Tour de France

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2004 Tour de France winners podium
Peloton of the 2018 tour

The Tour de France [ ˌtuʀdəˈfʀɑ̃ːs ], also known as Grande Boucle [ gʀɑ̃dˈbukl ] ( French for Big Loop ) or just Le Tour [ ləˈtuːʀ ] ( French for Die Tour ), is the most famous and most important road race in the world for riders .

It has been held annually in July since 1903 , with alternating routes across France and neighboring countries. During the First World War , the tour was canceled from 1915 to 1918, the Second World War caused an interruption from 1940 to 1946. The Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) has been the organizer of the stage race since 1992 .

The tour is considered by many to be the third largest sporting event in the world and the largest annual sporting event after the Olympic Games and World Cups . It is also considered to be the "most difficult major tour of the country".

A Tour de France for women or Grande Boucle Féminine was held with interruptions from 1984 to 2009. The length and importance of the tour were small compared to the men's tour. ASO has been organizing La Course by Le Tour de France since 2014 , initially as a criterion on the Champs-Elysees on the day of the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France .


Le Grand Départ

On such a time trial ramp, here in 2004 at the Grand Départ in Liège , the prologue and with it the tour begins every year

Le Grand Départ , French for the great descent , is the traditional name for the start of the country tour. Since 1989 this kick-off has mostly taken place on the first Saturday in July; previously it started on weekdays. Traditionally, the start and finish were in the capital Paris . The management deviated from this principle for the first time in 1926 when they chose the municipality of Évian-les-Bains in eastern France as their starting point. This remained the exception for the time being, it was not until the Grand Départ in Metz in 1951 that the picture changed. Since then, the tour has not started in Paris, only in the anniversary year 2003 the race management made an exception for historical reasons.

Since 1967 the Tour de France has usually started with the so-called prologue . It is usually held as a circuit in a larger city and mainly serves to present the drivers to the largest possible audience. Regardless of this, the participants will be presented individually at a kind of press conference on the evening before the prologue. In addition, the prologue - in contrast to a regular stage , which would possibly end with the peloton arriving at the finish line - already results in time gaps between the riders.

If the opening time trial exceeds the maximum distance of currently eight kilometers set by the World Cycling Association UCI , it is referred to as the first stage. This was the case in 2000 (16.5 kilometers), 2005 (19.0 kilometers), 2009 (15.5 kilometers), 2015 (13.8 kilometers) and 2017 (14 kilometers). In 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016, the race management did not even start a time trial at all and began the Tour de France, as was usual until the 1960s, with a regular stage of almost 200 kilometers.


The stages following the Grand Départ, usually twenty in number, trace the French hexagon . The route and the stage locations change every year. In the first ten years, it was driven exclusively clockwise , from 1913 to 1932 only against the clock. Since then, the direction of travel has been changing in ever faster succession, between 1998 and 2009 there was even a consistent change every year.

Finish line at the 2017 tour

The first days of the Tour de France are almost always characterized by fast and sprinter-friendly flat stages in the north of France, before the overall ranking of the tour is decided in the high mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps . If the tour is driven clockwise, the drivers will reach the Alps first, if driving in the opposite direction, the Pyrenees are on the program first. Particularly spectacular mountain stages are preferred on the second and third weekends of the tour or on the French National Day on July 14th. The aim is to enable as many spectators as possible to take part in the race.

In addition, there are also mountain stages in the two low mountain ranges of the Vosges and Massif Central , although these cannot be compared in terms of difficulty with those in the high mountains. Flat stages between two mountains are called transition or transfer stages. Today there are usually two time trials during the Tour de France, the second usually on the day before the final stage to Paris. In some cases the first time trial is not held as an individual time trial, but as a mountain time trial or as a team time trial.

The total distance to be covered was significantly reduced after the doping scandal of 1998 and has been around 3500 kilometers since then. The longest tour was driven in 1926 and was 5745 kilometers long, the shortest was the very first tour in 1903 with a total of 2428 kilometers. The individual stages are also shorter than in the past, today between 150 and 250 kilometers are driven every day. The longest stage ever driven led in 1919 over a distance of 482 kilometers from Les Sables-d'Olonne to Bayonne . So - called half - stages , which were common between 1934 and 1991 , are no longer held . The drivers had to compete two or even three times a day, typically in the morning for the normal race and in the afternoon for the time trial .

The Tour de France is traditionally interrupted by several days of rest . In the present, these are usually the second and third Monday during the race. Unlike in the past, today people only start comparatively seldom in the place where the racing drivers arrived the day before. The reason for this is the desire to include as many communities as possible in the course. The result is transfers after many stages. These are done with motor vehicles. Specially adapted coaches for their respective crew are available for the drivers. As a rule, longer transfers are necessary once or twice during each Tour de France. They take place either on one of the two rest days or in the evening after a stage. Drivers cover such longer distances in the plane or in the TGV .

In its history, the tour has passed through all of the departments on the French mainland. In 2013, at the 100th edition of the tour, the two departments on Corsica were also taken into account. The five overseas departments of French Guiana , Guadeloupe , Martinique , Mayotte and Réunion have not yet been included in the program for geographic and logistical reasons.

Typical design of a roundabout during the tour

Big cities tend to be avoided when routing the route today. The afternoon arrival of the Tour de France and the associated road closures often lead to traffic problems in the middle of the rush hour. Likewise, particularly small communities are usually ruled out as a stage stop. The reason for this are logistical problems, in particular the lack of accommodation for the tour escort. In principle, preference is given to municipalities that have never been part of the course. The tour director's approval is preceded by an extensive application process. Some municipalities have to wait many years to be included in the routing. For example, 250 locations have registered their interest as a stage location for the 2013 anniversary tour. The route of the tour is usually presented at a press conference in October of the previous year, before that it is subject to strict secrecy. Only the starting point and the course of the first stage will be made public earlier.

It is not uncommon for road surfaces to be renewed especially for the tour . Typically, the villages passed through dress up particularly. The special design of the inner surfaces of roundabouts , for example, is popular .

Paris is by far the most frequented stage location, up to and including 2010, the tour was a guest on the Seine 135 times . In second place is Bordeaux , where the tour made 80 guest appearances, and in third place is Pau , which has been a stage 62 times. Another constant in the route are certain mountain passes that are passed at almost every event.

Final stage

The destination on the Champs-Élysées

The last stage has always taken place on a Sunday since 1967, but previously also on other days of the week. It traditionally begins in the Paris area, the Île-de-France , and since 1975 has always ended with several final laps on the Champs-Élysées in the center of the capital. Traditionally, the overall leader is not attacked on the final stage. This last stage is called Tour d'Honneur , in German Tour of Honor , on which no sporting attack is carried out on the overall leader in order to allow him a glorious reception in Paris. Contrary to the code of honor not to attack the overall leader, Jean Robic won the Tour de France in 1947 after being attacked on the final stage. It is said that he had previously promised his fiancée the bonus for his victory as a wedding present. Joop Zoetemelk attacked overall leader Bernard Hinault on the final stage of the Tour de France 1979 , but was beaten by him in a two-man sprint.


