All about the Tour de France

The Tour de France is a cycling race that has taken place every year in France since 1903. For cycling fans, it’s one of the most prestigious cycling races in the world and one of the three Grand Tours, along with the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. The bicycle race usually lasts three weeks and covers around 3,500 kilometers (2,200 mi). The riders, sometimes alone or in a peloton, have to make their way through difficult terrain and steep climbs, as well as flat sections and sprints.

Birth of the Tour de France

The Tour de France is an annual cycling race that takes place in France. The first edition took place in 1903 and it has since been the oldest cycling race in the world still in progress. Over the years, the Tour de France has become one of the most prestigious cycling races in the world. Also called the great loop, the Tour de France is made up of 21 stages that cover around 3,500 kilometres.

Owners and managers of the Tour de France

The Tour de France is organized by the ASO, a public limited company with variable capital. The ASO is 100% owned by Amaury Sport Organisation, itself 66% owned by the Amaury family and 34% by the Lagardère group. The first owners and managers of the Tour de France were Henri Desgrange, Léon Hourticq and Philippe Pélissier.

Tour de France route

The route of the Tour de France is very varied and includes flat sections, steep climbs, fast descents and sprints. Depending on the stage, riders must navigate their way through the winding roads of France while at times battling extreme weather conditions. The race usually takes place over three weeks. Stage after stage, the Tour de France takes riders through different regions of France, from the steep coasts of the Mediterranean to the snow-capped mountains of the Pyrenees.

The Tour de France during the First World War

The Tour de France continued to take place during the First World War, despite the events. The bike race takes place in July and August, allowing riders to be present without having to make difficult choices. The stages of the Tour de France mainly cross France, which allows soldiers and cycling enthusiasts to see the races while encouraging the riders during the various stages.

The Tour de France during the Second World War

The Tour de France continued to take place during the Second World War, despite the restrictions and difficulties imposed by the conflict. The Germans had taken control of the race in 1940, which allowed the troops of the Third Reich to show their power. The stages of the big loop were organized in such a way that the Germans could achieve victory and the French participated only as spectators. However, in 1944, as the Allies approached, the Germans called off the race.

The heroes of the Tour de France

The Tour de France is a prestigious event that has seen the greatest cyclists in the world pass. Among the heroes of this mythical race, we can mention Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. These riders have won the tour several times and have marked the history of the great loop. The historical winners of the Tour de France are listed on the official Tour de France website. The first winner of the Tour de France was Maurice Garin, an Italian cyclist naturalized French in 1901.

The distinctive jerseys of the Tour de France

Riders wear distinctive jerseys to differentiate between teams. The best-known jerseys are the yellow jersey, which is won by the rider who has accumulated the most points during the stages, and the polka dot jersey, which is worn by the rider arriving second in a stage. These jerseys were created at the beginning of the 20th century and are still in use today. The jersey for the best sprinter is green, the jersey for the best climber is red and the jersey for the best young cyclist is white.

The historic teams of the Tour de France

The Tour de France has seen the greatest cycling teams in the world. Among the most famous teams, we can mention the Française des Jeux (FDJ), the Lotto-Belisol team, Groupama or the Sky team. These teams have won many victories throughout their history and continue to participate in the Tour de France. The famous Festina team was dissolved after the 1998 scandal concerning the doping of certain runners, but it returned in 2010 under the name of the Geox-TMC team.

Doping at the heart of the Tour de France

The Tour de France has also been marked by numerous doping-related scandals. Runners have been accused of using prohibited products to improve their performance and some have even been suspended for life. These scandals, which tarnish the image of the Tour de France and cycling, have led to the loss of many sponsors.

The Tour de France and France Television

France Télévision was the first channel to broadcast images of the Tour de France live. The collaboration between the channel and the race dates back to the 1960s, when runners were filmed from helicopters. Today, France Télévision continues to broadcast images of the Tour de France live and provides a dedicated website that allows spectators to follow the race in real time.

The winners and records of the Tour de France

The record for most victories is held by Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, who have both won the Tour de France five times. Among the other records, we can cite the greatest number of stages won (22) or the youngest winner (Lance Armstrong, at 21). Classification, stage, winners can be consulted on the official Tour de France website.

The stages of the Tour de France in the mountains

The Tour de France takes place mainly in France, but it also passes through neighboring countries such as Spain, Italy and Belgium. The start of the Tour de France was organized 23 times outside France (Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, England, Switzerland…). The most difficult stages take place in the mountains and allow the riders to accumulate important points for the final victory. Among the most famous passes of the tour, we can mention the Alpe d’Huez stage or the Col du Galibier stage. The best climber wins the polka dot jersey and is considered the true mountain champion. The Tour de France also includes races against the clock, which pit riders against each other. These races allow the fastest to accumulate points and get closer to the yellow jersey to move up the rankings. Among the most famous races against the clock, we can cite the Marseille time trial stage or the Paris time trial stage.

The Tour de France around the world

The Tour de France is a prestigious and international race. Many foreign runners participate and the competition is fierce. The most represented countries are Spain, Italy and Belgium, where the most difficult passes of the tour are found. The final traditionally takes place in Paris, on the Champs-Élysées. Many supporters around the world attend this mythical race by following the runners on television every year.

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