Strength, adrenaline and pure cycling. Three things that without any doubt define the Tour de France (Le Tour de France), the legendary cycling race held annually between June and July throughout the French geography, and which belongs to the UCI WorldTour calendar within the highest category of professional races at an international level.
It's hard to find someone who has never heard of this legendary sporting event in their life, or a hardened cyclist who has never dreamed of winning the French Tour at least once. It is without a doubt the goal of the year for the biggest and the dream of every potential cyclist!
If you are a sports lover as much as we are, surely it is a competition that you have been following the track for years, or perhaps, you are such a fan that you have one or another legendary poster at home, that from time to time you dust yourself off to remember the epic moment in the one that cycling cracks and mythical legends such as Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault or Miguel Induráin, achieved glorious victory, breaking records and astonishing the millions of spectators who watch and televise the competition year after year.
But now we wonder ... Do you think you know absolutely everything about the Tour de France? Read on and discover 10 things you need to know about this incredible competition, from the most basic and essential, to the most curious historical data of the Tour.
1. THE MOST FAMOUS SPORTS RACE OF ALL
What is the Tour de France?
C´est le Tour, the most iconic race, the racing race. It was born as the great dream of a cyclist who would not stop until offering other cyclists the opportunity to cross France by bike, and it goes down in history as the maximum opportunity to give prestige to professionals in one of the most wonderful, demanding and liberating sports. of all.
Le Tour de France, or simply "Tour", is a professional road cycling tour that has been held in stages in France annually since 1903. It is known as the oldest of the three "Grand Tours" of cycling, along with the Giro de Italy and the Tour of Spain. In addition, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 2003.
The Tour de France is currently considered the most famous and important race in the world, not only in the cycling category. In fact, since its inception at the beginning of the last century, the race has been interrupted only twice and by extraordinary situations after the great wars. Amazing, right?
2. TOUR DE FRANCE 1903: “The Champions. The Race. The Fans "
The Tour de France is not only one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, it is also one of the longest running! Did you know that the first edition was created in 1903 to increase the circulation of the French newspaper L 'Auto-Velo? How can this be?
What was the first edition of the Tour de France?
In 1903 the first edition of the Tour de France began, with a route of only six stages and a total of 2428 km. The first Tour de France, which took place from July 1 to 19 of that year, was sponsored by the French newspaper L'Auto-Vélo (now L'Équipe) and its route was designed by Henri Desgrange, the director and editor-in-chief of said newspaper. In fact ... This great competition was created with the aim of increasing the circulation of the newspaper L'Auto! In addition, even long before the competition began, Desgrange was already a well-known figure in French society at the turn of the century, and his cycling feats included time records at the historic Buffalo velodrome in Paris. Desgrange had, in fact, signed a record of 35,325 km in 60 minutes on the Parisian ellipse, on May 11, 1893; the first in history. Despite the fact that Desgrange studied law, that did not take away the idea of creating a bicycle race throughout France! Finally he makes it a reality together with his cycling editor Geo Lefèvre at L'Auto to also help improve the circulation of the newspaper, and increase sales on the way, killing two birds with one stone.
Another curious fact is that, at that time, the cyclists participating in the Tour de France were not obliged to compete in the six stages of which the route consisted, and had between 2 and 3 days of rest between each one. They weren't grouped into teams either! Formerly it was a purely individual competition, and they had to pay 10 French francs to be able to compete in the general classification, or they could also pay only 5 French francs to enter a single stage.
This first Tour de France It started in Montgeron, very close to Paris, where 60 cyclists started (of which 49 were French, four Belgian, four Swiss, two German and one Italian) who covered the 467 km inaugural stage to Lyon. The final winner was the legendary cyclist Maurice Garin.
In case you were wondering: after the competition ... The newspaper's circulation increased six times! Therefore, the owners of L'Auto-Vélo consider it appropriate to replicate the following year, and the next and the next… What a marketing strategy!
3. MAURICE GARIN: WINNER OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE TOUR OF FRANCE
The favorite to win the competition was, in fact, Maurice Garin, who was the winner of its first edition. Maurice Garin was born in Arvier, Italy, on March 3, 1871, and died in Lens, on February 19, 1957. He was a French cyclist who, without a doubt, went down in sports history as the first winner of the Tour de France that July 1903. In that edition, 32-year-old Maurice Garin won the first stage and was able to retain first place for the rest of the competition. In addition, he was victorious in the last two stages, finishing almost three hours ahead of the next rider. Not bad, huh?
Despite being born in Italy, Maurice Garin became a French citizen in 1901. It was in fact in France that he lived most of his life after emigrating with his family. His nicknames were "petit ramoneur", "le petit matelot" and "le bouledogue blanc" because of his short stature and weight (1,62 m and 60 Kg) since he worked as "ramoneur"(chimney sweep, in French) in different French cities, a humble job for the time. Skinny and all, Garin won the victory in what would be the most famous cycling competition in all of history!
But, sometimes what happens, Maurice was disqualified from the Tour de France in its next edition (1904) for driving several sections of the route, which is why he was suspended two consecutive years. He returned to compete after that until officially leaving cycling after a score of victories. In fact, he was declared one of the most outstanding cyclists in history and in 2002 he was chosen to be part of the Inaugural Session of the Cycling Hall of Fame of the ICU.
4. TOUR OF FRANCE: AN ARDUOUS ROUTE THROUGH MIDDLE AND HIGH INTENSITY STAGES
What are the stages of the Tour de France?
The Tour de France is a race that is contested by different stages throughout the French geography, contemplating moments of greater and less intensity, including flat routes, mid-mountain, mountain and individual time trial stages.
