The Tour de France is beginning in Leeds on Saturday 5th July, with stage one travelling over 190k of the Yorkshire Dales. After that, the race will move to York, for a 201km loop to Sheffield, before going from Cambridge to London on Monday 7th July.
If you’re around, then there’s a great guide on the Yorkshire.com website about where to see the Tour.
It’s not long until Tour hysteria takes over the country, so we’ve come up with 15 tour facts you can use to amaze and impress (or bore, if they’re not into cycling) your buddies with over the next few weeks:
1) In 2005, the average speed of the Tour was 41.5km per hour, that’s 25.8mph. Comparably, in 1919 the speed was 24.1km, that’s about 15mph (hey, we could do that?!). That year, only 10 of 69 riders finished.
2) The leader’s jersey is yellow, the top sprinter wears green, and the most impressive young rider wears white. The best climber wears a red and white spotted jersey. The unmissable polkadot jersey inherited its spots from the original King of the Mountains sponsor, Chocolat Poulain, who sold candy in polkadot wrappers.
3) Eddy Merckx won the most over Tour stages – taking 1st place in 34. He was nicknamed ‘the cannibal’.
4) Everyone needs something to keep themselves pedalling when the going gets tough. Sprinter Mario Cipollini took an interesting approach when he taped a picture of Pamela Anderson to his handlebars; in the hope her image might boost his testosterone.
5) We all know about the high profile cheating scandals, but one of the lesser known attempts was when Jean Robic filled his bottle with lead in 1953, in an attempt to get down the hills quicker. These days, the other bottle trick is for a rider to coast along with the team car whilst pretending to take a water bottle from the window – this is called a ‘sticky bottle’.
6) The youngest ever stage winner was Henri Cornet – in 1904 he completed a stage in first position aged 19. Firmin Lambot was the oldest ever, winning in 1922, aged 36.
7) The heaviest ever rider to get up the tour hills was Magnus Backstedt of Sweden – at 97kg. The lightest ever rider was Leonardo Piepoli at 57 kgs.
8) The tallest ever rider was Johan van Summeren at 1.98 meters or 6′ 5.5″, the shortest was Samuel Dumoulin at 1.58 meters or 5′ 2″.
9) The tour riders to have recorded the lowest resting heart rates were Chris Horner and Laurent Lefevre – who both had a resting bpm of 35.
10) The Tour de France pulls in between 11 and 15 million spectators a year, 217 miles of barricades are used, and 13,000 French policemen are out in force to cover the routes and line the courses every year.
11) The first edition of the Tour de France, in 1903, consisted of just six stages, and attracted 70 riders, who raced during the night.
12) The peleton is expected to use up 790 tyres during the 3 week period, with the average rider consuming 5,900 calories a day, making between 324,000 and 486,000 pedal strokes.
13) Aside from Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his titles in 2012, the most successful tour riders were Jacques Anquetil of France, Eddy Merckx of Belgium, Bernard Hinault of France and Miguel Indurain of Spain – all of them won five or more tours, with Indurain winning 5 consecutively, from 1991 – 1995.
14) It’s not all fun and games, and four riders have died during the course of the race.
15) The prize money for the overall winner is 450,000 euros.
Now you know your Tour de France facts. Have we missed any that you’ve got on your list?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.