To participate in the Tour de France as a professional cyclist requires fearless dedication, relentless training and extensive support. And where there are teenagers with a passion for cycling -- who dream of competing in the most exciting bicycle race in the world – it’s important they’re given the encouragement to realise their ambitions.
Fortunately, the organisers of the Tour de France have been doing exactly that for more than 15 years. Each year at the Tour de France, the next generation of cycling talent are invited to ride ahead of the peloton as official Les Cadets Juniors du Tour. It’s an exceptional opportunity to promote cycling by highlighting the joy of sport. Continental is proud to be supporting a fresh batch of Cadets on their exciting journey every year.
The initiative always takes place parallel to the main event. The way it works is that Cadets will experience a unique day in the same conditions as a professional team. They will discover what riding a stage of the Tour de France is actually like.
Two hours ahead of the main race, the young riders set off with the Tour’s publicity “Caravanne”, accompanied by three official support vehicles. They ride the first 30km of each stage and then the final 30km, crossing the finish line in front of live spectators. They also have a group picture taken on the finish line and podium, to the enthusiastic cheers and applause of the crowd.
One key difference to the main Tour de France is that no single rider is declared the winner of these mini-stages. Whilst the last kilometre is traditionally a battle between the strongest cyclists in a superhuman sprint, there is no final timing or ranking among the Cadets. All eight brave riders share the podium together to receive their medals, accompanied by the music of the official Tour de France anthem.
On completion of the ceremony (and having had their pictures taken with the local press), the Cadets are then given front row seats in the stands to witness the finish of the Tour de France stage that they’ve just completed. And who knows? One day in the future, they may take their place among the ranks of the elite riders they’re passionately cheering.
Indeed, previous graduates of the Les Cadets Juniors du Tour include French superstar Arnaud Démare, who has won multiple stages at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia. He’s also a three-time winner of the National Road Race Championships in France, along with a number of single-day races and classics. The captain of the Groupama FDJ team (who, incidentally, are riding on Continental tires) recently extended his contract until 2023.
Continental’s involvement is substantial. Not only are the riders going to be dressed in limited edition jerseys with the Continental logo, but the tires on their bikes will be the latest GP5000 tyres with the Black Chili compound out of Korbach, Germany. The support vehicles which provide assistance and logistics to all of the riders will be fitted with PremiumContact 6 tires.
So, if you’re an enthusiastic young cyclist, how can you take part in the programme? Riders aged between 15-18 years old are chosen from the best in their category, as designated by local cycling clubs in collaboration with the stage-hosting towns and cities.
The boys and girls invited to take part in Les Cadets Juniors du Tour help to boost the links between the Tour de France and the French Federation of Cycling clubs. They’re also proof that you’re never too young to hop in the saddle and start hankering after that legendary Yellow Jersey.
In 2018 the Global Cycling Network (GCN) youtube channel accompanied the Young Cadets on one stage of the Tour de France to provide an insight into their once in a lifetime experience to the wider cycling world.
Check out the video here: