|Tour de France|
|Local name||Le Tour de France|
|Region||France and nearby countries|
|Date||July 5 to 27 (2008)|
|Type||Stage Race (Grand Tour)|
|General Director||Christian Prudhomme|
|Number of races||95 (2001228)|
|First winner||Maurice Garin|
|Most wins||Lance Armstrong (7) 1999-2005|
|Latest winner||Carlos Sastre 2008|
|Most career Yellow Jerseys||Eddy Merckx (96) (111 overall incl. half stages)|
|Most career stage wins||Eddy Merckx (34)|
The Tour de France is the world's best-known bicycle race. Started in 1903 and run every year excluding the world wars, it is nowadays a 23-day, 21-stage road race usually covering more than . The route, which varies from year to year, traces a circuit around most areas of France, and often passes into neighbouring countries. The race is broken into stages from one town to another, each of which is an individual race. The time taken to complete each stage is added to a cumulative total for each rider, to decide the outright winner at the end of the Tour.
Together with the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain), the Tour de France is one of the three major stage races (all three races are held over a gruelling three-week period ). While the other two European Grand Tours are well known in Europe, they are relatively unknown outside the continent, and even the UCI World Cycling Championship is familiar only to cycling enthusiasts. The Tour de France, in contrast, has long been a household sporting name around the globe, even to those not interested in cycling.
As with most cycling races, competitors enter as part of a team. The race consists of 20 to 22 teams with nine riders each. Traditionally, entry is by invitation, invitations granted only to the best professional teams. The organizers recently have utilized UCI points (based upon team riders/results) to determine which teams would gain automatic entry into the tour and then typically reserve 2-4 slots to large teams or French continental teams not able to race in the tour based upon their individual team results. Each team, known by the name of its sponsor, wears a distinctive jersey, and team members assist one another and have access to a shared team car (a mobile version of pit crews in car racing).
It was to promote sales of the rival L'Auto, ancestor to the present l'Équipe, that the Tour de France began. It was a publicity measure to outdo the Paris-Brest et retour race organised by Giffard. The idea for a round-France stage race came from L'Auto's chief cycling journalist, 26-year-old Géo Lefèvre. He and the editor, Henri Desgrange then discussed it after lunch at what is now the TGI Friday bar in Montmartre in Paris on November 20, 1902. L'Auto announced the race on January 19, 1903. The plan was a five-week tour from May 31 to July 5; however, this proved too daunting, with only 15 entrants, so Desgrange cut the length to 19 days, changed the date to run from July 1 to 19, and offered a daily allowance which attracted 60 entrants, including amateur characters, some unemployed, some simply adventurous. It was these that helped catch the public imagination.
The demanding nature of the race (with the average length of the six stages being 400km the riders were sometimes expected to ride into the night), caught public imagination. The race was such a success for the newspaper that the circulation, 25,000 before the 1903 Tour, increased to 65,000 after it; by 1908 the race boosted circulation past a quarter of a million, and during the 1923 Tour it was selling 500,000 copies a day. The record circulation claimed by Desgrange was 854,000, achieved during the 1933 Tour.
No teams from Italy, Germany or Spain participated in the 1939 Tour de France because of the growing political tensions preceding World War II, and the race was not held again until 1947, although several other races were held in that period, see Tour de France during the Second World War.
The first Pyrenean climb was in 1910, the muddy mule track over the col d'Aubisque. It was an almost impossible challenge on sturdy 'butcher's bikes' with no gears, carrying spare tyres looped around their shoulders and all necessary food and tools on their backs. On race day Tour officials waited at the summit, when at last a rider appeared he ignored their queries "What happened? Where are the others?" and looked straight through them with distant, haunted eyes. Race leader Octave Lapize arrived half an hour later, pushing his bike through the mud and the mist. After remounting he pedalled up to the official party and screamed "Assassins!
Today, the Tour is organised by the Société du Tour de France, a subsidiary of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which is part of the media group that owns L'Équipe.
The ranking of riders by accumulated time is known as the general classification. The winner is the rider with the shortest accumulated time after the final day.
