Tour de France History

Tour de France History

Tour de France History

The Tour de France is an annual multi-stage road cycling race, primarily held in France, but sometimes in neighboring countries (such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands). Since its inception in 1903, it has been held every summer, with each race lasting 23 days and an average distance of more than 3,500 kilometers (about 2,200 miles). The full course varies yearly, but most races roughly circle France. As of the 2020s, the race always ends on the Champs-Élysées in the center of Paris, passing the Eiffel Tower. The race is divided into several stages, from one town to the next, and each stage is timed and ranked separately. All the stages are accumulated to determine the total score for each rider, and the winner is the rider with the lowest total stage time. At the end of each race day, the leader will wear a yellow jersey, the best sprinter will be given a green jersey, and the best rider in the mountain events will receive a polka dot jersey, sometimes called a mountain king.

Like other road races, riders organize into teams. Each team consists of 8 players (9 before 2018), and there are 20 to 22 teams in total. Traditionally, only the top professional racing teams received invitations to participate. In recent years, the organizers of the competition have adopted the International Cycling Union's scoring system to determine the participating teams, leaving 2-4 places for well-known teams or French teams that failed to be selected. Each team is named by its largest sponsor and wears its team uniforms. During the competition, each team adopts tactics, teammates help each other, and usually, there is a support car behind the team with accessories and other emergency supplies.

Tour de France History


The Tour de France originated in 1903 from the competition between two newspapers, l'Auto and le Vélo. At that time, Henri Desgrange, the editor of l'Auto, decided to organize "the most important bicycle race in the world!" So on July 1, 1903, the first Tour de France was born. A total of 60 people participated in the race, and in the end, Maurice Garin became the world's first Tour de France champion. Garin was in the lead at the beginning of the sixth stage, and after 2,397 kilometers of fierce competition, he was the first to reach the finish line at the Parc des Princes in Paris. His result was 3 hours faster than the second-place player Pothier.

Tour de France History

Common tactics

Like many other road races, the Tour de France is a team-based competition between outstanding riders. When selecting team members, the manager or coach of a team clearly defines the individual division of labor: each team often has a leader who is likely to win a result, and the rest are domestics and escorts. The servicemen generally have no chance of winning important stages or the entire race, but mainly serve the leader, such as getting water or food from the service car. Most of the time, they clear the way for the leader.

In road cycling races, racers often stay close to each other when cruising, forming a large group peloton to use the drafting formed by the racers in front to reduce resistance and maintain physical strength. Everyone consciously takes turns leading the team. Teams that are expected to win often use the leader to control the speed of the group, thereby eliminating the weaker teams. And the leaders of the team are all servicemen.

Sometimes, some teams or racers decide to attack: suddenly accelerate and break away from the group. If their rivals don't want to be left behind, they will send one or two service personnel to speed up and lead the entire group to chase, or a single team will lead the leader to stick to the attacker. At the end of a race, all service personnel may be exhausted, and then the leader will rush out of the camp for the final sprint. This kind of teamwork is most effective in mountain stages.

During the race, the racers communicate with the team guide sitting in the service car through the micro-walkie-talkie attached to their bodies. The service car also has computers and positioning systems, etc., which provide a series of real-time race information.


Stage selection

Because of the fame of the Tour de France, towns along the way are willing to become the starting stations of the stage. The prelude of the race (usually the first time trial, not every year) and the first stage are particularly beautiful because both races usually start from the same town. The first few stages of the race often pass through other countries around. Christian Prudhomme, the general director of the 2007 Tour de France, said, "In general, every five years, we arrange two years of the race to start from France and three years from outside France."

Becoming the starting station of a stage will bring tourists and business to the local area. For this reason, the selected towns must pay the relevant fees to the organizers of the race. It is reported that in 2008, some starting cities of the stage paid $41,000 and the ending cities paid $73,000.


Famous Stages

Champs-Elysees: The last stage of the modern Tour de France. Except for a one-time trial in 1989, when LeMond of the United States came from behind and beat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds. Fignon knew the game was over and burst into tears when he crossed the finish line, most of the races have already been decided by this stage. Therefore, there is always a "universal celebration" atmosphere at this stage. The award ceremony of the competition is also held at this time. The podium is always set against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe.

Tour de France History

Mont Ventoux: A mountain located in the Provence region in southeastern France, about 1,912 meters high. Because of its majestic appearance, it is also called the "Giant of Provence". The mountain is famous for its strong winds, with the highest wind speed recorded at the top reaching 320 kilometers per hour. As a result, there is no grass growing on the top of the mountain, so it is also called the "Bald Mountain". The average slope of the mountain is 7.2%. On July 13, 1967, British athlete Tom Simpson died during the race (caused by excessive fatigue caused by drug use, alcoholism, and dehydration during the race). In 1970, driver Eddie Merckx, nicknamed "Ogre", also fainted at the finish line.

Tour de France History


Jacques Anquetil: The first rider to win five Tour de France titles. Nicknamed "Mr. Stopwatch" for his mastery of time.

Tour de France History

Bernard Hinault: Won the Tour de France title five times (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985). Won the "Grand Slam" of road cycling many times (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España). Nicknamed "Badger" for his reputation of "holding on" during competitions.

Miguel Indurain Larraya: The first rider in the history of the Tour de France to win the title five times in a row (1991-1995). Nicknamed "Big Miguel" for his tall stature.

Tour de France History

 Édouard Louis Joseph Merckx: Merckx is considered the greatest road cyclist in history: won the Tour de France title five times, won 34 stages in total, and wore the yellow jersey for a total of 96 days (all three are still Tour de France records). Five Giro d'Italias and one Vuelta a España. He won three world championships. In his first Tour de France, he won three first places (general ranking, mountain, and sprint). Merckx won every battle and never gave up, so he was nicknamed "the man-eater".

Tour de France History


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