Discover the History of the Tour de France Bike Race

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In order to sell some newspapers, the Tour de France began as nothing more than a marketing ploy. At its heart, the Tour stays just that, a platform that the willing sponsors of the teams and the race use to promote and sell tires, shoes, bikes, phones, and lots of other things.

The fusion of the tawdry, the sublime, the base, the honorable, the crassly commercial, and the magnificent continues to this day. Others also recognized that its origins are in human endeavor’s lowest and highest motives. That is why it’s so compelling.

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Discover what is Tour de France bike race and how it originated as you continue reading.

Discover the History of the Tour de France Bike Race
Image source: Bike Radar

Overview of Tour de France

Tour de France is the most prestigious and most daunting bike race in the world. It draws the world’s best riders of the three most significant races, the others being the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.

The Tour, which is staged every July for three weeks, usually consists of 20 professional teams of 9 riders each and covers some 3,600 km (2,235 miles), mostly in France, with periodic and quick visits to countries such as Italy, Belgium, Germany, and Spain. 

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Though, as was the case in 2007 when England held the launching stage for the first time, the race may start outside France, it always heads there swiftly; the Tour is the major yearly sporting event in France and has huge historical roots.

It is witnessed from the roadside by massive crowds and is broadcasted around the world as one of athletic endurance’s supreme tests. Part of the difficulties faced by cyclists in the Tour is that it is split between time-trial competition and racing stages that span both flat ground and wide mountainous slopes.

How It Started

Founded in 1903 by a French cyclist and journalist, Henri Desgrange, the race is run each year except during World Wars. To promote circulation, Desgrange’s newspaper, L’Auto (now L’Equipe), sponsored the Tour.

Two events ignited public interest in the race: in 1910, for the first time, the riders were sent over the hazardous “circle of death” in the Pyrenees mountain passes, and in 1919, the yellow jersey was introduced, yellow being the color of the paper on which L’Auto was printed.

Discover the History of the Tour de France Bike Race
Image source: RFI

Tour de France Jerseys

The yellow jersey is a distinction awarded at the end of each day to the cyclist who has the lowest total time for the race. On any specific day, a racer might well win a stage of a race, but a yellow jersey would not necessarily be given, as it depends on the lowest average time.

Bonus sprints, granting both points and a deduction of total elapsed time, are held every day during the race at many sites along the course, and points are also awarded and time deducted for the first three finishers at every stage; a green jersey is awarded to the winner of the most points.

The “king of the mountains,” the rider who has the most points in the climbing stages, racing over small hills and also high mountains, is granted a polka-dotted jersey. The white jersey is given to the rider who has the lowest average time, aged 25 and under.

There are typically three types of bicycles for riders: one for time trials, one for flat road stages, and a very light bicycle for the race’s mountain climbing stages. All bicycles are expected to comply with the International Cycling Union‘s standards.

Final Words

Some sports are direct enough that a man can compete at the highest professional level right out of high school if he has adequate skills. In the Tour de France, you’re not going to see that happen. And in order to toughen the body and sharpen the mind, the athletic challenge is greater than requiring lengthy, challenging training.

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