25 Crazy Facts About The Tour de France You Might Not Know

Posted by , Updated on November 16, 2023

The Tour de France is the most prestigious event in the Cycling world. It’s a safe bet that if you’re into bicycles, then you are probably familiar with it. Heck, even if you are not into bicycles you might be aware of this exceptional and competitive event. You probably know that it is a huge bike race. You might even know a little bit about Lance Armstrong and how he won seven times but then got stripped of all his medals. Both good things to know, but there’s a lot more to this famous race than meets the eye. These are 25 Crazy Facts About The Tour de France You Might Not Know.


2016 is the 103rd Tour de France

tour de franceSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Started in 1903, it has been held every single year except for during the World Wars

world war 1Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

It began as a competition between sports newspapers, with l’Auto trying to get more readership than Velo

newspaperSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

l’Auto was successful and the Tour de France took off

tour de france 1903Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Although Lance Armstrong had the most wins with 7, he was stripped of his titles by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012

lance armstrongSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

This is because he was accused of doping. But ever since 1903 people have been trying to game the system

tour de france 1903Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Early riders consumed alcohol and ether to dull the pain

alcoholSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

But alcohol was eventually banned after being labeled a stimulant

alcohol flameSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

In 1947 some drivers even took on bottles filled with lead at the tops of mountains so that they would descend faster

bikeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Perhaps the boldest cheating occurred early in the race's history. People would actually take trains to the finish line instead of biking!

trainsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The lead racer gets to wear the coveted yellow jersey

yellow jerseySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

At over 3,000 km, the racers will travel the distance from London to Jerusalem

london to jerusalemSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Over 12 million people will line the route to watch

spectatorsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

A caravan of advertisers goes before the racers to hand out goodies

tour de france caravanSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Back in the day, before rules were established, advertisers used some crazy techniques to fight for people’s attention with everything from acrobats to musicians

acrobatsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Some spectators were even killed in freak accidents with the caravan

alert dangerousSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

After the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, the Tour de France is the third largest TV event in the sporting world

remote controlSource: wikipedia, Image: pixabay

3.9 billion people, more than half the world’s population, tune in to watch

world mapSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Perhaps not surprisingly, France has won the most with 36 titles. Belgium comes next with 18 and then Spain with 12.

eiffel towerSource: wikipedia, Image: pixabay

Most cyclists are really light

tour de franceSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

The heaviest was Swedish rider Magnus Backstedt at 94kg. His nickname was Big Maggy

Magnus BackstedtSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Some fans camp for over a week to get a good view

tour de france fansSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

In spite of all the doping and cheating, the Tour de France actually has a very strict unwritten code of ethics

tour de dopingSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

If the pace is slow riders are allowed to push ahead and stop to meet family. They can’t use the lead to win the stage though!

racerSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Four riders have died during the race. One of them died taking a swim break between stages

lakeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia