Tour de France

For other uses, see Tour de France (disambiguation).
Tour de France
Local name:Tour de France
Region:France and adjacent countries
Type:Stage Race (Grand Tour)
First Edition:1903
Number of Editions:91 (2004)
First Winner:Maurice Garin, (France)
Most Wins:Lance Armstrong, (United States), 6 times
Latest Winner:Lance Armstrong, (United States), 2004
Most Career Yellow Jerseys:Eddy Merckx

The (Le) Tour de France (French for Tour of France), also simply known as Le Tour, is an epic long distance road bicycle racing competition for professionals held over three weeks in July in and around France. It has been held annually since 1903, only interrupted by World War I and World War II, and is now one of the world's largest sporting events.

Along with the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain), the Tour de France makes up cycling's "Grand Tours".


History and general description

The race was founded as a publicity event for the newspaper L'Auto (ancestor of the present l'Équipe) by its editor and co-founder, Henri Desgrange, to rival the Paris-Brest et retour ride (sponsored by Le Petit Journal), and Bordeaux-Paris. The idea for a round-France stage race is also credited to one of his journalists, Géo Lefèvre, with whom Desgrange had lunch at the Café de Madrid in Paris on 20 November 1902). Promotion of the Tour de France certainly proved a great success for the newspaper; circulation leapt from 25,000 before the 1903 Tour to 65,000 after it; in 1908 the race boosted circulation past a quarter of a million, and during the 1923 Tour it was selling 500,000 copies a day. The record circulation claimed by Desgrange was 854,000, achieved during the 1933 Tour. Today, the Tour is organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), part of the media group that owns l'Équipe.

The tour is a "stage race", divided into a number of stages, each stage being a race held over one day. Although the number of stages has varied in the past, recently the tour has consisted of around 20 stages, with a total length of between 3,000 and 4,000 km.

Most stages take place in France though it is very common to have a few stages in nearby countries, such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, but also non-neighbouring countries such as the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The three weeks usually includes two rest days, which are sometimes used to transport the riders long distances between stages.

In recent years, the first stage is preceded by a short individual time trial (1 to 15 km), called the prologue. The traditional finish is in Paris on the Champs-Élysées. In between, various stages occur, including a number of mountain stages, individual time trials and a team time trial. The remaining stages are held over relatively flat terrain. With the variety of stages, sprinters may win stages, but the overall winner is almost always a master of the mountain stages and time trials.

The itinerary of the race changes each year; however, some of the visited places, especially mountains and passes, recur almost annually and are famous on their own. The most famous mountains are those in the hors-categorie (peaks where the difficulty in climbing is beyond categorization), including the Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, the Hautacam and Alpe d'Huez. Although the tour is often won in the mountain stages, the length and variety of terrain ensures that only an all-round rider could possibly win the race.

Other major stage races include the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain). The Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Cycling Championship comprise the Triple Crown of Cycling.


Generally a coloured jersey is associated with each prize. The current holder of the prize is entitled to wear the jersey when they are racing. If a single rider is entitled to wear more than one jersey (for example, both overall leader and King of the Mountains), he wears the most prestigious one with the second place holder in the category wearing the other.

Current jerseys

The maillot jaune (yellow jersey), worn by the overall time leader, is most prized. It is awarded by calculating the total combined race time up to that point for each rider. The rider with the lowest total time is considered the leader, and at the end of the event is declared the overall winner of the Tour. The colour was originally a reference to the newspaper which sponsored the race, which had yellow pages.

The maillot vert (green jersey) is awarded for sprint points. At the end of each stage, points for this jersey are gained by the riders who finish first, second, etc. The number of points and the number of cyclists rewarded depends on the type of stage - many for a flat stage, slightly fewer for an intermediate stage, fewer still for a mountainous stage, and the least for time trials. There are also a few points for the riders who are first at some intermediate points, usually about 2 to 3 per stage. At those intermediate points (as well as at the finish) there are also bonus seconds for the yellow jersey, but those are so few that they rarely if ever have an influence on the final standings. They do however play a role in the first week, before the mountain stages, as the overall standings are usually less well separated. The German rider Erik Zabel has won the most green jerseys with six consecutive wins from 1996 through 2001. See also: Cycling sprinter

