When Geo Lefevre, a journalist with L'Auto magazine conceived of a 2,828km cycle race around France in 1903, he would never have imagined it might grow into the world's greatest annual sporting event.
Lefevre's vision was shared by his editor, Henri Desgrange, and on 1 July the inaugural Tour de France set off from Montgeron in south-eastern Paris.
There were just six stages, and the race finished on 18 July. But six stages was enough: Nantes-Paris was a mammoth 471km!
The cyclists rode without breaks, bike changes or outside assistance. Maurice Garin, the "Chimney Sweep", set the record for the biggest winning margin in the inaugural race of 2hrs 49 mins. A crowd of 20,000 cheered him home back in Paris.
The first major climb of the race, the Col du Ballon d’Alsace, was introduced in 1905. First to the top of the mountain was Rene Pottier, who hanged himself in 1907.
At 1,247m there are some tougher climbs in the modern race, but mountains would always play a part in the Tour after 1905.
World War I saw the riders sit out from 1915 to 1918. In the first post-war race in 1919, the prestigious yellow jersey (maillot jaune) was introduced. Yellow was the colour of the race sponsor L'Auto.
Journalist Albert Lourdes famously commented during the 1920s that the riders suffered from terribly bad morals, prompting him to call them "Les Forcats de la Route" or the Convicts of the Road.
Two-time winner Italian Ottavio Bottecchia was also cursed in the 1920s, thanks to his murder in 1927 on a training ride at the hands of fascist supporters.
French riders won the first five tours of the 1930s ahead of a considerable technological leap in 1937, when gears were introduced. For the first time, riders were not forced to change the wheel every time they saw a mountain!
Click here for the History of the Tour de France: 1951-2012