Tour de France Cycling Event
The Tour de France is an annual cycling race that takes place mostly in France, with the race route occasionally running through neighboring countries. The race is run over a course of 23 days and has 21 stages within it. Up to 200 cyclists participate, and will race over 2,000 miles over the entirety of the race.
Overview of The Tour de France
The Tour de France was established as a publicity stunt in 1903 by Henri Desgrange. He wanted to come up with a crazy race around France to bring attention to the newspaper company that employed him. While it may have been a stunt in the beginning, the first race hosted 60 cyclists who raced over 1,500 miles!
Over time, the race has grown to include more cyclists, more mileage, and more rules. A regulatory committee was introduced to lessen cheating before and during the race, and additional stages were added to up the difficulty of the race. The route continues to be altered every year, and the popularity of the race has only grown.
The Tour de France is a 23 day race that is split up into 21 stages. These stages are broken up into categories called: prologues, flats, time trials, and mountains. The prologue stage is a short time trial, usually under six miles, where cyclists race against the clock. In flats, big packs of cyclists will race together in a pack for around 125 miles. This part of the race will usually end in a breakaway by one cyclist or a sprint to the finish by a few. The next stage is called the timed trial. This stage is similar to the prologue, but is a longer distance of around 30 miles. These trials can be done by individuals or as a team. The last kind of stage is the mountain. In this stage, cyclists climb from around sea level to 2,000 metres on mountains, sometimes doing this several times in one mountain stage.
Overall, the cyclist who competes the best among all of these stages is declared the winner of the Tour de France. There is also a prize for the best overall team and some other more specific awards for achievements made during individual stages.
Awards and Trophies
There are several different awards given during the Tour de France. Of course, there is a prize for finishing the race first, but there are also awards for what racers do throughout the race. Aside from first place finisher, awards are also given for:
- The most aggressive rider
- The best performing team
- The best young rider under 25
- The best climber
- Finishers at certain stages of the race
At the end of the race, the first to finish will be awarded money from a prize pool. In 2020, the prize pool was around 2.3 million euros (2.7 million dollars), and the first place prize was around 500 thousand euros (591 thousand dollars).
In the race's long history, there have been many champions and strong competitors throughout the years. Some of the most notable race champions and the year(s) they won are:
- Lance Armstrong (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)
- Jacques Anquetil (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
- Eddy Merckx (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
- Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
- Miguel Indurain (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
- Christopher Froome (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017)
When does the Tour de France take place?
The Tour de France primarily takes place in July over the course of 23 days. Traditionally, it begins in late June and extends through the middle of July. In 2020, the race took place in the month of August. The race takes place in the middle of Summer each year to increase the likelihood that the weather will be cooperative and suitable for cycling.
Where is the Tour de France raced?
The Tour de France is primarily raced in France, but racers will often briefly enter the countries of Germany, Belgium, Spain, and Italy. The 2,235 miles that comprise the race spread throughout the country going across flat plains, steep hills, and sharply inclined mountains. The terrain of these European countries provide the Tour de France cyclists with extra challenges as they have to adjust to the terrain.
Who races in the Tour de France?
22 different teams of eight riders compete in the Tour de France each year. These teams and riders are invited by the tournament based on their International Cycling Union rankings. Some teams that have shown promising results but are not at the top of the rankings are often invited as well, to provide a wild-card team for the race.
Who has won the most Tour de France races?
Lance Armstrong has won the most Tour de France races, with seven straight victories from 1999 to 2005. This is the longest win streak in the sport. Armstrong is generally viewed as the greatest cyclist of all time due to his dominance while competing, but other cyclists have come close to his record. Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain are all tied for the second most wins at five each.
What do cyclists get for winning the Tour de France?
The first cyclist to finish will be awarded money from that year's total prize pool. In 2020, the prize pool was around 2.3 million euros ($2.7 million), and the first place prize was around 500 thousand euros ($591 thousand). The prize pool generally increases in value each year, letting winners take home more and more money to go with their incredible feat.