It is possible to win overall without winning a stage, which Greg LeMond did in 1990. Winning a stage is more prestigious than winning most single-day races. Although the number of stages varies, the modern Tour typically has 20, with a total length of 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres (1,800 to 2,500 mi). The shortest Tour was in 1904 at 2,420km, the longest in 1926 at 5,745km. The 2007 Tour was 3,569.9 km long. There are subsidiary competitions within the race (see below), some with distinctive jerseys for the best rider.
Today, the Tour is contested by teams backed by commercial sponsors and employing complicated tactics, but Desgrange originally insisted his competitors ride as individuals, even if they had sponsorship. He penalised slipstreaming and other tactics and accepted their inevitability only from the 1920s. Even when commercial teams had become commonplace in other events, the Tour was contested by national teams from 1930 to 1961 and again in 1967 and 1968, in both cases because the organisers felt sponsors were detracting from sporting purity.
Most stages take place in France though it is common to have stages in nearby countries, such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Great Britain (visited in 1974 and 1994 and start of the 2007 tour). The three weeks usually include two rest days, sometimes used to transport riders long distances between stages.
In recent years, the Tour has sometimes been preceded by a short individual time trial (1 to 15km) called the prologue. Since 1975 the finish of the Tour has been on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This is the only time the avenue is closed other than for the processions of Bastille Day and for the Paris Marathon. Before 1975, the race finished at the Parc des Princes stadium in western Paris and at the Piste Municipale.
Stages of the Tour can be flat, undulating or mountainous. They are normally contested by all the riders starting together with the first over the line winning, but they can also be run against the clock for individuals or teams (time trials). The time trials often have a significant effect because they separate riders by substantial margins, whereas in some conventional stages participants finish together or in large groups. The overall winner is almost always a master of the mountains and time trials rather than of the more straightforward flat stages.
The race alternates between clockwise and counter-clockwise circuits of France. 2005 was clockwise — visiting the Alps first and then the Pyrenees — while 2006 went in the opposite direction. For the first half of its history, the Tour was a near-continuous loop, often close to France's borders. Rules to restrict drug-taking have, since the 1960s, limited the overall distance, the daily distance and the number of days raced consecutively, and the modern Tour skips between one city or one region and another.
A feature almost from the start has been the mountains. The roads are now paved and well-maintained but at first they were tracks of hard-packed earth on which riders frequently had to push their bicycles. Even into the 1950s and 1960s, the road at the summit could be potholed and strewn with small rocks, and falls and serious injuries were common.
Mountain passes such as the Tourmalet in the Pyrenees have been made famous by the Tour de France and attract large numbers of amateur cyclists every day in summer, to test their speed and fitness on roads used by the champions. The physical difficulty of a climb is established by its steepness, length and its position on the course. The easiest are graded 4, most of the hardest as 1 and the exceptional (such as the Tourmalet) as beyond classification, or "hors catégorie".
The combination of endurance and strength needed to complete the Tour led the New York Times to say in 2006 that the "Tour de France is arguably the most physiologically demanding of athletic events." The effort was compared to "running a marathon several days a week for nearly three weeks", while the total elevation of the climbs was compared to "climbing three Everests.
In 1989 the organisers returned to holding a time trial as the final stage. In it, Greg LeMond of the United States overtook the Frenchman Laurent Fignon, who held a 50-second lead, to win by eight seconds, the closest margin in the Tour's history.
The particularly tough climb of Alpe d'Huez is a favourite, providing a stage finish in most Tours. In 2004, in another experiment, the mountain time trial ended at Alpe d'Huez. This seems less likely to be repeated, following complaints from the riders of abusive spectator behavior. Another famous mountain stage is the climb of Mont Ventoux, often claimed to be the hardest in the Tour because of the harsh conditions. The Tour usually features only one of these two climbs in a year.
To host a stage start or finish brings prestige and business to a town. The prologue and first stage are particularly prestigious. Usually one town will host the prologue (which is too short to go between towns) and also the start of stage 1. In some years, like 2008, there is no prologue. In 2007 the Tour director Christian Prudhomme stated that "in general, for a period of five years we have the Tour start outside of France 3 times and within France 2 times." In addition, the first few stages often go into a neighbouring country.