The Col du Tourmalet is the most popular pass on the tour
A typical mountain classification in the high mountains, here in 2007 on the Col de la Colombière
In 2006
David de la Fuente climbed the climb to Alpe d'Huez in a dotted jersey
Géant du Tourmalet - Memorial to the first crossing of the Col du Tourmalet in 1910

The overall ranking of the tour is decided every year in addition to the time trials, especially in the high mountains. Some mountains and passes are very common on the tour and have acquired a downright mythical reputation over the years. The associated mountain ratings are taken either when passing the culmination points or as a so-called mountain arrival at the end of a stage. The most difficult mountain stage of a year, usually the day with the most vertical meters or the most significant climbs, is often referred to as the king's stage .

27 climbs reach a height of over 2000 meters. At 2802 meters, the Cime de la Bonette is the highest point approached so far, followed by the Col de l'Iseran (2764 m) and the Col Agnel (2744 m).

The four so-called sacred mountains of the Tour de France are the Col du Tourmalet (2114 m, Pyrenees), which was climbed as the first high mountain pass in 1910, the Col du Galibier (2645 m, Alps), which was added to the program a year later , the Mont Ventoux (1909 m, Provence ), whose solitary, towering summit was first climbed in 1951 and gained notoriety after the death of Tom Simpson in 1967, and the ascent to the alpine ski station L'Alpe d'Huez , whose legendary 21 bends up at 1850 meters for the first time in 1952 in the history of the tour. This was also the first mountain finish of the race.

Other legendary tour mountains are the Col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees and the Col de la Madeleine in the Alps. The Col d'Aubisque, when approached from the northwest, mostly from Pau , is considered a particularly difficult mountain test because it requires the drivers to switch abruptly from the flat to the high mountains. The Col de la Madeleine is named by drivers, current and former, such as the former mountain specialist Tony Rominger , as one of the most difficult in the entire tour program. In previous years, the Puy de Dôme volcanic mountain also played a major role in the tour; it was part of the course thirteen times between 1952 and 1988, but has not been used since then for logistical and ecological reasons.

The ten most popular passes are:

The mountains are divided into five levels of difficulty depending on the length and gradient of the ascent, these are called mountain categories. The maximum achievable points for the dotted jersey of the Tour de France are based on them:

category Level of difficulty example Pitch length Gradient
HC very difficult Col du Tourmalet 17.4 km 7.3%
1 heavy Col du Telegraphe 12.0 km 6.7%
2 moderate Cote de Boyne 09.2 km 5.3%
3 light Cote de Oneux 03.2 km 5.1%
4th very easy Cote de Bellevue 01.0 km 4.2%

The points are awarded according to the special regulations of the respective event: B. in 2012 staggered between 25 and two points for the first ten drivers and one point for the first driver with an increase in the 4th category.

The Tour de France traditionally covers six mountain stages, three of which are mostly in the Alps and three in the Pyrenees. This includes around fifteen climbs that are worth mentioning for the riders, i.e. mountains of the 1st category or the Hors Catégorie.

foreign countries

Even in the early days of the race, the French national borders were crossed at individual stages. This was the case for the first time in 1906 when the Tour of Lorraine and Alsace passed. France had lost both areas to the German Empire in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870/71 . The city ​​of Metz, which is symbolic of the Franco-German conflict , was also passed through for the first time . In the same year the tour also went through Italy and Spain . As early as 1907, Metz was finally also the first foreign stage destination.

After three more finishings took place in Metz in 1908, 1909 and 1910, the audience began to turn it into a chauvinistic event and started the Marseillaise . Therefore, for political reasons, the German authorities prohibited further guest appearances on the tour after 1910. Then it took until 1964 before the tour made a detour to Germany again as a result of the Franco-German friendship ; since then this has been happening regularly.

2007: The tour in front of the London landmark Big Ben

Over the years, all of today's neighboring countries were included in the course at irregular intervals, such as Switzerland (for the first time in 1907, for the first time in 1913 with Geneva as a stage location ), Monaco (for the first time in 1939), Belgium (for the first time in 1947), Luxembourg (for the first time in 1947) and Andorra (first published in 1964). The tour was also held twice in the semi-autonomous Saarland (1947 to 1956) , which was economically connected to France, namely in 1948 and 1953.

Later states were added that do not have a common border with France. These were the Netherlands (first in 1969), Great Britain (first in 1974) and Ireland (1998). Furthermore, West Berlin (1987), which at that time was still surrounded by the territory of the GDR and enjoyed a special political status. Since 1954, the Grand Départ has also taken place at irregular intervals in neighboring countries, up to now

It is not uncommon for the tour to be based on political aspects or other major events. The first post-war trip to Germany in 1964, for example, was preceded by the Élysée Treaty the year before . The first guest appearance in Great Britain took place in the year after the country joined the European Community , the next in 1994 one year after the opening of the Eurotunnel . This was also used for the transfer of the drivers and accompanying persons.

The trip to West Berlin took place on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Berlin . At the same time, in the middle of the Cold War , he underlined France's position as a guarantor power within the framework of the four-power status . In the GDR, this action was perceived as a provocation, so the start of the International Peace Tour in 1987 was moved from Warsaw to East Berlin .

The 1992 tour made its first appearance in seven countries in the same year, having traveled through Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Italy. Stage arrivals and stage starts also took place in all countries. The reason for this was the previous signing of the Maastricht Treaty on February 7 of the same year.

The long-cherished plan to start the tour in the United States ( New York ) or Canada ( Québec ) has not yet been implemented due to the immense effort involved. In addition to Corsica, other cities, regions and states in which the tour has not yet been a guest applied for the 2013 anniversary tour: Qatar , Lugano , Salzburg , Scotland , Tokyo and Utrecht .


Since 1969, the Tour de France has been contested by professional teams operated or sponsored by companies for advertising purposes , just like in the early days of the race. From 1930 to 1961 and then again in 1967 and 1968 national teams competed against it .

Every year around 21 to 22 professional teams are invited to the Tour de France, which until 2017 consisted of nine drivers each, and in 2018 for the first time only eight. The 18 UCI WorldTeams have the right and the obligation to participate in accordance with the UCI regulations for WorldTour races . The organizer selects the remaining teams from among the Professional Continental Teams . Most teams usually come from France, Italy and Spain, with individual teams from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the USA. These nations also provide the majority of the drivers. Individual cycling professionals come from the rest of Central Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe as well as Kazakhstan, Colombia, Australia, South Africa and Japan.

Since it was held in 2018, the Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel has been the sole record participant in the Tour de France with 18 starts, followed by Jens Voigt from Mecklenburg , the American George Hincapie and the Australian Stuart O'Grady with 17 participations each. However, they all did not always reach their destination in Paris.

On the other hand, the Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk , who started only 16 times, is the sole record holder when it comes to arriving at the finish, as he finished the tour after every start, seven times on the podium and once in 1980 as the overall winner .

Each 15 times contested the Tour of the multiple winner of the mountains classification and overall winner of the 1976 Lucien Van Impe , his Belgian compatriot Guy Nulens (Top Rank: 22) and the Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov . The latter, like Zoetemelk, always reached Paris and was second in the finish line.

With 14 participations, Erik Zabel , six-time winner of the points classification , is second behind Jens Voigt among the German record participants.


Foundation by L'Auto and bond to L'Équipe

Front page of L'Auto on July 19, 1903
Self-promotion for L'Équipe in the advertising caravan 2010

The Tour de France was founded in 1903 by the sports newspaper L'Auto , which was looking to increase its circulation . At the time, this had to prove itself particularly against the competitor newspaper Le Vélo , founded in 1892 , from which it split off in 1900 (initially under the name L'Auto-Vélo ). Ultimately, L'Auto (its name since January 1903) prevailed, and Le Vélo was published for the last time in 1904 .

