On 1 July 1903, 60 pioneers set out on their bicycles from Montgeron. After six mammoth stages (Nantes – Paris, 471 km!), only 21 “routiers”, led by Maurice Garin, arrived at the end of this first epic stage of the first Tour de France.
Having provoked a mixture of astonishment and admiration, le Tour soon won over the sporting public and the roadside crowds swelled. The French people took to their hearts this unusual event which placed their towns, their countryside and, since 1910, even their mountains, in the spotlight. Le Tour has always moved with the times. Like France as a whole, it benefited from the introduction of paid holidays from 1936; it has lived through wars, and then savoured the “trente glorieuses” period of economic prosperity while enjoying the heydays of great cyclists like Coppi, Bobet, Anquetil, Merckx and Poulidor; it has opened itself up to foreign countries with the onset of globalisation, and now finds itself at the forefront of the debate on the malaise afflicting world sport in general. Over a hundred years after its inception, le Tour continues to gain strength from its experience.
This year, le Tour runs from Saturday July 1st to Sunday July 23rd. The 104th Tour de France will be made up of 22 stages and will cover an amazing distance of 3,540 kilometres. This is the biggest annual sporting event in the world and is an absolutely incredible display of human endurance.
If you’re not that impressed, get on a stationery bike and try to absorb these numbers;
- On most stages of the Tour, the cyclists will average speeds of over 40km an hour,
- The cyclists will be pedalling at about 100 rpm,
- Each rider can produce up to 800+ watts of power,
- Cyclists will consume around 9 litres of water per day on the bike and eat food every 15 minutes to sustain their energy,
- Cyclists will average 160km of riding (4-6 hours per day), for 21 days, with only 2 rest days
- The race takes place over 9 flat, 7 mountain, 3 hill stages and 2 time-trials.
The event truly is a great spectacle and the SBS coverage is really fantastic.
Don’t forget to check out our Tour de France challenges here.