I gather some original facts or numbers about the famous French bike race, the one, the unique: The Tour de France!
1 – Le Tour de France, created by a Newspaper
It all started with a simple 1200 meters race in Paris in 1868. Later on, two newspapers “l’Auto” and “le Vélo” were organizing a 400-kilometer race in between Paris – Bordeaux.
In order to gain some market share and to publish more, Géo Lefèvre journalist at the newspaper l’Auto imagine a bike race on the road by stages making the round of France, it was “the biggest bike race of all times”. It went from a 2400-kilometer race to reach in 1911 5300 kilometers. Nowadays, the race is around 3500 kilometers with 21 stages.
2 – Few finishers for the first edition
When in 1903, the Tour de France was created, the race took place from the 1st to the 19th of July. This year, only sixty cyclists started the Tour de France of 2428 kilometers, with six stages (Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Nantes). In the end, there were only 21 finishers, and, the winner was French: Maurice Garin.
3 – By train, you travel faster
For the first edition some of the sportsmen were caught getting off the train with their bicycle at the arrival of the first stage Paris – Lyon (467 km). They had a bad idea to take the same train as the race stewards!
4 – Creation of the Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France
The yellow jersey was created in 1919. The Brothers Pélissier left the Tour de France after only the fifth stage. Eugène Christophe took the lead, and the public did not know him. In order to help the fans to notice him during the race, they made him wear a yellow jersey. The yellow was a reference to the color of the magazine that found the Tour de France: l’Auto.
The other jerseys were created later on, for the 50th anniversary of the Tour the green jersey was invented to honor the best sprinter. In 1970 was created the white jersey to promote the best under 25 (in the general ranking). The last one, the red polka dot jersey was created in 1975 for the best climber.
5 – Get some rest at the beach
In 1962, the cyclists of the Tour de France took a break in the bay of Saint-Maxime (Côte d’Azur). This event explained why the organizers try from now on to avoid the Côte d’Azur for the race.
6 – One of the most viewed sports events in the world
Broadcast by more than 80 channels in nearly 190 countries, the Tour de France attracts around one billion viewers each year (3.5 billion according to the organizer). It is now the third most-watched sports competition in the world. For your information, the number one in the summer Olympics games and the second one is the FIFA World Cup.
As a French person I have to be honest, I did not imagine a second that this event could be watched by a billion people. It is seen as a big national event in France, but the majority of French people do not know those numbers about the Tour de France. For sure, not only the French people love to discover and rediscover the hexagon every year!
7 – THE party number!
The Tour de France goes often to the ski resort of the Alpes d’Huez. The participants have to climb it to the top, and we count 21 turns. The 7th turn belongs to the Dutch people. When the Tour de France goes through Huez, for 40 years, they came there one week before to camp and party all day long, drinking liters of beer. The atmosphere is incredible, and the Dutch people dance with their chairs in the air on the song “Schatje Mag ik je foto ? “ translated into English “Honey, can I take a picture of you?”. This is kind of a camping festival next to the road, this is unique. Here’s a video (Low quality):
I hope you enjoyed reading this article! Do you know other fun facts about the Tour de France? Let me know in the comment section! Now, I invite you to read my article about the French sport of pétanque 🙂
Photo Credit @Cocs1995