The editor-in-chief of L'Auto , Henri Desgrange , took over the post of tour director until his death in 1940. In this office he concentrated all important decision-making processes for the organization of the race. To make the race more attractive, Desgrange introduced the yellow jersey in 1919 and the mountain classification in 1933. To his successor, both as editor-in-chief and as tour director, Desgrange built the journalist Jacques Goddet , who represented him as race director from 1936 and as tour director from 1924 to 1945. In contrast to his predecessor, Goddet was open to the use of technical innovations: in his first year as co-director in 1937, he allowed gear shifting.

After the liberation of France in 1944, L'Auto was banned. Two years later, the new sports newspaper L'Équipe was founded as the successor title by the Amaury publishing group, which continued to organize the tour under Goddet. Later the almost all-powerful director Goddet was assigned a second director, who was mainly responsible for the economic side. In 1989 Jean-Marie Leblanc , who like his predecessors also came from journalism, accompanied the tour as director for the first time. The organization of the race was passed on to the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), whose boss has since officially exercised supreme control over the tour. The concrete decisions were still made by Leblanc, under whose direction the marketing of the Tour de France has reached a new level of professionalism. In 2006 Christian Prudhomme took over the direction of the tour. Daniel Mangeas provided the distinctive voice for the tour commentary.

Tour de France directors

  • 1903-1939: Henri Desgrange
  • 1947–1961: Jacques Goddet
  • 1962–1986: Jacques Goddet and Félix Lévitan
  • 1987: Jean-François Naquet-Radiguet and Xavier Louy
  • 1988: Jean-Pierre Courcol and Xavier Louy
  • 1989–1993: Jean-Pierre Carenso and Jean-Marie Leblanc
  • 1994–2000: Jean-Claude Killy and Jean-Marie Leblanc
  • 2001–2004: Patrice Clerc and Jean-Marie Leblanc
  • 2005–2006: Jean-Marie Leblanc and Christian Prudhomme
  • since 2006: Christian Prudhomme


Egan Bernal Geraint Thomas Chris Froome Chris Froome Chris Froome Vincenzo Nibali Chris Froome Bradley Wiggins Cadel Evans Andy Schleck Alberto Contador Carlos Sastre Alberto Contador Oscar Pereiro Sio Marco Pantani Jan Ullrich Bjarne Riis Miguel Indurain Miguel Indurain Miguel Indurain Miguel Indurain Miguel Indurain Greg LeMond Greg LeMond Pedro Delgado Stephen Roche Greg LeMond Bernard Hinault Laurent Fignon Laurent Fignon Bernard Hinault Bernard Hinault Joop Zoetemelk Bernard Hinault Bernard Hinault Bernard Thévenet Lucien van Impe Bernard Thévenet Eddy Merckx Luis Ocana Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Jan Janssen (Radrennfahrer) Roger Pingeon Lucien Aimar Felice Gimondi Jacques Anquetil Jacques Anquetil Jacques Anquetil Jacques Anquetil Gastone Nencini Federico Bahamontes Charly Gaul Jacques Anquetil Roger Walkowiak Louison Bobet Louison Bobet Louison Bobet Fausto Coppi Hugo Koblet Ferdinand Kübler Fausto Coppi Gino Bartali Jean Robic Sylvère Maes Gino Bartali Roger Lapébie Sylvère Maes Romain Maes Antonin Magne Georges Speicher André Leducq Antonin Magne André Leducq Maurice de Waele Nicolas Frantz Nicolas Frantz Lucien Buysse Ottavio Bottecchia Ottavio Bottecchia Henri Pélissier Firmin Lambot Léon Scieur Philippe Thys Firmin Lambot Philippe Thys Philippe Thys Odiel Defraeye Gustave Garrigou Octave Lapize François Faber Lucien Petit-Breton Lucien Petit-Breton René Pottier Louis Trousselier Henri Cornet Maurice Garin Kolumbien Irland Deutschland Dänemark Australien Schweiz Niederlande Vereinigte Staaten Luxemburg Großbritannien Italien Spanien Belgien Frankreich

The Tour de France, launched in 1903, was the first real stage race in the history of cycling. Enormous distances had already been covered on long-distance journeys such as Paris – Brest – Paris (first 1891, 1200 kilometers) and Bordeaux – Paris (first 1891, 577 kilometers). What was new, however, was the idea developed by the French journalist Géo Lefèvre to organize several bike races across France in direct succession and to add up the times. The programmatic title “Tour de France” deliberately served the patriotic mood of the time. The title was already known from the automobile race , which was held for the first time in 1899.

On July 1, 1903, the first Tour de France began at the former "Auberge Reveil-Matin" in Montgeron near Paris. 60 drivers took part. The tour led over six stages with a total of 2428 kilometers from Paris via the stage cities of Lyon , Marseille , Toulouse , Bordeaux and Nantes back to Paris. There were several rest days between the stages. The favored Frenchman Maurice Garin was the winner of the first tour in history, with an hourly average of over 25 km / h; the prize money for the victory was 6,075 francs .

The following editions of the tour were initially marked by a series of scandals, culminating in the exclusion of the first four of the overall classification at the Tour de France 1904, among other things due to unauthorized use of the railroad. However, the Tour de France was able to establish itself until around 1910. In retrospect, the time before the First World War is referred to as the heroic era of the tour, because back then daily distances of over 400 kilometers were regularly covered. From today's perspective, this seems just as unbelievable as the modest technical equipment of the racing bikes at the time and the inadequate quality of the roads, which can only be found today on the short cobblestone passages of the classic Paris – Roubaix and Tour of Flanders .

Later, the staging of stages in the mountains also created the growing myth of the race as a tour of suffering . The very first official mountain classification was held on July 11, 1905 at the Ballon d'Alsace (1178 m) in the Vosges . A few days later, the Côte de Laffrey (915 m) and the Col Bayard (1246 m) in the Alps followed. In 1907, Henry Desgrange expanded the number of mountain tests with a stage through the Chartreuse massif . Before that, however, the tour had already crossed the Col de la République in the Massif Central in 1903 and 1904 , which at 1161 meters was only 17 meters lower than the Ballon d'Alsace. Later there were also stages in the high mountains , for example in the Pyrenees for the first time in 1910 and in the High Alps for the first time in 1911 , mostly on adventurous cattle trails, which at that time still had to be conquered without gears . The sculpture Le Géant du Tourmalet is reminiscent of the first crossing of the Col du Tourmalet in 1910. With the Col du Galibier, at that time the highest French pass that could be climbed by bike, a new frontier had been reached for the time being. But cycling races in the high mountains were not the invention of the tour. The Brenner Pass was crossed as early as 1894 on the long-distance journey from Milan to Munich , and the Touring Club de France organized a cycling race as early as 1902, which led twice over the Tourmalet.

The number of stages was gradually increased to eleven (1905), fifteen (1910), eighteen (1925) and finally twenty-four (1931). The total length of the tour increased to up to 5500 kilometers. In return, however, the length of the individual stages has been steadily shortened. The number of rest days that had been regularly taken after each stage from 1906 onwards decreased. Since the 1950s, the Tour de France has largely been held in its current form.

