Tour De France - Distances


The Tour originally ran around the perimeter of France. Cycling was an endurance sport and the organisers realised the sales they would achieve by creating supermen of their competitors. Night riding was dropped after the second Tour in 1904, when there had been persistent cheating when judges could not see riders. That reduced the daily and overall distance but the emphasis remained on endurance. Desgrange said his ideal race would be so hard that only one rider would make it to Paris.

A succession of doping scandals in the 1960s, culminating in the death of Tom Simpson in 1967, led the Union Cycliste Internationale to limit daily and overall distances and to impose rest days. It was then impossible to follow the frontiers, and the Tour increasingly zig-zagged across the country, sometimes with unconnected days' races linked by train, while still maintaining some sort of loop. The modern Tour typically has 21 daily stages and not more than 3,500 km (2,200 mi). The shortest and longest Tours were 2,428 and 5,745 km (1,509 and 3,570 mi) in 1904 and 1926, respectively.

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