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Tour de France


Le Tour de France is the most famous and prestigious road bicycle race in the world. It has been held every year since 1903, except during the world wars. The race runs over three weeks each July for professional cycling teams, travelling through France and its nearby countries.

The race covers around 3,500 kilometres France and is broken into day-long segments, called stages. There are also different types of stages eg flat, mountain and individual/team time trial stages. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears a yellow jersey. The overall yellow maillot wearing winner is the individual rider who finishes the course of the race in the least accumulated time. Lance Armstrong has won the race more times than any other rider. There are also other coloured jersey winners eg green is for point winners at the end of each stage.

The itinerary of the race changes each year and alternates between going in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction around France. The exact route and stages/stops are not announced until October the previous year. Since 1975, the final stage always finishes on the  Champs-Élysées in Paris with large spectator crowds lining the cobblestone avenue.

The Tour is important in France and attracts many visitors from around the world. Millions of spectators line the route to see the Tour first-hand, some of them having encamped a week in advance to get the best views. The hours before the riders pass, a carnival atmosphere prevails. Any amateur cyclist is free to attempt the course on his bicycle in the morning and after which begins a garish cavalcade of advertising vehicles blaring music and tossing hats, souvenirs, sweets and free samples of all sorts.

For more information visit the official site at In Australia, SBS has coverage at 

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