The "King of the Mountains" wears a white jersey with red dots (maillot à pois rouge), referred to as the "polka dot jersey". At the top of each climb in the Tour, there are points for the riders who are first over the top. The climbs are divided into categories from 1 (most difficult) to 4 (least difficult) based on their difficulty, measured as a function of their steepness and length. A fifth category, called Hors categorie (outside category) is formed by mountains even more difficult than those of the first category. In 2004, the scoring system was changed such that the first rider over a fourth category climb was awarded 3 points while the first to complete a hors category climb would win 20 points. Further points over a fourth category climb are only for the top three places while on a hors category climb the top ten riders are rewarded. Additionally beginning in 2004, points scored on the final climb of the day were doubled if said climb was at least a second category climb.

Although the best climber was first recognized in 1933, the distinctive jersey was not introduced until 1975. The colours were decided by the then sponsor, Poulain Chocolate, to match a popular product. Two riders have won the "King of the Mountains" six times: Federico Bahamontes (Spain) in 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964; and Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983; while Richard Virenque (France) won his record-breaking seventh title in 2004 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004). See also: Climbing specialist (cycling)

Two lesser classifications are that for the white jersey, which is like the yellow jersey, but only open for young riders (those who are less than 25 years old on January 1 of the year the Tour is ridden), and that for the red number, which goes to the most combative rider. Each day, a group of judges awards points to riders who made particularly attacking moves that day. The rider with most points in total gets a white-on-red (instead of a black-on-white) identification number. Since 2004 the number is not white-on-red anymore but white-on-blue.

Finally, there is a team classification. For this classification, the time of the first three riders from each team is added after each stage. The Tour currently has 21 teams of 9 riders each (when starting), each sponsored by one or more companies - although at some stages of its history, the teams have been divided instead by nationality. The team classification is not associated with a particular jersey design.

Historical jerseys

Historically, there was a red jersey for the standings in non-stage-finish sprints: points were awarded to the first three riders to pass two or three intermediate points during the stage. These sprints also scored points towards the green jersey and bonus seconds towards the overall classification, as well as cash prizes offered by the residents of the area where the sprint took place. The sprints remain, with all these additional effects, the most significant now being the points for the green jersey. The red jersey was abolished in approximately 1990.

There also used to be a combination jersey, scored on a points system based on standings for the yellow, green, red, and polka-dot jerseys. The jersey design was a patchwork, with areas resembling each individual jersey design. This was abolished in the same year as the red jersey.

Wearing jerseys

The rider leading a classification at the end of a stage is entitled to wear the corresponding jersey during the next stage. Jerseys are awarded in a ceremony immediately following the stage, actually before trailing riders have finished the stage.

Where a single rider leads in the competition for more than one jersey, they wear the most prestigious jersey to which they are entitled, and the second-placed rider in each of the other classifications becomes entitled to wear the corresponding jersey. For example, in the first week it is common for the overall classification (yellow jersey) and points (sprint) competition (green jersey) to be led by the same rider. In this case the leading rider will wear the yellow jersey and the rider placed second in the points competition will wear the green jersey.

A rider who leads a classification for a stage of the Tour gets three copies of the coloured jersey. The jersey bears their team logo, and the copy that they are awarded immediately after the stage end must have the logo attached in a matter of minutes, so this is done by a rapid process that can be done in the field but which yields an inferior jersey. Overnight, a high-quality jersey is printed to be worn the next day. They also get a high-quality jersey to keep as a souvenir: the ones that are worn get dirty and are sometimes damaged by the day's cycling.

Where a rider takes over the overall lead during a stage, by getting sufficiently far ahead of the yellow jersey wearer such that they would win the yellow jersey if the stage were to end immediately, they may be referred to as being "the yellow jersey on the road". No jerseys are exchanged due to this.

Usage outside the Tour

The Tour's jersey colours have been adopted by other cycling stage races, and have thus come to have meaning within cycling generally, rather than solely in the context of the Tour. For example, the Tour of Britain has yellow, green, and polka-dot jerseys with the same meaning as in the Tour de France.

The Giro d'Italia notably differs in awarding the overall leader a pink jersey, having been organized and sponsored by La Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian sports daily newspaper with pink pages. Its King of the Mountains wears a green jersey.

