Track racing prospered in Europe as well. In a new form of track racing originated in England — Six Day Racing — where racers rode ordinaries continuously around a cinder track for six days or until fatigue overtook them.
We hope you enjoy it and if you like it, you can purchase it from Amazon. I could not have done this without the help of Owen Mulholland. His knowledge of cycling history is astounding and is exceeded only by his kindness to others. Les Woodland's The Yellow Jersey Companion to the Tour de France is a magnificent and well-written compendium of Tour de France data that makes fact checking possible and fun.
I recommend anything these two superb cycling writers have written. I guarantee you will enjoy their work. I have depended upon both men in ways too many to individually mention. Any errors are my own. At its heart, the Tour remains just that, a vehicle to sell tires, shoes, bikes, telephones and countless other items that the eager sponsors of the teams and the race want to promote.
To this day, it is a combination of the tawdry, the magnificent, the base, the noble, the crassly commercial and the spectacular. Others have noted that its roots are in the lowest and the highest motivations of human endeavor.
That is why it is so fascinating. Over the passing years, the Tour has grown into something much more than a sales tool. It is, simply, the greatest athletic test in the world. A three-week bike race, called a "Grand Tour", is much like a Bach Concerto.
It is dense, complex and difficult for a newcomer to really understand. It is also impossible for a newcomer to the sport to win. Even so-called "phenoms" in cycling have been racing and preparing for many years before their eventual breakout victory.
He was no newcomer to racing. He had been racing for over 7 years when he won the Giro. Some sports, such as basketball, are straightforward enough that a man right out of high school, if he has enough talent, can perform at the highest professional level. You will not see that happen in the Tour de France.
And the athletic challenge is greater than requiring a long, difficult preparation in order to toughen the body and sharpen the mind. The window of time in which a racer can effectively compete for victory in the Tour is cruelly short.
In the last 50 years only 4 men over 32 years old have been able to win. Only one of the 5 men who have won the Tour 5 times have been able to win upon reaching their 32nd birthday.
The ever-so-slightly-older body cannot recuperate from the daily blows the Tour delivers to the system.
For just a brief, beautiful time, when the body is at its glorious best and after a lifetime of work, an unusually talented man can try for the greatest palmare in cycling.
And then it's over. In America, we watch the Tour and marvel at the tenacity, strength and endurance of the competitors. To us it is a fascinating but purely athletic event. Europeans see the great bike races such as the Tour in a slightly different light.
They often view the confrontations of the athletes in metaphorical terms. Their sports writing is laced with terms such as "redemption", "confirmation", and "torment".
In Europe he can be a Hector, who, knowing he will lose, still dons his armor and goes out to battle. A French friend once told me that one cannot understand France without understanding the Middle Ages. Almost all Medieval French literature is simile and metaphor. That tradition carries on in cycling literature.
When you come across European press reports of a bike race or a translation of a French book on cycling, the verbiage may seem overblown and Wagnerian. It's the difference in cultures and history. Beholding an athletic event such as the Tour as a confrontation symbolizing higher themes gives greater interest and depth to the sport.
Owen Mulholland, America's finest Tour historian, tells the following story: It was obvious Virenque was not going to bring down his adversary, but all France loved how he never gave up trying. One day, L'Equipe's headline blared, "Richard Virenque, le coureur sans peur et sans raproche!
Although unexplained in the article, it was just assumed every reader would recognize the reference to France's most famous medieval knight, the Chevalier Bayard.Sep 14, · Criterium racing is the most popular form of bike racing in the USA, and Te Skip navigation Who Needs the Tour de France?
This is REAL Bike Racing! PelotonTV. History Help. This year marks the st riding of the Tour de France, one of the most brutal sporting events ever created by man. In fact, plenty of us are so focused on the madness that we overlook how. The peloton of the Tour de France Cycle-racing has a long history In many European countries, bicycle racing is a source of national pride: German Democratic Republic postage stamp depicting Gustav-Adolf Schur, History of the Tour de France, Origins and Early Years.
Home; Racing Results & Archives. Tour de France; Other Races; Chairman Bill's History of the Tour de France: grown into something much more than a sales tool.
It is, simply, the greatest athletic test in the world. A three-week bike race, called a "Grand Tour", is much like a Bach. If a Tour de France rider today pulled a swig of wine mid-stage, the world's collective jaw would drop—but a hundred years ago, drinking and even smoking were de rigueur.
For a look at how the. Desgrange and his Tour invented bicycle stage racing. ASO now also operate several other major bike races throughout the year. Classifications Le Tour: A History of the Tour de France, – Simon & Schuster.