With millions of spectators lining the route, the race televised in 186 countries, a publicity caravan of 250 vehicles representing 40 brands, every July the Tour de France is the most popular and most closely followed annual sporting event. A showcase for cycling, it is also a showcase for France and its landscapes
An event linked to the media
Started in 1903 and linked from the very beginning to the media, the cycling Tour de France was created by Henri Desgrange to promote his L’Auto (forerunner of L’Équipe). Today the race is organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), a subsidiary of the press group Amaury, which at the end of the twenty stages of the Tour, presents the winner with €450,000.
The Yellow Jersey
This appeared in 1919, introduced by Henri Desgrange, the Tour director, who decided that the leader of the general classification should, for the next stage of the race, wear a yellow jersey, the colour of his magazine L’Auto. Eugène Christophe was the first to wear it. Eddy Merckx, regarded as the greatest cyclist of all time, holds the record for the number of yellow jerseys received: 111. Jacques Anquetil was the first to win the Tour five times. And the American Lance Armstrong holds the record for victories in the Tour: seven consecutive wins between 1999 and 2005.
The Tour de France, the best guidebook for France
Every year, over 250 towns apply to welcome the famous Tour de France caravan. Crossing more than ten regions and hundreds of communes on around,3500 kilometres of roads, with stages over plains, rugged ground, through mountains – including going over passes and up to the summit – there is not a single stage of the Tour that does not include an exceptional natural or cultural location.
Final stage: the Champs-Élysées
In its early days, the Tour de France ended in the Parc des Princes (from 1903 to 1967), and later in the Vélodrome de Vincennes. We had to wait until 1975 for the prestigious finish of the Tour on the Champs Élysées, where Parisians and tourists from all over the world now crowd in, from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, to see the yellow jersey arrive.
Source: France.fr & © AFP