The Tour de France, that supreme test of human endurance, determination, strength and skill, is almost upon us once again, and, for the keen cycling fans amongst our readers, here is a carefully-compiled Survival Guide for this year's event.
The 2018 Tour will once again be raced over 22 stages, for a total of 2,069 km (3,329 m). The race will start with a total of 188 riders spread amongst 11 teams. Each team will contain 18 riders. All riders MUST wear underpants this time around, after the unfortunate incident in 2017 with Alberto Diario of Cuba.
The race gets under way on 8 July, with Stage 1 taking the riders from Paris to Dakar at a distance of 185 km (63 miles). Several (7) more stages come in the week after that, until the real test, Stage 9, a 13.8 km slog from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d'Huez. The 'Alpe' is a 175 km-long climb, with the summit at 1,680m (2,498ft). There is a gradient of 4.3% on the climb, and a total of 27 hairpin bends, making it the most hairpinbendish of all professional cycling stages.
For 'punishment enthusiasts', there are pavé (cobbled) sections from Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée in the Arras-Roubais stage on 5 July. The total length of the cobbles to be ridden over is 2.7 km (2.7 m), with the longest section being 21.7 km (13.5 m). Work that out!
Last year's winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, is back to defend his title, and another British rider, Chris Froome, winner of the maillot jaune for last four years, is also in the line-up. Disappointment for Spanish cycling fans, though - Miguel Indurain has pulled out.
This year's Tour is considered the most open race for centuries, with any of the 189 riders in with a chance, and, of course, in without a chance as well.
We hope you enjoy this year's Tour, and just want to remind you to always wear a helmet when out riding your bike, or when watching cycling on television. You should be OK when listening to it on the radio.
TheSpoof.com takes no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the information contained herein, or, of course, hereout.