From 2005 the tour was part of the then newly introduced UCI ProTour , a series of the most important cycling races of the year. After three seasons, the tour, along with other major stage races such as Giro d'Italia or Vuelta, was withdrawn from the racing series in 2008 after disagreements between the ASO and the UCI. Since 2011 the race has been part of the successor series UCI WorldTour .

winner Yellow jersey

Jacques Anquetil (France, 1957 and 1961–1964), Eddy Merckx (Belgium, 1969–1972 and 1974), Bernard Hinault (France, 1978/1979, 1981/1982 and 1985) and Miguel Induráin (Spain, 1991 ) achieved five wins each -1995). Most of the placements on the podium went to Raymond Poulidor , who finished three times second and five times third, but was unable to win the tour and win the yellow jersey once.

Record winner of the Tour de France
Victories driver Years
5 FranceFrance Jacques Anquetil 1957, 1961-1964
BelgiumBelgium Eddy Merckx 1969–1972, 1974
FranceFrance Bernard Hinault 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985
SpainSpain Miguel Induráin 1991-1995
4th United KingdomUnited Kingdom Chris Froome 2013, 2015–2017
3 BelgiumBelgium Philippe Thys 1913, 1914, 1920
FranceFrance Louison Bobet 1953-1955
United StatesUnited States Greg LeMond 1986, 1989, 1990
Note: Drivers in bold are still active
Successes by country (as of 2019 tour)
country Number of
top 10
1. 2. 3. 4th 5. 6th 7th 8th. 9. 10.
FranceFrance FRA 324 36 31 34 27 30th 35 29 36 33 33
BelgiumBelgium BEL 204 18th 15th 17th 25th 20th 21st 23 20th 24 21st
SpainSpain ESP 132 12 6th 12 12 14th 19th 11 12 18th 16
ItalyItaly ITA 114 10 16 15th 13 8th 12 18th 6th 5 11
United KingdomUnited Kingdom GBR 15th 6th 2 1 3 1 1 1
LuxembourgLuxembourg LUX 34 5 6th 3 3 7th 1 3 2 2 2
United StatesUnited States United States 20th 3 1 2 3 3 1 4th 2 1
NetherlandsNetherlands NED 54 2 11 4th 6th 9 4th 4th 4th 5 5
SwitzerlandSwitzerland SUI 24 2 4th 3 2 3 2 5 2 1
GermanyGermany GER 29 1 8th 3 2 2 2 1 5 5
ColombiaColombia COL 19th 1 3 2 2 1 2 3 3 2
AustraliaAustralia OUT 13 1 2 1 3 1 1 2 2
IrelandIreland IRL 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
DenmarkDenmark THE 7th 1 1 1 1 3
LatviaLatvia LAT 2 1 1
PortugalPortugal POR 11 2 3 2 3 1
KazakhstanKazakhstan KAZ 3 1 1 1
AustriaAustria AUT 3 1 1 1
SwedenSweden SWE 3 1 1 1
LithuaniaLithuania LTU 1 1
PolandPoland POLE 1 1
RussiaRussia RUS 3 1 1 1
CanadaCanada CAN 3 1 1 1
SloveniaSlovenia SLO 3 1 1 1
Czech RepublicCzech Republic CZE 5 1 1 1 1 1
MexicoMexico MEX 3 2 1
South AfricaSouth Africa RSA 2 2
UkraineUkraine UKR 3 1 2

The youngest tour winner was the twenty-year-old Henri Cornet in 1904, who was only declared the winner afterwards. Firmin Lambot won as the oldest driver in 1922 at the age of 36. Greg Lemond celebrated the tightest victory at the 1989 Tour de France , when he won just eight seconds ahead of Laurent Fignon . In 1952 , Fausto Coppi laid the greatest gap in the modern era of the tour (since 1947) with over 28 minutes between himself and the second Stan Ockers .

The largest time span between the first and last tour victory of a driver is ten years (1938 and 1948) and was established by the Italian Gino Bartali . No other driver has so far managed to win again ten years after his first tour victory. Between the two victories of Bartalis, seven of the nine possible events were canceled because of the Second World War .

The first non-French to win the Tour was the Luxembourgish François Faber (1909), and one of the few riders who wore the yellow jersey from the first to the last stage was also a Luxembourger, Nicolas Frantz (1928) . The first driver to achieve this was the Italian Ottavio Bottecchia in 1924 . In 1935 the Belgian Romain Maes and in 1961 the French Jacques Anquetil succeeded .

With 36 successes, France has by far the most tour victories, followed by Belgium with 18. However, since 1985 (winner Hinault ) no French have won the tour. Spain (twelve), Italy (ten), Great Britain (six), Luxembourg (five), the United States (three), Switzerland and the Netherlands (two each) follow in the winners list . A number of new nations have entered the list of winners since the mid-1980s: the first American victory in 1986, the first Irish in 1987 and the first Danish victory in 1996 . In 1997 the then twenty-three year old Jan Ullrich won the first and so far only German tour victory. However, Bjarne Riis admitted to having doped in his 1996 victory, and Ullrich's victory is still overshadowed by suspected doping.

In 2011 an Australian won for the first time, and in 2012 there was the first winner from Great Britain .

The American Lance Armstrong was the first driver to win the Tour seven times from 1999 to 2005. These titles were, however, due to the US Anti-Doping Agency revoked pronounced disqualification for doping by the UCI on October 22, 2012th The UCI decided on October 26th, 2012 not to award these titles again.

Record stage winner

Record stage winner
# Surname Victories
1 BelgiumBelgium Eddy Merckx 34
2 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Mark Cavendish 30th
3 FranceFrance Bernard Hinault 28
4th FranceFrance André Leducq 25th
5 FranceFrance André Darrigade 22nd
6th LuxembourgLuxembourg Nicolas Frantz 20th

The ranking of multiple stage victories is led by five-time overall winner Eddy Merckx . He won a total of 34 stages in seven participations. This is followed by Mark Cavendish with 30 and Bernard Hinault with 28 stage wins and the two-time tour winner André Leducq with 25 wins. French rider André Darrigade and Lance Armstrong achieved 22 victories . However, the latter was denied 20 stage victories by the UCI on October 22, 2012 , which means that he is only rated with two stage victories.


Development of the average speed between 1903 and 2015

The average speed of the race has increased continuously over the years. After the first tour had been completed at 25.67  km / h , it exceeded the limit of 30 km / h for the first time in 1934, and in 1956 that of 35 km / h. It rose above 40 km / h for the first time with Lance Armstrong in 1999. In 2005 the fastest average speed to date was reached with 41.65 km / h (also by Lance Armstrong). However, Armstrong's achievements must be assessed critically: The UCI canceled all of its tour victories because of proven doping.

The fastest single stage of a tour was won by Mario Cipollini in 1999 after a distance of 194.5 kilometers with an average speed of 50.35 km / h.

However, it should be remembered that in the first decades the total distance to be covered was often more than 5000 kilometers, whereby the individual stages were mostly twice as long as today and also had to be covered on partially poorly developed roads without gears.

The steep increase in speed from 1927 is mainly due to the shortening of the stage and overall length, as the use of a gear shift was not granted until ten years later. In addition, the gradual improvement of the road conditions also plays a role.

