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Fascinating facts about the Tour de France

Updated on November 28, 2015

Facts about the Tour de France 2014

The cycling world’s premier event, the Tour de France 2014, begins on 5th July 2014 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England and it will include a stage finish in London, in front of Buckingham Palace on the seventh of July 2014.

This will be the 101st time the Tour de France has been held and it will no doubt provide all the excitement and thrills and spills that we have come to expect from the annual multiple stage bicycle race event. The Tour de France was first held in 1903 and it was actually first conceived as a means of promoting the magazine, L'Auto, the pages of which pages were yellow, hence the yellow jersey that the leader of the race wears. The Tour de France has since been held annually, the only exceptions being during the two world wars. Originally, the participants in the Tour de France were French, but now the race has achieved worldwide prominence and teams will be entering from twenty two different countries from around the world, each team having nine riders.

Each of the stages of the race, which include the gruelling hill climbs, the breakneck speed downhill stages, the flat stages and the time trials, are timed to the finish and the times of each of the stages are compounded to give each rider’s overall individual position in the race. There are also races within the race the teams, including, the hill climbers, young riders and the sprinters.

The 2014 Tour De France reaches its climax in Paris, France on the 27th July 2014, when the final winners will be decided and, despite the huge distances that the athletes cover, the final finish in Paris, is often a close one, sometimes with only seconds between the riders.

Hit by a major doping scandal in 2012 and sometimes the scene of horrific pile ups, the 2104 Tour de France, the largest annual sporting event in the world, is on its way and here to get you started are ten facts about the race and details of 2014 Tour de France stages.

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Tour de France 2014 Stages

 
 
 
 
 
1
05 July 2014
Leeds - Harrogate (United Kingdom)
191km (119mi)
Flat stage
2
06 July 2014
York - Sheffield (United Kingdom)
198km (123mi)
Hill stage
3
07 July 2014
Cambridge - London (United Kingdom)
159km (99mi)
Flat stage
4
08 July 2014
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage - Lille[11]
164km (102mi)
Hill stage
5
09 July 2014
Ypres (Belgium) - Arenberg Porte du Hainaut
156km (97mi)
Flat stage (with cobblestones)
6
10 July 2014
Arras - Reims
194km (121mi)
Flat stage
7
11 July 2014
pernay - Nancy
233km (145mi)
Flat stage
8
12 July 2014
Tomblaine - Gerardmer La Mauselaine
161km (100mi)
Hill stage
9
13 July 2014
Gerardmer - Mulhouse
166km (103mi)
Hill stage
10
14 July 2014
Mulhouse - La Planche des Belles Filles
161km (100mi)
Mountain stage
 
15 July 2014
Rest day
 
 
11
16 July 2014
Besancon - Oyonnax
186km (116mi)
Flat stage
12
17 July 2014
Bourg-en-Bresse - Saint-Etienne
183km (114mi)
Hill stage
13
18 July 2014
Saint-Etienne - Chamrousse
200km (124mi)
Mountain stage
14
19 July 2014
Grenoble - Risoul
177km (110mi)
Mountain stage
15
20 July 2014
Tallard - Nimes
222km (138mi)
Flat stage
 
21 July 2014
Rest day
 
 
16
22 July 2014
Carcassonne - Bagneres-de-Luchon
237km (147mi)
Mountain stage
17
23 July 2014
Saint-Gaudens - Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla deAdet
125km (78mi)
Mountain stage
18
24 July 2014
Pau - Hautacam
145km (90mi)
Mountain stage
19
25 July 2014
Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour - Bergerac
208km (129mi)
Flat stage
20
26 July 2014
Bergerac - Perigueux
54km (34mi)
Individual time trial
21
27 July 2014
Evry - Paris
136km (85mi)
Flat stage

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Source

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Facts about the Tour de France

1. The Tour de France is the World’s biggest annual sporting event

The Tour de France attracts a worldwide audience of more than 3 billion people from over 188 countries. 15 Million People are expected to attend the 2014 Tour de France as spectators and over two thousand journalists will be on hand to report the events as they unfold.

