Tour de France 2023: Cycling’s Ultimate Ride


By Rocking’ Reese

On January 19, 1903, a French newspaper announced a new competition (Tour de France) that would begin on July 1st. It would a bicycle race with multiple stages that started & ended in Paris, while going through various parts of France.  Cyclists would have their endurance & their emotions tested, as they traversed throughout France on a 2 1/2 week adventure. At the end of this grueling competition, one rider would win a large amount of money & the honor of being the winner of the Tour de France.

Tour de France History

The Tour de France is recognized as one of the 3 Grand Tours, along with the Giro d’Italia & the Vuelta a España. It is also part of cycling’s triple crown, along with the Giro d’Italia & UCI Road World Championship. Since its inception, the event hasn’t been held 11 times.

World War I caused the competition to be cancelled from 1915-1918 & World War 2 caused the event to be cancelled from 1940-1946. In the history of the TDF, 64 different cyclists from 15 countries have officially won the competition. It would have been 65, had Lance Armstrong not had his 7 championships (which he won from 1999-2005) stripped, because of his use of performance enhancing drugs. 

Naturally, France would have the most victories (36) and the highest amount of winning cyclists (21). Ironically, France hasn’t had a winner, since 1985. Belgium, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, the United States, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, & Slovenia have all had 2 or more wins, but only Switzerland, Netherlands, & Denmark didn’t have someone win at least twice. Ireland, Germany, Australia, & Colombia all have had  1 winner.

When it comes to Tour de France, being the 1st cyclist to reach the finish line didn’t guarantee that you would be a leader (or if it was the final stage, the champion). In order to be the leader after the stage, a cyclist would have to have the lowest overall time. In order to have the lowest time, a cyclist would have to finsh the stage, while doing 2 important things.

Tour de France

First, avoid committing infractions, because that would add seconds (or even minutes) to his time. Second, earn time bonuses for completing specific objectives.

Originally, leaders were recognized by a green armband. (Eventual 1903 champion) Maurice Garin was the first cyclist to earn the armband. In 1919, (TDF Director) Henri Desgrange decided after stage 10 to give the leader a yellow jersey, instead of the green armband. Eugène Christophe would be the first man to wear the yellow jersey. At the end of the final stage, whoever was recognized as the leader would become the champion.

The list of Tour de France winners is long & historic. Garin would begin the list, as the inaugural champion. In 1904, Henri Cornet made history twice. He would be the first man to be declared the winner, after a post-race disqualification. (Cornet originally ended the race in 5th place, but original winner Garin and the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th place cyclists were disqualified for illegal use of transportation.)

Cornet would also be the first…and, to date, only…teenager to win the TDF, winning just 11 days prior to his 20th birthday. In 1907 & 1908, Lucien Petit-Breton would become the first man to win the competiiton twice, as well as being the first man to win it in consecutive years. In 1909, the first non-French champion was crowned, as François Faber from Luxembourg earned victory. In 1912 & 1913, Phillippe Thys from Belgium would become the 1st international cyclist to win consecutive TDFs. In 1919, Firmin Lambot from Belgium would be the first person to wear a yellow jersey as TDF champion. In 1920,

Thys would become the first man to win the event on 3 occasions. In 1922, Lambot would make history again by becoming the oldest TDF winner (36 years, 130 days). In 1947, Jean Robic made history by being the first TDF champion that never wore the yellow jersey, until the race was over.

Louison Bobet became the first man to win the TDF in 3 consecutive years (1953-1955). After winning in 1957, 1961, & 1962, Jacques Anquetil would become the competition’s first 4-time winner in 1963, then the first 5-time winner (and first man to win 4 consecutive TDFs) in 1964. In 1986, Greg LeMond from the United States became the first non-European winner.

Miguel Indurain from Spain would set a record by winning 5 consecutive TDFs from 1991-1995 (a record that would have been topped in 2004 by Armstrong, but was retroactively returned to Indurain).

As we go along for the ride, we anticipate what thrills will lie ahead. Will a new name capture his 1st victory? Will a familiar name add  to his TDF legacy? We won’t know until July 23rd, when the final stage will be run. Until then, au revoir.

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