The strong increase in performance since the end of the 1980s is also noticeable, which, depending on the perspective, can be attributed to improved training methodology and / or the use of doping agents.

The slowest tour was driven after the First World War in 1919 at 15.1 km / h, which at 5560 kilometers was also the second longest in tour history.

Prize money

Since the tour was founded, prize money has been awarded to professional cyclists , in the first year 1903 a total of 20,000 francs. Since then, the prize money has continued to increase. At the 2004 Tour de France , the organizers distributed a total of around three million euros, of which around 400,000 euros went to the overall winner. Although these are large sums in absolute terms, the endowment of the tour is far below that of tennis or golf tournaments. The importance of the prize money for the Tour actually decreased over the years, as the best riders earn the majority of their salaries not through prize money but through long-term contracts with their cycling teams. In addition, the market value of a professional cyclist is measured very strongly by his balance sheet at the Tour de France, so that a success at the tour has an enormous financial indirect financial effect. This is one of the reasons why it is customary for the tour winners to donate their prize money to the team's cashier in order to express recognition of the team's performance: They themselves can benefit from much higher income through the higher paid employment after the tour victory. and advertising contracts.


As early as 1924, the journalist Albert Londres published in his well-known article Les Forçats de la Route ( The Forced Laborers of the Road) , what Henri Pélissier and other drivers had told him about doping on the tour. They emptied their jersey pockets and presented Londres with chloroform , cocaine and a pill called dynamite .

The first doping test took place on June 28, 1966 in Bordeaux. Two doctors checked several drivers for needle punctures and took urine samples. The next day the participants protested, with the riders pushing their bikes for the first few meters of the stage. In 1967 the tour's first doping fatality occurred : Tom Simpson died during the stage on Mont Ventoux after taking amphetamines and alcohol.

During the 1998 Tour de France , cycling went through a serious credibility crisis. The so-called Festina Affair was the top team Festina (with the stars Richard Virenque and Alex Zülle uncovered a systematic, widespread doping practices) after Willy Voet, a supervisor of the team, unauthorized by chance large amounts of substances - especially EPO has been found - were. This discovery also made clear the ineffectiveness of the doping controls at the time: none of the Festina drivers had tested positive. The Festina and TVM teams were ultimately excluded ; the Spanish teams withdrew from the tour in protest of the investigative methods used by the French authorities. The 1998 Tour de France was finally won by Marco Pantani , who was then excluded from the Giro d'Italia a year later because of an excessive hematocrit value indicating doping .

The Festina affair, however, was only the temporary high point of the doping problem that had accompanied the Tour de France for decades. The first five-time tour winner, Jacques Anquetil, had already refused any doping test as an active driver and pointed out that one should not imagine performances like those provided on the tour can only be reached with mineral water. In the 1970s and 1980s, despite extremely poor controls, drivers repeatedly tested positive. Including the overall winners Felice Gimondi , Joop Zoetemelk , Pedro Delgado and Laurent Fignon .

A doping result from Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France has been officially documented since 1999 , who, together with 16 other riders, showed an unusual corticosteroid value in a test that was newly introduced ten days before the tour. This finding was explained with a prescription submitted after the test and had no consequences, although the statutes provide for a penalty for the driver concerned for this type of offense.

Spectators protest against doping on the 2006 tour
Critical discussion of the audience with the topic of doping, here at the 2008 tour

A day before the Tour de France 2006 , a new doping scandal rocked the cycling scene when the Spanish authorities published a list of 58 doping suspects. This led to the exclusion of the tour favorites Jan Ullrich , Ivan Basso , Francisco Mancebo , Joseba Beloki , Oscar Sevilla and other drivers before the start of the tour. The drivers were not replaced, so that the affected teams were reduced or not started in the Tour de France at all. This episode later became known as the Fuentes doping scandal .

After the Tour de France 2006 it became known that overall winner Floyd Landis had been doped with testosterone on the crucial stage . A and B samples gave a positive result. Floyd Landis was then released from his Phonak Hearing Systems team with immediate effect. In September 2007 Landis was stripped of the title. This makes Óscar Pereiro the new overall winner. It was the first time in the history of the Tour de France that a rider was subsequently awarded overall victory due to a doping case.

In the run-up to and during the 2007 Tour de France , doping was once again the dominant topic. Despite the efforts of the teams and organization, numerous incidents occurred: After the T-Mobile driver Patrick Sinkewitz was convicted of doping, ARD and ZDF broke off their live broadcasts of the tour. In the last week of the tour, the teams Cofidis and Astana withdrew all of their drivers from the race after each of their teams tested positive in the so-called A test. A few days before the end of the race, the dominant overall leader Michael Rasmussen was removed from the tour by his Rabobank team after the Danish Cycling Association suspended him for multiple disregard of the obligation to report his whereabouts to doping control officers.

The 1996 winner , the Dane Bjarne Riis , was officially removed from the list of winners of the Tour of France by the organizers in June 2007 after his admission to doping. The former captain of Team Telekom and former head of the Team Saxo Bank team had admitted EPO doping between 1993 and 1998. However, the UCI can no longer deny him his victory due to the expiry of the eight-year limitation period .

After several drivers had already been convicted of doping with the EPO preparation CERA during the 2008 tour , additional blood samples that had been frozen since the tour were re-tested in October 2008. Other positive doping cases were discovered, including the Gerolsteiner drivers Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl . In response, the broadcasters ARD and ZDF decided to permanently withdraw from broadcasting the Tour de France 2008.

The 2009 tour also had its first doping case three days before its official start. At that time the Dutchman Thomas Dekker was convicted of fraud.

The winner of the 2010 event , the Spaniard Alberto Contador , was stripped of the title in February 2012 by the CAS International Sports Court because of a positive doping test at the 2010 Tour. He was also given a two-year ban. Andy Schleck from Luxembourg was named the new 2010 Tour winner .

During the 2012 tour , Andy Schleck's brother Fränk tested positive for the diuretic xipamide on July 14th . Diuretics have often been used to mask the use of doping substances. Fränk Schleck was then taken out of the race by his RadioShack-Nissan team , although he was not banned by the UCI. On July 20, the result was confirmed after the analysis of the B sample.

In October 2012, Lance Armstrong was stripped of all titles, victories and placements that he had won since August 1, 1998 because of his many years of systematic doping.

As early as 1999, the President of the International Cycling Federation (UCI) Hein Verbruggen said, "If people were satisfied that the Tour de France is driven at 25 km / h, there would be no doping problem. But if you want 42 km / h , there is only one way to achieve this: with doping. " This is the fundamental problem that can be minimized with appropriate controls, but not eliminated.


The color spectrum of the jerseys is strictly determined by the tour management. A number of colored jerseys mark the best drivers of different ratings. The jerseys are put on by the riders after each stage in a festive ceremony. The stage winner is also honored here, but does not receive a special jersey. Each of the jerseys is presented by its own sponsor. In contrast to surreptitious advertising , here the interests are clearly marked as in many sporting events. The drivers are obliged to wear the appropriate jersey . If a rider has more than one jersey, he wears the more important one. The following order applies: yellow, green, dotted, white jersey. In this case the next lower jersey will be presented by the runner-up in the respective ranking. The leader is still considered to be the bearer, even if he does not actually wear it - except for the award ceremony. Eddy Merckx was the only driver to date to win the three most important ratings in 1969.

