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16 Facts About the Tour De France

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The Tour de France is an annual multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally making passes through nearby countries.

France, officially the French Republic, is a unitary sovereign state and transcontinental country consisting of territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories.

GoPro: Tour de France 2015 - Best of Stages 1-7 by GoPro

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The race was first organized in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L'Auto; which is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organisation.

L'Équipe is a French nationwide daily newspaper devoted to sport, owned by Éditions Philippe Amaury.

The Amaury Sport Organisation is part of the French media group, EPA.

Cycling Tour de France 1998 Part 2 by Fane Marc

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The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars.

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As the Tour gained prominence and popularity the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe.

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Participation expanded from a primarily French field, as riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year.

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The Tour is a UCI World Tour event, which means that the teams that compete in the race are mostly UCI WorldTeams, with the exception of the teams that the organizers invite.

A UCI WorldTeam, previously UCI ProTeam, is the term used by the Union Cycliste Internationale to name a cycling team of the highest category in professional road cycling, the UCI World Tour or UCI ProTour, respectively.

The UCI World Tour is the premier annual male elite road cycling tour, sitting above the various regional UCI Continental Circuits.

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The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España make up cycling's prestigious, three-week-long Grand Tours; the Tour is the oldest and generally considered the most prestigious of the three by fans and riders alike.

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Traditionally, the race is held primarily in the month of July.

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While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres across eight Alpine countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is an avenue in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, 1.9 kilometres long and 70 metres wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located.

The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain.

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The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres.

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The race alternates between clockwise and counterclockwise circuits of France.

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The number of teams usually varies between 20 and 22, with nine riders in each.

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All of the stages are timed to the finish; the riders' times are compounded with their previous stage times.

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The rider with the lowest aggregate time is the leader of the race and gets to don the coveted yellow jersey.

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While the general classification garners the most attention there are other contests held within the Tour: the points classification for the sprinters, the mountains classification for the climbers, young rider classification for riders under the age of 26, and the team classification for the fastest teams.

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Gaining a stage win is also a hotly contested competition, fought for by a specialist cycling sprinter on each team.

A sprinter is a road bicycle racer or track racer who can finish a race very explosively by accelerating quickly to a high speed, often using the slipstream of another cyclist or group of cyclists tactically to conserve energy.

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