Updated: Aug 16
My husband is a sports fan… all sports! And bike racing is one of them. He therefore watches the Tour de France every year, especially the mountain stages. So he's in a great position to give me all the information I need to write this article.
This event also brings back fond memories like our meeting with Elizabeth and Mark. Mark is also a big fan of cycling and during their immersion in Provence, Mark climbed the Mont Ventoux just like the professional cyclists.
The Tour de France: the most popular cycle races
One in two people know it's the Tour de France right now. Indeed, this cycling race is watched by 3.5 billion people every year around the world! It is obviously the most popular of the cycle races, but also the third most important sporting event in the world after the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Just
History of Tour de France
The Tour – or “the Grande Boucle” as it is called in France – was born in 1903. In 2022, we are celebrating its 109th edition. It has indeed taken place every year since its creation, except during the two world wars. Its popularity has only grown. Today it is broadcasted in 190 countries, and riders from more than 40 nationalities are taking the start.
The Tour de France lasts 3 weeks each year. Around 180 runners – the best on the planet – cross our beautiful country over twenty stages. The exact route changes every year, but runners will systematically visit the two largest French mountain ranges: The Alps and the Pyrenees. Provence is also visited almost every year!
While the city of arrival – Paris – is always the same, the start is given each year from a different location. Sometimes runners even start from abroad! This has actually happened 23 times in the history of the Tour de France and has further increased the popularity of the race by exposing it to new audiences.
How does it work?
At the end of each stage, the riders' times are added with their previous times. The rider with the lowest total time is classified first in the general classification, and then wears the coveted yellow jersey! Bringing the yellow jersey back to Paris has become a holy grail for cyclists around the world, but other secondary classifications are also organized during the Tour:
- The classification by point, which designates the best sprinter
- The mountain classification, which designates the best climber
- The youth classification, for runners under 25
- The team classification, which accumulates the times of the riders of each team
4 riders have achieved the feat of winning the Tour de France 5 times. These are the French Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, the Belgian Eddy Merckx, and the Spanish Miguel Indurain. American Lance Armstrong has won the Big Loop 7 times, but all his victories have since been officially taken away after he admitted to doping throughout his career.
The last victory for a Frenchman dates back to 1985. So the whole country has been waiting for 36 years for a Frenchman to bring the yellow jersey back to Paris! In 2019, Thibaud Pinot was ideally placed to win, before injuring his thigh just 3 days before arriving in Paris...
Why the Tour de France is so popular?
This year the best hopes rest on Romain Bardet, but he is not the favorite. The young Slovenian rider Tadej Pogaçar, winner in 2020 and 2021, is more than ever a candidate for his own succession.
What makes the Tour de France so popular around the world is also the spectacle offered by the magnificent landscapes crossed by the riders. Since the Tour was broadcasted on television, hundreds of millions of people have been watching the stages simply to enjoy the awe-inspiring images that the helicopters covering the race can offer.
The other particularity of the Tour de France is that it is a completely free show... Yes! Going to support the runners has never been payable, and that is why today around 12 million people gather on the sides of the roads to enjoy the spectacle, especially during the mountain stages.
This year, unlike last year, the Tour de France will not pass through Provence. But next year, it will be back, which is the perfect opportunity to plan a great immersion experience in our region!
If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!
Virginie In Provence