I sit on my sofa in awe of the Tour de France riders

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The greatest race on earth is on at the moment and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

The Tour de France must be the most exhausting and challenging of all mainstream sports events.

Imagine cycling four hours a day for three weeks, sprinting and climbing in all weathers.

What is also fantastic is that Britain has real contenders when it comes to cycling.

In the 1990s Chris Boardman was sometimes a lonely figure, but not any more.

I sit on my sofa in awe as these riders power their way through the beautiful French countryside.

They ride at incredible speeds, with an average on the flat of 30-35mph and downhill they’re reaching 60.

But the real amazement comes when the race moves to the mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees.

The pain these men must suffer, their legs burning and their lungs gasping for more air as they climb the likes of Alpe d’Huez.

My wife thinks it’s just a group of men cycling together, having a chat then going fast at the end to see who wins.

My wife thinks it’s just a group of men cycling together, having a chat then going fast at the end to see who wins

But it’s far more technical and I decided to find out more.

There are around 20 teams with nine riders each. These riders will protect their best rider through the race.

They will ride in front so he can save energy in their slipstream and, one by one, these riders run out of puff leaving the best rider to, hopefully, power home to victory.

When they all ride in a massive bunch, this is called the ‘peloton’, which will mean you save up to 25 per cent of energy in the slipstream. But it’s risky as if one falls, there’s a domino effect.

You then have specialist riders who prefer sprints or mountain climbing, so they have to be protected too.

Riders like Chris Froome are all-rounders, can win the race outright and are very much a team’s ‘queen bee’.

There are 10 Brits in the Tour this year, most with Team Sky, but look out for the Yates brothers too.

So far it’s looking good for Froome, so fingers crossed for another British victory on July 26.