Through the years, the stages have increased in quantity and also in intensity. Thus, each new edition ends up being different and, in theory, more difficult as well. In fact, 4 cyclists have died trying to complete the Tour: Adolphe Heliére (1910), Francesco Cepeda (1935), Tom Simpson (19677) and Fabio Casartelli (1995). Without a doubt, it is a great merit and honor for the competitors to demonstrate their skills during the different stages, and also to pedal for the victory of this great competition. If we look back in time, the youngest Tour de France winner in its entire history has been Henri Comet in 1904, who was 19 years old at the time. Curiously, that same year the oldest cyclist in the history of the Tour de France also competed: Henri Paret, at 50 years of age.
5. WEAR THE YELLOW JERSEY, A HONOR!
What is the jersey in the Tour de France?
The word "jersey" literally translates to "jersey" in French. To this day, the Tour de France Jersey is the term used to distinguish the different leaders of the various classifications in the competition, represented (precisely) with jerseys of different colors. Despite the fact that there are several Maillot designs with different meanings, yellow has become one of the most honorific, since it identifies the winning leader who up to that moment has had the lowest accumulated time in the stages, even having added and subtracted any bonuses or time penalties.
Tour de France jersey: colors and meanings.
6. THESE ARE THE MYTHICAL MOUNTAIN PORTS ON THE TOUR OF FRANCE!
We also leave you a great list of the most mythical mountain passes of the Tour de France of all, some because of their history, others because they are the hardest, and others because they hide interesting mysteries. Do you know some of them? Here we leave you our list!
Alpe d'Huez: ski resort founded in 1930. For the Tour de France it is known as the mountain of the Dutch.
La Croix de Fer: one of the toughest and most mythical ports of the Tour de France.
Mont Ventoux: Port with an anthological and dramatic climb. Legend has it that the Swiss Ferdi Kubler went crazy there on his 1955 climb. In addition, Tour leader Tom Simpson died on the Ventoux in 1967.
The Peyresourde: French mountain pass in the central Pyrenees, between Arreau and Bagnères-de-Luchon. He was first promoted in the 1910 Tour de France.
The Tourmalet: historically it is known for its toughness. In the Tour de France it was climbed for the first time in 1910.
Aubisque: the port located in the Pyrenees, specifically in the Atlantic area, belonging to the Aquitaine region, located in southwestern France.
The Izoard: of high difficulty, with several horseshoe curves in the central section. It pays tribute to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet with a monolith on its top.
The Galibier: mountain pass located in the southern region of France. It connects Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and Briançon through the Télégraphe and the Lautaret.
The Col de la Madeleine: mountain pass located in the French Alps, in the department of Savoy; normally closed from November to the beginning of June.
The Col du Télégraphe: mountain pass located in the French Hautes-Alpes, between the Massif d'Arvan Villards and the Massif des Cerces.
6. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WIN THE TOUR OF FRANCE
Although it is not the highest paid sport in the world, it is true that cycling moves considerable amounts of money, especially when it comes to a competition as important as the Tour de France. In this case, the prizes are awarded to cyclists in different categories. There are prizes for each stage and the general classification at the end of the Tour.
What happens if you win the Tour de France?
Although it is true that the organization of the Tour de France distributes millions of euros in prizes annually according to the different stages and categories, the winner of the Tour also obtains 1800 points for the Cycling Hall of Fame. In this way, winning is not only an economic reward, it has also become the cycling event that awards the most points to its winner.
7. THE BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE TOUR ARE THE FRENCH CYCLISTS.
Did you know that France is the country with the most victories but the last one dates back to 1985? It has a total of 36 historical wins, but it is true progressively, many other countries have known how to fight their way to victory. Do you know which are the countries with the greatest victories in the Tour de France? Discover them here!
Tour de France: track records by countries.
Which cyclists have broken records in the Tour de France?
There are four cyclists who, in addition to having won the Tour de France, hold the record for victories in the competition with five wins each:
9. SPAIN, ONE OF THE GREAT LEADERS OF THE TOUR OF FRANCE
In total, until 2021, Spain has achieved 12 Tour de France victories. Federico Martín Bahamonte was the first winner, in 1959. After that, there have been six Spanish cyclists who have achieved victory in the Tour. Among them, a deserved recognition is made to Miguel Indurain Larraya, for having been crowned champion five consecutive times. For his part, the first Spanish cyclist to achieve a stage victory in the Tour de France was Salvador Cardona in the 1929 edition. Since then, 64 cyclists and 2 Spanish teams have achieved a total of 129 stage victories.
Who have been the Spanish winners of the Tour de France throughout history?
The Spaniard with the most victories in the Tour de France: Miguel Induráin Larraya.
As we have mentioned, the Spaniard with the most victories in the Tour de France is nothing more and nothing less than Miguel Induráin Larraya. With 5 victories on the Tour, the cyclist was also world time trial champion in 1995, holder of the hour record for two months (1994), and Olympic time trial champion in 1996. Miguel Induráin has become a cycling legend! ! In fact, he is considered one of the best cyclists in history along with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Fausto Coppi.
Today, Miguel Induráin is the eighth best in the Tour de France according to a panel from the Tour itself. And not only that! He won several laps in one-week stages and one-day classics, highlighting among them the Volta a Catalunya (1988, 1991 and 1992), the Paris-Nice (1989 and 1990), the San Sebastián Classic (1990), the Championship de España en Ruta (1992) and the Dauphiné Libéré (1995 and 1996). Miguel Induráin Larraya, who also received the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 1992, is undoubtedly credited as the best Spanish cyclist of all time and one of the best athletes in the history of the country.
Miguel Induráin victories in the Tour de France for years:
10. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR OF FRANCE
Who have been the winners of the Tour de France throughout history?
Without a doubt, winning this prestigious cycling competition has become the wish of every cyclist, professional and non-professional. Tell us, what other curiosities do you know about the Tour de France?