Tour de France
The Tour de France is justifiably considered to be the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race. Whereas it is not necessarily harder or more competitive than the other Grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta d’Espana – it has more history and its epic battles are better remembered.
The Tour de France was great competition for the factory teams – the belief in “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” and most of the great bicycle manufacturers sponsored teams in the Tour at some time or other. Sadly, many of them have now disappeared or are shadows of their former selves, but their products are keenly collected and this site is dedicated to them.
There are a couple of editions of But et Club covering the 1948 Tour de France here, unfortunately not covering the whole race, but enough to give a taste, with some excellent photography and great pictures of the riders, the bikes and the terrain: A classic race won by Gino Bartali.
(If you have any others that I could post here, I would be delighted and very grateful)
Unfortunately in more recent years it has been degraded a bit by riders only targeting this race during the year – using previous races to build form and not taking much part in later races if they succeed in winning the tour. This behaviour is clearly motivated by commercial pressures, especially by sponsors in countries where there is no history of cycling and the only cycling event on anyone’s radar is the Tour, and of course motivated by the fact that a Tour win has a greater impact on an athlete’s earnings and fame than any other. The riders that we consider really great did not behave like that – imagine how many Tours Eddy Merckx would have won if he had made that his goal. Nevertheless, we still see some good races going down to the wire such as in 2011 when Cadel Evans won, although the leaders spent rather too much time watching each other, and there were some great stages fought out by the non-GC contenders.