Tour de France Facts

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If Tour de France facts are what you're looking for, you've come to the right place! From the best-known information to the least-known trivia, here is where you can find out all you've ever wanted to know about the Tour de France - and more.

For the average person, Tour de France facts begin and end items such as major cycling event, the month of July, Lance Armstrong, yellow jersey, and Paris. Of course, these refer to the fact that the Tour de France is the largest and most prestigious cycling race in the world which takes place annually in July. While there have been several five-time champions, to date there is but one seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong of America, who won the event consecutively between the years 1999-2005. What made Armstrong's accomplishment even more incredible is the fact that he achieved this feat after recovering from cancer and being given only a 40% chance of doing so.

tour de france facts Photo by: Berndt Fernow

The yellow jersey, or "maillot jaune," is the shirt awarded to the rider having the lowest aggregate time at end of each stage of the race. Although winning each stage is considered a major victory by itself, the ultimate prize is awarded to the person who reaches the finish line - which is located in Paris - in the least amount of accumulated time.

Now that you're up to speed on the best-known Tour de France facts, see how many of the following pieces of trivia you are familiar with.

  • The Tour de France began in 1903 when the French sports newspaper L'Auto, in an attempt to boost its circulation and challenge its competitor, Le Velo, offered a cash prize to anyone who could win a cycling race around France. Since then L'Auto has become L'Equipe, today's daily French sports newspaper
  • The first race was comprised of 60 riders, many of whom were disqualified for cheating
  • The first race was won by 32-year-old Frenchman Maurice Garin, nicknamed the "Chimney Sweep."
  • No tours were held during World War I and World War II
  • The Tour de France lasts three weeks and covers over 2,200 miles in the French countryside
  • Before 1930 the tour was open to any individual; since that time, cyclists are required to compete as part of national teams, giving rise to the professional sponsored teams participating today

If you like numbers, here are some interesting Tour de France statistics:

  • In 1989, Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by a mere 8 seconds, the narrowest winning margin to date
  • Belgian Eddy Merckx holds the record for the most won stages (34)
  • 200 cyclists compete in the event today, each of them belonging to a team comprised of nine riders
  • The length of the race may not exceed 3500 km and limitations are placed on the distance of each stage
  • The race includes two days of rest

For more fascinating Tour de France facts, see what you can find out about the green jersey, "maillot vert," and the polka dot jersey, "maillot pois."

Tour de France standings

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