Tour de France is one of the world’s largest annual sporting events with over 12 million spectators in average every year. Bicycle enthusiasts and Tour de France fans from all over the world visit France to watch three-weeks long and various bike stages, cheer their favorites, witness records-breaking and laugh on the many falls and failures. With an extensive history spanning for over 113 years, there are so many things that you certainly don’t know about the Tour de Frances. In this article, we’ve given our best to compile a list of amusing, bizarre, surprising and fun facts about the largest sporting event in this modern era. From the specific dietary needs of the riders during the event to the largest and shortest winning margins, check out these 10 fun facts about the Tour de France that you probably didn’t know.
Bicycle Diet 101: How to Survive the 3-week Period
Over the course of the tour, a rider burns about 124,000 calories, which is around 6,000 calories during each day. The energy they require to survive the 3-week period of stroking pedals is massive, so they must take their time on the table and never say no to a dessert.
The First Winner of Tour de France
The winner of the first Tour de France in 1903 was Maurice Garin, who became more well-known for his accident in the following year. Even though he won the second race in 1904 as well, his title was stripped down of him because he and 3 other competitors were cheating. Garin along with other three fellow racers would get towed by cars, spread broken glass on the road and even spike each other’s drinks.
Collective Pee Pee
Since riders have to cycle for 5 hours a day, it is normal for each of them to have an urge to pee at some point. In order to make the races fair and square, the competitors have made an unofficial agreement to take collective time-outs to pee. During the pause, everyone will be busy flushing out toxins and unnecessary liquids and no one will pass anyone.
The Longest Tour of All Time
1926 is the year when the longest Tour de France was ever held. With a total length of 5,745 kilometers (or over 3,500 miles) and 17 different stages, the Belgian cyclist named Lucien Buysse managed to win 10 out of 17 stages and bring home gold. This was also the first race to start outside of Paris.
More Popular than the American Super Bowl and The Summer Olympics
The 21-day spectacle in France attracts over 3.5 billion of television viewers from all around the world, which is a greater audience than the audience of American Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics. Considering the fact that the US population is about 320 million, the Europe population about 738 million or China’s is 1.4 billion, the number of television viewers of the Tour de France is staggering.
The Fastest Average Speed in Tour de France Ever
With an average speed of 25,026 miles per hour over the entire 1999 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong claimed the fastest average speed ever in a Tour de France.
Over the course of a 3-week Tour de France event, cyclists produce enough sweat to flush out the toilet almost 40 times. It must be really hard for them to get home with all the sweat on them.
Tires and Chains Suffer Too
Even though the number of tires a cyclist uses during the Tour de France can vary, it has been estimated that all riders wear out over 790 tires during the event. Also, they use about 3 different chains, which is about 1 chain per week. After all, the cyclists are not the only one that go through pain during the event.
Four Colors of Cyclists’ Jerseys
There are four colors of jerseys that Tour de France cyclists wear. The white jersey, which first appeared in 1975, is worn by the best young rider. The red polka dot jersey is worn by the rider with the best climbing skills, who is also referred to as the “King of the Mountains”. The green jersey goes to the best sprinter and the iconic yellow jersey is worn by the absolute leader in the general classification.
In 1989, Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon and won gold with the smallest margin of all time at Tour de France of a mere 8 seconds. In the first Tour de France in 1903, the margin between the winner Martin Garin and the runner up Lucien Pothier was the largest in the history: 2 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds.