Thursday, 1 July 2010

Tour de France 2010 - Part 87

The Tour de France starts on 3 July 2010.
Advertising on a shop window in Angouleme 2007

The Tour de France is an annual  cycle race which covers approximately 3,600 kilometres (2,200 mi) throughout France and bordering countries. The race lasts three weeks and attracts mostly professional cyclists from around the world. The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages. Individual times to finish each stage are totalled to determine the overall winner at the end of the race. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears a yellow jersey. The course changes every year and starts from a different place (often in a different country), but it has always finished in Paris, Since 1975, the (sprint) finish of the final stage has been along the Champs-Elysées.

The number of teams usually varies between 20 to 22, with nine riders in each. Entry is by invitation to teams chosen by the race organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation.

Rotterdam is venue for this year's Grand Depart (start). To see this years route and all information see HERE. 

Each day, before the riders start the stage , the publicity caravan passes along the route, throwing out samples of various advertising items to all the spectators. These are pictures from  2007 and 2009.There is a variety of cold drinks, bags, caps, edibles and free coupons. It is all a mad rush and everyone wants to catch as many items as possible.  The people who do best, are the families who space themselves out over a short distance.  It is quite difficult with just  the two of us, but Nigel's height always helps! 

Watching the time trial with friends in 2007 - As you can see we were supporting the South African cyclist Robbie Hunter. Nigel and I are on the right. 

History of the Tour
The first Tour de France was designed as a publicity stunt for the French sports newspaper L’Auto, a race that was for the most gutsy and tough of professional cyclists of the time. The course was marked out to be a round France stage race, covering a distance of 2428 km, taking place over 19 days in six stages and rankings based on the cumulative time over the course of the tour.

At the very first Tour de France, sixty riders began that race. The winner who dominated throughout the tour was Maurice Garin, who still today holds the record for a win by the greatest margin of 2 hours and 49 mins.

With over 20,000 people turning up to see Maurice Garin cross the finish line in
that year, the first Tour de France was hailed as a great success. The next year, 1904, the Tour de France became a must-win for every cyclist taking part. And this had disastrous results. The second tour was later billed as almost the last Tour de France, as riders would go to any lengths to try and win. Cheating was rife.

Riders were caught catching trains, taking cars and even dropping spikes trying to flatten their opponents’ tyres. Maurice Garin had won the race for the second time, but as reports of cheating surfaced, the top four riders were disqualified for their infractions, and it was to the 5th place little-known cyclist, Henri Cornet, that the 1904 winner's prize was awarded. After these major implications of the second Tour de France, the race officials then decided to implement many more rules on how the race was to be run.

The Tour de France was greatly limited during the First World War, but around this time it was the 1919 race, that saw the now infamous yellow jersey or “maillot jaune” introduced. The leading cyclist wore the yellow jersey in order to show who was leading the race, because previously no one could recognise who was winning.

Part way through the 1919 race, the organisers introduced the jersey into the race and it was
France’s Eugene Christophe who wore the yellow jersey for the first time. In the later stages of the race, bad luck caught up with Eugene Christophe yet again just as in his previous racing years on the tour.This time he suffered various punctures and a broken fork that held him back and he later finished the 1919 tour in 3rd place. By now the tour covered a distance of 5560km and it was Firmin Lambot who won that year; the Belgian was described as the first real contender of this new generation.

Lance Armstrong under the white arrow in the front of the peloton near Limoges 2009

One of the most famous cyclists in this year’s Tour is Lance Edward Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971).  He is an American professional road racing cyclist who is best known for winning Tour de France a record seven consecutive times, after having survived testicular cancer and tumours to both brain and lung.  After his 7th win he retired from racing, but returned last year 2009.  We were lucky enough to see him as he literally flew past us near Limoges last year.
The photographs are my own, please do not copy.

Credits for information :-


  1. Confess I've just pulled out my battered copy of "Paddington Abroad" by Michael Bond (first impression 1961).

    Chapter Seven has the French Villages' and Paddington's experience of the "Tour de France". I'd love to see a local cyclist take out the village stage on a tricycle like that Peruvian Bear did!!!

    Maybe todays elite cyclists should try Paddington's diet of marmalade sandwiches!

