Each July in Europe, the most prestigious biking tournament takes place. Can you guess which one it is? If you guessed Tour de France, you’re right! Here at Xyza, we love to dig into stories and ask how or why. Our simple question for the Tour de France: How did it even start?
It all began with newspapers, believe it or not. Xyza newspapers don’t get delivered by people on bicycles (we wish!), but a long time ago, that was precisely how newspapers were delivered. The Tour de France started as a way to increase deliveries for one particular French newspaper, L’Auto. Every year, both the route and the number of participants grew, and today, about twenty-two teams from across the world participate in the tournament.
So if newspaper deliveries are no longer the goal of the Tour de France, how does the route get selected? It’s no small feat, as the course now spans about 2,200 miles and lasts nearly the entire month of July. Even though Paris is often the starting and/or ending point for the race, the route actually goes beyond the city and includes parts of Spain as well.
Cities wishing to be included in the Tour de France route apply more than two years beforehand, and officials make selections based on how they plan various stages of the race. There are twenty-one stages in the 2018 tournament, which includes flat, medium, and high mountain sections. As teams race so many long stretches each day, the goal is to come up with a challenging yet reasonable path for the cyclists.
This year, French farmers protested along the way, bicyclists had to forfeit (or pull out of the race) due to injuries, and Italy’s teammates got into a fight (they were disqualified). There’s no shortage of excitement in the Tour de France!
Although a team might win individual race segments, the overall winner of the Tour De France gets the coveted yellow jersey. Why yellow? That’s the color of the paper that L’Auto was printed on!