Tour de France 2014 Map
Tour de France 2014 Map

2. The Riders will cover around 2,000 miles in the course of the race

The speed that riders will travel depends on the course and the weather, but the average speed in 2005 was 25.8mph and that includes the mountain stages, so they are moving! During the course of the race they will ride approximately 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) and in that time, the average competitor will burn a massive 123,900 calories. That’s the equivalent of over 250 double cheeseburgers!

3. What the Tour de France jersey colours mean

The rules of the Tour de France state that all competing team riders have to wear identical team colours. The only exceptions are the current holders in each stage of the separate competitions, within the competition. The overall fastest rider wears the famous yellow jersey, the best young rider wears white and the best hill climber wears a red and white polka-dot jersey.

4. Tour de France riders used to smoke and drink, while riding

Right up until the 1960’s, despite the physical endurance required to complete the race, riders were often seen smoking and drinking wine during the race. It was only a law, passed in the 960’s, that prohibited sportsman from using artificial stimulates that stopped this practice.

Maurice Garin, winner of the first Tour de France (standing on the right)
Maurice Garin, winner of the first Tour de France (standing on the right) | Source

5. Early cheating in the Tour de France

Before the days of performance boosting drug scandals, some riders in the Tour de France still tried their luck with some underhand methods. In 1953, a rider named Jean Robic, filled his water bottle with lead to give him more weight in the downhill sections of the race. The modern equivalent of this cheat is till tried today and is called the sticky bottle. This is where a rider will pretend to be taking a bottle of water from a team car, but is really holding on and getting a free ride.

6. How do the riders take a pee on the Tour de France?

As a single stage of the Tour de France can take over five hours and the riders do drink water during that time. As you can imagine, bathroom breaks do become necessary. When that does become necessary, the riders in the competition stick by a gentleman’s agreement that allows for the taking of “pauses pipi” or potty breaks, during which time the other riders will not try to gain an advantage.

7. Early riders in the Tour de France had no gears on their bikes

To begin with, gears on the bikes were banned in the Tour de France. This meant that on the difficult uphill stages of the race the riders either had to struggle their way up with a single gear, or they were allowed to stop and change their entire back wheel to one with a lower gear.

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8. The Lance Armstrong Doping Scandal

American cyclist, Lance Armstrong, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after the US Anti-Doping agency accused him of being the lead man in a doping scandal. The organisers of the Tour de France officially erased Armstrong’s name from their record books, completely erasing his 1999-2005 victories.

9. Mario Cipollini and his legal artificial stimulant

Doping claims and cheating scandals are actually never far from the Tour de France, but one cyclist, Mario Cipollini, who was famous for his sprinting, had a unique and totally legal way to boost his performance in the completion. In the 1999 race, he taped a photograph of Pamela Anderson to the crossbar of his bike to give him a testosterone boost each time he took a peak.

10. The Tour de France was designed to be an ordeal

The Tour De France was designed to be as much of an ordeal for the riders as possible and early routes were planned deliberately to be difficult. One of the race founders, Henri Desgrange, once said that the ideal Tour de France would the one in which only one rider finished.

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Comments

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    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

      Yes, the facts are fascinating, especially the pee breaks. I always wondered about that!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well done, you laid it out very well, thank you

    • Artois52 profile image
      Author

      Artois52 2 years ago from England

      Thanks Rachael. I have to admit that I had assumed they employed a slightly less elegant solution!

    • gamerjimmy23 profile image

      Jimmy Gent 2 years ago from California

      Great hub! Although I no longer ride I very much enjoy watching the Tour de France. Indeed, it's by far the most brutal cycling event of all time. Oh, and I loved reading about Mario Cipollini's test boosting strategy - hilarious! But Pamela Anderson?

    • Artois52 profile image
      Author

      Artois52 2 years ago from England

      Thanks jimmy. As for Pamela Anderson, there's no accounting for taste!

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