The 2019 Tour de France started on July 8, 2019, in Brussels in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Tour de France win of Eddy Merckx, and ends on July 28, 2019, in Paris (Champs-Élysées). The 3.460km race is divided into 21 stages. Be sure to be prepared for the race with some fun facts we’ll cover in the today’s article.
#1 1st Tour de France
In 1903, Henri Desgrange, an editor of L’Auto and cyclist, creates the Tour de France trying to keep cyclists interested in his magazine. The idea was to hold the tour around France. There was an entry fee of 10 Francs and the prize of 20.000 Francs. That was enough to attract 79 cyclists to sign up for the race and 60 of them to show at the start. Maurice Garin went into history, winning the 1st edition of the Tour. He was one of the 21 cyclists who completed the race.
#2 2nd edition of the Tour
The second Tour was very interesting for two reasons. We had the youngest winner, 19 years old Henri Cornet. Besides that, Maurice Garin once more went into history. He actually finished first and was the original winner. Henri Cornet was actually 5th. But… Well, Maurice Garin and 11 more cyclists (including all of the first four) were disqualified due to the usage of the train along the way. Smart move, but they were caught 🙂
#3 Most Successful Nations
France and Belgium are the two most successful nations on the Tour with 36 and 18 wins. Spain has 12 and Italy has 10. Great Britain has 6 titles, Luxembourg 5, United States 3, Netherlands and Switzerland 2. Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Australia have 1 title.
#4 Tour de France 2019
Tour de France 2019 is the 106th edition of the Tour. Since the Tour had been held first in 1903 and is held every year, we obviously lack 11 of them. The Tour wasn’t held from 1915 to 1918 (World War I), and 1940 to 1946 (World War II).
#5 Tour de France is very popular
According to some statistics, Tour de France is much more popular than some other well-known events. While methodology could be questionable, it seems that the Tour has around 3.5 billion viewers leaving events like FIF World Cup, (summer) Olympic Games, Winter Olympics, and Super Bowl far behind.
#6 How hard it really is?
If we want to keep it short & simple – extremely hard. Taking into consideration that cyclists starting the Tour are professionals and in a perfect condition the information that around 20% of them completes the race tells you everything. In 1919 only 10 riders managed to finish the Tour. The amount of sweat, tears, and calories burned along the way is something we won’t experience in our “normal” lives. During the Tour history, 3 riders died during the competition and 1 more drowned during the rest day.
#7 Alcohol and cigarettes
You wouldn’t probably expect it today, but yes, both of these two were popular in the past. Alcohol was used to relieve the pain while cigarettes were believed to open the lungs and prepare them for climbs. We know better than this today 🙂
#8 Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong held most wins on the Tour with 7 consecutive wins from 1999 to 2005. Still, he was disqualified due to the use of doping. He admitted everything to Oprah Winfrey in a TV interview. It’s interesting to mention that he was sued for breaching the contract while racing under the U.S. Postal Service sponsorship.
#9 Most Wins
With Lance Armstrong being disqualified, we have 4 cyclists who won the Tour 5 times. These 4 great are:
- Jacques Anquetil (France, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964),
- Eddy Merckx of (Belgium, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1974),
- Bernard Hinault (France, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1985),
Miguel Indurain (Spain, the first competitor to win five consecutive races from 1991 to 1995).
#10 Let’s wrap-up everything with few cycling jokes
“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” – Mark Twain
Did you hear about the idiot who won the Tour De France? He did a lap of honor.
A cyclist lying on his deathbed asked his best friend to do him a favor when he’d gone. “Anything,” replied his friend. “Just don’t let my wife sell my bikes for what I told her I paid for them,” he begged. – Caroline Hirsch
A vicar was stopped by the police at night for not having a backlight. The vicar says: “I don’t need a backlight; the Lord is with me”. The policeman says: “Two on a bike as well, that’s another offense”. – Dave Connor
With everything said, we can now sit back and relax and watch the Tour. And, of course, consider a new topic for our collection.
Pictures: Stampsoftheworld.co.uk, WNS