Le Tour De France: 2003-2007
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The Ultimate Tour De France collection!
The Tour de France - the world's most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race. Of the three foremost races (the others being the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España), the Tour de France attracts the world's best riders.
Staged for three weeks each July the Tour typically comprises 20 professional teams of 9 riders each and covers some 3,600 km (2,235 miles), mainly in France, with occasional and brief visits to such countries as Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Spain. In 2007 England hosted the opening stage for the first time.
The Tour is France's premier annual sporting event and has deep cultural roots. It is watched by huge crowds from the roadside and is televised around the world as one of the supreme tests of athletic endurance. Divided among time-trial racing and racing stages covering both flat land and great stretches of mountainous inclines, it is a rare cyclist who can perform well at both time trials and climbing, and those who can usually wear the yellow jersey (maillot jaune) of victory at the end of the race in Paris.
Established in 1903 by Henri Desgrange (18651940), a French cyclist and journalist, the race has been run every year except during the World Wars. In 2005 Lance Armstrong of the United States became the first rider to win the Tour seven times (19992005). Four riders have won five times each: Jacques Anquetil of France (1957 and 196164), Eddy Merckx of Belgium (196972 and 1974), Bernard Hinault of France (197879, 198182, and 1985), and Miguel Indurain of Spain (199195).
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