Learn About The History Of Tour de FranceCredit: routetourdefrance.com
Tour de France is a cycling race that started in 1903. It lasts 3 weeks and runs over 2,200 miles. There are day-long segments that are called stages. After each finish, the time for each bicycle is taken and the lowest score out of all the riders makes the winner. Every year the race is held, the site changes. But the race always ends in Paris.
The beginnings of the Tour de France go back to the Dreyfus Affair, an event that divided France in the late 19th century. Alfred Dreyfus was a soldier who was convicted of a crime, selling secrets to the German military, but was later exonerated.
Interestingly enough, there were follows for Dreyfus being innocent and against Dreyfus being guilty. A local paper thought Dreyfus was innocent and another thought he was guilty. They both went head to head and because of the cycling prowess of one of the writers and the rivalry was born.
The First Tour de France
The first Tour de France was staged in 1903 and was meant to be in 5 stages. It was meant to go from May 31 to June 5 from morning too night. But there were problems. The entry fee was to high. It was 20 francs and this was very restrictive. Because of this, the fee was dropped down to 10 francs.
The length proved too long as well. They cut the days to 19 and changed the time to June 1 to June 19th.
A Quick End
The winners were actually disqualified because of cheating. Disgranges wrote in his paper, "The Tour de France has just finished and its second edition will, I fear, be the last. It will have died of its own success, of the blind passions which have been unleashed, of the abuse and of the suspicions that have come from ignorant and ill-intentioned people. And yet, however, it seemed to us and it still seems that we had built, with this great event, the most durable and the most imposing monument to cycle sport. We had hoped to each year bring a little more sport across the greater part of France. The results of last year showed that our reasoning was correct and here we are at the end of the second Tour de France, sickened and discouraged, having lived through these three weeks of the worst slander and abuse." You can find the quote at Wikipedia.
Because of the fighting and cheating between the top competitors, many were disqualified and brought serious disgrace to the sport. As Disgranges said, "ill-intentioned people", were the cause of the misfortune.
But thankfully, Disgranges did not hold on to his discontent for long. By the next Spring, he was planning the next event. The fire spread to huge audiences of over a quarter of a million by 1908.
This was the new beginning for the cycling world and France. The Tour de France was here to stay.
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Thanks and happy trails.