Easily the best-known bike race in the world, the Tour de France is a multiple-stage cycling race held annually in July that lasts for three weeks and covers more than 2,000 miles. The first Tour de France took place... ... read more
Easily the best-known bike race in the world, the Tour de France is a multiple-stage cycling race held annually in July that lasts for three weeks and covers more than 2,000 miles.
The first Tour de France took place way back in 1903, and was organized by the long-defunct L'Auto magazine as a way to help boost sales. Since then, the race has only been cancelled twice – both times due to World Wars – and regularly attracts a TV audience in excess of 44 million people.
Apart from TV viewers, spectators at the Tour de France often line the race route for miles, with small towns along the course witnessing a massive temporary population explosion of rowdy – and often costumed – revelers.
The Tour de France course changes year-to-year, but elite competitors who participate can always expect a grueling slog through the Pyrenees and the Alps mountains, as well as a finish on the historic Champs-Élysées in Paris.
There are normally around 20 teams of nine riders each that compete in the Tour, each of which must be officially invited by the event’s current organizer, the Amaury Sport Organisation.
Different-colored jerseys are worn by individual racers in the Tour de France based on specific criteria. The yellow jersey, as most people know, is worn by the overall leader in terms of shortest time at the end of each day’s stage. The green jersey, meanwhile, goes to the points leader (points are based on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. finishes on each day and then added up), while the red and white jersey – aka “King of The Mountains” – goes to the best mountain climber during the mountain stages.
Some stages of the Tour de France feature individual time trials when each rider is competing against the others, but there are also team trials, where the team’s score is based on the fifth rider to complete the stage.
Although Tour de France racers can earn money and other prizes during each stage, these earnings pale in comparison to the Tour de France winner’s, who can expect to walk (or ride) away with more than half-a-million dollars.
An amazing bike race that’s not to be missed, the Tour de France is just one more reason to visit France in July.