Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Winners list
3 Records
4 The Jerseys
5 Annual summarizations
6 Other Tours de France


The (Le) Tour de France (French for Tour of France), also simply known as Le Tour, is an epic long distance cycling competition for professionals held over three weeks in July in and around France. It has been held annually since 1903, only interrupted by World War I and World War II. The race was founded as a publicity event for the newspaper L'Auto (ancestor of the present l'Équipe) by its editor, Henri Desgrange, to rival the Paris-Brest et retour (PBP) ride sponsored by Le Petit Journal and Bordeaux-Paris sponsored by Le Vélo.

In the early days of the race, it was a near-continuous endurance event. Racers slept by the side of the road and were required to avoid all assistance. Several competitors in the second Tour de France were disqualified for taking a train part of the way. These days, the tour is a "stage race", divided into a number of stages, each stage being a race held over one day. There are service vehicles (motorcycles and cars) that provide information, food, water, and access to mechanics. Some of the vehicles are "neutral" for all the racers and some are team vehicles.

Most stages take place in France though it is very common to have a few stages in nearby countries, such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, but also non-neighbouring countries such as Ireland, England and the Netherlands. The three weeks usually includes two resting days, which are sometimes used to transport the riders long distances between stages.

In recent years, the first stage is preceded by a short individual time trial (1 to 15 km), called the prologue. The traditional finish is in Paris on the Champs-Elysées. In between, various stages occur, including a number of mountain stages, individual time trials and a team time trial. The remaining stages are held over relatively flat terrain. With the variety of stages, sprinters may win stages, but the overall winner is almost always a master of the mountain stages and time trials.

Many places and - especially - mountains occur frequently (sometimes almost annually) in the parcours, and have gained fame on their own. The most famous mountains are those in the hors-categorie (peaks where the difficulty in climbing is beyond catagorization), including the Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, the Hautacam and Alpe d'Huez (more needed).

Other major stage races include the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain). The Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Cycling Championship comprise the Triple Crown of Cycling.

Winners list

Tour de France Winners
Tour Year Winner Nationality
011903Maurice GarinFrance
021904Henri CornetFrance
031905Louis TrousselierFrance
041906René PolthierFrance
051907Lucien Petit-BretonFrance
061908Lucien Petit-BretonFrance
071909François FaberLuxembourg
081910Octave LapizeFrance
091911Gustave GarrigouFrance
101912Odile DefrayeBelgium
111913Philippe ThysBelgium
121914Philippe ThysBelgium
131919Firmin LambotBelgium
141920Philippe ThysBelgium
151921Léon ScieurBelgium
161922Firmin LambotBelgium
171923Henri PélissierFrance
181924Ottavio BottecchiaItaly
191925Ottavio BottecchiaItaly
201926Lucien BuysseBelgium
211927Nicolas FrantzLuxembourg
221928Nicolas FrantzLuxembourg
231929Maurice de WaeleBelgium
241930André LeducqFrance
251931Antonin MagneFrance
261932André LeducqFrance
271933Georges SpeicherFrance
281934Antonin MagneFrance
291935Romain MaesBelgium
301936Sylvère MaesBelgium
311937Roger LapébieFrance
321938Gino BartaliItaly
331939Sylvère MaesBelgium
341947Jean RobicFrance
351948Gino BartaliItaly
361949Fausto CoppiItaly
371950Ferdinand KublerSwitzerland
381951Hugo KobletSwitzerland
391952Fausto CoppiItaly
401953Louison BobetFrance
411954Louison BobetFrance
421955Louison BobetFrance
431956Roger WalkowiakFrance
441957Jacques AnquetilFrance
451958Charly GaulLuxembourg
461959Federico BahamontesSpain
471960Gastone NenciniItaly
481961Jacques AnquetilFrance
491962Jacques AnquetilFrance
501963Jacques AnquetilFrance
511964Jacques AnquetilFrance
521965Felice GimondiItaly
531966Lucien AimarFrance
541967Roger PingeonFrance
551968Jan JanssenNetherlands
561969Eddy MerckxBelgium
571970Eddy MerckxBelgium
581971Eddy MerckxBelgium
591972Eddy MerckxBelgium
601973Luis OcañaSpain
611974Eddy MerckxBelgium
621975Bernard ThévenetFrance
631976Lucien Van ImpeBelgium
641977Bernard ThévenetFrance
651978Bernard HinaultFrance
661979Bernard HinaultFrance
671980Joop ZoetemelkNetherlands
681981Bernard HinaultFrance
691982Bernard HinaultFrance
701983Laurent FignonFrance
711984Laurent FignonFrance
721985Bernard HinaultFrance
731986Greg LeMondUnited States
741987Stephen RocheIreland
751988Pedro DelgadoSpain
761989Greg LeMondUnited States
771990Greg LeMondUnited States
781991Miguel InduraínSpain
791992Miguel InduraínSpain
801993Miguel InduraínSpain
811994Miguel InduraínSpain
821995Miguel InduraínSpain
831996Bjarne RiisDenmark
841997Jan UllrichGermany
851998Marco PantaniItaly
861999Lance ArmstrongUnited States
872000Lance ArmstrongUnited States
882001Lance ArmstrongUnited States
892002Lance ArmstrongUnited States
902003Lance ArmstrongUnited States


