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Tour de France 2007

You are in: Kent > Features > Sport > Tour de France 2007 > Did you know? Fascinating Tour Facts

Tour de France

Where will you be to watch?

Did you know? Fascinating Tour Facts

If you're going to be watching the race, go prepared. These nuggets of information will impress your friends and help you tell which jersey is which.

Le Tour de Kent

189 cyclists will speed through Kent on July 8th

The 'caravan' includes 220 vehicles, is 20km long and will take 3.5 hrs to pass

The cyclists of the peloton will be past in 30-40 seconds

1,700 police will be on duty, Kent Police's largest ever deployment

1,300 junctions will be closed

10,000 traffic cones

8,000 signs

60km of barriers

3,000 hay bales

4,000 staff [emergency services, stewards etc.]

The Tour de France is now the biggest annual sporting event in the world. While the World Cup and the Olympic Games/Paralympics are undoubtedly larger events they only take place every four years. Also unlike any other major sporting event, the Tour is free to view; it takes place on closed public roads from start to finish.

"Legendary Texan Lance Armstrong beat cancer to achieve an astonishing seven straight victories from 1999 to 2005."

In the beginning

The Tour de France started in 1903 as the personal brainchild of Frenchman Henri Desgrange, as a stunt to help promote his sports newspaper l'Auto (ancestor of the present l'Équipe). Originally riders competed as individual athletes, with no one to help them prepare food or arrange accommodation - they were even required to cycle through the night. This is an incredible feat when you consider the original race comprised of just 6 stages instead of today's around 20, while still covering thousands of kilometres.

When the Tour de France began in 1903, men delicately waved their hats and women waved their umbrellas in appreciation. The winner, Maurice Garin, rode so fast on his fixed gear 15 kg bike, he reached the finish before the judges!

That yellow jersey

In 1919, the yellow jersey was invented to ensure the race leader was distinctive, since spectators along the route often had no idea who was winning. A yellow jersey was decided on mainly because L'Auto was printed on yellow paper, so the famous maillot jaune was born.

Green Jersey: Points are awarded each day for position, rather than time, at fixed sprint points and across the finish line. So riders who finish consistently highest each day build up green jersey points. Usually won by a sprinter.

Polka-dot Jersey: The winner of this jersey is known as the 'King of the Mountains' and it is awarded to the best climber in the race. The leader of the competition wears the polka-dot jersey each day.

White Jersey: This is awarded to the highest placed rider under the age of 25

Great Britons!

Fifty-two British riders have competed in the Tour de France. The first were Charley Holland and Bill Burl in 1937. However, Burl had to leave the race after crashing into a car, and Holland was penalised for holding onto one! In fact wasn't until the first British team took part in the 1955 race that a British rider made it to the finish in Paris.

In 1994, Chris Boardman broke a record by winning the prologue in Lille at a staggering average speed of 55,152 Km/h. The "yellow shirt" was worn by Sean Yates that same year.

British riders have won 23 stages in total and the first to wear the Yellow Jersey was Tom Simpson in 1962. He was also ranked sixth in the overall final classification that year. David Millar was the last British rider to wear the Yellow Jersey, in 2000. That same year, during the time trial at the Start of the Tour from the Futuroscope, he won the first of his three stage victories on the Tour.

Quite a spectacle

Organisers in Britain anticipate over 3 million people will line the streets to enjoy the first leg of the Tour de France, and another 12 million for the final 19 stages in France.

There's an entourage of 4,800 people and a cavalcade of over 2,000 vehicles at any one time. During the Tour 2,300 accredited journalists and 1,200 photographers, cameramen and television directors transmit live coverage of the race to an estimated two billion viewers on 78 television channels in 190 countries. A further 500 media staff and 1,100 technicians and chauffeurs help to make the Tour the enormous success that it is, while over 13,000 policeman help shepherd the Tour safely to Paris

Cash for Kent

The race is expected to generate at least £37 million in income for Kent businesses, from accommodation to food and drink, souvenirs and travel.