Prize money has always been awarded, starting with the first Tour in 1903. From 20,000 francs the first year, the total prize money has increased each year. Prizes and bonuses are awarded according to the classification in each stage and the overall classifications at the end of the race. A smaller amount is paid to teams as a participation expense or a presence bonus. In 2006, a total of over €3,000,000 (US$4,800,000) was awarded, the winner of the individual general classification receiving €450,000 (US$720,000). Notwithstanding these increasing amounts, the importance of the prize money has decreased through the years, but top finishers are often able to negotiate lucrative endorsement contracts. The minimum salary for a professional cyclist licensed by the UCI - the sport's international governing body - is US$36,000 per year. By contrast, the average basic salary of a footballer in the English Premiership in 2006 was £676,000 a year. By tradition, the overall winner does not keep the prize money for himself, but rather distributes it to his teammates, since he will be benefiting personally from those aforementioned endorsement contracts.
The Tour's jersey colours have been adopted by other cycling stage races, and have thus come to have meaning within cycling generally, rather than solely in the Tour. For example, the Tour of Britain has yellow, green, and polka-dot jerseys with the same meaning as in the Tour de France. The Giro d’Italia differs in awarding the overall leader a pink jersey, having been organized and sponsored by La Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian sports daily newspaper with pink pages.
The maillot jaune (yellow jersey, sometimes referred to as the "Mellow Johnny"), which is worn by the general classification (or overall time) leader, is the most prized. It is awarded by calculating the total combined race time up to that point for each rider. The rider with the lowest total time is the leader, and at the end of the event is declared the overall winner of the Tour.
The winner of the first Tour de France wore not a yellow jersey but a green armband. There is doubt over when the yellow jersey began. The Belgian rider Philippe Thys, who won the Tour in 1913, 1914 and 1920, recalled in the Belgian magazine Champions et Vedettes when he was 67 that he was awarded a yellow jersey in 1913 when the organiser, Henri Desgrange, asked him to wear a coloured jersey. Thys declined, saying making himself more visible in yellow would encourage other riders to ride against him.
He spoke of the next year's race, when "I won the first stage and was beaten by a tyre by Bossus in the second. On the following stage, the maillot jaune passed to Georget after a crash."
The Tour historian Jacques Augendre called Thys "a valorous rider... well-known for his intelligence" and said his claim "seems free from all suspicion". But: "No newspaper mentions a yellow jersey before the war. Being at a loss for witnesses, we can't solve this enigma.
Desgrange added the yellow jersey in 1919 because he wanted the race leader to wear something distinctive and because the pages of his newspaper, L'Auto, were yellow. Additional time bonuses, in the form of a number of seconds to be deducted from the rider's overall time, are available to the first 3 riders to finish the stage or cross an intermediate sprint (see below). As of 2005, the first 3 places to finish are awarded bonuses of 20, 12, and 8 seconds respectively, while the first 3 places at intermediate sprints are awarded 6, 4, and 2 seconds. However, these bonuses are rarely significant enough to cause major upset in the classement géneral (General Classification).
Sometimes a rider takes the overall lead during a stage and gets sufficiently far ahead of the yellow jersey wearer that his current lead is greater than his time deficit to the yellow jersey in the general classification; when this happens, this rider may be referred to as being "the yellow jersey on the road". Obviously, no jerseys can be exchanged in this situation.
Flat stages: 35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points are awarded to the first 25 riders across the finish.
Medium-mountain stages: 25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points are awarded to the first 20 riders across the finish.
High-mountain stages: 20, 17, 15, 13, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points are awarded to the first 15 riders across the finish.
Time-trials: 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points are awarded to the top 10 finishers of the stage.
Intermediate sprints: 6, 4, and 2 points are awarded to the first three finishers.
In case of a tie, the number of stage wins determine the green jersey, then the number of intermediate sprint victories, and finally, the rider's standing in the overall classification.
Climbs rated "Hors Catégorie" (HC): 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points for the first 10 riders to the summit.
Category 1 climbs: 15, 13, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points for the first 8 riders to the top.
