The Tour de France is not just a bike race, it is a major cultural event that grips its audience the world over. Broadcast in 190 countries across the globe, it provides nail-biting viewing and the chance to witness supreme endurance athletes showcasing their extreme physical and mental strength.
This year’s course was 3,540 kilometres across Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and France: starting in Dusseldorf and ended in Paris, but having squeezed in a stage in the Pyrenees and sandwiched between two Alpine stages – all bookended by time trials. This race was not for the faint hearted.
The Tour de France is the world’s largest spectator sport event with expectations of 12 million spectators supporting riders along the route, even in the most remote of locations, the die-hard fans can be seen. With the now legendary caravan of advertisers heading the race throwing gifts, the spectators are almost as central to the race as the riders.
It’s a huge event, and to celebrate this annual carnival of extreme endurance, The Watch Gallery collated an infographic to showcase the evolution of the Tour: the record breaking 8 second margin between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon in 1989, to the 60kms of cables that are used to enable the broadcast of the race across the globe.
Whether you are a cyclist yourself, or an armchair warrior, the Tour de France has something to draw you in: the brutal gradients of the mountains, the speed of the flats, or even the numerous crashes that make you gasp. All of the riders have high levels of physical and mental prowess, but the only thing that delineates these hardcore athletes is the second hand on a watch – time is not on their side.