1-World Adventures - History
of Le Tour
.. a quick look at the
last 198 years.
Of the 76 riders that began the first Tour de France, which
took place in 1903, only of them 21 finished. One of these finishers apparently had not
ridden a bike just three months before the Tour left the small Café Réveil Matin. The
stages were incredibly long by modern standards, especially considering the
types of bicycles they rode. The stages were between 268km (167mi) to an
outrageous 467km (290mi)!! Since the very first Tours, when the riders had no
support cars, or hardly a choice of gears on their cycles for that matter, the sport
has evolved dramatically.
Today, the Tour has grown into what may be the
largest annual sporting event in the world. Hundreds of thousands of spectators
line the roadsides of France, and millions follow on the television. The riders
have intensive training programs, and do not need to work additional jobs to
support themselves in the off-season. They ride super specialized exotic
bicycles, and are allowed to have team cars hand them clothing, wheels, and even
bicycles. These factors make for closer competition, and a great spectator’s
of the recent years, it seems usually one rider rises to the top during the
critical stages of the Tour, and stays there until the end. Some riders
specialize in the mountains, while others concentrate on the time trials. Either
way, one must do very well in both to stand a chance in today’s peleton.
Several extraordinary riders have gone to win as many as 5 Tour de France "Malliot
Jaune" victories. Miguel Indurain won an amazing 5 in a row, but no more.
Not even the great Eddy Merckx could break through the barrier of 5 Tours.