Did you know that Eddy Merckx quickly became one of the best cyclists of the 20th century, pretty much dominating the entire Tour de France in the year of 1969? Not only did he win the Yellow jersey, but he also won the combination classification, the points classification and the combativity award.
And the best part of all? It was his first time ever taking part in the race!
Having been around for over a century now, the Tour de France has seen many extraordinary cyclists such as Merckx. As years have passed, cyclists have become faster and many records have been broken in the pursuit of excellence.
In this article, we will be going through a few significant records and statistics and how these changed the course of the Tour de France entirely.
One of the more significant statistics is that of the appearances of riders in the Tour de France throughout the duration of their career.
Currently, Joop Zoetemelk holds the record for most race finishes. An amazing feat in itself given that he finished every single time he raced!
The following are the names of the riders with most participations and finishes:
- Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) with 15 finishes in 2001-2006, 2008-2011, 2013-2017
- Stuart O’Grady (AUS) with 15 finishes in 1997-1999, 2001-2006, 2008-2013
- Jens Voigt (GER) with 14 finishes in 1998-2002, 2004, 2006-2008, 2010-2014
- Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) with 15 finishes in 2001-2003, 2005-2009, 2011-2017
- Joop Zoetemelk (HOL) with 16 finishes in 1970-1973, 1975-1986
Race Win Margins
Another aspect that gets a lot of attention is the margin of which riders win their races. In the beginning times of the Tour de France, riders were prohibited from riding together and thus gaps between riders turned to be always bigger.
Nowadays, all cyclists pretty much ride together in what is called a peloton, rendering the gaps much smaller.
In recent races, most riders are broken up by time trials, mountain top finishes and sometimes breakaways. The smallest margins to have every occurred in the history of the Tour de France is as stated below.
- 8 Seconds between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon in 1989
- 23 seconds between Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans in 2007
- 32 seconds between Oscar Pereiro and Andreas Kloden in 2006
- 38 seconds between Jan Janssen and Herman Van Springel in 1968
- 40 seconds between Stephen Roche and Pedro Delgado in 1987
- 48 seconds between Bernard Thevenet and Hennie Kuiper in 1977
- 54 seconds between Chris Froome and Rigoberto Uran in 2017
- 55 seconds between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in 1964
- 58 seconds between Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans in 2008
Tour de France Speed Records
One interesting statistic that will definitely boggle your mind is that the average speeds of riders have consistently increased across the years.
In case you were wondering, the race distances have always been somewhat similar. In the early days riders could only achieve average speeds of 25km/h but as of recent, riders have already started to consistently hit the 40 km/h mark.
The fastest recorded average speed was set by Lance Armstrong where he achieved an average speed of 41.65 km/h in 2005. The slowest however was in 1919, when Firmin Lambot averaged 24.06 km/h in the race.