Tour De France History

Tour De France History

The early years

The Tour de France was the brainchild of Geo Lefevre, an Editorial Assistant with the sporting journal L'Auto. Lefevre dreamed up the race as an extravagant ploy to publicise the journal, launched by Henri Desgrange in January 1903.

Tour De France History

  The unprecedented test of strength and endurance attracted 60 riders, who set off from Paris on 1st July 1903, covering a total of 2,500km over the next 19 days.

The success of this inaugural event ensured the race's continuation, although it was overshadowed during the pre-war years by scandals, allegations of cheating and growing dissent among the riders against the harsh conditions imposed upon them, as it is today .

Tour De France History

The route became ever more grueling, with the addition of mountain ranges such as the Pyranees and the Alps, and unlike today — there were no official rest periods.

Happily, many of these early difficulties have been smoothed out, but the route remains as notoriously difficult and challenging as ever.    

Tour De France History

The jerseys

One of the most famous features of the race is the coveted yellow jersey, which first made an appearance after WWI. The yellow jersey is awarded to the player who completes each stage in the shortest amount of time. Whoever is the wearing the yellow jersey at the end of the race is declared the overall winner.

To claim the yellow jersey at any stage of the race is the ambition of every professional cyclist, and to get hold of a yellow jersey is every collector's dream  especially if it is signed by one of the riders.

Tour De France History
Ones actually worn in the race are priceless, and if autographed could sell for £50,000 $60,000  — £60,000.$70,000, I once saw a wealthy benefactor buy a yellow jersey from the  Tour de France that was signed by the winner, Lance Armstrong. A large portion, if not all of the £60,000,$73,000 went to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which helps cancer survivors.'

Other coloured jerseys added by race officials over the years include the green jersey, which is awarded to the rider who accumulates the greatest number of points in each stage, the polka dot jersey for the fastest mountain climber and the white jersey for the best rider under 25.

While not as prestigious as the yellow jersey, these are nevertheless highly prized by the riders. They are also popular with collectors and can generally be picked up for considerably less than the yellow jerseys. The most easily obtainable are the team jerseys. 'Each team has its own jersey and these arc bought, sold, collected and traded many times over.
Tour De France History

Collectibles Coach

Further Blog Reading

part 1          Tour De France History

part 2           La Tour De France

part 3           The Tour De France

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