The Tour de France, the popular men's cycling race also known as the "Grande Boucle" or simply the "Tour", needs no introduction. This must-see summer event has been held every year for over a century (with the exception of the two world wars). No fewer than 15 million people watch the Tour go by in July, cheering on the riders.


Historical diversions

Henri Desgrange, a cycle racer and director of the sports newspaper "L'Auto", and Géo Lefèvre, a journalist with the same daily, organised the Tour for the first time in 1903, to boost the newspaper's sales. Until 1936, the Tour was orchestrated by Henri Desgrange, who introduced discipline and rigour, helping to make the event one of the world's most renowned competitions.

In 1930, the first Tour de France publicity caravan made its appearance, handing out a host of small gifts to spectators before the riders passed by. The media took an interest in the Tour de France right from the start. Radio announced the results live from the 1930s and television followed the competition from 1948. At the end of the 1960s, on-board cameras made it possible to produce live television reports, much to the delight of viewers.

From the 80s and 90s, the Tour de France became an international event, with riders from all over the world coming to take part in the competition. The peloton now boasts up to 40 different nationalities. Today, the ASO organises the Grande Boucle.


The different classifications and jerseys in the Tour de France

The race comprises 21 stages over 3,500 km spread over 23 days. The peloton comprises around twenty teams of eight riders. The times of each cyclist are added together with their previous times at the end of each stage covered. The rider with the shortest total time is declared first in the general classification. The winner of the Tour is awarded the famous yellow jersey. It bears the signature of Henri Desgrange (HD) and was first worn in 1919 by Eugène Christophe.

Other secondary classifications were also drawn up. The points classification was dedicated to the sprinters and the green jersey, created in 1953, rewarded the best sprinter, i.e. the rider with the most points. Since 1975, the mountain classification has awarded the white jersey with red polka dots to the best climber. The youth classification for the under-25s offers the white jersey to the best cyclist under 25 in the overall classification. This jersey was introduced in 1975 and reappeared in 1999. The team classification distinguishes those who are the fastest at the finish by wearing a yellow helmet (yellow bib until 2005). The fighting spirit challenge is awarded to the rider who has shown the most pugnacity throughout the Tour.


The stages of the Tour de France: passing through the Vosges

In 1903 and 1904, the Tour included night stages, which were abolished in 1905 with the passage through the mountainous terrain of the Alsace balloon. From 1910 onwards, the riders passed through the Pyrenees and then the Alps from 1911 onwards. Today, although the passes through the Pyrenees and the Alps and the finish on the Champs-Elysées in Paris have remained a tradition, the route of the Tour de France is renewed every year. In 2019, five stages of the Tour took place not far from Bussang and our Vosges campsite. The cyclists pedalled between Belfort and Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, passing through La Planche-des-Belles-Filles, Mulhouse and Colmar.



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