By John Mullins
What makes the Tour de France so special? Why is it that this one cycling competition transcends all other events on two wheels?
Even if cycling isn’t your thing, you’ll know what the Tour de France is all about. Since 1903, the world has been hooked on an epic cycling battle like no other. Today, the Tour de France consists of 21 day-long segments, which add up to more than 3,500km of intensive cycling action.
Like the World Cup or Wimbledon, the Tour de France attracts people who generally have no interest in competitive cycling. It makes headline news worldwide and makes heroes of people we’d otherwise have never heard of. It also creates scandal after scandal when things go wrong.
But again – what is it that makes the Tour de France the most-watched cycling race in the world? Why does no other event carry the same prestige or pull for audiences worldwide?
The answer is perhaps best illustrated in a series of cycling posters, which clearly communicate what the Tour de France is all about:
Images sourced from Sports Photo Gallery
It’s impossible to map out on paper just how tough the Tour de France is. Cycling 3,500km is one thing, but how about all the mountains and tricky terrain to negotiate along the way? This image provides a brief glimpse at just one of the challenging sections of the 98th Tour de France in 2011. Athletes of this calibre make it look easy – you need only cycle a couple of steep hills on your next outing to know it’s anything but!
Teamwork and Team Spirit
Everybody wants to win, but the Tour de France is about far more than personal glory. Instead, it’s a team affair that brings the world’s most elite cyclists together with one collective goal. It’s only by offering complete support and commitment to those in your team that any of you have a shot at making it. This iconic image shows Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky celebrating overall victory with team mate Geraint Thomas of Great Britain and Team Sky after the twenty-first stage of the 2015 Tour de France.
The Power of Perseverance
The Tour de France is an event in which giving up simply isn’t an option. Even when things go as wrong as they can get, you still need to pick yourself up and keep going – literally. This image shows Christopher Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky immediately after a crash with Jasper De Buyst of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal, during the 105th Tour de France 2018. Despite the obvious pain and disappointment that accompanies such accidents, the path to victory demands perseverance in the extreme.
The Importance of Determination
The same also goes for determination – the belief that you can and will be victorious, no matter what happens along the way. A quality illustrated never more clearly than when Chris Froome suffered an unfortunate crash towards the finish of Stage 12 (Montpellier – Mont Ventoux) of the 2016 Tour de France, only to continue up the hill on-foot. Rather than accepting his lot, he took to the course without his bike and carried on regardless. The kind of fighting spirit and tenacity that earned Froome his rightful place in pro-cycling history books worldwide.
Commitment to Competitiveness
You need to be competitive to win a major sporting event – especially when pitting against such huge talent from all over the world. This colourful shot clearly shows what those who take part in the Tour de France are up against. Cycling in such close quarters with other athletes demands not just skill, but courage and competitiveness in the extreme. Only a select few make it to the leader-board – even fewer have the honour of wearing the coveted yellow jersey.
Last but not least, this striking image immediately illustrates the universal appeal of the Tour de France. Taking in the sights of some of the most beautiful destinations in France, the event sees millions pour into the streets to cheer-on athletes they may or may not have any real knowledge of. It really doesn’t matter – it’s an event that brings people together and creates a buzz that has to be experienced to be believed. Every major cycling event has its charms, though none come close to the grandeur and prestige of the Tour de France.