Get set for the Tour de France (in Yorkshire)
Tour de France fever is about to land in Yorkshire. This year, the Tour starts in Leeds on July 5 before heading south through England and then across to France. Whether you are planning to catch the pro riders as they whizz by in northern England, further south, in France or on the TV, we thought you might like a short guide to some fascinating facts and figures.
In the beginning:
The Tour de France was first organised in 1903 by the French magasine L'Auto. But it wasn’t for the reasons that you might imagine. L’Auto needed to boost sales ahead of rival publication Le Velo. The competitive multi-day ride proved to be a huge success both in readership and sporting terms and has been held annually ever since.
Well, except for a few years:
The Tour de France will have been held for the 111th year this year, expect for the years during the two World Wars.
Claimed as the world’s biggest sporting event, the Tour de France attracts TV audiences worldwide of 3.5 billion. The Tour is broadcast to more than 188 countries, on 121 different TV channels and gets a whopping 4700 hours of coverage. There are some 12 million spectators on the actual tour route.
When and where:
The Tour starts at the Grand depart in Leeds, Yorkshire on Saturday July 5 and finishes in France on Sunday July 27. There are total of 21 stages over a total distance of 3664 kms. That works out at an average of 174km per stage, although the longest actual stage is on July 22, a massive 237 km from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon in France.
It all adds up:
The route includes nine flat stages; five hill stages; six mountain stages; one individual time-trial and just two rest days.
Stages in the city:
There are nine city stages including Leeds, Harrogate, York, Sheffield, Cambridge, Ypres, Oyannax, Risoul and Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour.
Spectators who watch the Tour live travel an average of 130km to see a stage and then spend an average of six hours at a time at the roadside. (A third of spectators are women, if you're interested!)
The last time the Tour visited England was in 2007 when it raced from London to Kent. Some two million people turned out to see the riders over two days.
Big British names:
Yorkshire's Brian Robinson was the first Brit to win stage of Tour de France in 1958. Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012. Last year, Chris Froome became the second British winner.
Make a UK date:
Keep up with what is happening in the Tour de France as it races through Britain. July 5 is 191km Leeds to Harrogate; July 06 is 198km York to Sheffield; July 07 is 159km Cambridge to London.
All in the detail:
Which stage/s will you be watching?
July 5 is the Grande Depart from in Leeds with a sprint into Harrogate, via the Yorkshire Dales.
July 6 is a hilly 20km stage between York and Sheffield.
July 7 comes after a transfer to Cambridge. The 175km heads through Essex, then past the Olympic Park, before finishing on The Mall in central London on the Mall.
There are 22 teams representing eight countries taking part in this year’s Tour de France. The British team is Team Sky. The British names to look out for are Chris Froome and Richie Porte, both of Team Sky.
The average Tour de France rider burns 123,900 calories over the race.
During the three-week challenge, the peloton wear out a total of 792 tyres.
Rooms for all:
Some 1200 hotel rooms are reserved each night for the teams, staff, press and tour personnel.
Seeing... is believing!:
Apparently, Italian rider, Mario Cipollini, taped a picture of actress/model Pamela Anderson to his handlebars in the hope that glimpsing the Baywatch star during his ride might boost his testosterone levels and give him an advantage over his competition.
It’s claimed that in 1953, French rider Jean Robic swapped his water bottle for a bottle filled with lead. The extra weight of the bottle helped Jean to ride faster down from a mountain summit.
Drink to that:
The 1960s riders drank alcohol during the Tour.
The equivalent Tour climbing totals would be to ride the height of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon, Mount Blanc, Kilimanjaro and Everest combined. The total distance is also equivalent to cycling from London to Cairo.
Find out more about the Grand Depart, Tour de France
and tell us where you will be watching the great riders.