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Tour de France 2014: History of the tour

1903 - The first Tour

Henri Desgrange, founder of the Tour de France Credit: Getty Images
  • Struggling publication, L'Auto, decides to hold a race around France as a publicity stunt to boost their readership. The Tour of France, would consist of six days riding, with a rest day in between each stage.
  • The idea of the tour was suggested by journalist, Geo Lefevre, although the magazine's editor, and subsequent tour organiser, Henri Desgrange, was at first unsure about the idea. He remained as organiser until 1936.
  • The colour yellow became synonymous with the tour as L'Auto was printed on yellow paper.
  • The first Tour de France was won by Maurice Garin.

1904 - Almost the end

Maurice Garin, the winner of the first Tour de France Credit: Getty Images
  • The second tour was blighted by cheating, prompting Desgrange to consider never holding it again.
  • The top four finishers were all disqualified for cheating. Maurice Garin, who finished first was found to have caught a train mid-race and took illegal feeds from race officials.
  • Riders were towed or took lifts from cars. One popular tactic was to tie a cord to a wing mirror, attached to a cork, held between the teeth.
  • Fans of rival riders would attack cyclists as they went past and leave nails in the road.
  • The tour was eventually awarded to 19 year-old, Henri Cornet. He remains the youngest ever winner.
  • Henri Paret was, and remains, the oldest ever rider, age 50 and 215 days old.

1910 - Assassins!

A monument honouring Octave Lapize becoming the first rider to conquer the mountain Credit: Press Association
  • The first high mountain stage was across the Pyrenees.
  • The race was divided into 15 stages, and once again, Desgrange was unconvinced. He couldn't bare to watch the stage.
  • Upon conquering the mountains, rider Octave Lapize labelled the organisers as "assassins" for the gruelling task they had set.
  • The Broom Wagon was introduced, which would trundle behind, sweeping up those who couldn't handle the pace.

1911 - Over the top

  • The Tour crosses the Alps for the first time.

1914 - I'm sure it won't affect us...

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 Credit: Press Association
  • The 1914 Tour started on the same day that Austria-Hungary's archduke, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated - the event that would light the touch paper for World War I.
  • The Tour concluded two days before the war started, and would be suspended for the next five years.

1919 - They call me mellow yellow

The Yellow Jersey is awarded to the overall leader of the Tour
  • The yellow jersey is introduced for the first time.
  • Riders had previously worn a yellow armband.
  • Eugene Cristophe became the first to don the iconic jersey.

1920 - Third time's the charm

  • Philippe Thys becomes the first triple winner. His feat would not be repeated until 1955 by Louison Bobet.

1921 - Packhorses

  • Riders are allowed to carry supplies for the first time. People rode with their spare tyres around their necks.

1922 - Isn't sir a little old for this?

  • The Tour's oldest winner is Firmin Lambot at 36 years-old.

1924 - "We were on dynamite!"

Henri Pelissier admitted his 1923 win was aided by banned substances Credit: Getty Images
  • The Pelissier brothers, Henri and Francis reveal they were doping.
  • They rubbed cocaine in their eyes, chloroform on their gums and ointment on their knees.

1926 - I only signed up for a quick bike ride...

  • The longest ever race came in at 5,745 km (3569 miles)

1928 - This still isn't what I signed up for!

  • The largest ever number of dropouts from a Tour. Of 161 riders, only 41 finished.

1930 - National pride

  • Trade teams booted out of the competition - they didn't return until 1962.
  • Riders rode on generic yellow bikes, competing under their national flags.
  • The publicity caravan was created to fill the funding gap.

1933 - I told you so...

  • L'Auto's circulation has increased to around 854,000. Looks like Lefevre was right...

1935 - Tragedy strikes

  • Spain's Francisco Cepeda becomes the first rider to die on the Tour, following a crash on a descent. He would not be the last.

1936 - Passing the baton

  • Ill health forces Henri Desgrange to hand over running of the Tour to his deputy, Jacques Goddet.

1944 - Out with the old

L'Equipe took over the Tour after L'Auto was scrapped Credit: Press Association
  • L'Auto is shut down for continuing to publish during the German occupation of France.
  • L'Equipe is founded and bids to relaunch the Tour.

1947 - No hard feelings

  • The Tour restarts, although Germany are banned from entering for the next decade.

1951 - That was close!

  • Wim Van Est falls into a ravine but survives. Lucky boy.

1954 - Gelato!

Federico Bahamontes was fond of an ice cream... Credit: Press Association
  • Spaniard, Federico Bahamontes lead the pack up the Col de Romeyere, then decided he would stop for an ice cream while the rest caught up. His team mates thought he had gone mad.

1955 - Third time's the charm, again

Brian Robinson (right) along with fellow British cyclist Tom Simpson Credit: Press Association
  • Brian Robinson is the first Briton to finish the Tour de France. The Mirfield born rider was the first Englishman to win a stage in 1958.
  • Louison Bobet becomes the second man to win the Tour three times, winning in consecutive years.

1962 - We're back!

  • Trade teams reintroduced again.
  • The highest altitude in any race reached on the road between Bonnette-Restefond at 2,802 metres. The Tour revisited it again in 1964, 1993 and 2008.

1964 - Third time's the charm, until you get five

Jacques Anquetil performs a lap of honour around the Parc des Princes velodrome after winning his second Tour Credit: Press Association
  • Frenchman, Jacques Anquetil becomes the first rider to win five Tours.

1965 - Maybe this will work?

  • In a bid to curb the superhuman athletes now dominating the Tour, France introduced the National Anti-Doping Law. It didn't work.

1966 - Brothers in arms

  • The first drugs test was carried out.
  • The entire peloton walked out in protest, leading to a stage being scrapped.