It is also a chance for Kent to showcase not just its scenery and historic buildings but its ability to stage such a huge and complex spectacle. With the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games on the horizon, Kent is keen to prove it can play a part in staging major worldwide events.

For businesses, the Tour de France will help to reinforce the message that Kent is a prime location, between the continent and London. TV viewers will be able to watch the riders leave London's historic landmarks behind and then enter the scenic delights of the Garden of England.

Great Americans

Legendary Texan Lance Armstrong beat cancer to achieve an astonishing seven straight victories from 1999 to 2005.

At the 1989 Tour de France, with 40 shotgun pellets remaining in his body from a hunting accident two years earlier (including some in the lining of his heart), another American, Greg LeMond, began the final stage, an individual time trial finishing in Paris. LeMond attacked from the start to claim his second yellow jersey with a final victory margin of 8 seconds — the closest in the Tour's history.

How far?

Over the years the Tour de France has grown from the original 6 stages and 2,388 kilometres to 24 stages and 5,564 kilometres, but in recent years the distance has ranged from about 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres.

Quick fact fix

  1. Calories consumed from start to finish: 118,000 (5,900 x 20 days). The equivalent of 26 Mars Bars a day.
  2. Once or twice a day riders speed past a "feed zone": Here team assistants and masseurs hold out small bags or ‘musettes’ containing more sandwiches, cakes and fruit. The riders do not stop but snatch the bags as they fly past. Discarded musettes are highly prized by souvenir hunters
  3. Energy saved by riding in someone's slipstream: Usually nine men in the team will help their leader by shielding him from the wind, enabling him to save about 20% of his energy
  4. Typical number of chains used by a single rider during the race: Three (American Lance Armstrong, seven times winner, now retired, averaged one chain a week)
  5. Lowest number of finishers: Just ten in 1919 (out of 69 riders)
  6. Most stages won by a single rider throughout their career: 34, Eddy Merckx
  7. Highest number of stages won on one Tour: Eight accomplished by three riders (1) Charles Pelissier (1930), (2) Eddy Merckx (1970, 1974), and (3) Freddy Maertens (1976)
  8. Why the organisers were nicknamed assassins: Today the race is approximately 3,500 km long, around 1,000 km longer than the first edition in 1903. But in 1907 organisers extended it to 4,500 km - almost twice the length of the first event - adding mountain passes for extra excitement. The riders were not best pleased.
  9. Most different riders wearing the yellow jersey in one Tour: Eight (1987)
  10. Greatest winning margin (since 1947): Fausto Coppi came first with Stan Ockers trailing an embarrassing 28 minutes, 27 seconds behind in 1952. Shortest winning margin: Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon in 1989 with just eight seconds to spare
  11. Fastest prologue (the speed trial before the race starts): Briton Chris Boardman managed an amazing speed of 55.152 kph in 1994 over a 7.2 km stretch
  12. Most famous climb: Alpe d'Huez in the Alps. This monster 21-hairpin climb is 13.8 km at an average gradient of 7.9%, from the Isere Valley to the summit of the 'Col of the Alps'
  13. Highest total number of "King of the Mountains" victories: Seven by Richard Virenque
  14. Fastest average speed over whole Tour: 41.654 kph by Lance Armstrong in 2005
  15. Oldest and youngest race winners: Firmin Lambot (36 years) in 1922 and Henri Cornet (just 20 years) in 1904
  16. Most Tours ridden by one rider: 16 by Joop Zoetemelk, between 1970 and 1986. He finished every one
  17. Estimated number of spectators along the route: 15 million
  18. Fastest on individual time trial (excluding prologue): 54.68 kph by David Zabriski in 2005
  19. French wins: 36 since it started in 1903. However, they have not won in 20 years

last updated: 11/01/2008 at 11:38
created: 12/06/2007

You are in: Kent > Features > Sport > Tour de France 2007 > Did you know? Fascinating Tour Facts

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