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Tour De France 

Tour De France History

The Tour De France Race was the brainchild of Henri Derange.  Henri Desgrange was a Parisian magazine editor who launched the tour in 1903 with 60 riders in a bid to boost the circulation of his magazine and it worked.  The Tour De France coverage helped Desgrange's magazine to boom and the Tour soon became more popular than he could have dreamed.  The first winner was the French man Maurice followed by four of his fellow countrymen who between them won the Tour for the next six years.  It was 1909 that Francois Faber became the first winner from outside of France.

In the early 20th century the competitors pedaled the dirt roads of France through the night on fixed-gear bikes to evade human blockades, route-jamming cars and nails being placed on the road by fans of other riders.  Between stages the teams used to feast on banquets and champagne before their climbs and they fortified with cigarettes. 

By the 1920s, the Tour De France included more than 100 cyclists from throughout Europe.  The Tour was not staged from 1914 to 1918 and from 1940 to 1946 because of the First and Second World Wars.  As the race became more competitive, champagne and nicotine gave way to more effective and insidious performance boosters.  In 1967 British rider Tom Simpson died mid race after taking amphetamines.  This prompted the event organisers to adopt drug testing. 

In 1998 the Festina team were disqualified after the red blood cell boosting drug EPO was found in their car.  The winner of the 1996 race Bjarne Riis admitted in 2007 that he had used EPO just months before Floyd Landis became the first Tour winner stripped of his title on charges of using synthetic testosterone in 2006.  The Tour now tests athletes rigorously and stage winner’s are screened daily.  The victor in this year's race will still be allowed a sip of champagne.

“We look forward to riding with you in the world of True Alpine Cycling”.