1967 - A nation mourns

Tom Simpson Credit: Press Association
  • Britain's 1965 Road Race champion, Tom Simpson, dies on Mont Ventoux.
  • The Durham rider collapsed one mile from the mountain's summit after collapsing and being helped back on his bike.
  • His official cause of death was heart failure due to dehydration and heat exhaustion.

1969 - King of the road

Eddie Merck is one of the Tour's most legendary riders Credit: Getty Images
  • Belgian, Eddie Merckx cements his place in cycling folklore by holding all of the available jerseys at once.
  • His nickname was 'The Cannibal'.

1970 - A vision in white

The White Jersey is awarded to the best young rider on the Tour
  • The white jersey is introduced, awarded to the best young rider.

1971 - That's better...

  • The tour is shortened to its more familiar format of between 3,300 km and 3,600 km.

1974 - The Cannibal reigns

  • Eddie Merckx wins his fifth tour. He is one of only four men to do so.

1975 - Mountain King

The Polka Dot Jersey is awarded to the best rider in the mountain stages
  • The polka dot, or King of the Mountains, jersey is introduced for the first time.
  • Every tour since has finished on the Champs-Elysees.

1980 - The final hurdle

Joop Zoetemelk (right) leads from Bernard Hinault (left) Credit: Press Association
  • Joop Zoetemelk finally wins the Tour after finishing second in 1970, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1978 and again in 1982.
  • Zoetmelk also holds the record for most Tours entered, at 16.

1985 - Vive la France...

Bernard Hinault was the last Frenchman to win the Tour de France Credit: Press Association
  • Bernard Hinault becomes the last French winner of the Tour, claiming his fifth title.
  • He is the only rider to have won three Grand Tours (France, Italy and Spain) at least twice.

1986 - The Americans have arrived

  • American, Greg LeMond becomes the first non-European to win the Tour.
  • The most entries ever in a Tour, with 210 participants.

1987 - Quelle est la craic?

Ireland's Stephen Roche Credit: Press Association
  • Ireland's Stephen Roche became the first Irish cyclist to win the Tour.
  • He also won the Giro and the world championships, only the second cyclist to win all three in one year.

1989 - Photo finish?

Greg LeMond in 1990 Credit: Press Association
  • Greg LeMond beats Laurent Fignon to the title by eight seconds, the closest ever.

1993 - False start

  • The (now) most notorious man in cycling, Lance Armstrong, competes in his first Tour, although he failed to complete it.

1995 - The Tour mourns again

  • Fabio Casartelli dies after a crash where he fractured his skull.
  • Crash helmets become mandatory on the majority of stages afterwards.
  • Spain's Miquel Indurain wins his fifth successive Tour.

1997 - Made it

  • Jan Ullrich wins the tour after finishing as runner up in 1997.
  • He would finish second again in 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003.

1998 - No fiestas here sir

  • Team Festina are banned from the Tour over doping allegations.
  • A search of a car turned up EPO, banned steroids, syringes and other doping-related products and paraphernalia.

1999 - World domination

Armstrong (left) winning the first of seven consecutive titles Credit: Press Association
  • Lance Armstrong wins the first of his seven consecutive tours. The American would later be stripped of all of them in the biggest scandal to ever hit cycling.

2005 - Blink and you'll miss it

  • The quickest overall Tour - 3,608 km covered at an average of 41.193 km/ph.
  • Lance Armstrong retires for the first time after winning seven consecutive Tours.

2006 - The doping years

Floyd Landis (right) on the Champs-Elysees Credit: Press Association
  • Nine riders are kicked off the Tour before it began.
  • The eventual winner, American, Floyd Landis is stripped of his title the following year after doping allegations.

2007 - He's a dead cert to win...

Michael Rasmussen Credit: Press Association
  • Dane, Michael Rasmussen, is sacked mid-way through the Tour, despite being race leader, amid doping allegations.

2008 - It's an achievement...sort of?

Wim Vansevenant before the others overtook Credit: Press Association
  • Belgian, Wim Vansevenant becomes the only man to finish the Tour last three times in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

2009 - Comeback kid

  • Lance Armstrong returns from retirement, finishing third overall.

2010 - Chaingate

Chaingate has split opinion in the cycling world Credit: Press Association
  • On stage 15 of the Tour, Luxembourg's Andy Schleck was riding in the yellow jersey when his chain came off.
  • As he struggled to get it back on, his closest rival, Alberto Contador overtook him and went on to win the yellow jersey, and the Tour.
  • The incident has become one of the most analysed in modern cycling, as in the unwritten rules among cyclists, the leader's rivals shouldn't attack him while he is suffering from mechanical failure.
  • Opinion remains split on wether Contador should have waited for Schleck.

2011 - I come from a land down under...

Cadel Evans Credit: Press Association
  • Australian, Cadel Evans, becomes only the second non-European to legitimately win the Tour.
  • Highest finishing point of any Tour on Col du Galibier in the Alps at 2,645 metres.

2012 - British invasion

Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton ever to win the Tour de France Credit: Press Association
  • Team Sky rider, Bradley Wiggins becomes the first ever British winner of the Tour. He gets a knighthood for his troubles.
  • Mark Cavendish becomes the only man to ever win the closing stage on the Champs-Elysees four times.

2013 - The fall of an icon

Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles Credit: Press Association
  • Lance Armstrong admits to taking banned substances to aid him in his record seven Tour de France titles.
  • The Tour finally visits Corsica. It was the only French region never to host a stage of the Tour.
  • Chris Froome becomes the second Briton to win the Tour as Sir Bradley Wiggins is unable to defend his title due to injury.
  • 23 year-old Colombian, Nairo Quintana, won the white and polka dot jerseys, finishing second in the overall classification.

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