Types of stage

Ordinary stage

See: Stage (bicycle race)

In an ordinary stage, all riders start simultaneously and share the road. Riders are permitted to touch and to shelter behind each other1. The one who crosses the finish line first wins. In the first week of the Tour, this usually leads to spectacular mass sprints.

After the first twenty finishers, when there are no more sprint points available, no one competes to cross the line earlier. This avoids what would otherwise be hideously dangerous mass sprints. Time bonuses are awarded at some intermediate sprints and stage finishes, but only to the first three riders who reach the specified point. These bonuses generally are a maximum of 20 seconds. So, a good sprinter can get the Yellow Jersey early in the Tour.

Riders who crash within the last kilometre of the stage are credited with the finishing time of the group that they were with when they crashed. This avoids sprinters being penalised for accidents that do not accurately reflect their performance on the stage as a whole given that crashes in the final kilometre can be huge pileups that are hard to avoid for a rider farther back in the peloton. A crashed sprinter inside the final kilometre will not win the sprint, but avoids being penalised in the overall classification. The final kilometre is indicated in the race course by a red triangular pennant - known as the flamme rouge - raised above the road2.

Some ordinary stages take place in the mountains, almost always causing major shifts in the General Classification. On ordinary stages that do not have extended mountain climbs, most riders can manage to stay together in the peloton all the way to the finish; during mountain stages however, it is not uncommon for some riders to lose 40 minutes to the winner of the stage. The so called mountain stages are often the deciding factor in determining the winner of the Tour de France. With the exception of the now traditional finish at the Champs-Elysées all famous stages, like Alpe d'Huez and Mont Ventoux, are moutain stages, and these often bring out the most spectators who line up the roads by the thousands to cheer and encourage the cyclists and support their favorites.

Individual time trial

In an individual time trial each rider rides individually. The first stage of the tour is often a time trial, known as a prologue. Here, riders start in reverse order of race number, meaning the weakest rider on the lowest ranked team will be first off, with the final rider being the defending champion, wearing Number 1. The purpose of the prologue is to decide who gets to wear yellow on the opening day, and provide a large and prestigious spectacle for one lucky city.

There are usually three or four individual time trials during the Tour. One of these may be a team time trial (see below). Traditionally the final time trial has been the penultimate stage, and effectively determines the winner before the final ordinary stage which is not ridden competitively. On a few occasions, the race organisers made the final stage into Paris a time trial. The most recent occasion on which this was done, in 1989, yielded the closest ever finish in Tour history, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds overall. Fignon wore the yellow jersey for the final stage, with a narrow lead of 50 seconds, and was beaten by LeMond's superior time trial performance.

See also: Time trialist

Team time trial

See also: Team time trial

Often in the first week of the Tour there is a team time trial. Each member of the team is credited with the time of the fifth team member to cross the finish line; this is the middle member of a nine-person team. Traditionally, each team received the exact time it recorded in that stage.

However, in the 2004 Tour, the only team that received its actual time was the winning team; the trailing teams received set time penalties based on their placings in that stage - for example, riders in a team that finished six minutes behind the winner might lose only three minutes in the General Classification. This was widely viewed as an attempt by the Tour organisers to prevent Lance Armstrong's US Postal Team from gaining too much time.

Famous stages

The final stage now always finishes at the Champs-Elysées, which, being cobbled, is an unpleasant surface to cycle on. This stage is not usually competitive, the leader having a sufficiently large margin to be unchallengeable. There have been exceptions, however. In 1987, with Stephen Roche leading Pedro Delgado by only 40 seconds after the final time trial, Delgado broke away from the peloton on the Champs-Elysées, threatening to snatch victory at the last minute. (In fact he was caught, he and Roche both finished in the peloton, and Roche thereby won the Tour.)

In recent years, with closer finishes, the Tour organisers have experimented with holding the final time trial as the final, rather than as the penultimate, stage. Most famously, the final stage of the 1989 Tour saw Greg LeMond overtake Laurent Fignon's overall lead by just 8 seconds, the closest winning margin in the Tour's history. It is likely that this arrangement will be repeated in future.

The particularly tough climb of Alpe d'Huez is a favourite, providing a stage finish in most Tours. In 2004, in another experiment, the mountain time trial ended at Alpe d'Huez. This seems less likely to be repeated, following complaints from the riders. Another famous mountain stage is the climb of the Mont Ventoux, often claimed to be the hardest climb in the Tour due to the harsh conditions there. The tour usually features only one of these two climbs in a year.

