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Tour de France preview: The Tour in numbers

The 98th edition of cycling’s annual showpiece event, the Tour de France, kicks off on Saturday. Or, as I like to describe it: three weeks, two wheels, one living hell.

At the end of it all, the winner can expect to have spent around 85 hours racing at an average speed of close to 40kph. To put that into context, that speed equates to a time for the 100 metres nearly a second faster than Usain Bolt‘s world record, but over a distance more than 34,000 times as far and on roads which vary from pancake-flat to gradients of over 20%.

Welcome to Le Tour. To whet your appetite – and to kick off my preview of this year’s race – here are a few more numbers which convey the scale and history of this most challenging of races.

This year’s Tour in numbers

3,430.5 – Total race distance (in kilometres).

21 – Days of racing. There are also two rest days.

This year's race route

23 – There are 23 high mountain passes to negotiate (category two, one and hors catégorie).

2 – Number of times the Col du Galibier will be climbed, as part of a route which celebrates both 100 years of racing in the Alps and the Tour’s initial ascent of the Galibier.

2,645 – The first ascent of the Galibier on stage 18 is not only the highest summit finish of this year’s Tour, but the highest in the race’s history.

226.5 – In kilometres, the longest stage on this year’s route, stage six from Dinan to Lisieux. (Coincidentally, the sixth stage was also the longest of last year’s race.)

1 – There is only one individual time trial (stage 20), the first time this has been the case since 1955.

198 – The number of riders who will start the race, in 22 teams of nine.

The 2010 Tour in numbers

2010 winner Alberto Contador

39 – In seconds, Alberto Contador’s winning margin over Andy Schleck last year.

91:58:48 – Contador’s aggregate time for the race, an average speed of 39.6kph.

2 – Stages won by Andy Schleck. Contador won none.

5 – Days in the yellow jersey for Contador, one less than Schleck.

5 – Number of stages won by Mark Cavendish, taking his total in the past three years to 15 and putting him joint-12th on the all-time stage winners’ list.

2 – Cavendish became the only man in Tour history to win on the Champs-Élysées two years running. He will be seeking an unprecedented hat-trick this year.

170 – The number of riders who finished the 2009 race (28 retirements).

The history of the Tour in numbers

1903 – The year of the first Tour de France.

56 – Number of different riders who have won the race, 20 of whom are multiple winners.

The late Laurent Fignon lost the 1989 Tour by just 8 seconds

– In seconds, the narrowest margin of victory, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon in 1989.

36 – France has produced more race winners (36) than any other country, but none since Bernard Hinault‘s fifth win in 1985.

– Erik Zabel has the most wins in the green jersey points competition, winning six times in a row from 1996 to 2001.

7Richard Virenque won a record seven polka dot jerseys in the King of the Mountains competition between 1994 and 2004.

34 – Five-time winner Eddy Merckx holds the record for individual stage wins, with 34.

1 – Merckx is also the only man to win the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys in the same year (1969).

16 – Joop Zoetemelk holds the record for most race starts, with 16. He won one Tour de France, was runner-up six times and – equally impressively – finished each of his 16 races. BMC‘s George Hincapie is set to join him on 16 starts this year.

3 – Only three times in the race’s history has a single rider led the race from start to finish, the last occasion being in 1935.

Tour de France preview

Teams and sponsors (part 1)

Teams and sponsors (part 2)

Official Tour teaser video

Ten riders to watch

Six key stages

Stage 1 preview

Links:  Tour de France official websiteSteephill.tv

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

32 Responses to Tour de France preview: The Tour in numbers

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