Tour de France Legend
Great moments in the history of the Tour
The line between insanity and genius is said to be a fine one, and in early 20th century France, anyone envisaging a near-2,500-km-long cycle race across the country would have been widely viewed as unhinged. But that didn’t stop Géo Lefèvre, a journalist with L’Auto magazine at the time, from proceeding with his inspired plan. His editor, Henri Desgrange, was bold enough to believe in the idea and to throw his backing behind the Tour de France.
And so it was that, on 1 July 1903, sixty 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. After having completed the event circuit at an average speed of 25 km/h, Maurice Garin was rewarded with prize money of 6,075 francs, a handsome purse for the era. But most importantly, he was the first in a long line of champions.
Having already tackled the Ballon d’Alsace (1905), the peloton now got to grips with the summits of the Pyrenees. The following year, the race journeyed up into the Alps to take the Col du Galibier mountain pass.
The first Yellow Jersey, indicating the leader in the general classification, was issued to Eugène Christophe in Grenoble. The choice of colour evoked the paper on which L’Auto magazine was printed.
In an era when the Davis Cup was dominated by the famous Mousquetaires of French tennis, the peloton was also stirring up plenty of patriotic sentiment. André Leducq was the overall winner of Le Tour and Charles Pélissier triumphed over eight stages. This was also the year that the publicity caravan was created.
For this experiment, three finishes at altitude were planned: Alpe d'Huez, Sestrières, and Puy-de-Dôme. Italy's Fausto Coppi crossed all three finish lines in front to claim his second Tour de France crown.
He will later be joined in this exclusive club of five-time winners of Le Tour by: - Eddy Merckx, known as “The Cannibal” (fifth victory in 1974). He is also the only rider to have won all the separate classifications of le Tour - Bernard Hinault (fifth victory in 1985). He is still the last Frenchman to triumph in the event. - Miguel Indurain (fifth victory in 1995). He became the first rider to win Le Tour five times in a row.
Yellow Jersey LCL
This jersey is worn by the leader of the general classification.
Green Jersey Škoda
This jersey is worn by the leader of the points classification. Points are awarded at the intermediate sprint in each mass-start stage and the finish of each stage.
Red Polka-Dot Jersey Carrefour
This jersey is worn by the leader of the mountains classification. Mountain points are awarded at the top of every categorised climb. The points for a summit finish are doubled.
White Jersey Krys
This jersey is worn by the best young rider (age 25 or under in the current year) in the general classification.
The Tour de France Legend owes so much to the spectators on sides of roads. Every year millions of fans come out to support their champions, but also to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the event, including some famous attractions…
The publicity caravan has become an integral part of the event. It precedes the race with multi-shaped and multi-coloured procession lasting more than 45 minutes, much to the delight of the fans.
Didi El Diablo has quickly become Le Tour craziest fan. He is all over the places since 1993, bumping around with the fans and always dressed up as a Red Devil !
Chalk Art is one of the oldest tradition of Le Tour: fans write on the roads to support their favourite riders.
Running from Saturday July 1st to Sunday July 23rd 2017, the 104th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,516 kilometres.
It hadn’t happened since 1992. The five main mountain ranges of France will be on the program in 2017. The Tour will visit, in the following order, the Vosges, the Jura, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central and the Alps. The highlight will be the very first stage finish at the top of the Col d’Izoard.