To host a stage start or finish brings prestige, and a lot of business, to a town. Whereas formerly each stage would start at the preceding stage's finish line, making a continuous course for the race, nowadays each stage starts some distance from the previous day's finish, to allow more towns to share in the glory. Sometimes the Tour will jump very long distances between stages, requiring a rest day to allow riders to be transported.

The prologue and first stage of the Tour are particularly prestigious to host. Usually one town will host the prologue (which is too short to go between towns) and also the start of stage 1. The Tour alternates between starting inside and outside France; frequently the first couple of stages are in a neighbouring country.

Culture and Customs

The Tour is immensely popular and important in France, not only as a sporting event but also as a matter of national identity and pride. Millions of spectators line the route every year, some of them having encamped a week in advance to get the best views. In the hours before the riders pass, a carnival atmosphere prevails. Any amateur rider or, in fact, just about anyone, is free to attempt the course on his bicycle in the morning, and after that there begins a garish cavalcade of advertising vehicles blaring music and tossing hats, souvenirs, sweets and free samples of all sorts.

As word passes that the riders are approaching, the fans begin to encroach on the road until, by the time the riders pass, the crowd seems a living, breathing thing that contracts to allow their passage and then expands again. The fans are often just an arm’s length from the riders. In the 2003 Tour, Lance Armstrong, hotly pursued by Jan Ullrich, was suddenly thrown to the ground after his handlebar became entangled with the handbag of a spectator.

The riders, unlike some of their fans, temper their competitiveness and enthusiasm with an elaborate but unwritten code of honor and mutual respect. Whenever reasonably possible, one allows a rider to lead the peleton when the race passes through his home village or on his birthday, and it often happens that the winner of the stage held on Bastille Day is French. One does not pass a leading rider who has suffered a mechanical breakdown or other misfortune, one who is eating in the feed zone or one who is enjoying un naturel. When Armstrong fell victim to the handbag in 2003, Ullrich stopped and waited for him to arise, thus retaining his chivalric honor but giving up his chance of winning the Tour. Armstrong had similarly waited for Ullrich in the 2001 Tour de France after Ullrich ran off the road on a steep descent.

Any Frenchman who has won the Tour becomes an object of public adoration in his native land. It is said that any rider who has worn the yellow jersey, even for a day, will never go hungry or thirsty again in France.


See also: Road bicycle racing

Terms used in the Tour de France include:

  • cadence - the rate at which a cyclist pedals (in revolutions per minute)
  • caravan - the team cars following behind the peloton in support of their racers
  • domestique - a rider whose primary role is to support the team leader, as opposed to winning individual honors
  • étape - a race stage
  • hors catégorie - a climb that is "beyond categorization", an incredibly tough climb
  • lanterne rouge - meaning "red lantern", the name for the overall last-place rider
  • maillot jaune - the yellow jersey, worn by the overall first-place rider
  • parcours - the race route
  • patron - the winner of the race from the year before
  • peloton - the large main group of riders
  • régional de l'etape - a cyclist who lives in the area of the day's stage

List of overall winners

Note: Hyperlinked tour numbers point to more information on that particular tour. For previous tours this includes detailed results. For the upcoming tour, a route description is given.

