The Tour de France has quite a history. Every year it brings thousands of dedicated fans to watch three weeks of uphill battles and long stages, falls and failures, wins and newly broken records. Every year a little bit more history is made.
As the race route has increasingly strayed outside of France (this year some stages will also pass through the U.K., Belgium and Spain), the Tour has gained popularity and prominence around the world. The 21 stages of the 2014 Tour include nine flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages with five high-altitude finishes, and one individual time-trial stage.
The rules have become important. Iincluded in our 11 things you didn’t know about the Tour de France are reasons that the rules are now so strictly implemented. Among the 198 riders and their teams, there are different objectives. Certain riders skills are used for particular terrains and to win specific recognition and jerseys.
Related: What is Tour de France?
In the past, the competitive nature of the Tour was at an entirely different level. Cyclists were harsh. Rules did not matter. Cheating was the norm -- from the use of itching power to spiking opponents' drinks. The Tour de France was a nasty contest in which to make enemies early on.
But the crowds always flocked. Considering how long the event lasts, these fans are dedicated. They stand for hours a day just to see a quick flash of cyclists riding by. There is even a Tour de France icon/mascot, El Diablo, who is known by fans for his wacky costume and entertaining ways.
Now more than a century old, the Tour de France has a history that repays exploring. In doing so, we are exposed to the ways of the times past Tours were held in. From the first Tour winner, Maurice Garin, to the unwritten rules of riders, find out 11 things you didn’t know about the Tour de France.