Category 2 climbs: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, and 5 for the first 6 riders to the top.
Category 3 climbs: 4, 3, 2 and 1 points for the first 4 riders to the top.
Category 4 climbs: 3, 2 and 1 points for the first 3 riders to the top.
NOTE: For the last climb of a stage, the points are doubled (for HC, Cat 1 and Cat 2 climbs only).
In case of a tie, the rider with the most HC wins takes the jersey, then the rider with the most Cat 1 wins, etc...
Although the best climber was first recognised in 1933, the jersey was not introduced until 1975.
The "prix de la combativité" goes to the rider who has done most to animate the day's racing, usually by trying to break clear of the field. It is decided by a panel of experts. The most combative rider of a stage wears a number printed white-on-red instead of black-on-white in the next stage. At the end of the Tour, an award is given to the rider thought to be the most aggressive throughout the entire tour.
The team prize is assessed by adding the times of each team's best three riders each day. The competition does not have its own jersey but since 2006 the leading team has worn numbers printed black-on-yellow instead of black-on-white. The number of riders in a team has varied but is now normally nine. Until 1930, teams represented countries, groups of countries or French regions. From 1930, but with the exception of 1967 and 1968 when there was a return to geographical teams, riders have been entered by commercial teams.
As in all road races, national and world champions wear not their ordinary team colours but their world or national championship jerseys when competing in the appropriate race: the time-trial champion in the time-trial, the road race in massed stages.
There was also a combination jersey, scored on a points system based on standings for the yellow, green, red, and polka-dot jerseys. The design was a patchwork, with areas resembling each individual jersey design. This was abolished in the same year as the red jersey.
In an ordinary stage, all riders start simultaneously and share the road. The real start (départ réel) usually is some 2 to 5 kilometres (1 to 3 mi) away from the starting point, and is announced by the Tour director in the officials' car waving a white flag.
Riders are permitted to touch (but not push or nudge) and to shelter behind each other, in slipstream (see drafting). The rider who crosses the finish line first wins. In the first week of the Tour, this often leads to spectacular mass sprints.
While only finishers are awarded sprint points, all riders finishing in an identifiable group (with no significant gap to the rider in front, as determined by race officials) are deemed to have finished the stage in the same time as the lead rider of that group for overall classification purposes. This avoids what would otherwise be dangerous mass sprints. It is not unusual for the entire field to finish in a single group, taking some time to cross the line, but being credited with the same time as the stage winner.
Time bonuses are awarded at some intermediate sprints and stage finishes to the first three riders who reach the specified point. These bonuses generally are a maximum of 20 seconds, and can allow a good sprinter to qualify for the yellow jersey early in the Tour. For the 2008 tour these time bonuses have been abandoned.
Riders who crash within the last 3 kilometres of the stage are credited with the finishing time of the group that they were with when they crashed . This prevents riders from being penalised for accidents that do not accurately reflect their performance on the stage as a whole given that crashes in the final kilometre can be huge pileups that are hard to avoid for a rider farther back in the peloton. A crashed sprinter inside the final kilometre will not win the sprint, but avoids being penalised in the overall classification. The final kilometre is indicated in the race course by a red triangular pennant - known as the flamme rouge - raised above the road.
Some ordinary stages take place in the mountains, almost always causing major shifts in the General Classification. On ordinary stages that do not have extended mountain climbs, most riders can manage to stay together in the peloton all the way to the finish; during mountain stages, however, it is not uncommon for some riders to lose 40 minutes to the winner of the stage. The so-called mountain stages are often the deciding factor in determining the winner of the Tour de France. With the exception of the now traditional finish at the Champs-Elysées all famous stages, like Alpe d'Huez and Mont Ventoux, are mountain stages, and these often bring out the most spectators, who line up the roads by the thousands to cheer and encourage the cyclists and support their favorites.
In an individual time trial each rider rides individually. The first stage of the tour is often a short time trial known as a prologue. The prologue is to decide who wears yellow on the opening day, and provide a spectacle for the organising city.