Yellow jersey (overall ranking)

Jersey yellow.svg

The driver with the lowest total time wears the famous yellow jersey, French le maillot jaune , the leader of the overall standings. To do this, the times required by the drivers for all stages are added together. Any time credits were previously subtracted from the total time: every stage winner up to the 2008 tour received a time credit of 20 seconds, the second and third stages twelve and eight seconds respectively. In the case of intermediate sprints, credit was given to the first three drivers for six, four or two seconds. These time credits are no longer applicable. Whoever has the shortest total time on their account after the last stage wins the tour. If several drivers have a time difference of less than a second, the time trial results, which are stopped by hundredths of a second, are used for advice. Nowadays, the best drivers are usually only separated by a few minutes, while the last one in the classification is around three to four hours behind.

The yellow jersey was introduced in 1919 to make it easier for viewers to identify the front runner. The first to wear the jersey was Frenchman Eugène Christophe . The five-time tour winner Eddy Merckx wore the yellow jersey for the longest - a total of 96 stages. Including rest days, it was even 111 days. The only driver who wore the yellow jersey from the first to the last stage was the Luxemburgish Nicolas Frantz in 1928. As last year's winner, he wore the yellow jersey on the first stage and never took it off until the final stage.

At the award ceremony at the end of the stage, the winner is presented with a yellow jersey with a zipper on the back. He is attracted to him in front of the audience. In the evening, the rider will be given more jerseys to wear on the next stage. At the end of the tour, he will be given another 10-30 yellow jerseys.

Winning the yellow jersey is not only prestigious, but also financially lucrative. The prize money for the winner of the overall ranking at the end of the tour is 450,000 euros, the runner-up receives 200,000 euros and the third person 100,000 euros.

Green jersey (points evaluation)

Jersey green.svg

Since 1953, the winner of the points classification has been honored with the green jersey, French le maillot vert . The evaluation adds points that are awarded at stage arrivals and intermediate sprints. Flat stages are rated significantly higher than mountain stages and time trials in order to give preference to sprinters, who usually come in the back of the overall ranking. This is where the Tour de France differs from the Giro d'Italia , which always awards the same number of points for a stage win, regardless of the terrain. Even if this rating is regularly won by sprinters, some overall classification drivers such as Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault managed to win this rating in the past . Erik Zabel from Berlin was able to wear the green jersey six times in a row to Paris from 1996 to 2001. However, at least in 1996 he obtained the title using doping. The Slovak Peter Sagan , who won this ranking five times in a row from 2012 to 2016 and in 2018 and 2019, leads this ranking.

Dotted jersey (mountain classification)

Jersey polkadot.svg

A mountain prize has been awarded since 1933, but the dotted jersey - white with red dots, French le maillot à pois rouges - has only been awarded here since 1975 . The jersey was sponsored in 1975 by the Menier chocolate factory , whose chocolate was wrapped in white paper with red dots. Points for the dotted jersey are awarded after increases in categories 4 (easy) to 1 (difficult) and the hors catégorie - in short: HC - (extremely difficult). As the only driver succeeded Richard Virenque between 1994 and 2004 the climb of seven to win, followed by Federico Bahamontes (1954-1964) and Lucien Van Impe (1971 to 1983) with six victories.

White jersey (junior ranking)

Jersey white.svg

The white jersey has been awarded to the best young professional on the tour since 1975 . This rating determines the best drivers who are no longer than 25 years old in the year of the respective tour. Between 1989 and 1999, no white jersey was awarded for this classification in the Tour de France. However, the white jersey was reintroduced in 2000.

So far, Laurent Fignon (1983), Greg LeMond (1984), Jan Ullrich (1996, 1997 and 1998), Marco Pantani (1994 and 1995) as well as Andy Schleck (2008, 2009, 2010) were first in the junior ranking and later also the yellow jersey win. Jan Ullrich was only 23 years old when he won the tour in 1997, so he won the yellow jersey and the junior competition at the same time. Alberto Contador with his tour victory in 2007 and Andy Schleck with his tour victory in 2010 (both at the age of 25) won both the white and yellow jerseys at the same time.

Red number on the back (most combative driver)

Jersey red number.svg

The red number on the back is given to the most combative driver in the entire field after each stage. This award is the only one on the tour that is determined by an expert jury. The jury, consisting of eight members (including athletes, race directors and journalists), decides after each stage which driver has shown the best fighting spirit. The prize is then presented to the driver every morning on the official podium, with 2,000 euros going into the team's treasury for each day worn. At the end of the tour, the most combative driver of the entire tour will be chosen in Paris. The prize money for this special ranking is 20,000 euros.

Team ranking

Jersey yellow number.svg

A team ranking has also been determined since 1930 . For this purpose, according to the current regulations, the times of the best three drivers of a team are added up at each stage. The winning team receives prize money of 50,000 euros. If a team consists of fewer than three drivers, it will be deleted from this rating.

As a further award, the drivers of the best team in the team classification wear “yellow numbers”, that means black digits on a yellow background. They used to be equipped with yellow hats for recognition. However, this is no longer possible since the introduction of mandatory helmets. Therefore, since 2012, the leading team has been allowed to wear yellow helmets.


The Tour de France is carried out according to the regulations of the World Cycling Federation UCI , in particular the regulations for stage races. In accordance with these regulations, special regulations also apply to the Tour de France.

Timing and time limit

At the finish, the distances between the individual drivers or driver groups are registered. All drivers in a closed group are rated with the same time. Since 2005, in the event of a fall in the last three kilometers, the riders involved in it have been scored with the same time as the group to which they belonged at the time of the fall. However, this rule does not apply to individual time trials and stages with mountain arrivals . For all stages except the prologue , a time limit ( "waiting period" ) is set within which every driver must reach the finish. The time limit is calculated according to the level of difficulty and average speed of the respective stages. The limit accordingly fluctuates between 103 and 120 percent (125 percent for individual time trials, 130 percent for team time trials) of the time of the stage winner. However, the race management has the option of flexibly extending the time limit if otherwise more than twenty percent of the drivers arrive after the end of the check or if individual drivers miss the time limit, influenced by an accident or a similar misfortune.

In 2001, during a rainy stage in the French Jura , a breakaway group around Australian Stuart O'Grady had a 35-minute lead over the peloton around eventual winner of the tour, Lance Armstrong . Without the special arrangement, Andrei Kiwiljow would have won the tour. So it was only enough for fourth place. This scenario was repeated during a transfer stage in 2006. The peloton around front runner Floyd Landis let a leading group of Spaniard Óscar Pereiro pull so far that both the time limit was missed and the Maillot Jaune changed its carrier. Although Landis was able to recapture Maillot Jaune in the Alps, he had to surrender it again after a positive doping test. Unlike Kiwilev five years earlier, Pereiro won the tour despite this exception.

On the 18th stage of the 2011 Tour de France from Pinerolo to Galibier Serre-Chevalier, a group of 88 riders exceeded the time limit. The tour operator did not ban these drivers from the tour, as otherwise the field of drivers would have shrunk by more than half. Instead, 20 points in the sprint rating were deducted from each of these drivers. This affected, among other things, the leader of the sprint classification, Mark Cavendish.

Time credits

At stage arrivals, except for time trials, the first three riders were given graduated time credits up to 2007 in addition to the time actually driven in the amount of 20, 12 or eight seconds. Up to three intermediate sprints were credited for six, four or two seconds. In the events from 2008 to 2014 no time credits were given.