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 from:1903 till:1904 text:"1st Maurice Garin" color:France
 from:1904 till:1905 text:"2nd Henri Cornet" color:France
 from:1905 till:1906 text:"3rd Louis Trousselier" color:France
 from:1906 till:1907 text:"4th René Polthier" color:France
 from:1907 till:1908 text:"5th Lucien Petit-Breton" color:France
 from:1908 till:1909 text:"6th Lucien Petit-Breton 2" color:France
 from:1909 till:1910 text:"7th François Faber" color:Luxembourg
 from:1910 till:1911 text:"8th Octave Lapize" color:France
 from:1911 till:1912 text:"9th Gustave Garrigou" color:France
 from:1912 till:1913 text:"10th Odile Defraye" color:Belgium
 from:1913 till:1914 text:"11th Philippe Thys" color:Belgium
 from:1914 till:1915 text:"12th Philippe Thys 2" color:Belgium
 from:1919 till:1920 text:"13th Firmin Lambot" color:Belgium
 from:1920 till:1921 text:"14th Philippe Thys" color:Belgium
 from:1921 till:1922 text:"15th Léon Scieur" color:Belgium
 from:1922 till:1923 text:"16th Firmin Lambot 2" color:Belgium
 from:1923 till:1924 text:"17th Henri Pélissier" color:France
 from:1924 till:1925 text:"18th Ottavio Bottecchia" color:Italy
 from:1925 till:1926 text:"19th Ottavio Bottecchia 2" color:Italy mark:(line,linemark2)
 from:1926 till:1927 text:"20th Lucien Buysse" color:Belgium
 from:1927 till:1928 text:"21st Nicolas Frantz" color:Luxembourg
 from:1928 till:1929 text:"22nd Nicolas Frantz 2" color:Luxembourg
 from:1929 till:1930 text:"23rd Maurice de Waele" color:Belgium
 from:1930 till:1931 text:"24th André Leducq" color:France
 from:1931 till:1932 text:"25th Antonin Magne" color:France
 from:1932 till:1933 text:"26th André Leducq 2" color:France
 from:1933 till:1934 text:"27th Georges Speicher" color:France
 from:1934 till:1935 text:"28th Antonin Magne" color:France
 from:1935 till:1936 text:"29th Romain Maes" color:Belgium
 from:1936 till:1937 text:"30th Sylvère Maes" color:Belgium
 from:1937 till:1938 text:"31st Roger Lapébie" color:France
 from:1938 till:1939 text:"32nd Gino Bartali" color:Italy
 from:1939 till:1940 text:"33rd Sylvère Maes 2" color:Belgium
 from:1947 till:1948 text:"34th Jean Robic" color:France
 from:1948 till:1949 text:"35th Gino Bartali" color:Italy
 from:1949 till:1950 text:"36th Fausto Coppi" color:Italy mark:(line,linemark2)
 from:1950 till:1951 text:"37th Ferdinand Kubler" color:Switzerland
 from:1951 till:1952 text:"38th Hugo Koblet" color:Switzerland
 from:1952 till:1953 text:"39th Fausto Coppi" color:Italy
 from:1953 till:1954 text:"40th Louison Bobet" color:France
 from:1954 till:1955 text:"41st Louison Bobet 2" color:France
 from:1955 till:1956 text:"42nd Louison Bobet 3" color:France
 from:1956 till:1957 text:"43rd Roger Walkowiak" color:France
 from:1957 till:1958 text:"44th Jacques Anquetil" color:France
 from:1958 till:1959 text:"45th Charly Gaul" color:Luxembourg
 from:1959 till:1960 text:"46th Federico Bahamontes" color:Spain
 from:1960 till:1961 text:"47th Gastone Nencini" color:Italy
 from:1961 till:1962 text:"48th Jacques Anquetil 2" color:France
 from:1962 till:1963 text:"49th Jacques Anquetil 3" color:France
 from:1963 till:1964 text:"50th Jacques Anquetil 4" color:France
 from:1964 till:1965 text:"51st Jacques Anquetil 5" color:France
 from:1965 till:1966 text:"52nd Felice Gimondi" color:Italy
 from:1966 till:1967 text:"53rd Lucien Aimar" color:France
 from:1967 till:1968 text:"54th Roger Pingeon" color:France
 from:1968 till:1969 text:"55th Jan Janssen" color:Netherlands
 from:1969 till:1970 text:"56th Eddy Merckx" color:Belgium
 from:1970 till:1971 text:"57th Eddy Merckx 2" color:Belgium
 from:1971 till:1972 text:"58th Eddy Merckx 3" color:Belgium
 from:1972 till:1973 text:"59th Eddy Merckx 4" color:Belgium
 from:1973 till:1974 text:"60th Luis Ocaña" color:Spain
 from:1974 till:1975 text:"61st Eddy Merckx 5" color:Belgium
 from:1975 till:1976 text:"62nd Bernard Thévenet" color:France
 from:1976 till:1977 text:"63rd Lucien van Impe" color:Belgium
 from:1977 till:1978 text:"64th Bernard Thévenet 2" color:France
 from:1978 till:1979 text:"65th Bernard Hinault" color:France
 from:1979 till:1980 text:"66th Bernard Hinault 2" color:France
 from:1980 till:1981 text:"67th Joop Zoetemelk" color:Netherlands
 from:1981 till:1982 text:"68th Bernard Hinault 3" color:France
 from:1982 till:1983 text:"69th Bernard Hinault 4" color:France
 from:1983 till:1984 text:"70th Laurent Fignon" color:France
 from:1984 till:1985 text:"71st Laurent Fignon 2" color:France
 from:1985 till:1986 text:"72nd Bernard Hinault 5" color:France
 from:1986 till:1987 text:"73rd Greg LeMond" color:US
 from:1987 till:1988 text:"74th Stephen Roche" color:Ireland
 from:1988 till:1989 text:"75th Pedro Delgado" color:Spain
 from:1989 till:1990 text:"76th Greg LeMond 2" color:US
 from:1990 till:1991 text:"77th Greg LeMond 3" color:US
 from:1991 till:1992 text:"78th Miguel Induráin" color:Spain
 from:1992 till:1993 text:"79th Miguel Induráin 2" color:Spain
 from:1993 till:1994 text:"80th Miguel Induráin 3" color:Spain
 from:1994 till:1995 text:"81st Miguel Induráin 4" color:Spain
 from:1995 till:1996 text:"82nd Miguel Induráin 5" color:Spain
 from:1996 till:1997 text:"83rd Bjarne Riis" color:Denmark
 from:1997 till:1998 text:"84th Jan Ullrich" color:Germany
 from:1998 till:1999 text:"85th Marco Pantani" color:Italy
 from:1999 till:2000 text:"86th Lance Armstrong" color:US
 from:2000 till:2001 text:"87th Lance Armstrong 2" color:US
 from:2001 till:2002 text:"88th Lance Armstrong 3" color:US
 from:2002 till:2003 text:"89th Lance Armstrong 4" color:US
 from:2003 till:2004 text:"90th Lance Armstrong 5" color:US
 from:2004 till:2005 text:"91st Lance Armstrong 6" color:US


