How do Tour de France time cuts work?

Any riders finishing too far behind are eliminated from the race - we look into the details of the complicated system

Arnaud Démare was eliminated from the Tour de France on stage nine
Arnaud Démare was eliminated from the Tour de France on stage nine
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Tour de France mountain stages are brutal, no matter how fast you’re riding them, but they're made even more challenging by the dreaded time cut - but how does the time limit actually work? 

The most decisive stages in the French Grand Tour are often even tougher for those struggling at the back of the race than they are for the climbers going full gas at the front. 

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.