Viva Le Tour de France!

July was a big month for French sports. Not only did France just win the World Cup, but they hosted another popular event in the Tour de France. Let’s cycle through some trivia about the biggest thing on two wheels.

21 stages

The riders don’t race the whole thing all at once, because that would probably kill them. Instead, it’s broken down into 21 separate stages which covers 2,082 miles.

Length can vary

The route isn’t always the same, however, which means the length can vary. In 1926, for example, the Tour ran a punishing 3,570 miles. The 2017 tour covered about 2,220.

The elite

It truly is an elite cycling event. In 2018, only nine teams comprising 80 riders started the Tour.

42,000 water bottles

Those 80 guys drink a lot of water and have to eat a lot. They’ll go through about 42,000 water bottles in total, and each rider will burn about 5,000 calories on every stage.

800 tires

The race is hard on bodies and bikes—about 800 tires will be used throughout the Tour.

Alcohol is banned

More wine? Riders used to routinely drink a lot of alcohol during the race. Reason: It numbed the pain that comes from endlessly riding a bicycle. Organizers banned alcohol in the 1960s because it could be considered a stimulant.

Maillot jaunt

The active leader in the race gets to wear a prestigious “yellow jersey” or maillot jaunt. It’s been a tradition since the early years of the race—in 1919, French newspaper L’Auto sponsored the tour, and since it printed on yellow paper, the yellow jersey was a nice promotional opportunity.

Other jerseys

There are other, less famous jerseys, too. The best-performing rider under 25 gets a white one, and a polka-dotted garment goes to the rider with the best overall time in the mountain stages.

The closest race ever

Closest Tour de France ever: In 1989, Greg Lemond of the U.S. beat French rider Laurent Fignon…by eight seconds.

Who won the most

Who has won the Tour the most times? Technically, not Lance Armstrong. He won every year from 1999 to 2005 but those were vacated in 2012 due to his use of performance enhancing drugs. That means there’s a tie for most wins. Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, both of France, have five wins each.

World War cancellations

The Tour has run every year since 1903, except for the 11 times it was cancelled because of the two World Wars.