La Grande Boucle: The history of Tour de France

10 June 2022 By shamim kordbache History

The world's largest cycling race, a national landmark that France values almost as much as the  Eiffel Tower and its 360 cheeses! Nothing compares with La Grande Boucle (French for The Great  Loop and Tour de France nickname) in the world of cycling. For more than a century, the Tour de  France has taken place over a three-week period every summer (except during warfare). It is  remarkable in that it draws over 12 million spectators along the streets, in addition to millions of  people watching on television from all around the world. La Grande Boucle is also recognized as  the most difficult cycling Tour since each year, 200 of the world's top cyclists compete for the  renowned yellow jersey.

L'Auto-Vélo, the Tour de France's pioneer!

The first Tour de France was organised in 1903, with the purpose of selling a huge number of  newspapers. The event was created and sponsored by the French sports newspaper L'Auto,  which thought that a new endurance race throughout the country would draw public attention  and increase sales of its decreasing print edition. L'Auto-Vélo was one of the presses that competed fiercely in the 1900s in France to outperform the competitive market. It was printed on yellow paper and edited by Henri Desgrange, a former professional cyclis

So, La Grande Boucle began as a marketing ploy to only sell many more newspapers. That was right; the Tour was enormously  successful. Thousands of spectators now congregate in Paris each year to see the final stage on  the Champs-Elysées. The L'Auto trick had succeeded, and this newspaper had garnered a lot of notoriety as the owner of the world's largest bike race.

De eerste aankondiging van de Tour de France in L'Auto-Vélo, 1903

The first announce of Tour de France in L'Auto-Vélo, 1903

From the iconic yellow newspaper to the legendary yellow jersey!

During the liberation of France in 1944, L'Auto-Vélo came to an end, although it is still honoured every year  with the prestigious yellow jersey. The legendary yellow jersey has not always been used at the Tour. In the first Tour de France,  which was won by Maurice Garin in 1903, the race leader was denoted by a green wristband. The  famous yellow jersey was first donned in 1919. When La Grande Boucle returned after World  War I, the Tour de France's director, Henri Desgrange, devised the idea that whoever had the  fastest overall time at a given stage of the race would wear a yellow jersey. The colour yellow was  chosen to honour L'Auto, the sports newspaper that established the event and was printed on  yellow paper. 

Eugène Christophe met de eerste gele trui, 1919        Eugène Christophe, wearing the first Tour de France yellow jersey, 1919

The first yellow jersey winner

Despite his inner desire, race leader Eugène Christophe pulled on the first yellow jersey of the Tour  de France before the second stage departure on July 18, 1919. He was dissatisfied because he  thought both spectators and rivals mocked him since he resembled a canary. Of course, he had almost no idea that a century later, this yellow jersey would be the most cherished prize in the world of cycling. Nowadays, the yellow jersey is the most easily recognized jersey in professional cycling, not just in Paris or on La Grande Boucle, but anywhere.

Of course, we have a wonderful collection of  yellow jerseys in our shop! So, pick one of these fantastic jerseys and cycle in the cycling clothes  of historic Tour de France heroes.



Are you like us a big fan of cycling? Then be sure to keep an eye on our blog. We regularly post  new stories about cycling facts, remarkable events and updates of our product range which are  definitely worth reading!

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