Introduction Tour de France
Actually a phenomenon as the Tour de France needs no further introduction: we presuppose that everybody knows how the Tour started and what the most important milestones until now are. In fact the Tour is since year and day a media-circus of enormous proportions: one must be deaf ànd blind not to receive facts and figures of the Tour. Despite that fact we will give a short introduction to the most important stage race in the world: in that way we know for sure that everybody who visits this site keeps posted of the history and can understand the vocabulary of La Grande Boucle
Professional (road)cycling started in the 19th century, in about 1870, but it took until 1903
before the first edition of the Tour the France was born. On the first of July 1903 at Montgeron (a bit south of Paris) very early in the morning the start of the first Tour took place in front of the Auberge Reveil Matin
. Number of participants: 60. One month and six stages later Maurice Garin
is honored as the first winner of the Tour.
The man behind all this was Henri Desgrange
, by the way former worldhourrecord holder, editor/owner of L'Auto a sports magazine in that days.
He was looking for ways to raise his number of sold copies and therefore invented a cycling race through all of France. His commercial tric succeeded: in 1903 his edition raised from 20.000 copies at the beginning of the Tour until 65.000 copies at the end of the Tour. He approached in one jump the edition of his biggest competitor Le Vélo.
After this first year Desgrange invented over and over again new challenges for the riders: mountains (look into The Mountain-category), every year a longer Tour (until almost 6000 kilometers!) and so as a consequence more stages, teams by country in stead of brands, timetrials and more specific climb time trials (look into the Time Trials segment). The attention of the public was his greatest motivation (and thus earning more money) and Desgrange was very succesfull in it as a real entrepeneur. Also his successors Goddet, Lévitan, Le Blanc, etc. have inherited this commercial talent. At this very moment the Tour's ownership is with ASO, which means Amaury Sport Organisation, and they earn a fortune every year. L'Equipe
(the successor of L'Auto that choose the 'wrong' side in World War II) still has all the rights of live coverages in France.