Even if you don’t regularly watch cycling, nearly everyone has heard of the Tour de France for one reason or another. What makes this race so special, and what is there to know about it? I want to cover some of these questions and help you get to know the Tour de France cycle circuit a bit better.
When the Tour de France Started
The first year that the Tour de France happened was in 1903. Since then it became and annual race that typically takes place in July. There were are few years when the race did not happen, due to the World Wars in the region.
Originally, the race was hosted by a struggling newspaper that was attempting to bypass a larger rival paper.
In 1903 there were around 60 entrants in the first Tour de France race.
During the time period, a multiple stage cycle race was a great way to sell more papers around the country, so L-Auto magazine organized and funded the first ever Tour de France. At the time, this was the longest cycle race to be attempted, although shorter races around the roads had happened before. There were around 60 entrants in the first Tour de France race.
How This Race Works
From the beginning, the Tour de France has always been a multiple stage race. The first one had only five stages, but today there are twenty-one stages in the race. The race is held over twenty-three days, giving riders some time to rest between the various stages.
Individual tracks within the race change every year, but some things are kept consistent, such as the finish in Paris and riding through the Pyrenees and Alps mountains. Along the way, teams do not compete only for the first spot in each race.
There are traditionally a few different ways that riders can advance themselves during the race. The fastest finisher in each stage is what gets the most attention most times, but there are other ways of doing well in the race. These are the time trials, young rider classifications (only for those under 26), the mountain climbing points, the fastest team points, and the general points for sprinting cyclists.
The one who is said to be ahead in the race is the one with the lowest aggregate time from all the completed stages, whether or not they have outright won any of the stages so far. Between 20 and 22 teams usually compete, with each team having 9 cyclists.
Why Is This Race So Significant?
One of the main reasons that the Tour de France has become so prestigious is simply because it is the oldest Grand Tour race that is still going on to this date. It has grown in popularity and prestige as time went on, and today it is one of the most notable races to happen during the year.
In the beginning, the race was not well anticipated by many people. The hosts had to put a high prize for winning and a low entry fee in order to get participants to come and try their luck. Now, this is a highly competitive circuit that many cycling teams fight to qualify for each year!
Historical Moments from the Tour de France
Here are a few interesting historical moments from the history of the Tour de France race:
- 2015: First ever cycling team from Africa competes in the Tour de France (MTN-Qhubeka)
- 1969: Eddy Merckx wins 4 classifications, including the overall tour, in his first year competing
- 1903: Maurice Garin was the first man to ever win the Tour de France
- 2012: Bradley Wiggins becomes the first person to ever win a Tour de France and Olympic gold medal in the same year