Alpe-d’Huez, France – The Tour de France first started in 1903 and the 98th race this year has served it well, as 198 racers from all over the world started, but only 167 remain.
The race covers 3,430.5 Km and travels through six mountain stages and four summit finishes, three medium mountain stages. The racing fans (some estimated 15,000,000) along the route, come out in recreational vehicles, and camp out all night, over the 21 stages and dress up in all kinds of costumes and tag the road with their favorite cyclists names.
The final stage will be this Sunday on TSN2 across Canada and can be viewed online for free LIVE streaming and it is shown worldwide. They do have a viewing package you can purchase which would probably be better quality, but it is available in HD on TSN2.
In my opinion this is probably one of the most grueling sporting events ever, as the professional cyclists ride about 100 to 200 Km each day for 21 days up and down mountains, through rain or shine.
There are always accidents, and every year there are many cars, media, bikers maintenance crews driving the route with the racers, and all kinds of motorcycles with media covering the race. In one of the earlier stages a media car was driving along a flat road while the bikers were on the right side. He came upon a tree ahead of him while racers were on his right, and he suddenly turned quickly to the right and hit three racers, with one flying into a barbed wire fence. No one was seriously injured and all racers returned to the tour. The driver and his crew were banned from the course.
The roads even through the Pyrenees mountains are incredibly smooth, and that may because there are fewer cars than in North America. I also noticed that many of the high mountain roads do not have any barriers protecting cars from driving over, but I think the drivers are obviously accustomed to the roads in France in the mountains.
How and why did the Tour de France start in 1903? You might be surprised, I sure was, check it out HERE.