Fights to the edge of physical limits, on
tracks, where your old Volkswagen bus would
overheat – broken bones – Scandals.
These are reasons why a billion people a year
Have you ever heard of the Giro d’Italia?
– I don’t know.
The Vuelta d’Espana?
None of these races is the original.
Why cities rebuild their roads just so they
have the chance to become a stage in the tour
de france and how a car magazine invented
the greatest cycling event in the world by
With the day of its invention, the world went
mad for bicycles – everybody wanted to have
one – everybody wanted to cycle or watch someone
became more and more popular.
The newspapers picked up on that,
– Television and radio did not yet exist – and
thought, we can use this for us: we’ll sponsor
these events and report about them.
People loved the races.
They stood at the track and
They wanted to know..: Who won, what jersey
did he wear and which bike did he ride.
The bicycle industry was booming.
For 50 years, no one had thought of running
a road race over several days – this idea
was born out of necessity.
Because the newspaper L’Auto had fewer and
fewer readers, the editorial team had to come
up with something new and more exciting.
That’s how the idea for the world’s biggest
bicycle race was born – “the gigantic professional
race to revolutionize the world of cycling”.
And that is exactly what happened.
The first Tour de France was so successful
that after a short time readers almost exclusively
The other newspapers had to shut down.
Yes, we’re talking about the Tour de France,
but the motto was – “to do the biggest bike
race in the world” – so the Tour quickly lead
to Germany, Italy and Spain.
But at some point even the biggest tour was
not exciting enough anymore.
The boss of L’Auto was annoyed.
In his opinion too many starters crossed the
So he promised: the next tour will be harder.
One year later he chased the riders through
the high alps – the stories about the tour
became more exciting – L’Auto sold even more.
For storytelling purposes, the tour leader
had to put on a squeaky yellow jersey – now
So, let’s summarize:
The tour now lasts not 6, but 15 days.
The route leads over really tough mountains
Everyone can see at a distance who the leader
The tour is getting longer and longer.
In 1926 the route was longer than from Paris
to Moscow and back.
There was always a lot of experimentation
with the Tour formula.
For example, it turned out that people found
it more exciting if there were several shorter
After the liberation of France (in 1944),
L’Auto was banned for political reasons.
Shortly afterwards a new magazine was launched
to take over the Tour.
L’Equipe – financed by the (later publishing
magnate) Emilien Amaury.
New name – old recipe – same success.
For the first time, French television now
had to pay for the rights to report on the
The tour should no longer just sell the newspaper,
but also finance itself.
It is becoming more economical – there are
more sponsors, the stage cities have to meet
new criteria and the broadcasting rights bring
in more and more money.
Until 1989, French automaker Peugeot was willing
to provide cars for free and thought it was
But from now on it costs to be an official
Peugeot refuses to pay more than 500,000 francs.
Competitor Fiat gratefully accepts the offer
of 6 million and becomes the new sponsor.
Everything’s going great.
The profits are still going up – until the
first doping incident.
But the Tour de France doesn’t mind for long.
How popular it is can be seen in the anniversary
250 cities want to become stage finishes.
Almost the whole world is applying – including
Tokyo and Qatar.
Things couldn’t be better.
For the tour owners A.S.O., the Amaury Sports
It now owns the entire Tour de France.
Actually, it’s a three-week promotional event
that is the biggest cash cow for A.S.O..
But how does that actually work?
The ASO pays French states around 300,000
euros a year.
In return, it is allowed to use the roads
– that means driving on them – and using them
as advertising space.
The only other costs are personell costs and
ASO has nothing to do with police and roadblocks.
The cities pay for those themselves.
And they’re even happy to.
Because the Tour de France brings in a lot
“A week before the tour started, all hotels
and restaurants were fully booked.
A caravan of 4,500 people, each of whom spends
an average of between 150 and 200 euros, just
do the math …”
Utrecht is a good example of how much it costs
cities to be there.
In 2015, the city raised almost 17 million
euros for the Grand Depart.
What else does it take to be a stage city?
You pay money to ASO and commit yourself to
Only authorised Tour de France products can
be sold at the start and finish.
A mayor once got upset that he had to pay
so much money to see the racers for ten minutes
– and the advertising caravan for several
Speaking of the advertising caravan:
For almost everything the tour has a partner
or official supplier.
Skoda, for example, has provided the car fleet
The main partners of the Tour de France must
contribute 5 million euros to stay with it.
Then there are official partners who have
to contribute around 2 million.
And then there are the official suppliers.
Various caterers, car rentals, hotels, airlines.
They also pay another million each.
The A.S.O. pays a total of 300.000 Euro and
the riders bring their own bike.
The race hasn’t even started yet, and the
A.S.O. has already made a fortune.
But the winners are not only the tour owners
and the cities – the sponsors also benefit,
otherwise they wouldn’t have been doing everything
they could for decades.
Hours of visibility.
Now you might think – Amaury you cunning fox
– that’s not bad.
But on top of that there is also the TV income.
There are no exact figures – but it is estimated
that at least half of the total income of
the tour is generated by the broadcasting
– One billion people are sitting in front
of the TV.
You’re not giving that away.
How did this race become so incredibly lucrative?
The tour was pimped again and again.
Shorter stages & tougher mountains.
It was always made more exciting.
The different jerseys that were added little
by little helped of course.
“Get the whole world” – If you are everywhere,
you have fans everywhere.
(Video: Grand Departs on map) Early in the
history of the Tour, riders who didn’t come
from France won and they were celebrated.
“Tell a good story” – and the founders were
able to do that.
They were great writers and marketers and
knew how to get their readers excited about
the race and the riders.
“Be the Original” – The Tour was the first
big stage race and the original is rarely
Since 1903 the tour has been held every year.
Except when there was a war.
Sounds easy, but it’s not.
Ask the Vuelta.
“Mediatization” – The Tour de France and
the media are a perfect match:
The Tour isn’t an evening sport on prime time.
Cycling races are relatively easy to integrate
into the television programme.
Especially during the summer break, when many
people suffer from sports withdrawal.
The spectacular stages – the really exciting
ones – are of course at the weekend – when
almost everyone can watch them.
“Easy to understand” – If you can ride
a bike – you can understand the Tour de France.
Sure – strategy also plays a role, but one
thing is clear: the first rider to cross the
finish line wins.
But in the Tour you don’t just watch the race
– the cities are also shown from their best
Again and again people watch a race and then
think: I want to go there.
Damn, that’s a beautiful chapel.
Even the people who don’t care watch it because
they just think it’s beautiful.
That’s why it’s the most watched sport
by non-sports fans.
And that is why three weeks are marked in
the calendar of racing fans.
What is your most memorable moment in the
Tour de France?