‘It’s like riding a Classic every day’: Tour de France debutants reflect on their first Grand Tour

Three men making their first appearance at the Tour de France give their first impressions on the world's biggest bike race

Tiesj Benoot on the attack on stage nine of the Tour de France

(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

If you’re going to become a king of the road, you’ve got to ride your first Tour de France sometime. A daunting prospect, but with the Vuelta a España or perhaps the Giro d’Italia offering a less stressful and well-trodden path to a first Grand Départ, going in blind isn’t a requirement. Sometimes though, it’s just what happens.

This July there are a total of 13 riders taking part in what is not only their first Tour de France, but also their first ever Grand Tour.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.