The world’s greatest cycling race kicks off on July 2nd in Mont-Saint-Michael overlooking the English Channel. The Tour de France is full of drama, suspense, and epic crashes. Maybe that’s why more than 15 million spectators line the race route and 3.5 billion people watch the event on television.
Divided into 21 stages, the race cover 23 days and about 3,500 mountain-filled kilometers (2,200 miles). The event and racers are amazing. Anyone who has watched even a single stage can appreciate the hard work and dedication needed to participate.
As we gear up (pun intended) for some Tour de France watching, here are some interesting facts about the race and a few of its cyclists.
- The smallest winning margin in the history of the Tour was just 8 seconds. In 1989, American Greg LeMond edged out Frenchman Laurent Fignon for the win.
- Cyclists burn between 4,000-5,000 calories during each stage of the race. That’s 123,900 calories overall.
- The race includes two rest days.
- Average fastest speed is 25.7 mph (miles per hour). The average person (me) petals (on a good day) at just 17-18 mph on flat terrain.
- The French have more titles than any other country with 36 wins.
- Unfortunately, cheating at the Tour de France isn’t just a modern day occurrence. Back in 1904, Maurice Garin won the race, but was also caught taking a train to the finish line.
- Cyclist sweat so enough during the race to flush a toilet 39 times. We’re not sure who discovered this fact, but it’s fascinating and disgusting all at the same time.
If that last fact didn’t get you excited for the Tour, here are the top ten riders to watch according to Cycling News. Enjoy!