Tour de France Facts

Here are some facts about the Tour de France.

  • The Tour de France is the world’s most famous cycling race. It has taken place every year since 1903, except for the periods during the two world wars.
  • The competition takes place over 3 weeks, covering 3,200 kilometres around France, including the Pyrenees and the Alps. In alternate years, the course is cycled clockwise and anti-clockwise.
  • The race is divided into about 20 stages or legs, with riders timed over each stage. The longest stage can be up to 240 km and stages sometimes take place in nearby countries.
  • The stage in the Pyrenees mountains is considered to be the most difficult. In the French Alps, the cyclists reach an altitude of almost 2,000 metres and often have to cope with snowstorms.
  • An estimated 3.5 billion people watch the Tour de France on TV every year, and the race is broadcast in almost 200 countries. About 2,000 journalists cover the race each year.
  • About 12 million people line the race route each year. The average spectator travels about 130 km to watch the race for about 6 hours.
  • The first Tour de France was won by the Italian rider Maurice Garin. The first British rider to win the race was Bradley Wiggins in 2012.
  • 60 riders took part in the first Tour de France, and many were disqualified for cheating. Today, over 200 cyclists compete, each one belonging to a team.
  • Eddie Merckx has won 34 stages, more than anyone else. Merckx is also one of only 3 riders who have won the race 5 times and he was also named ‘King of the Mountains’ in 1969 and 1970.
  • The winner of each stage wears the yellow jersey, and the overall winner of the race is given the jersey. A green jersey is worn by the leader (and eventual winner) of the sprint competition.

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