Biking the Tour de France
The Tour de France is a multi-stage bike race that attracts riders from all over the world. These riders compete over mountainous terrain, primarily in France, and conclude along the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Le Tour de France began over a century ago in 1903, when a journalist named Geo Lefevre dreamed up a massive bike race in order to boost sales of his daily sports newspaper, L’Auto. Along with the paper’s director-editor, Henri Desgrange, they put together a 1,500-mile course consisting of six stages, and the cyclists who participated wore no helmets and could receive no help whatsoever.
From Germany to Belgium to France – 2017 Tour de France route map
The Tour has been held annually since its inception, aside from 11 canceled races during World War I and II. While today’s race bears the same name, the intervening decades have sculpted it into something quite a bit different, while still paying homage to its beginnings. This year’s Tour will feature 21 stages (at a rate of one stage per day, plus rest days), compared to the six of the first race, and will begin in Düsseldorf, Germany. This will be the first time the Tour has started in Germany since 1987 and the fourth time overall a German city has hosted the Grand Départ.
How long is the Tour de France
The route of this year’s Tour de France winds from Düsseldorf, Germany, all the way to Paris, France, with a few stops in other countries as well – totaling 3,521 kilometers (or 2187 miles), over the 21 stages.
Other stages include Verviers, Belgium, to Longwy, France (stage three); Pau to Peyragudes (stage 12); and La Mure, France, to Serre Chevalier, France (stage 17), which takes riders through the French Alps.
Prior Champs of the Tour de France
The most recent winner of the Tour de France was Britain’s Christopher Froome of Team Sky, who also claimed the title in 2015. He remains a heavy favorite to win this year’s Tour, as well. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali of the Astana Pro Team won in 2014. Chris Froome also captured the win in 2013, preceded by fellow Team Sky member Bradley Williams, who won it all in 2012.
In 2011, Australian Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing Team was the winner, preceded by Andy Schleck, who hails from Luxembourg. Spain’s Alberto Contador of the Astana Pro Team won the Tour in 2009. Carlos Sastre, who also calls Spain home, won it all in 2008 as part of Team CSC Saxo Bank, and Contador won the year prior (while with the Discovery Channel Pro Team).
Over more than 100 years of competition, the winningest cyclist was Lance Armstrong, who came out on top seven times. His wins were later removed from the record books after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found him guilty of doping in 2012.
The special jerseys donned by the cyclists aren’t random. The coveted yellow jersey is awarded by the leader of the general classification after each stage, as the yellow jersey is the most easily recognized and considered very prestigious.
The green jersey got its start in 1953 and is awarded to the cyclist with the most points. Currently, points are awarded in the intermediate sprints and at the end of each stage.
The red polka-dot jersey is worn by the leader of the King of the Mountains (KOM) classification. KOM points are awarded at the top of every categorized climb. While a King of the Mountain has been recognized since 1933, the unique jersey didn’t make an appearance until 1975.
The white jersey is awarded to the best young rider (25 or younger) in the overall standings. The jersey made its first appearance in 1975, went away in 1988, and reappeared in 2000.
Tour de France 2017 start & finish dates
When does the Tour de France start in 2017? The Tour de France 2017 will begin on Saturday in Düsseldorf, Germany, July 1st and ends on Sunday, July 23rd on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Off to the Races
While the Tour de France is a cycling competition, it’s much more than just a race. It’s enormous, covers miles and miles of gorgeous (and often mountainous) European terrain, and takes place over most of a month. If you’re going to cheer on your favorite riders make sure to stay cool (or warm!) in your favorite sports gear from Fanatics.