For the 2015 Tour de France time bonuses were reintroduced. On every stage, with the exception of the time trial, the first three riders at the finish receive a bonus of ten, six or four seconds.


Food for the drivers is extremely important because they consume 6,000 to 10,000 kilocalories on a difficult mountain stage. Therefore, at each stage, there is a marked as such to two feed zones where the staff of the team may extend the riders from the Tour organization approved feeding bags. Food and drinks that viewers offer the professionals are allowed to accept them at their own risk. Up to twenty kilometers before the end of the stage, the sporting directors can also serve their drivers drinks and food from the team vehicle. Each team on the tour has four vehicles available, only two of which may be used in the race. The vehicles must always drive on the right, behind the cars of the tour guide and the medical service. The team cars are only allowed to move forward when requested by the internal “Radio Tour”.


In accordance with the UCI regulations, helmets were mandatory for the Tour de France on January 6, 2004 .

Technical and medical assistance

A roadside assistance will be provided by either the team or the neutral material vehicles. Roadside assistance is only allowed behind a breakaway group and behind the main field on the right side of the road. Officially, in the event of a flat tire, the wheels can only be exchanged within the team. If a driver needs a doctor, it can only be a doctor from the official medical service. The driver is then treated at the end of the peloton , often while driving from the doctor's car. In the event of a fall or a mishap during the last three kilometers, the riders will be scored with the same time as the group they belonged to.


The rules are monitored by the race stewards who accompany the race on motorcycles. If you see racing violations, you can punish them according to the rules of the World Cycling Federation UCI. Violations of the regulations are punishable by fines (in Swiss Francs), time penalties, putting back at the end of the group or the field or disqualification. Is forbidden u. a. Leaving the driving line in a sprint, holding on to other drivers, pushing between drivers and by spectators, being pulled by cars or motorcycles or using the slipstream of these vehicles.

An exception is if the driver receives medical treatment from the official tour doctor while driving or has his bike repaired by a mechanic. If a driver breaks down, he often uses the sports director's cars to get back to the peloton in their slipstream. Such violations are almost never punished.


Drivers who give up the race must hand over their start number attached to the frame and jersey to the broom wagon .


The Tour de France is considered one of the most popular sporting events in the world. Millions of cycling fans and interested residents follow the action every year.

The tour is a big event for the residents of the places to be passed. This is reinforced when a tour participant comes from the place to be driven through. Often he will then take a short break from the field or stop and greet friends and family. Such "welcome actions" are tolerated by the peloton through passivity. At the end of each stage, however, such bonuses are no longer considered.

Often you can see greetings or wishes or tour-related works of art by the fans at a prominent point in the broadcasts. These include bales of straw that farmers have arranged for situations on the tour, or ornate giant bicycles. It is also widespread to paint the road surface in advance with the names of drivers, flags and cheering slogans.

Especially on the mountain stages , numerous mobile homes or caravans pull along with the touring train to cheer on the cyclists every day. Good stands are often occupied days in advance. The best-known German fan is Didi Senft , who has been disguised as a devil for years on tour broadcasts on television. The coverage does not include the countless active fans who follow or drive up the original stages every year on their own or organized by the organizers. For example, there are also organized races for everyone , which lead over an original stage.

At the end of the stage, the French post office hands over the fan letters it has received directly to the drivers. To correctly address a letter to a specific tour participant, the address "Coureur X, Tour de France" is sufficient.

By chopper bike

From July 2nd, 2015, 2 days before the tour, Dave Sims (41), fitness trainer from Southport, England will ride all stages of the TdF on the Raleigh Chopper children's bike with a 20 "front wheel and a 24 inch rear wheel. A yellow one for level and fast stages and a red one optimized for mountain stages.


Vehicles of the Tour de France organizers

In addition to marketing the broadcasting rights , the ASO relies on support from sponsors for the Tour de France . The main sponsors are the four main sponsors, who each take on a kind of long-term sponsorship for one of the four jerseys. These are currently the major bank Crédit Lyonnais for the yellow jersey, the Czech car manufacturer Škoda Auto for the green jersey (as well as the provision of the vehicle fleet), the supermarket chain Carrefour for the dotted jersey and the glasses retailer Krys for the white jersey. Typical for this type of sponsorship: The respective corporate design of these four companies largely matches the colors of the jerseys. Other important advertising partners of the Tour de France are the watch manufacturer Tissot (which, among other things, takes over the timekeeping) and the food company Nestlé with its mineral water brand Vittel (for example with the sponsorship for the Flamme rouge). In the case of intermediate evaluations and in the finish area of ​​each stage, the ASO also offers perimeter advertising on the barriers.

Advertising caravan

Another important source of income for the OSA is the so-called advertising caravan, French caravane publicitaire . It was introduced in the 1930s and consists of a column of currently 180 lavishly designed advertising vehicles that drive around the racetrack one to two hours in front of the field of drivers. Here, from hostesses , similar to a carnival parade , small promotional gifts distributed to the audience. These often include food sample packs or water bottles. The caravan has established itself as an independent attraction over the years, and many spectators come to the route earlier because of it. In order to place three vehicles, a company currently has to pay 150,000 euros to the organizers of the Tour de France. In addition to the main sponsors mentioned above, other companies are also involved.


The “flamme rouge”, also called “devil's rag”, is the symbol for the last kilometer of a stage
Cobblestone section of the 2018 tour
  • arrière de la course - end of the field of drivers
  • baroudeur - "old warrior ", term for a driver who constantly attacks and tries to break away
  • caravane publicitaire - advertising caravan that drives in front of the drivers
  • chapeau - "Hats off", tribute to the champions or a great, special achievement by a driver
  • contre-la-montre - "against the clock", time trial
  • finisseur - rider who can break away from the peloton in the last few kilometers and save the victory from the oncoming peloton
  • Flamme rouge - "red flame", marks the beginning of the last kilometer (see picture opposite), also known as " devil's rag ", was introduced in 1906
  • grande boucle - "large loop", alternative name for the Tour de France
  • grimpeur - "climber", mountain driver
  • hors catégorie - mountain classification in the most difficult (“extraordinary”) category
  • lanterne rouge - “red lantern”, last-placed driver in the overall standings
  • maillot à pois - dotted jersey of the leader in the mountain classification
  • maillot blanc - white jersey for the best young professional under 25 years of age
  • maillot jaune - yellow jersey of the leader in the overall standings
  • maillot vert - green jersey of the best in points in the sprinter classification
  • peloton - main draw
  • peloton groupé - amalgamation of the main field after chasing outliers or catching up with different groups after increasing the pace
  • poursuivant - "pursuer", individual rider or group behind the leader (s)
  • prologue - short individual time trial at the beginning of the tour; serves primarily to introduce the driver
  • radio tour - official tour radio on 150.575 MHz
  • rouleur - rider who can keep up a high speed evenly on the flat, especially when trying to break away , usually also a good time trial
  • secteur pavé - cobblestone section, particularly common in northern France and Belgium and a particular challenge for the drivers
  • tête de la course - "head of the field", leading group
  • tour d'honneur - “Tour of Honor”, ​​the last stage that ends in Paris on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, where the wearer of the yellow jersey is traditionally no longer attacked
  • voiture balai or camion balai - "broom wagon", a spacious vehicle (usually a minibus) that "picked up" riders who had fallen behind in the early history of cycling. It was introduced to the Tour in 1910. Today drivers who give up the race have to hand in their start number to the commissioner in charge of one of the official escort cars driving at the end of the field.

