What’s the Tour de France?

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The Tour de France is a grueling annual bicycle race in France covering 2,125 miles over 23 days. Only two non-Europeans have won, including Lance Armstrong who won six consecutive races after surviving cancer. The race takes competitors through beautiful and historic parts of France, including the Alps and Pyrenees. Tour de France cycling holidays have become popular for those wanting to experience the excitement of the race.

The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race in which competitors cycle through various parts of France to determine who is the winner. This event is a grueling competition in which riders average speeds of around 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour) and battle their way through flat areas and steep mountain passes and climbs. Set in a variety of stages, riders cover approximately 2,125 miles (3,500 kilometers) over a 23-day period.

In the history of the Tour de France only two non-Europeans have ever been in the winners’ circle: Greg LeMond in 1986, 1989 and 1990 and Lance Armstrong, who won six races (1999-2004). These men, both American, have brought great pride and interest to the cycling community in the United States. Armstrong in particular presented a compelling figure. In 1996, diagnosed with testicular cancer, a cancer that spread throughout much of his body, including his brain, Armstrong was given a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Through radiation and chemotherapy, Armstrong rid his body of disease and won his first Tour de France in 1999, riding as a member of the US Post Office team.

Armstrong’s six consecutive wins in the event broke the record held by Spaniard Miquel Indurain, who had racked up five Tour de France victories. During the period 1999-2003, the German Jan Ullrich played the role of the bridesmaid coming second every year behind Lance Armstrong. 2004 found Ullrich, one of Armstrong’s most admired foes, bringing home a fourth-place finish.

The Tour itself takes competitors and spectators through some of the most beautiful and historic parts of France. The race usually has six to eight of its 21 stages through the scenic, yet difficult, mountainous terrain of the Alps and Pyrenees. The Tour de France is typically held in July and concludes in Paris, the city of lights. For individuals and cycling enthusiasts looking to experience the beauty of France and the excitement of the assorted cycling stages of the Tour, Tour de France cycling holidays have become a popular destination.

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