Regardless of whether you are a long-time fan or just approaching the sport for the first time, here’s what you need to know before your Tour de France experience this year!
Today marks the beginning of the 106th Tour de France in Brussels, and in honor of this beloved tradition, we’re here to break down the basics of the 2019 race.
Regardless of whether you are a long-time fan or just approaching the sport for the first time, here’s what you need to know about this year’s Tour de France experience.
Also known as la Grande Boucle, Tour de France was founded in 1903 by the editor of L’Auto newspaper, Mr. Henri Desgrange.
The first race involved only six stages, with 60 cyclists riding 18-hour stretches along dirt tracks at times.
Today, the race is just one of three tours, to include September’s Grio d’Italia in September and Vuelta a España in May.
Cycling is a sport made mainstream with the electrifying rise and startling fall of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong. Although Armstrong was later stripped of his titles, there’s no denying that he brought a new audience to the sport.
Brussels, Belgium has the honor of hosting this year’s event, joining the ranks of former hosts like Germany, Monaco, the Netherlands, and, of course, France.
The honor comes on a commemorative date, with this year’s race falling on the 50th anniversary of famed cyclist Eddy Merckx’s first win.
Eddy “The Cannibal” Merckx is a legend within the sport, winning seven out of the ten races he entered between 1965 and 1978. These were just a few of the 525 wins he would ultimately earn before his retirement in 1978.
Today, eighteen teams and four wild card entries will begin their 2019 Tour.
There will be 21 stages over the 23 day stretch, leaving just two days of rest for competitors.
The total distance of this year’s race is 3,479.3 kilometers. It's a toucher longer than last year's run of 3,351 kilometers and will conclude on July 28thin Champs-Élysées.
At 2,162 miles, the race is greater than the distance between Birmingham and L.A. (2,078 miles) or New York to El Paso (2,147 miles).
The 22 teams are made up of 8 riders each and include riders from all different countries:
Last year’s champ, Geraint Thomas said in an interview with BBC 5 Live, “I don’t feel pressure to prove that my win wasn’t a fluke, or whatever negative angle people want to take from it. It’s actually less pressure. . . I think I can be more chilled, more calculated.”
Thomas has battled crash-related injuries and sickness, while Team Ineos teammate Chris Froome fell victim to a devastating injury last month that will take him off the race this week. Last year’s finalist Tom Dumoulin will also miss this year’s race while he recovers from his own injuries.
That said, it’s anyone’s race.
Who’s your pick?
To find out who will take the win, head on over to NBC for full coverage through July 28th!