By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (November 20, 2023) – Today’s edition of Fun with Maps shares the history of the most iconic of all bicycle races in the world.

Around and Around

The most prestigious bicycle race is the Tour de France. 

The idea of a bicycle race came out of necessity.

The sports oriented daily newspaper L’Auto was looking to boost sagging sales.  During an internal meeting on November 20, 1902 in Paris, the idea of sponsoring a long distance bicycle race emerged.  Later that day the paper’s editor, Henri Desgrange, and junior reporter Geo Lefevre roughed out the details of the race and thus create news on its own.

The first Tour de France had only fifteen competitors, five stages, and ran end May through early July 1903.

A lot changed since then.  Most races include legs outside of France – not only in neighboring countries, but as far as Ireland, England and Denmark.

There are multiple classifications within the race – races within the race.  The oldest is the general classification, which is the shortest time from start to finish.  Some other classifications are the mountain classification, for best time in the portion of the race in mountains, the points or sprint classification, for best speed in certain segments of the race, youth classification, and several others.

Presented here is Malte-Bru’s map of France from 1812.  

France – Circa 1812 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.