24 Astounding Tour de France Numbers

The 106th edition of Le Tour de France starts Saturday, July 6th.

Riding hard, day after day, for three weeks is no easy task. Racing everyday for those three weeks is life-changing.

They say a rider who completes all 21 stages makes life-long changes to their physiology.

Beyond making it through, over time racers have created astounding numbers. Knowing some will make Le Tour more meaningful to watch this July.
  • 2,242kms was the distance of the first Tour in 1903, with only SIX stages.
  • 3,460kms is the distance of this year’s Tour with 21 stages and two rest days.
  • 482kms has been the longest Tour stage, 1919 stage 5
  • 106 editions of the Tour, including this year. The Tour was suspended during both the First and Second World Wars.
  • 44 times the Tour has finished on the Champs-Élysées, or every year since 1975.
  • 41.654kph, the fastest Tour that was (never) won – it was the 2005 Tour, which Lance Armstrong (USA) “won” and has been stricken from the books.
  • 24.046kph is the slowest winning average speed, clocked by Firmin Lambot (BEL) in 1919.
  • 50.4ph fastest average speed of a mass-start (not time trial) stage in the Tour. Won by (Super) Mario Cipollini in the 194.5km stage from Laval to Blois, 1999.
  • 8 is the most stage wins in a single Tour. Eddy Merckx (BEL) did it twice, in 1970 and again in 1974. Charles Pelissier (FRA) won 8 stages in 1930. Freddy Maertens (BEL) did it in 1976.
  • 10 years is the longest gap between General Classification (GC) wins. Gino Bartali (ITA) won in 1938 and again in 1948.
  • 36 GC victories (by 2016) is the most wins by a nation – France (of course!). Belgium has won 18 times. Spain 12 times. Canada … zero times ☹
  • 34 record number of lifetime stage victories, by none other than Eddy Merckx. Mark Cavendish (UK) has 30 wins and will be hunting to break the record this year.
  • 6 Green Jersey Points competition victories racked up by Erik Zabel (GER) from 1996 to 2001. Peter Sagan (SVK) has also won it six times, between 2012 and 2018. He’s hoping to break the record this year – giving us something to cheer for besides the yellow jersey.
  • 3 white jersey wins each, by Jan Ulrich (GER) 1996-1998 and Andy Schleck (LUX) from 2008-2010. The white jersey goes to the best GC rider 25 years old or younger.
  • 7 Polka-dot jerseys for climbers won by Richard Virenque (FRA) from 1994 to 1997, 1999, and 2003 to 2004.
  • 12,000 francs was the prize for first place in the first Tour. It was worth six times the average French factory worker’s annual salary.
  • 500,000 euros is the first place GC prize for the 2019 Tour. It’s 16 times the average national salary in France.
  • 4 riders have died during the Tour. Adolphe Hélière (FRA) died in a rest day drowning on the French Riviera in 1910. Fransciso Cepeda (SPA )succumbed to injuries in a crash on the Galibier in the 1935 Tour. Tom Simpson (UK) collapsed on Mount Ventoux in the 1967 Tour, with the famous last words, “Just put me back on my bike.” Fabio Casartelli (ITA) crashed on a high speed descent from the Col de Portet d'Aspet in the 1995 Tour.
  • 7 fatalities to non-riders during the Tour.
  • 18 Tour appearances, with 16 finishes, achieved by Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), who retired last year. Joop Zoetemelk (NED) had 16 appearances AND 16 finishes.
  • 8 seconds is the smallest winning margin, when Greg LeMond (USA) beat Laurent Fignon (FRA) in the 1989 Tour. LeMond’s victory came during the final stage time trial when he rode with new-fangled “tri-bars” while Fignon rode the TT with regular drop handlebars. It was a come-from-behind victory for LeMond, who started the day 50 seconds behind.
  • 2:59:21hrs was the biggest winning time gap, achieved in the first edition in 1903 when Maurice Garin (FRA) crushed Lucien Pothier (FRA).
  • 20 Time Trial wins by Bernard Hinault (FRA).
  • 5,000 calories on average eaten daily by riders, just to keep up with basic needs. By the end of the Tour many riders are sick and tired of trying to eat so much all the time.