Tour de France is the most prestigious annual stage bicycle race in the world. Period. Held annually for about 20 days, the Tour de France features 21 stages and sees cyclists and fans from all over the world.
In this race, cyclists will cover over 3,000 kilometers which encompasses terrains of various kinds. In certain stages, the race will also cover countries bordering France.
Being a stage bicycle race, time taken for all riders to complete each stage is considered to determine the winner. There are many classification awards up for grabs with different jerseys awarded for each classification.
Each year, approximately 21 teams of nine cyclists each participate and every single one of them are time by stage. Without saying, the general classification is the most sought after, but the other categories also have started to get a lot of attention.
One factor that makes the Tour de France extremely interesting is the change of route every year. Time trials are introduced differently every year but that said, the general format of the race remains the same.
How the Tour de France Began
Tour de France first started in the year 1903, and was organized solely to promote the local sports newspaper, L’Auto. Since then, it was held every year until today with exception of both the world wars.
Henri Desgrange, the chief editor of L’Auto structured the first race to be one that consisted of six stages and covered 2,428km.
The first race started in Paris and then passed through Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes before ending in Paris.
The early days of the Tour de France was absolutely brutal. Each stage comprised of about 400km, meaning that riders had to cycle day and night. To make things worse, riders had to repair their own bicycles should things go wrong.
With time, the Tour de France gained more traction and begin to attract riders from around the world. Part of the UCI World Tour, most teams that participate are UCI WorldTeams. Direct invites were also present in most of the years.
History Of All The Classifications
The first ever classification to exist in the Tour de France is the general classification. After all these years, the general classification still remains as the most prestigious and the winner of this category is pretty much known as the winner of the tour itself. In every race, every rider has only one jersey in mind – the yellow jersey.
The second and third most popular classifications are the mountains classification and the points classification respectively. Arguably the most challenging, the mountains classification rewards riders with points as they reach the top of every climb in the race. The more challenging the climb, the more points awarded.
The points classification however is responsible for a lot of excitement in the Tour de France race. It induces sprinting actions within all the riders as pints are awarded when riders cross a set ‘point’ in every stage.