On Facebook
In Your Basket:  0 Items | 0.00
 

The Tour De France

Monday, 9th July, 2012

Tour De France

The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race held in France and nearby countries. First staged in 1903, the race typically covers around 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours", the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world. The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages.

Individual times to finish each stage are aggregated to determine the overall winner at the end of the race. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears the leader's yellow jersey on the next day of racing. The course changes every year, but the race has always finished in Paris. Since 1975, the climax of the final stage has been along the Champs-Élysées.

The Origins Of The Tour De France

The roots of the Tour de France trace to the Dreyfus Affair, a cause célèbre that divided France at the end of the 19th century over the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus, a soldier convicted—though later exonerated—of selling military secrets to the Germans. Opinions became heated and there were demonstrations by both sides. One was what the historian Eugen Weber called "an absurd political shindig" at the Auteuil horse-race course in Paris in 1899.

Among those involved was Comte Jules-Albert de Dion, the owner of the De Dion-Bouton car works, who believed Dreyfus was guilty.De Dion served 15 days in jail and was fined 100 francs for his role at Auteuil,which included striking Émile Loubet, the president of France, on the head with a walking stick.

Tailor Made For The Sporting Press

The incident at Auteuil, said Weber, was "...tailor-made for the sporting press." The first and the largest daily sports newspaper in France was Le Vélo,which sold 80,000 copies a day.Its editor, Pierre Giffard, thought Dreyfus innocent. He reported the arrest in a way that displeased de Dion, who was so angry that he joined other anti-Dreyfusards such as Adolphe Clément and Édouard Michelin and opened a rival daily sports paper, L'Auto.

French Sports Newspaper Rivalry

The new newspaper appointed Henri Desgrange as editor. He was a prominent cyclist and owner with Victor Goddet of the velodrome at the Parc des Princes. De Dion knew him through his cycling reputation, through the books and cycling articles that he had written, and through press articles he had written for the Clément tyre company.

The First Tour De France

The first Tour de France was staged in 1903. The plan was a five-stage race from 31 May to 5 July, starting in Paris and stopping in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nantes before returning to Paris. Toulouse was added later to break the long haul across southern France from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

The Evolution Of The Tour De France

Stages would go through the night and finish next afternoon, with rest days before riders set off again. But this proved too daunting and the costs too great for most and only 15 entered. Desgrange had never been wholly convinced and he came close to dropping the idea.Instead, he cut the length to 19 days, changed the dates to 1 July to 19 July, and offered a daily allowance to those who averaged at least 20 km/h on all the stages.

Tour De France Prizemoney

That was what a rider would have expected to earn each day had he worked in a factory. He also cut the entry fee from 20 to 10 francs and set the first prize at 12,000 francs and the prize for each day's winner at 3,000 francs. The winner would thereby win six times what most workers earned in a year. That attracted between 60 and 80 entrants – the higher number may have included serious inquiries and some who dropped out – among them not just professionals but amateurs, some unemployed, some simply adventurous.




SEARCH