To answer the question “How long is the Tour de France?” we have taken a look at history of the tour and see how it has evolved since its first edition. A lot has changed since 1903 where there were only 60 participants and where the winner’s average speed was 25.678 km/h (15.956 mph) . In the 2014 edition of the tour there were 198 participants and the winner’s average speed was 40.7 km/h (25.3 mph), while in 2015 there were 219 participants and the average speed 39 km/h.
Let’s take a look at the shortest and longest editions of the Tour !
The shortest Tour de France
It should come as no surprise that the shortest Tour de France was the first one in 1903. This tour started and ended in Paris and consisted of 6 stages with a total distance of 2,428 km (1,509 mi).
The aim of the Tour was to link 6 of the major cities in France : Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes, and promote the sport journal “L’Auto”.
In this race each stage distance was significantly longer than modern races, the average distance for each stage was 400 km (250 mi) and cyclists had one to three rest days between each stage. The route was mostly flat and only one stage featured a significant mountain.
The first Tour to add in true mountain stages was in 1910 with four major climbs including the Tourmalet. The 1903 race was won by French cyclist Maurice Garin.
The longest Tour de France
The 1926 edition of the Tour de France was the first time the race started outside of Paris. The departure city was Evian and during its 17 stages the route traced the borders of France making the distance a record of 5745 km (3569 mi).
In this route riders were forced to climb the mountains in the east of the country twice, at the beginning and at the end of the race. The race was won by Belgian cyclist Lucien Buysse. This was probably one of the hardest Tours of history !
What about 2016? We will have to wait a couple of days to know exactly how long the 2016 Tour de France will be. For comparison, here are the distances of the last 3 tours :
2013: 3,403.5 km (2,115 mi)
2014: 3,663.5 km (2,276 mi)
But we do know one thing : the 2016 Tour de France will start from Normandy on July 2nd and the two first stages. The first stage will be : Mont Saint Michel – Utah Beach – Saint Marie du Mont for a total 188 km, and the second on July 3rd : Saint Lô – Cherbourg Octeville for 182 km.
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