There are usually two or three time trials during the Tour. One may be a team time trial. Traditionally the final time trial has been the penultimate stage, and effectively determines the winner before the final ordinary stage which is not ridden competitively until the last hour. On a few occasions, the race organisers made the final stage into Paris a time trial. The most recent occasion on which this was done, in 1989, yielded the closest ever finish in Tour history, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds overall. Fignon wore the yellow jersey for the final stage, with a lead of 50 seconds, and was beaten by LeMond's superior time trial performance. LeMond's unusual handlebars which placed his forearms close together and reduce wind resistance, and his streamlined helmet, were considered to be a large factor in his victory.
|2nd: 20"||12th: 2' 00"|
|3rd: 30"||13th: 2' 10"|
|4th: 40"||14th: 2' 20"|
|5th: 50"||15th: 2' 30"|
|6th: 1'||16th: 2' 35"|
|7th: 1' 10"||17th: 2' 40"|
|8th: 1' 20"||18th: 2' 45"|
|9th: 1' 30"||19th: 2' 50"|
|10th: 1' 40"||20th: 2' 55"|
|11th: 1' 50"||21st: 3' 00"|
The TTT has been criticised for unfairly favoring strong teams and handicapping strong riders in weaker teams. To address this criticism, the 2004 and 2005 editions of the Tour limited the maximum team time difference relative to the fastest team, according to the team rankings on the stage. The following table indicates the maximum time penalty added to the winning team's time that a team will receive, according to its team time placing. However, this does not apply to riders finishing behind their own teams, and does not protect riders in case of crashing in the last kilometre, unlike during normal stages.
For example, a team that finishes in 14th place, six minutes behind the winning team, would lose only two minutes and 20 seconds in the General Classification relative to the winners of the TTT. If the team time had been 2:13 behind the winning team, then the team time will be 2:13 assuming that this were still the 14th place.
The most recent TTT was held in 2005.
The Tour is important for cycling fans in France and Europe. Millions line the route every year, some having camped a week to get the best view. A recognisable part of the crowd each day is Didi Senft who, in a red devil costume, has been the Tour de France devil or El Diablo since 1993. The inspiration for the costume is attributed to the final kilometre of each stage, indicated by La Flamme Rouge over the road.
In the countryside, it is not uncommon for locals to build dioramas out of hay or mowed into the fields, often depicting bicycles and/or the phrase "vive le tour."
In the hours before the riders pass, a carnival atmosphere prevails. Any amateur cyclist is free to attempt the course in the morning, after which begins a cavalcade of advertising vehicles blaring music and tossing hats, souvenirs, sweets and samples . As word passes that the riders are approaching, fans sometimes encroach on the road until they are an arm’s length from riders.
The rider ranked last in the general classification, who may reach the finish line five or more hours after the winner, is called the lanterne rouge. Such was sympathy to the last rider in the past that he could command higher fees in other races than riders who finished better. This custom has died along with the round-the-houses races once run all over France after the Tour.
In 2005, three films chronicled the efforts of a single team competing in the Tour de France. The German film Höllentour, translated as Hell on Wheels in English, records the Tour in 2003, the centenary year, from the perspective of Team Telekom. The film was directed by Pepe Danquart who won an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 1993 for Black Rider (Schwarzfahrer). Also released was Danish film Overcoming by Tómas Gislason, which records the 2004 Tour de France from the perspective of Team CSC.
Wired to Win : Surviving the Tour de France chronicles the 2003 tour of Française des Jeux riders Baden Cooke and Jimmy Caspar. By following the two riders in their quest for the Green Jersey, won by Cooke, the film looks at the inner workings of the human brain. The film made for IMAX theaters, was released in December 2005. The film was directed by Bayley Silleck who was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Short Film in 1996 for Cosmic Voyage ).
One of the most famous films about the Tour is Vive Le Tour by Louis Malle. This 18 minute short takes a humorous look at the 1962 edition. The 1965 Tour was filmed by Claude Lelouch in Pour un Maillot Jaune. This 30 minute documentary contains no narration and relies on the sights and sounds of the Tour itself.
A movie based on Lance Armstrong's career is currently in a pre-production stage.
In fiction, the plot of the 2003 animated feature Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville) ties into the Tour de France.
