Fascinating facts about the Tour de France

The Tour de France kicks off this weekend and people around the world will be tuning tomorrow, 5th July, as the 198 cyclists set off from Yorkshire and end up in Paris on the 27th July after a gruelling 3,500kms over three weeks. But even if you’re not an avid cyclist or don’t know who our biking hero Bradley ‘Wiggo’ Wiggins is – do not dismay, we’ll fill you in on all you need to know and even some fascinating facts you really never would have known. Always great for a pub quiz. Top 10 fascinating facts about the Tour de France:

  1. The first race was a publicity event for a sponsoring newspaper to boost sales of L’Auto, run by Henri Desgrange
  2. The early races were a lot tougher – some stages lasted 400kms without a break and even cycling well into the night with no support teams or ‘cheerers on’!
  3. Although the race started in 1903, the race is only 111 years old as the race wasn’t run over the two World Wars
  4. Bikes in the earlier years were banned from having gears, so during an uphill struggle cyclists would have to pedal with pure force or remove their back wheel and change it for another gear instead
  5. There are 22 teams that race, each with 8 riders, and they all have to wear the same kit – although it gets complicated when you factor in leaders, cumulative leaders, and the 26 year old with the lowest cumulative time... Best leave that up to the professionals
  6. The King of the Mountain jersey is white with red polka dots. Want to know why? It’s because of the Chocolat Poulain sponsor who’s wrappers are decorated the same
  7. The race leader’s jersey is yellow because of the pages of the original sponsoring paper L’Auto-Velo that had yellow pages
  8. “Pauses pipi” are an unwritten rule by the gentlemen of the race who decided that when nature has to call the competitors won’t use it as an excuse to get one up on them
  9. The average Tour de France cyclist burns nearly 124,000 calories over the three week race
  10. Cycling the entire 3,500kms (which is the same distance from London to Cairo) generates enough sweat to flush a toilet 39 times – gross but true!

Catch the Tour de France 2014 in London at the Fan Parks in Green Park and Trafalgar Square on the 5th-7th July and head to Canary Wharf for the closing of the race on the 27th July.

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