The 99th Tour de France began on Saturday with a prologue in Liege, Belgium, and it will end at the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, on July 22nd.
On 4th July the Tour de France will cycle through Seine-Maritime, Normandy, leaving Abbeville in the morning and finishing in Rouen, 133 miles away, after a ride along the coast and Seine Valley. It will then leave Rouen the next morning and head to Saint-Quentin.
The Tour de France course is alternatively clockwise and anti-clockwise and covers about 2,500 miles every year. It is made up of 21 stages, the final leg ending on the Champs-Elysées on 22nd July. The event attracts approximately 15 million roadside spectators who come to see 189 riders take part, split into 21 teams of 9 people.
The race started in 1903 and cycling is the second most popular participation sport of choice for the French, after football. Many enthusiasts will complete the stages early in the day, ahead of the main “peloton”.
Bernard Hinault is said to be the greates cyclist France has ever had. He was nicknamed “The Badger” because of his tenacity. He had 5 Tour de France victories in the late 1970s and early 80s. American Lance Armstrong has won the Tour a record 7 times, most recently in 2005.
If you get the opportunity go and experience the atmosphere as the Wheels of Steel race past !
Map of the Tour de France route (via letour.fr)
Blue circle is a Start Town
Red circle is a Finish Town
Yellow circle is a Rest Day
Black line a Stage