Tour de France winners
Tour Year Winner Nationality
92 2005 - -
91 2004 Lance Armstrong United States
90 2003 Lance Armstrong United States
89 2002 Lance Armstrong United States
88 2001 Lance Armstrong United States
87 2000 Lance Armstrong United States
86 1999 Lance Armstrong United States
85 1998 Marco Pantani Italy
84 1997 Jan Ullrich Germany
83 1996 Bjarne Riis Denmark
82 1995 Miguel Induráin Spain
81 1994 Miguel Induráin Spain
80 1993 Miguel Induráin Spain
79 1992 Miguel Induráin Spain
78 1991 Miguel Induráin Spain
77 1990 Greg LeMond United States
76 1989 Greg LeMond United States
75 1988 Pedro Delgado Spain
74 1987 Stephen Roche Republic of Ireland
73 1986 Greg LeMond United States
72 1985 Bernard Hinault France
71 1984 Laurent Fignon France
70 1983 Laurent Fignon France
69 1982 Bernard Hinault France
68 1981 Bernard Hinault France
67 1980 Joop Zoetemelk Netherlands
66 1979 Bernard Hinault France
65 1978 Bernard Hinault France
64 1977 Bernard Thévenet France
63 1976 Lucien Van Impe Belgium
62 1975 Bernard Thévenet France
61 1974 Eddy Merckx Belgium
60 1973 Luis Ocaña Spain
59 1972 Eddy Merckx Belgium
58 1971 Eddy Merckx Belgium
57 1970 Eddy Merckx Belgium
56 1969 Eddy Merckx Belgium
55 1968 Jan Janssen Netherlands
54 1967 Roger Pingeon France
53 1966 Lucien Aimar France
52 1965 Felice Gimondi Italy
51 1964 Jacques Anquetil France
50 1963 Jacques Anquetil France
49 1962 Jacques Anquetil France
48 1961 Jacques Anquetil France
47 1960 Gastone Nencini Italy
46 1959 Federico Bahamontes Spain
45 1958 Charly Gaul Luxembourg
44 1957 Jacques Anquetil France
43 1956 Roger Walkowiak France
42 1955 Louison Bobet France
41 1954 Louison Bobet France
40 1953 Louison Bobet France
39 1952 Fausto Coppi Italy
38 1951 Hugo Koblet Switzerland
37 1950 Ferdinand Kubler Switzerland
36 1949 Fausto Coppi Italy
35 1948 Gino Bartali Italy
34 1947 Jean Robic France
** *** *** ***
33 1939 Sylvère Maes Belgium
32 1938 Gino Bartali Italy
31 1937 Roger Lapébie France
30 1936 Sylvère Maes Belgium
29 1935 Romain Maes Belgium
28 1934 Antonin Magne France
27 1933 Georges Speicher France
26 1932 André Leducq France
25 1931 Antonin Magne France
24 1930 André Leducq France
23 1929 Maurice De Waele Belgium
22 1928 Nicolas Frantz Luxembourg
21 1927 Nicolas Frantz Luxembourg
20 1926 Lucien Buysse Belgium
19 1925 Ottavio Bottecchia Italy
18 1924 Ottavio Bottecchia Italy
17 1923 Henri Pélissier France
16 1922 Firmin Lambot Belgium
15 1921 Léon Scieur Belgium
14 1920 Philippe Thys Belgium
13 1919 Firmin Lambot Belgium
** *** *** ***
12 1914 Philippe Thys Belgium
11 1913 Philippe Thys Belgium
10 1912 Odile Defraye Belgium
09 1911 Gustave Garrigou France
08 1910 Octave Lapize France
07 1909 François Faber Luxembourg
06 1908 Lucien Petit-Breton France
05 1907 Lucien Petit-Breton France
04 1906 René Pottier France
03 1905 Louis Trousselier France
02 1904 Henri Cornet France
01 1903 Maurice Garin France


