Every year, viewers tune into their TVs to watch parts of the extensive and world famous Tour de France. Some even travel to get up close and personal with the racers as they cheer on their favorites from the race sidelines. If you’re a bicycling enthusiast, you might already know a little bit about this widely known race. If not, here’s a little information about the history of the Tour de France and what makes this nearly 3,500 km long race across the country so special.
The start of it all
For over 100 years, the Tour de France has captured the hearts of many. Originating back in 1903, the tour was founded by a French cyclist and journalist, Henri Desgrange. At the time, his newspaper sponsored the race and advertised it to other cyclists. During the very first race, a clear winner was produced, named Maurice Garin. He impressed many with an average speed of 25.7 km per hour. This very first race had a total of sixty different cyclists.
Ever since 1903, the race has been completed and watched every single year. The only exceptions to this were the years of the world wars. Between 1915 and 1918, the race was interrupted by World War I and then interrupted again between 1940 and 1946 due to World War II.
Controversy in the middle of it all
Throughout the years, there have been a few different controversies that have tainted the race, however, the biggest one to date involves bicycle legend Lance Armstrong. During his Tour de France racing career, he has successfully won seven different times, much to the amazement of many. Unfortunately, however, it turns out that enhancement drugs were to credit for his winnings. Once his drug use was uncovered, all seven of his wins were removed from the race’s record books. He was found guilty of doping back in 2012 by the USADA.
The race today
In today’s world the race has changed a bit from its original origins. The first change is that it is now longer. It first started off as a nearly 2,500 km race but today stands out as a 3,500 race across the country. You’ll also want to note that the race itself is spread over 23 days, yet you’ll only find bicyclists racing during 21 of those days. The race is also known to alternate between a clockwise and counterclockwise circuit. The number of teams do vary slightly year to year from 20 to 21 or 22, but each team always consists of 9 riders each. The last Tour de France (2016) started off in Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy and ended in Champs-Elysees in Paris and was held over the summer in July.
For some, the history of the Tour de France is an exciting one due to both how long the race has been around and the controversies that have implanted themselves into the race. If you’re interested in entering into the world of cycling, you’ll want to learn a few more details of not only this race, but the many others found around the world.