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8 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Tour de France

July can only mean one thing to road cycling enthusiasts worldwide, and that is Le Tour de France. Three incredible weeks of time trials, sprints, climbs and coloured jerseys.
On its 105th edition, this prestigious race will cover 3,329km over 21 stages. The 17th July sees Stage 10 of the tour passing through our region, including Annecy, Thônes, Manigod, Croix fry, La Clusaz, St Jean de Sixt and Le Grand Bornand. This stage will include some of the more challenging climbs the riders will encounter, including the unpaved ascent to the Plateau des Glières, which tour director Christian Prudhomme states is the first unpaved section to be included in the tour in “maybe 60 or 70 years”.  This will definitely make for an exciting part of the stage to watch.
Let’s take a look at some more interesting Tour de France facts to impress your family and friends with while you watch the tour.

Fact 1 – How it all began

Clipping from l'Auto about the 1903 tour de france
The first Tour de France race was in 1903, created by Henri Desgrange who was the editor at the newspaper L’Auto. It originally started out as a marketing scheme, advertising the paper around France.

Fact 2 – 123,900 calories

Croissants in a basket
123,900 calories is the average amount each rider needs to consume over the course of the three weeks. That is 495 croissants, 152 full English breakfasts or 200 bottles of champagne!

Fact 3 – Youngest winner

Henri Cornet riding his bike in 1904
The youngest cyclist to win the Tour de France was Henri Cornet on the second edition of the race in 1904. He was only 19!

Fact 4  – Scandal on the tracks

Maurice Garin cycling for the finish line with a man running behind him
The same 1904 race, however, was a cause for scandal as original winner Maurice Garin (1903 winner) and the three runners up were all disqualified after allegations of competitors using trains during the race.

Fact 5 – Smoke rush…

Three cyclists sharing a cigarette whilst riding
In the 1920s competitors shared cigarettes while riding, as it was believed at the time to help ‘open up’ the lungs for the climbs.

Fact 6 – Questionable pain relief

Tour de France competitors drinking beer on stone steps with their bikes leaning close by
Alcohol was consumed to ease any pains during the race. This was later banned in 1960, as it was believed to be a stimulant.

Fact 7 –  The largest sporting event in the world

Tour de France spectators lining the famous 21 hairpins up to Alp d'Huez
This thrilling and awe-inspiring race attracts over 12 million spectators each year, making it the largest sporting event in the world.

Fact 8 – Preparation is king

A slice of bread with strawberry jam spread on it
Each team comes prepared for the tour with supplies that include 3,900 nutrition bars, 80kg of nuts, raisins, apricots and figs, 3,000 water bottles and – most importantly – 20 jars of jam!

Where will you be watching?

I will be watching with family and friends enjoying a BBQ on our balcony as the 176 racers descend through La Clusaz, along with sponsors and support vehicles. Where will you be watching? Why not take a look at some of our fantastic OVO Network properties which are on – or near – the route. You’ll be close to the action without breaking into a sweat!

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About Author

Hi, I'm Dani and I am a food and lifestyle blogger based in La Clusaz. I am happiest when on the saddle of my bike in summer, and on my board in winter. I love creating new dishes to share with friends and family!