Tour De France History
The history of the Tour De France, a bicycle race through France and its bordering countries that occurs annually, began in 1903. A magazine editor from Paris named Henri Desgrange first came up with the idea. The first Tour De France in history began with 60 riders. The race was created to boost exposure of Desgrange's magazine "L''Auto." Georges Lefevre, one of his writers, suggested the race not be held on a track but instead on roads .
One surprising fact in Tour De France history is the number of spectators who came for the initial race with 60 competitors - a whopping 20,000 individuals! For entry into the first Tour De France, each competitor had to pay 20 francs, and the overall winner would win 20,000 francs. The winner of each day of the race won 3,000 francs. The winner of the first race in the history of the Tour De France was Maurice Garin, and Desgrange's magazine, "L'Auto," went on to increase in circulation year after year, from 25,000 to exceeding 800,000 during the 1933 Tour De France.
Although the race went through a variety of roads through different towns, Desgrange still felt the course of the Tour De France should change each year in order to keep interest in the race. To do this, he added courses through the Alps and the Pyrenees Mountains in various years.
During the 1919 race, Desgrange realized he wanted the leader of the Tour De France at the time to wear something so that spectators, who often were not sure, knew who was winning at the time. He chose a yellow jersey in this notable moment in Tour De France history. Although, the original race, which 2,388 kilometers and had six stages, at one time the Tour De France grew to as many as 5,564 kilometers and 24 stages. In the later part of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, the length of the race has been between approximately 3,500 and 4,000 kilometers in length.
The Tour De France has had a number of multiple year winners. Lance Armstrong, who is the most notable multiple year winner of the Tour De France, won the race 7 consecutive times, from 1999 to 2005. However, there have been several other three and five year winners like Jaques Anquetil (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964), Eddy Merckx (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974), Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985), Miguel Indurain (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995), Philippe Thys (1913, 1914, 1920), Louison Bobet (1953, 1954, 1955), and Greg Lemond (1986, 1989, 1990). The Tour De France which has occurred annually since 1903, except for suspensions from 1915 to 1918 because of World War I and 1940 to 1946 because of World War II, continues to occur annually.