It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
To say that the race is the metaphor for the life is to miss the point. The race is everything. It obliterates whatever isn't racing. Life is the metaphor for the race. - Donald Antrim
Remember that epic Queen song in which Freddy Mercury belted out the words "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike; I don't believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman. All i wanna do is bicycle, bicycle, bicycle?" Well, imagine if that were the theme of your life because that is exactly the situation for any endurance athlete who dares to take part in the annual French bicycle race that is Le Tour de France.'
Only the toughest athletes take part in this Grand Prix of cycling and only the fittest survive. It's grueling, challenging and positively thrilling to watch, which is probably why it's so popular internationally as well. Chances are you know a fair bit about the tournament already but seeing as to how it's been around since 1903, you know there's some interesting information about it that's been buried over the years.
So, since the 99th leg of this tournament kicked off on June 30 (to July 22), we bring to you this list of ten interesting facts about this epic race.
Fact One: The race itself, started in 1903, was the brainchild of a journalist Geo Lefevre who thought of it more as a great marketing campaign to further the success of the newly launched L'Auto magazine. The new sports race was launched as a direct rival to the country's first sports magazine, Le Velo.
Fact Two: Funnily enough, Le Tour de France does not only run through the entire country of France. It often has stages in other bordering countries such as the Principality of Monaco, Spain and even South Holland.
Fact Three: As far as wins go, France takes first place with 36 wins, Belgium comes in second with 18 wins, Spain third with 11 and USA comes in fourth with 10. The oldest ever winner was 36-year-old Firmin Lambot from Belgium who won it in 1922, while the youngest ever winner was France's Henri Cornet who was only 19 when he won the race in 1904.
Fact Four: As far as records in the race go, Lance Armstrong has broken them all--almost. He posted the fastest average speed ever over the entire tour at 40.276 kph and he is also the only person to have ever won the entire thing seven times! Greg Lamond of France did, however, post the fastest individual time trial with a speed of 54.545 kph over 24.5 km in 1989.
Fact Five: There is a strange sense of competition in this race as it differs from almost any other sport. 180 cyclists participate each year and each competitor belongs to a nine-member team. Each team has a leader who is its best all-rounder and all the other team members--known as domestiques--help him by shielding the leader from wind, providing food or drink or simply supporting him while climbing hills! As such, the leader has it a bit easier than the others in many ways! The team basically works together to ensure that they do well overall as well; though the ultimate prize is the individual one.
Fact Six: Fatalities in this race have been rare, despite high velocities and mental coordination required to complete; however they have not been altogether absent! Since its conception, there have been three deaths of cyclists. The first was Francisco Cepeda in 1935 who crashed while descending a mountain and fractured his skull, the next was Britain's Tommy Simpson who died of exhaustion climbing Mt. Ventoux in 1967. He was 29, in the best shape of his life and quite literally, raced himself to death.
And finally, Fabio Casartelli was the most recent and last death the race has seen (in 1995). He was the defending Olympic champion who hit his un-helmeted head on a concrete barrier that prevented cars from going over the ravine.
Fact Seven: The entire route of the race is about 3430 kms, divided into 21 stages or 'tours.' Mountains are a major part of the challenge here with the Alps and Pyreneed featuring in the route every year. It does change every year along with the exact distance but the endurance tested is usually about the same.
Fact Eight: Each rider will burn at least 130,000 calories over the duration of the race! They have a heavy diet of only carbs and proteins immediately after any race and they all eat stuff like pasta, omelets, toast and protein drinks.
Fact Nine: The leader of the tour enjoys the prestige of wearing the coveted yellow jersey. The reason they chose yellow was because it was the colour of the magazine L'Auto that launched the race.
Fact Ten: Joop Zoetemelk holds the record for most tours completed as a rider. During his career, he completed an astonishing 16 tours.
Read about Best Indoor Sports here.
you might also like
With Skyfall, director Sam Mendes mixes the old an...
If Bollywood ever went down the 007 agent route, w...