Accident deaths

In addition to individual casualties among the drivers, fatal accidents have repeatedly occurred in the history of the tour among the accompanying staff and the spectators . However, this risk of death is significantly lower for spectators than, for example, at motor sport events. The reason for this is the lower energy content and the lower acceleration of a colliding cyclist compared to the mass and speed of a motor vehicle. Nevertheless, the safety regulations have been steadily tightened even during the tour as a result of several incidents.

date Number of dead Type of accident root cause
1910 , July 14th 1 Swimming accident The French racing driver Adolphe Hélière drowns during a day of rest on the Côte d'Azur .
1935 , July 14th 1 Racing accident The Spanish racing driver Francisco Cepeda dies of the consequences of his injuries three days after a fall on the descent from Col du Galibier .
1957 , July 14th, stage 9 2 Motorcycle accident The motorcyclist Rene Wagter and Alex Virot, the journalist he drove for Radio Luxembourg, crashed in the mountains near Ax-les-Thermes .
1958 , July 19, stage 24 1 Rear-end collision Official Constant Wouters is seriously injured in a collision with sprinter André Darrigade during the final stage (200 meters from the finish in Paris). He dies eleven days later as a result of the injuries.
1964 , July 11th, 19th stage 9 Spectator accident A supply truck of the French gendarmerie in the Dordogne crashes into a bridge. Nine people are killed.
1967 , July 13th, stage 13 1 Doping case The English racing driver Tom Simpson suffers a heart attack on the climb to Mont Ventoux . He dies on the way to the hospital. Amphetamines and alcohol are found in Simpson's blood.
1995 , July 18, 15th stage 1 Racing accident The Italian racing driver Fabio Casartelli falls on the descent from the Col de Portet-d'Aspet . He dies in the hospital three hours later.
2000 , July 14th, stage 12 1 Spectator accident On the stage from Avignon to Draguignan, a twelve-year-old boy dies after being hit by a vehicle in the advertising caravan.
2002 , July 17th, 10th stage 1 Spectator accident A seven-year-old boy is killed on the stage from Bazas to Pau. He wanted to run across the street to his grandmother and was hit by a police van.
2009 , July 18, stage 14 1 Spectator accident On the leg from Colmar to Besançon, a 61-year-old woman was hit by a police motorcycle while crossing the road and was fatally injured. The woman wanted to cross the street between the runaways and the passage of the main field and ran right in front of the motorcycle.




  • In 1983 the German electronics band Kraftwerk released the single Tour de France as a reminiscence of the "Big Loop". Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben , the heads of the group, are considered cycling fanatics. This love of cycling even led to the separation of the original Kraftwerk line-up in the late 1980s. The piece was used for years as the theme music for the ARD broadcasts of the tour. For the 2003 Tour de France , Kraftwerk released the concept album Tour de France Soundtracks , which reinterprets the Tour theme based on the old Tour de France title. The release reached the top of the album charts in Germany .
  • The British rock band Queen wrote the song Bicycle Race in 1978 . They got the inspiration for this when the tour entourage drove past their recording studio in Montreux (on the stage to Lausanne ). In the meantime, this piece has also been covered by the German dance interpreter Blümchen .
  • On the LP "Tagtraum" by the group "Engerling", released in 1981, there is the title "Tommy Simpson" which deals with the doping death of the driver. This title was and is announced with the words "... for all friends and opponents of tough cycling ..." and is still usually played in most of the group's concerts today. The text can be read on the Engerling homepage.


  • Chasing Legends : Documentary by Jason Berry and Ken Bell that reports on the 2009 Tour de France from the perspective of Team Columbia-High Road
  • Hell Tour: Documentary by Pepe Danquart , who accompanied Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag on the 2003 Tour de France.
  • OVERCOMING : Documentary by Tómas Gislason, who accompanied the CSC team in the 2004 Tour de France.
  • 100 years of the Tour de France : Documentary by Andreas Wilde.
  • Vive le tour : Documentary by Louis Malle , 18 minutes, 1962.
  • Mont Ventoux: Battle for the mountain jersey : Documentary B / I / F / ESP 2012 (approx. 73 min).


  • 100 years of the Tour de France 1903–2003. Delius Klasing, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 3-89595-189-7 (abridged German translation of a three-volume documentation from the archive of the French sports newspaper L'Équipe , with summaries, statistics, photos and original reports from the individual tour years up to 2002)
  • Roland Barthes : The Tour de France as an epic. In: Gunter Gebauer, Gerd Hortleder (Ed.): Sport - Eros - Death. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1986 (Edition Suhrkamp 1335), ISBN 3-518-11335-6 (Original in French: Le Tour de France comme épopée. In: Mythologies. Éditions du Seuil, Paris 1957, pp. 110–121) (Philosophical analysis of the tour as an archaic-heroic event)
  • Kristian Bauer: Roadbook Tour de France. Bruckmann, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7654-4477-4 (The mountain routes of the tour to follow for racing cyclists)
  • Hans Blickensdörfer : Tour de France. The myth and history of a bike race. Sigloch Edition, Künzelsau 1997, ISBN 3-89393-160-0 (Description of the Tour de France from the perspective of the doyen of German (cycling) sports reporting, until 1997)
  • Markus Bühler: Tour de France - On the trail of a myth. AS Verlag, Zurich 1999, ISBN 3-905111-43-8 .
  • Andreas Gelz: Heroes of the country road? The Tour de France as reflected in French literature - an overview . In: Frank Leinen (Ed.): Vélomanie. Facets of cycling between myth and economy . transcript, Bielefeld 2019, ISBN 978-3-8376-4300-8 , pp. 47-66.
  • Holger Ihle: The Tour de France in the German media. Structures, topics and examples of reporting in television and press. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2008, ISBN 978-3-8364-7779-6 .
  • Ralf Schröder, Hubert Dahlkamp: Not all heroes wear yellow. The history of the Tour de France. Die Werkstatt, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-89533-406-5 (anecdotal story of the tour told with backgrounds)
  • Christopher S. Thompson: The Tour de France. A cultural history. University of California Press, Berkeley 2006, ISBN 0-520-24760-4 .
  • Les Woodland: demigods in yellow. The reading book for the Tour de France. covadonga, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 3-936973-00-8 (reading book by a British journalist told in episodes)
  • Enrico Aiello: Ascensions mythiques - Les grands tours cyclistes . Eyrolles, Paris 2018, ISBN 978-2-212-67656-3 , (French).

See also

Web links

Commons : Tour de France  - collection of images

References and comments

  1. Compare for example: Tour de France should start in Hamburg. CDU wants to bring the world's third largest sporting event to Hamburg., November 24, 2000, accessed on August 31, 2012 .
  2. The rating as the "third largest sporting event in the world" is also used for other events such as the rugby world championship , compare for example: World Cup at the end of the world. "The Rugby World Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world (...)". (No longer available online.), archived from the original on October 20, 2011 ; accessed on August 31, 2012 .
  3. Tour de France defies terror., July 1, 2016, accessed on March 14, 2017 .
  4. Tour de France. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on January 14, 2016 ; accessed on September 24, 2015 .
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