The Tour de France is the biggest cycling event of the year. It is also the world’s largest annual spectator event, with millions of cycling enthusiasts lining the streets to get a glimpse. At Swinnerton Cycles, we are huge fans of the Tour de France, and we are here to answer all of your Tour De France questions.
The Tour de France is a monumental multi-stage cycling event that takes place annually. Twenty-two teams compete against each other from all over the world, and each team consists of nine riders.
The majority of the race is held in France, but it does pass through some bordering countries. The difference this year is that the Tour begins in Denmark with three stages before moving back to France, adding in a travel day after stage three to allow teams and race staff time to move over from Scandinavia. It is usually held in July and consists of twenty-one stages with a mixture of flat, hilly, and mountainous days, as well as a cobbled stage on this year’s route.
This year’s Tour de France begins on July 1 and ends in Paris on July 24.
The Tour de France is around 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometres), and the riders can spend up to six hours per day cycling through a range of terrains. The Tour De France usually lasts from 21-24 days. This year’s edition is especially long due to the one travel day and the usual two rest days breaking up the three weeks. However, the cycling aspect is actually shorter than usual and is the fourth shortest edition of the race in the modern era.
The Tour De France began covering distances in excess of 5000km in the 1920s and regularly exceeding 4000km right up until the 1980s when distances began to be reduced. Now the race has found a happy medium at 3,500km – incorporating a variety of distances over the course of the three weeks that make for exciting and unpredictable racing but remain within the capabilities of the modern peloton.
The first Tour de France began on 1st July 1903 by Henri Desgrange. Desgrange was a cyclist and journalist and started the race to boost the sales of the newspaper he worked for. L’Auto which is now known as L’Equipe, sponsored the Tour de France to boost their circulation. Since the initial race over 100 years ago, there have been 108 races (as of 2021) with breaks during the World Wars.
Winners of the Tour de France win the prestigious Tour de France trophy and a whopping €450,000.
The Tour de France is broadcast worldwide, and over 3.5 billion people watch the race annually. Every year around 12 million people line the streets to get a glimpse of the riders as they pass by. It is free to attend and is one of the most-watched spectator sports in the world.
Speeds vary depending on the stage, but the average speed is around 25 mph. During some stages, cyclists can zoom by at up to 70 mph!
The youngest ever winner of the Tour de France was Henri Comet, back in 1904. He was 19 years old and 352 days. However, the race has evolved over time, and the youngest winner of the contemporary competition was Tadej Pogočar back in 2020, who was 21 years old and 364 days
The oldest ever winner of the Tour de France was Firmin Lambot back in 1922. He was around 36 years old when he won the competition.
The Tour de France is split into 21 stages and consists of the following:
Nine flat stages
Three hilly stages
Seven mountain stages (this includes five summit finishes)
Two individual time trials
Two rest days
Each one of the stages has a winner (except for the two rest days) and the rider that completes the most stages of the competition in the shortest duration wins the overall title.
When watching the Tour de France, you may notice some terms that you don’t know. Don’t worry, at Swinnerton Cycles, we are here to decode these for you.
Peloton – No, it’s not the exercise bike sitting in your spare room. Peloton is French for “group”, and Peloton is the main group of cyclists in the competition who ride together for coherence.
Bonking – Also, not what you think it means. Bonking is a term for a cyclist who has lost all of their energy.
Slipstreaming – This is where a rider will closely ride behind another cyclist to benefit from no air resistance.
Breakaway – A rider can “breakaway” from a group to lead the race.
Grand Départ – This is known as the first stage of the Tour de France.
Domestique – Each team has a leader, and the rest of the pack, who support the leader in any way they can to help them win their stage are called the domestiques.
Directeur Sportif – This is the team director; they follow the riders during the race and give them instructions, tactics, water and help with any mechanical issues that cyclists may have.
SAG Wagon – This is a vehicle that follows cyclists and picks them up when they are injured, their bike has failed, or they suffer from fatigue. It also carries supplies and gear.
Flamme Rouge – French for “red flag”. You may think that this is for disqualification or used when a penalty occurs, but it indicates that cyclists have 1km left of the race.
Lanterne Rouge – This is French for “red light” and is used to show that this is the last rider of the tour.
Musket Bag – Containing food and water handed to riders at feeding stations, it is usually a shoulder bag that can be grabbed quickly.
Yes, the Tour de France is considered one of the most difficult cycling tours in the world. The tour runs for 23 days, and cyclists push their bodies to fatigue daily. Some cyclists burn around 5,000 calories per day when cycling.
If getting to know about the greatest cycling tour on the planet; the Tour de France, has got you excited about cycling – check out the range of bikes available at Swinnerton Cycles. You will find everything from road bikes to mountain bikes and even children’s bikes for your mini-me who wants to grow up to be the next Tour de France winner.