Since 1903 five riders have managed to win the Tour five times:

In terms of nationality, riders from France have won most Tours (36), followed by Belgium (18), Italy (9), Spain and the United States (8 each), Luxembourg (4), Switzerland and the Netherlands (2 each) and Ireland, Denmark and Germany (1 each).

The Jerseys

There are several prizes to be had, and generally a coloured jersey is associated with each prize. The current holder of the prize is entitled to wear the jersey when they are racing.

The yellow jersey ("maillot jaune"), worn by the overall time leader, is most prized. It is awarded by calculating the total time each rider has been riding - i.e. by adding the times taken to complete each stage so far. The rider with the lowest total time is considered the leader, and at the end of the event is declared the overall winner of the Tour. The colour was originally a reference to the newspaper which sponsored the race, which had yellow pages.

The green jersey ("maillot vert") is awarded for sprint points. At the end of each stage, points for this jersey are gained by the riders who finish first, second etcetera. The number of points depends on the type of stage - many for a flat stage, slightly fewer for an intermediate stage, fewer still for a mountainous stage, and the least for time trials. There are also a few points for the riders who are first at some intermediate points, usually about 2 per stage. At those intermediate points (as well as at the finish) there are also bonus seconds for the yellow jersey, but those are so few that they rarely if ever have an influence on the final standings. They do however play a role in the first week, before the mountain stages, as the overall standings are usually less well separated.

The "King of the Mountains" wears a white jersey with red dots (maillot à pois), referred to as the "polka dot jersey". At the top of each climb in the Tour, there are points for the riders who are first over the top. The climbs are divided into categories from 1 (most difficult) to 4 (least difficult) based on their difficulty, measured as a function of their steepness and length. A fifth category, called Hors categorie (outside category) is formed by mountains even more difficult than those of the first category. The first rider over a fourth category climb would be awarded 5 points while the first to complete a hors category climb would win 40 points. Further points over a fourth category climb are only for the top three places while on a hors category climb the first fifteen riders are rewarded. The best climber was first recognised in 1933, the distinctive jersey was not introduced until 1975, the colours being decided by the then sponsor, Poulain Chocolate, to match a popular product.

Two lesser classifications are that for the white jersey, which is like the yellow jersey, but only open for young riders under twenty five years of age, and that for the red number, which goes to the most combative rider. Each day, a group of judges awards points to riders who made particularly attacking moves that day. The rider with most points in total gets a white-on-red (instead of a black-on-white) identification number.

Finally, there is a teams classification. For this classification, the time of the first three riders from each team is added after each stage. The Tour has around 20 teams of 9 riders each (when starting), each sponsored by one or more companies - although at some stages of its history, the teams have been divided instead by nationality.

Tour de France Official Website:

Annual summarizations

  • 2001 - an overview and results list of the Tour de France of 2001
  • 2002 - an overview and results list of the Tour de France of 2002
  • 2003 - an overview and results list of the Tour de France of 2003
  • 2004 - an overview of the Tour de France of 2004

Other Tours de France

  • Tour de France is also the title of a Kraftwerk song about the race itself. It was released as a single during the 1980s. The song uses "musical onomatopoeia" of bicyclers breathing hard in order to recreate the struggle of riding hard during the race.
  • The Tour de France automobile was a sports car race held on roads around France. Cancelled due to its being too dangerous, it is now run at reduced speeds for historic cars.