The greatest athletes on the planet. The gruelling climbs through the Alps. The 100 kph descents in the Pyrenees. The fastest men on two wheels fighting it out in the sprints. Thousands of fans cheering every pedal stroke. The noise. The madness. And now, the beers and the tequila. Welcome to Tour de France drinking game! Not affiliated with the Tour de France.
A warning. Obviously you will not play this game if you are sensible. But it is not recommended for anyone who isn’t a full cycling geek. If you don’t keep tabs on who went well in the Tour de Romandie time trial, or if you think Bernal will win because he won the Tour de Suisse (obviously the Dauphine is where the real winners brush up!), or if you can’t tell your compact chainset from your 52/ 39, then stop. You will end up drinking a lot. Also don’t play if you need to cycle somewhere soon.
To properly celebrate the world’s greatest sporting event, without compromising your ability to watch 4 hours of coverage per day plus the analysis and then hitting the podcasts, you need to plan a TdF afterparty. This is where you will drink your forfeit.
Before the Tour starts on 6th July you need to compile a list of who you think will finish in the top 10 in the general classification. Each one you get wrong will be one more beer for you at your TdF afterparty (small bottles recommended). You also need predictions of who will win the yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys, which are given to the winners of the general classification, points competition, king of the mountains classification and the best young rider, respectively. Young being 25 and under in the French cycling world. Each wrong pick here will earn you a shot of tequila.
In case you didn’t take the compact chainset hint, and are generous enough with your time to keep reading, here are some tips on how to choose your riders. Don’t pick too many riders from the same team, as teams often nominate a single team leader, and the rest of the team work themselves in to the ground in support of him.
Picking winners for the yellow and white jerseys should be simple enough- just pick the best rider and the best one aged 25 or under!
You might as well accept that you won’t pick the winner of the king of the mountains classification. This competition is wildly unpredictable. The traditional way to win it is to lose as much time as possible in the first week to eliminate yourself as a GC threat, then spend every mountain stage in the breakaway picking up as many points as possible. Perhaps, then, look out for close friends of Thomas de Gendt. Or riders who are not friends with their team mates. Or simply accept that this is one tequila for you.
The green jersey will be won by a sprinter, but often one who can make it over a few hills to claim those all important intermediate sprint points on the mountainous stages. Which is a shame for the viewer, as sometimes these are so early in the stage that the TV coverage hasn’t started yet. Looking in to the last 10 winners of the green jersey gives a clue about the type of rider that might win. They were: Thor Hushovd, Alessandro Petacchi, Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Peter Sagan, Peter Sagan, Peter Sagan, Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews and Peter Sagan. There is much debate on whether he is still the Sagan of old. But I think this still counts as a tip.
Finally you might be tempted, as I was last year, to let someone who doesn’t watch cycling make picks for you. This follows the assumption that the game is mostly down to luck, so anything you think you know will make your choices worse than a random pick. This is because the human brain constructs narratives around random data, so your future predictions fail because they are based on a false interpretation of the world. For more on this phenomenon check out Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, or recall that anecdote about your friend’s boss’s step daughter who destroyed Fantasy Premier League by picking players with funny sounding names, while you spent all season listening to pundits and completely failing. Although apparently this doesn’t work at le Tour, as last year little old Jon became Captain Ten Drinks. Proceed at your own peril.
Top 10 (in no particular order)
- Jakob Fuglsang – keeping the Astana revival going.
- Vincenzo Nibali – beware the shark.
- Geraint Thomas – defending champion.
- Egan Bernal – the hype.
- Rigoberto Uran Uran – in Columbia, children take surnames from both of their parents. That is all.
- Romain Bardet – the time trials are short this year, right?
- Thibaut Pinot – the noir horse? It’s funny because it’s a wine pun!
- Nairo Quintana – one of Movistar’s big hitters must be up there.
- Adam Yates – presumably will be the team leader after his brother’s tepid Giro this year.
- Richie Porte – one of these years will be Richie’s year.
I sure hope I don’t regret excluding Dan Martin, Landa or Valverde so I could make that Pinot joke.
G! Because you want it to happen.
I’ll stick with tradition and Sagan. But I will be supporting Mark Cavendish at every sprint.
Polka Dot Jersey
Michael Woods. Partly because of the surname. Partly because he climbs like an absolute animal. Hope he goes for it.
Egan Bernal – the hype.
And that’s all of them. Please add your own choices in the comments!
UPDATE: Since writing, team Dimension Data have announced their team, and Mark Cavendish is not in it. I’ve decided to sacrifice a box of gels to the cycling gods to imbue the legs of Eddie the Boss with super human strength once more.