Lance Armstrong (United States) holds the record as the only rider to have won the Tour six times (consecutively 1999-2004). Four other riders have managed to win the Tour five times:

  • Jacques Anquetil (France) in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964;
  • Eddy Merckx (Belgium) in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974;
  • Bernard Hinault (France) in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985;
  • Miguel Induráin (Spain) in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 (the first to do so in five consecutive years).

In terms of nationality, riders from France have won most Tours (36), followed by Belgium (18), Italy and the United States (9 each), Spain (8), Luxembourg (4), Switzerland and the Netherlands (2 each) and Ireland, Denmark and Germany (1 each).


See also: List of professional cyclists who died during a race

  • 1995: July 18, stage 15: Italian racer Fabio Casartelli crashed at approximately 88km/h descending the Col de Portet d'Aspet. Casartelli, not wearing a helmet, received massive trauma to the top of his head from a concrete block and died on the scene.
  • 1967: Friday July 13, Stage 13: English rider Tom Simpson dies of heart failure on the ascent of Mont Ventoux. Amphetamines and alcohol are found in Simpson's jersey and bloodstream. His death prompted tour officials to begin a programme of drug testing.

Tour deaths (

Doping scandals

Early tour riders have been said to have consumed alcohol and used ether among other substances as a means of dulling the agonizing pain of competing in endurance cycling. As time went by, riders began using substances as a means of increasing performance rather than dulling the senses, and organizing bodies such as the Tour and the International Cycling Union (UCI), as well as government bodies, enacted policies to combat this practice.

On July 13, 1967, British cyclist Tom Simpson died climbing Mont Ventoux following excessive usage of amphetamines.

The 1998 Tour de France was perhaps the most scandal-ridden Tour in recent memory. On July 8, 1998, a major scandal erupted when French Customs arrested Willy Voet, the health assistant of the Festina cycling team, whose lead competitor was Richard Virenque, for the possession of illegal quantities of prescription drugs and narcotics, including erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone and amphetamines. He later revealed many common practices of the cycling world in his book, Massacre à la Chaîne.

The UCI decided to act in order to "clean up" the image of cycling. On July 23, 1998, French police forces acting on search warrants raided several teams in their hotels and found significant quantities of doping products in the hotel and cars of the TVM team. In response the riders started a "sit-down strike" and refused to ride, thereby putting millions of dollars of endorsements and advertizing revenue in jeopardy. The Spanish teams quit the Tour in a show of solidarity led by the ONCE team. In the end the "Tour of Shame" continued after the UCI backed down and promised to limit the heavy-handed actions, although several teams were forced to withdraw from the race.

Richard Virenque denied doping himself and said that if he had been doped, it was not willfully, a stance which led him to be ridiculed. In 2000, he and the management of the Festina team were tried. During the trial, he confessed to doping himself. While Virenque was not sentenced (but had penalties imposed on him by sports authority), the management of Festina, the aides, and some pharmacists were found guilty and handed down fines and suspended jail sentences.

