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Tour de France
From: 2014.06.30 To: 2014.07.22
The line between insanity and genius is said to be a fine one, and in early 20thcentury France, anyone envisaging a near-2,500-km-long cycle race across the country would have been widely viewed as unhinged. But that didn’t stop Géo Lefèvre, a journalist with L’Auto magazine at the time, from proceeding with his inspired plan. His editor, Henri Desgrange, was bold enough to believe in the idea and to throw his backing behind the Tour de France. And so it was that, on 1 July 1903, sixty pioneers set out on their bicycles from Montgeron. After six mammoth stages (Nantes - Paris, 471 km!), only 21 “routiers”, led by Maurice Garin, arrived at the end of this first epic. Having provoked a mixture of astonishment and admiration, le Tour soon won over the sporting public and the roadside crowds swelled. The French people took to their hearts this unusual event which placed their towns, their countryside and their mountains in the spotlight. Today the Tour covers 3,500km over 21 grueling stages: 10 flat stages, 7 mountain stages, 1 medium mountain stage, 2 individual time-trial stages, 1 team time-trial stage. The final stage ends in Paris, and it is difficult to imagine a finer finish to any race. After three exhausting weeks of racing the cyclists hurl themselves down the Champs-Élysées with thousands of Parisians lining the avenue cheering them along. As the champagne flows on the winners podium, bottles begin popping all over the city and the celebration continues well into the night.