Now in its 103 year, the world’s largest and most prominent cycling competition kicks off on Tuesday, as riders prepare for the grueling 23-day race spanning more than 2200 miles throughout the gorgeous French countryside and its neighbors. An emblem of fortitude, tenacity and athleticism, the Tour de France captivates more than 12 million roadside spectators every year, while an additional 3.4 billion from 188 countries tune in via broadcast, making it the world’s most popular sporting event. Before the excitement commences on July 2, test your cycling knowledge with the following fun and interesting facts about the globe’s superstar cycling showdown!
Did you Know?
The Tour de France began in 1903 as a mere publicity event for the newspaper L’Auto. Popularity flourished, and the event has run every year since, except for temporarily ceasing during the two World Wars.
Although the finish line is always in Paris, the race begins in a new city every year, and sometimes not in France. The 2016 competition will begin in Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.
Up until it was banned in the 1960s, many cyclists regularly consumed alcohol throughout the race to help numb and tension and discomfort.
The average participant will complete 486,000 pedal strokes during the three-week course. They will also burn almost 124,000 calories!
The average speed is a staggering 25 mph.
The closest winning margin in race history was in 1989 between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon. LeMond secured victory with only 8 seconds to spare.
In the race’s early days, riders were granted 14 rest days. Today, they get two. Although most drivers don’t rest completely on these days, and will train for at least two hours to get the momentum going.
Although the tour’s history has been rife with cheating since the very first race, one of the most creative instances occurred in 1953 when Jean Robic filled his water bottle with lead. The weight and density helped him fly down the hilly mountainside.
The route’s total distance is the equivalent of cycling from London to Cairo, Egypt.