    Sending care and huggles, and happy gardening thoughts,

    Mickle and Zebby, xxx and purrrumbles

  2. Michelle, I think they class of cyclist we have today Paddington may just get run over on his tricycle:(

    I am sure marmalade sandwiches would be just fine, lots of carbohydrate and sugar:)

    The garden is wilting today. From cold, we got soaked, and now 36 degrees C. Funny weather to say the least.

    Bonne journée. Luv to Zebby.xx

  3. I really like the snail riding the bike, that's how I'd be. This history was very interesting. Sure glad rules were implemented to stop the cheating. Love the pic of you and Nigel in ZA colors.

  4. Thanks Gaelyn. The snail really took my eye. There are so many 'things' around in each town/village the tour goes through it amazes me. The roadsides (and centres) are full of amazing flower arrangements, all cycle orientated. We will not be watching live this year, the closest it comes to us would mean almost a 500 km round trip, with a very early start and a very late finish as it would be a time trial. With the cost of fuel....

  5. I found all this information on the race fascinating. I'm so glad you shared it with us. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. Mary I am glad you found it interesting. I was not sure how much interest there would be, but so far so good! Bonne journée. Diane

  7. Definitely interesting Diane. I suspect with your interest in cycling that you will be following the race closely.

  8. Lindy that is why Nigel is coming over for two weeks so we can watch it in peace. If he is in the UK he is working, and they only put the highlights on when he has gone to bed!! A relaxing couple of weeks with a bottle, (or more) of wine, plenty of cheese and fresh French bread. A cycle ride each morning to get the bread:) Diane

  9. I didn't know there were so many participants in the Tour de France. I'm not much of a sports fan to begin with, and from what I see on the front page of my paper, the competitors are usually Lance Armstrong and about 3 other people. So thank you for the local perspective! That parade looks like it was a great deal of fun.

  10. Hi Marjie, yes there at least 200 riders in the TDF. The caravan is great fun and as I said, always a scramble to get free gifts:)

    The tour consists of the elite cyclists in the world. The number of people who follow the whole tour in camper-vans is amazing, the roads are just lined and several people thick in places. Diane

  11. Never knew any history for the race... thanks for telling us... and Lance Gunderson??? Yipes that doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? Are you a big bike rider? It must be lots of fun if you are.

  12. Enjoyed your blog on TdF recommended by Nadege and a reader of our blog I'm also an avid cyclist of many years and have enjoyed cycling France. Been thru Limoges in the past. Will look into your blog in future.

  13. Enjoyed your blog TdF. Being an avid cyclist in Melbourne we will be watching the TdF and the Aussies in the early hours of the morning.
    Do you think Robbie can win a stage or two? Your blog was recommended by Nadege who comments on our blog.
    I shall pop into your future blogs.

  14. Merci de cette belle présentation du Tour de France! Il marque le début des vacances !
    Bravo pour votre jardin , les cultures sont variées!
    Merci de vos commentaires, hélas , je ne peux pas écrire en anglais, mais vous vous débrouillez très bien en français!
    Bonne fin de semaine!

  15. longpastremembered, glad you enjoyed the history. You are right Gunderson does not have the same ring....

    I used to do lots of cycling, but I have slowed up a lot. Nigel does longer distances than me but does not have the time sadly. It used to be fun when we went out together, but now we are in different countries most of the time and he is faster than me.... Diane

  16. Have only seen the road bike races on the tv, but enjoy it anyway. Usually the commentator will show/tell a little about the areas they go through and give some historical data. Who is favored this year?

  17. Hi Leon and Sue, Glad you came to visit. I hope Robbie can win a stage it will be good for S.A. cycling. I think the final result though could come from Contador, Schleck, Evans or Armstrong. I am probably completely wrong, we shall see. Diane

  18. Lucie. Merci de vos commentaires. Mon Français n'est pas bon mais j'essaye!

    Bonne fin de semaine. Diane

  19. Mya, some of the scenery seen on the TV during the race is beautiful and the little villages they go through are quite lovely. I don't really know who is favoured but as I said to Leon and Sue, I think the final result though could come from Contador, Schleck, Evans or Armstrong. I am probably completely wrong, we shall see. I hope that Robbie Hunter the S.African can win a stage. Diane

  20. I am betting everyone is going to be glued to their TV sets Diane. :)

  21. Joan this is a very busy 3 weeks coming up:) TV, wine, cheese and fresh French bread:))

    Go Robbie Hunter...... given up shouting for Bafana Bafana now.


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