10 incredible facts about the Tour de France
Tour de France facts and stats
The Tour de France is incredible. It’s gripping, riveting and has the potential to take over your entire life. Over it’s long history the Tour has been littered with heated rivalries, has been shocked by outrageous scandals and has witnessed some truly bizarre tactics from victory-hungry riders. Here we highlight some of these incredible facts and explain what role Pamela Anderson played in one unusual Tour. Read these incredible facts to understand just how amazing this cycling event really is:
In 1903 a man called Henri Desgrange launched the Tour de France. Do you know why? To boost the sales of the newspaper Henri was editor of: L’Auto. Henri’s newspaper was locked in a competitive sales war with the sports paper Le Velo at the time and desperately needed to widen his readership. Fortunately for Henri the six-day race was a success and the sales of L’Auto were hugely boosted as a result.
The average Tour de France rider burns a whopping 123,900 calories over the course of the 21-day race – 123,900! That’s the calorie equivalent of eating 252 double cheeseburgers from McDonalds or 619 original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
We knew the riders who took part in the Tour de France were dedicated, but the Italian sprinter, Mario Cipollini, took his dedication to a new level when he taped a picture of Pamela Anderson to his handlebars. Mario thought that glimpsing the Baywatch star during his ride might boost his testosterone levels, thus giving him an advantage over his competition.
In 1986 Greg LeMond became the first American to ride to victory and win the Tour de France. Three years later Greg won again. What make’s Greg’s story incredible though was the fact that in 1989 he won the Tour, despite the fact that just two years earlier he had been shot and badly wounded in a hunting accident by his brother-in-law. Greg LeMond still has 35 pellets from the accident in his body.
Cheating has been rife in the Tour de France since the early days when the race began. One of the most imaginative instances of cheating occurred in 1953 when the French rider Jean Robic swapped his water bottle for a bottle filled with lead. The bottle helped Jean soar down from the mountain summit at an incredible speed.
792 tyres later
It turns out that the Tour de France isn’t just a test of physical endurance for the riders; the Tour de France bikes suffer too. During the three-week challenge the peloton tend to wear out a total of 792 tyres.
Here is a strange fact about the Tour de France, but it’s so incredible it had to be included – if you were to cycle the entire distance of the Tour de France, which is around 3,500kms, you would make enough sweat to flush a toilet 39 times. That’s a lot of sweat.
Undoubtedly the Tour de France is a huge physical challenge that only the fittest of athletes can compete in. Bearing this in mind makes the following fact even more incredible: until the 1960s Tour riders drank alcohol during the race. The boozy cyclists had to stop during the 1960s though because a law was passed stopping sportsmen using stimulants when competing.
Most cyclists who race in the Tour de France are slim and light. In fact the heaviest cyclist who has ever competed in the tour is the Swedish rider Magnus Backstedt. Magnus, who weighed around 94kg, earned himself the nickname ‘Big Maggy’. Supposedly the least heavy cyclist was Leonardo Piepoli who weighed just 57kgs.
Those who dare to cycle the 2013 Tour de France course will have climbed the equivalent of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon, Mount Blanc, Kilimanjaro and Everest. Considering the riders do the course in just 21 days is pretty incredible when you consider the distance they are climbing. The total distance (3,500kms) is also equivalent to cycling from London to Cairo.