders for the GC. While they may be able to gain a few minutes on the other riders on flat stages, those who can climb the mountains the best can take half an hour or more out of their rivals on the mountain stages. Right now they’re just staying in touch with the main group as they wait for the big stages.

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