The French film Amelie also features clips from several Tours, including one where a horse briefly joins the peloton.
In 1983, the German music group Kraftwerk released the single "Tour de France" which was described as a minimalistic "melding of man and machine". The single was later included on a Kraftwerk record dedicated to the race, the Tour de France Soundtracks album from 2003.
In 1924, Henri Pélissier and his brother Charles triggered the first real drug scandal when he told journalist Albert Londres that they used Strychnine, cocaine, chloroform, aspirin, "horse ointment" and others drugs to keep going. The story was published in 'Le Petit Parisien' under the title 'Les Forçats de la Route' ('The Convicts of the Road')
On July 13, 1967, British cyclist Tom Simpson died climbing Mont Ventoux following use of amphetamines, complicated by the now defunct practice of drinking as little as possible. His supposed last words, "put me back on my bike", were invented by Sid Saltmarsh of the British magazine "Cycling" and the daily paper "The Sun".
At the 1998 Tour de France, dubbed the "Tour of Shame", a doping scandal erupted when Willy Voet, one of the soigneurs for the Festina team, was arrested for possession of erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone and amphetamines. French police raided several teams in their hotels and found doping products in the possession of the TVM team. The riders staged a sit-down strike on stage 17. After mediation by Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, police limited the most heavy-handed tactics and the riders continued. Some riders and teams had already abandoned and only 96 riders finished the race. In a 2000 criminal trial, it became clear that management and health officials of the Festina team had organised the doping.
In the years following the scandal, further anti-doping measures were introduced by race organizers and the UCI, including more frequent testing and new tests for blood doping (transfusions and EPO use). A new, independent organization, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was created. Evidence of doping has persisted. In 2002, the wife of Raimondas Rumšas, third in the 2002 Tour de France, was arrested by police after EPO and anabolic steroids were found in her car. Rumšas, who had not failed a test, was not penalised. In 2004, Philippe Gaumont, a rider with the Cofidis team, told investigators and the press that doping was endemic to the team. Fellow Cofidis rider David Millar confessed to EPO use after his home was raided and empty EPO vials found. In the same year, Jesus Manzano, a rider with the Kelme team, described how he had allegedly been forced by his team to use banned substances.
Doping controversy has surrounded seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong, although there has never been evidence for him to be penalized. In late August 2005, one month after Armstrong's seventh consecutive victory, the sports newspaper l'Équipe claimed evidence that Armstrong had used EPO in the 1999 Tour de France. Armstrong denied using EPO. In response to the l'Équipe allegations, an investigation was begun by the UCI in October 2005. The investigation reported that Armstrong did not engage in doping and that the actions of the World Anti-Doping Agency were "completely inconsistent" with testing rules. At the same 1999 Tour, Armstrong's urine showed traces of a glucocorticosteroid hormone, although below the “positive” threshold. Armstrong explained he had used the skin cream Cemalyt containing triamcinolone to treat saddle sores. Armstrong had previously received permission from the UCI to use this skin cream for his saddle sores.
The 2006 Tour had been plagued by the Operación Puerto doping case before its beginning, when favorites such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso were banned by their teams one day prior to the prologue. Seventeen riders were implicated. Then, the most serious doping charge emerged four days after the end of the Tour: the American rider Floyd Landis had a positive test for a testosterone imbalance in his 'A' or initial test sample, after he won stage 17; this was confirmed in his 'B' sample result, published on August 5, 2006. The decision to strip Landis of the victory rests with the International Cycling Union, but Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said, "It goes without saying that for us Floyd Landis is no longer the winner of the 2006 Tour de France". Landis has stated that he will fight to clear his name. On June 30, 2008 Landis lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
At a press conference on May 24, 2007, Erik Zabel admitted using EPO during the first week of the 1996 Tour de France, when he won the overall maillot vert (green jersey). Following a plea from Zabel for former cyclists to admit to using drugs, former Tour de France winner and manager of Team CSC, Bjarne Riis admitted at a press conference in Copenhagen on May 25, 2007 that he used EPO regularly from 1993 to 1998, including during his 1996 Tour de France win. His admission means the top three finishers in the 1996 Tour have all been linked to doping, with two admitting to cheating. Riis is the second Tour de France winner to confess the use of doping, following the example of Bernard Thevenet (winner in 1975 and 1977).
