1903 Tour De France
January 19, 2012 by staff
1903 Tour De France, The 1903 Tour de France was the first Tour de France, a cycling race set up and sponsored by the newspaper L’Auto, ancestor of the current daily, L’?quipe. It ran from 1 July to 19 July in six stages over 2,428 km (1,509 mi), and was won by Maurice Garin.
The race was invented to boost the circulation of L’Auto, after its circulation started to plummet from competition with the long-standing Le Vélo. Originally scheduled to start in June, the race was postponed one month, and the prize money was increased, after a disappointing level of applications from competitors. The 1903 Tour de France was the first stage road race, and compared to modern Grand Tours, it had relatively few stages, but each was much longer than those raced today. The cyclists did not have to compete in all six stages, although this was necessary to qualify for the general classification.
The pre-race favourite, Maurice Garin, won the first stage, and retained the lead throughout. He also won the last two stages, and had a margin of almost three hours over the next cyclist. The circulation of L’Auto increased more than sixfold during and after the race, so the race was considered successful enough to be rerun in 1904, by which time Le Vélo had been forced out of business.
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