Just before the 2003 tour, Jesus Manzano, a Spanish rider, told a Madrid sports newspaper that he had been forced by his team, Kelme, to take banned substances during 2002's Centennial Tour in Spain. He also went into considerable technical detail about how riders avoid detection. His "reward" was to be banned from the 2004 Tour.

In 2004 time trial World Champion David Millar was banned from the Tour because he was taken in for questioning by French police following up their discovery of banned drugs at the offices of Cofidis, his team. Millar is one of eight Cofidis members currently under investigation, implicated by the testimony of fellow rider Philippe Gaumont, who has told investigators and the press that doping with steroids, human growth hormones, EPO, and amphetamines is systematic on his team. Millar later admitted to doping, and has since offered his help in identifying the ways riders avoid testing positive in drug tests.

A continued controversy also surrounds Lance Armstrong. In 2002 Filippo Simeoni told investigators about Dr. Michele Ferrari, a now-notorious sports physician who was being tried in the Italian province of Bologna for sporting fraud. Simeoni stated that Ferrari had developed a program for EPO use that would remain undetected. Armstrong had admitted to using Ferrari's services just before Simeoni's disclosure, leading to questions about Armstrong using EPO, although Simeoni said nothing of the sort. In response Armstrong stated that Simeoni was a complusive liar, eventually leading to Simeoni suing him for defamation. On the 18th stage of the 2004 Tour, Armstrong broke free of the peloton and chased down a "break" that Simeoni was part of, agreeing to return to the pack only if Simeoni did as well. Simeoni agreed, and after the peloton caught up, Armstrong made "zipping the lips" gestures that many have interpreted as a threat to Simeoni to "shut up". Simeoni appears to be being ostracized by the riders on the tour, and it is unlikely he will ride professionally again.

Note that during his entire post-cancer career, Armstrong has been subject to blood testing after nearly every stage he has raced in the Tour, according to his autobiography, It's Not About the Bike. He once tested positive for minute traces of a banned substance, however it was explained that he had a medical prescription for saddle sore relief cream which had introduced those substances into his body chemistry, and he had cleared his use of the cream in advance with UCI and Tour organizers.

Professional cycling in general has a reputation for being one of the most doped sports. In particular there is continued controversy over the use of EPO, a "blood booster" that offers increased cardiovascular endurance. Some claim that EPO use is almost universal. The UCI has done little to address these problems, taking a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" attitude, and running only a small and semi-voluntary drug testing program that is considered trivial to beat. The UCI appears to be too afraid to lose popular Tour riders, and would rather operate under continued controversy than lower participation. This fear is surfacing in other sports, as Major League Baseball and track and field have been dogged by steroid controversies as well in recent years.

In 2004, the UCI introduced a somewhat more rigorous testing program, taking urine samples a few times during the race. However the samples were not tested for EPO, as the test was not ready for use and would not be until after the race completed. Although they intend to test the samples once the new test is ready, it is not clear what actions will be taken if the tests come back positive.


Note 1: By sheltering from the wind behind another, a cyclist gains an aerodynamic advantage that allows for up to 40% less effort in pedaling to maintain the same speed as the person in front. This technique is also called drafting and takes advantage of the fact that the person in front has to push the air out of the way, but someone following closely behind will be in the slip stream and does not need to do this work.

Note 2: The red pennant may not always be exactly one kilometre from the finish; it is roughly 1000 metres from the finish, sometimes before where a crash may be likely, and/or where the erection of a large, tent-like inflatable arch is easiest.

Film: Hell on Wheels or Hollentour

In 2005 a film titled Hell on Wheels was released. It is a record of the 100th Tour de France in 2003 from the perspective of Team Telekom. The film is directed by Pepe Danquart who won an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 1993 for Black Rider (Schwarzfahrer). [1] ( IMDB link (

See also

External links

bg:Обиколка на Франция ca:Tour de França da:Tour de France de:Tour de France eo:Tour de France cycliste es:Tour de Francia et:Tour de France fr:Tour de France (cycliste) io:Tour de France nl:Ronde van Frankrijk he:טור דה פראנס ja:ツール・ド・フランス pl:Tour de France pt:Volta da França sv:Tour de France vi:Tour de France


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