Tour de France: Climbing Three Everests!
Ask anyone the first word that comes to mind when “Tour de France” is uttered, and more than half of the responses will relate to biking. The second word? Most would respond with an iconic French item, like baguettes or the Eiffel Tower. It’s not just you – most people are not willing to allot time for watching tightly clothed, intense males cycle under treacherous conditions.
The lack of enthusiasm is strange, considering the Tour draws cyclists from all over the world. Equipped with their sleekest bikes and custom fitted attire, they are eager to win the equivalent of Olympic Gold: the Yellow Jersey. The other (less important) awards include the Green jersey for the biker with the most points (points are awarded for the individual sprints encompassed by the Tour), the red jersey for the best mountain biker, and the white jersey for the most promising junior.
Climbing "Three Everests"
Well, any competition can have funky alternative awards, but that doesn’t make it Tivo-worthy. The main problem stems from the athleticism of the race – people generally think biking is “running for the weak." The New York times busted this myth, proclaiming the Tour to be “the most physiologically demanding of athletic events,” and also compared it to "running a marathon several days a week for nearly three weeks.” The uphill racing has even been compared to climbing “three Everests.” Covering 3,200 kilometers in a twenty-one day race is not an event generally coveted by the wea
Tour de France
Funnily enough, however, the Tour de France was not started to showcase biking talent. In 1903, Henri Desgrange, editor of L’ Auto (a french magazine) was desperately trying to outsell his competition, another sports magazine named Le Velo. Desgrange started the Tour de France as a sales promotion, and it stuck. Desgrange went down in history not as a mere newspaper editor, but as the father of one of the greatest sporting events in the world.
The Tour de France has managed to stick by Desgrange’s original rules and standards, with a few exceptions. His original plan for the Tour to be an individual’s race was vetoed; today, no biker can win without a team behind him. The team surrounds the lead biker, helping him aerodynamically surpass his other opponents.
Desgrange also disapproved of sponsors – the first Tour featured trade teams [teams broken up by sponsors], but Desgrange changed the teams to be sorted by nationality. This experiment was dropped after two seasons, for people originally on different teams retained hostility for their new teammates. Trade teams were restored, with the hope that national teams could return again; they haven’t since.
Fast-forward to present day, with the 99th Tour de France that saw the first British cyclist to win the prestigious Yellow jersey -- Bradley Wiggins triumphed over Christopher Froome, and the reigning Tour de France champion Cadel Evans.