Joys of the Tour de France

1088 days ago

It is delightful to see how the Tour de France grabs new fans for cycling every year, but wouldn’t it be even better if watching spectacular racing would inspire more people to actually try pedaling too?
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Here are some fun facts you might not have known about the Tour de France:

Biggest and best

Unlike most professional sports that are played in stadiums and arenas where fans have to pay to enter, the tour traverses cities, towns, the countryside in France and a few other countries. All the fans have to do is get there. About 12 million spectators turn up every year, and that makes this the biggest sporting event in the world.

Weight weenies
Professional cyclists are very light. Even current 4x Tour de France win contender, Chris Froome who is 1.86m tall only weighs about 71kg. The heaviest rider to have won a Tour de France stage was surprisingly heavy though. Magnus Bäckstedt from Sweden who competed quite a few times weighed 94kg.

Tough routes
In cycling tours the toughest day is called the Queen Stage. Often distance is an issue, but Stage 9 this year was a Queen over just 181,5km. The riders had to climb 4600 metres though. They had three HC climbs, (too tough to categorize) including the fearsome side of the Grand Colombier, where there were sections more than 22% steep. Not even cars are comfortable there!

Have a rest
Every year the Tour now has 2 rest days, but guess how the riders rest on those days? They all ride for at least 2 hours to flush lactic acid out of their bodies and keep racing in their heads.

Actually, some early tours had 14 rest days, but that made sense when their bikes were so heavy and had so few gears that the average speed went as low 14.9 miles per hour.

Tired tyres and gears
During the three-week long endurance test of the Tour de France, riders have to try and maintain their bodies with sensible strategies, but the bikes also battle. Every year more than 790 tyres have to be changed, and the riders are said to wear out one chain per week on average.

In fact, derailleurs only appeared on the bicycles of the participants in 1937. Henri Desgrange who established the Tour de France believed gears would make the race far too easy, but fortunately, he was quite excited by the extra speed.

Food frantic
Due to their very intensive racing, riders in the Tour de France manage to burn and then have to consume about 6000 calories per day to recover. Eating three times as much as must of us do per day might not sound difficult, but they have to do it for 21 days.

Would you even be awake by the time you get to work if you had to eat porridge topped with berries, a protein-packed omelette, and a banana, date and honey smoothie for breakfast? Well, that’s what Team Sky’s chefs prepare for their team.

Hope this has helped to make you curious about cycling and maybe doing some of what you see in the Tour de France on your own bike - tick it off your bucket list!

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