Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The First Tour de France - 1903


Above is a link to a video that shows the early years of the Tour de France. The first Tour de France occurred in 1903. Geo Lefevre was a journalist for the L’Auto newspaper. He came up with the idea of a bike race to increase the circulation of the L’Auto newspaper. He decided to name the race Tour de France. The race started on the first of July with 60 riders. There were no teams in the race like there is today. Each rider was on their own without any sponsors too. If the rider’s bike broke, they had to fix it themselves. The conditions that the riders rode in were not very good as well. Dirt roads were used and riders had to ride during the night sometimes. The bikes weighed a lot and were not built very well. The first Tour de France did not have any mountain stages. Only 26 riders, out of the 60 who entered, were able to finish the six stages of the race. Maurice Garin ended up winning the first Tour de France. The race was a success for the newspaper company as their sales increased.



  1. As an avid biker, I approve this post. I never knew that a newspaper, L’Auto newspaper, first created the race to increase its circulation. L’Auto did this obviously to increase profits. Today, companies do the same thing. Valentines Day was created by Hallmark Card Company. DeBeers made diamond rings popular for engagements. Nike created the running shoe market. The point to be made is L’Auto took an age old idea of creating a new market, and created something that grew much larger than them over time. They weren’t the first company to do such a thing and they certainly will not be the last one.

  2. This was a great post. It's amazing to see how far the tour de France has come. From its humble beginnings where it was every man for himself, to the biggest bicycle race in the world which is ran in teams. I can't believe that less than half of all who entered the race finished it.

  3. Considering that bicycles in the form shown in the image with gears and such were invented in 1868. I'd figure that bicycles were a pretty big thing at the time for people to be so interested in a bicycle race.

    The underlying marketing concept in this post do add an interesting aspect to this post too considering the time period. Essentially it was similar to a corporate sponsorship.