The Tour de France 2019
started on 6 July in Brussels in honour of the 50th anniversary of the first Tour de France win of Eddy Merckx. The Tour will cover 3,460 kilometres over 21 stages and is set to conclude on July 28. The race is one of the most storied cycling races in the world and is steeped in history and traditional.
Below, we take a look at a few weird and wonderful Tour de France facts:
Only World Wars could stop the Tour
Throughout the over 100-year history of the Tour de France, the race has only been cancelled for World War 1 and 2. The First World War broke out days after the start of the 1914 Tour and it didn’t run again until 1919. The tour again went on hiatus from 1940 to 1946 as World War 2 ripped through Europe. Since then, not a single year has gone by without a Tour de France race.
The origin of the yellow jersey
During a Tour de France, the overall leader is given a yellow jersey to distinguish him from the field. So why yellow? The original creators and sponsors of the race was the newspaper L’Auto. The paper was printed on yellow paper and so the jersey was essential advertising for the sponsors.
The causalities of the race
Although the race is known to feature a crash or two, they are almost never fatal. However, the Tour de France has seen a total of three deaths on its stages. In 1934 Francisco Cepeda crashed into a ravine on a descent, Tom Simpson passed away after a heart attack in 1967, and Fabio Casartelli was killed after crashing and hitting his head in 1995.
It’s a men-only club
Women have and remain ineligible to compete in the Tour de France. In the 1980s, a women’s Tour was tried but it was sporadic, underfunded and short lived. Today, a one-day women’s race known as La Course is held during the event but its association to the Tour stops there. Recently, many have criticized the Tour for maintaining antiquated sex-based rules. However, there seems to be no immediate plan for it to change the rules.
The king of the tour
Yes, the one who must not be named won seven but few in the world would still consider the now stripped and disgraced cyclist the king of the tour. The result is that the monarchy is split between some of the sport’s biggest names: Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault, each of whom have won four Tour de France titles.
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