On July 24, 2007 Tour de France rider Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for a banned blood transfusion (Blood doping) after winning a time trial, prompting his Astana team to pull out and police to raid the hotel of the team.
On July 25, 2007 the Tour leader Michael Rasmussen of Denmark was removed from the race for "violating internal team rules" by missing random drug tests on May 9 and June 28. At first, he was punished with three administrative warnings, after Rasmussen had claimed to have been in Mexico visiting his wife's family without notifying his team about his whereabouts. On June 25, the Italian journalist and former cyclist Davide Cassani told on Danish television that he had seen Rasmussen training in Italy when Rasmussen had claimed to be in Mexico. The alleged lying prompted his firing by the Rabobank team manager, Theo de Rooij.
On July 11, 2008 the news broke from the French sports paper l'Équipe that Spanish rider Manuel Beltrán tested positive for EPO after the first stage of the tour. It was blood abnormalities before the tour start that led France's Anti-Doping Agency to target the rider. According to AP a spokesperson for Beltráns team Liquigas confirmed the same day that Beltrán was thrown off the tour. It is also reported that the police picked Beltrán up from his hotel where he lived with the rest of the Liquigas team, as well as searching the rest of the hotel for more doping. The B-Sample has not yet been tested.
On July 17, 2008, Ricardo Riccò tested positive for the banned blood booster Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (a variant of EPO) , from a sample taken following the fourth stage, making him the third rider to test positive for this substance in the 2008 Tour de France after Moisés Dueñas of Barloworld and Manuel Beltrán. He was immediately ejected from the Tour and his team Saunier Duval withdrew of its own volition.
Apart from the deaths of riders, another four fatal accidents have also occurred.
Four riders have won five times:
Three riders have won three times:
Seven riders have achieved Tour-Giro doubles, that is, winning the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in the same year:
Gino Bartali holds the longest time span between titles, having earned his first and last Tour victories 10 years apart (in 1938 and 1948).
Riders from France have won most (36), followed by Belgium (18), Spain (11), United States (10), Italy (9), Luxembourg (4), Switzerland and the Netherlands (2 each) and Ireland, Denmark and Germany (1 each).
One rider has won the points competition six times:
One rider has won the King of the Mountains seven times:
Two riders have won the King of the Mountains six times:
One rider has won the King of the Mountains, the points competition, and the Tour in the same year:
The most appearances have been by Joop Zoetemelk with 16 and no abandonments. Three riders (Lucien van Impe, Guy Nulens and Viatcheslav Ekimov) have made 15 appearances; van Impe and Ekimov finished all 15 whereas Nulens abandoned twice.
In the early years of the Tour, cyclists rode individually, and were sometimes even forbidden by the organization to ride together. This led to large gaps between the winner and the number two. Since the cyclists now tend to stay together in a peloton, the margins of the winner have become smaller, as the difference can only originate from time trials or breakaways. In the table below, the ten smallest margins between the winner and the second placed cyclists at the end of the Tour are given.
|8"||1989||Greg LeMond - Laurent Fignon|
|23"||2007||Alberto Contador - Cadel Evans|
|32"||2006||Óscar Pereiro - Andreas Klöden|
|38"||1968||Jan Janssen - Herman Van Springel|
|40"||1987||Stephen Roche - Pedro Delgado|
|48"||1977||Bernard Thévenet - Hennie Kuiper|
|55"||1964||Jacques Anquetil - Raymond Poulidor|
|58"||2008||Carlos Sastre - Cadel Evans|
|1'01"||2003||Lance Armstrong - Jan Ullrich|
|1'07"||1966||Lucien Aimar - Jan Janssen|
Comparison of Two Concurrent Respiratory Resistance Devices on Pulmonary Function and Time Trial Performance of Wheel Chair Athletes
Jan 01, 2010; Abstract This study compared the effects of a concurrent flow resistance (CFR) device versus a concurrent pressure threshold...