Here are some fun facts about this world-famous event that started 103 years ago. (Just imagine what it must have looked like back then!) Tune in!
Iconic figures & moments
The Tour de France took place from 2 to 24 July this year. For 3,519 kilometres, a wave of racing cyclists will be whizzing past on French roads big and small (but also in some places in Andorra, Spain and Switzerland). And every year the big question is: Who will wear the yellow jersey? You could impress your parents and grandparents by telling them about Eddy Merckx, the star of the Tour back in 1969. He won the competition 5 years in a row and his exploits were such that he was nicknamed “The Cannibal”.
The Tour de France has always been a must-see event that attracts its share of famous personalities: Orson Wells in 1950, Will Smith in 2004 and Tom Cruise in 2010 – just to name a few.
The Tour is all about going beyond your limits… and trying to avoid the threats lurking along the way. From snarling dogs running after the cyclists to the relentless heat of the sun, which requires a lot of water (sometimes taken from fountains or firemen’s hoses), the Tour de France is quite a sight. It’s under such a heavy sun that, in 1970, Eddy Merckx fainted and collapsed along the Mont Ventoux stage in front of a crowd of 100,000 people.
A little ways back, in 1913, the famous road racing cyclist Eugène Christophe broke down on Col du Tourmalet and actually carried his bike to the nearest blacksmith’s to get it repaired.
Many acrobatic falls can be reported from the Tour’s history. Memorable amongst them is the one started by Wilfried Nelissen in 1994 in Paris. As he was sprinting down the road, Nelissen smashed into a policeman who had leaned out too far to take a photograph. The crash also took out rider Laurent Jalabert in the process.
Coloured jerseys & jackpots
Curious to know more? We bet there are a few of you out there! So here are some more interesting facts & figures about the Tour:
The first time the race leader wore a yellow jersey was in 1919 in Grenoble, an idea that originated with Tour organiser Henri Desgrange. The colour was apparently chosen to reflect the yellow of the sponsoring newspaper, L’Auto, which was edited by Desgrange. The green jersey for the best sprinter got its colour from the sponsor La Belle Jardinière, a lawn mower producer. An exception was in 1968, when there was a different sponsor, and the colour was… red! As for the polka dot jersey, rumour has it that it originated with one of the 1975 Tour director’s favourite cyclists, Henri Lemoine, who had worn this type of jersey.
Not a cycling fan? Did you know that for every stage, the winner gets EUR 8,000? Wearing the yellow jersey is worth EUR 450 a day! And the winner of the entire Tour earns no less than EUR 450,000.
Still not interested…?
The incredible goodies trucks
There are around 154 of them, and let me tell you it is definitely part of the excitement of this event (if not all of it). Nearly half of the spectators come mainly for the trucks handing out free goodies. You can’t help but be flabbergasted by the unique, customised yellow and purple Nesquik cars or the impressive Haribo vans with the iconic black-haired Haribo boy peeping out from the roof. More than 600 people are hired every year to drive these vans and enable the selected brands to be well represented. You should see how focused people are to make sure they get their share of mini saucissons or Vache Qui Rit cheese wedges. You just can’t miss it when it’s thrown right at you! Between 150,000 and 500,000 products are distributed this way every year.
The spirit of the Tour de France is like summer: joyful, dynamic, congenial. And if you want, you can also organise your own little Tour de France in Paris with Vélib, an easy way to rent a bike and ride along the cobbled streets of the French capital, past Notre Dame, Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower…