bet365 News Team
Updated: Jun 20 2023 17:54
Published: Jun 16 2023 18:39
The Tour de France, the world's most famous cycle race, is the pinnacle of professional road cycling and the race that every rider dreams of winning when they first clip their shoes into the pedals.
First raced in 1903, there have been 108 different editions of the multiple-stage Grand Tour race which offers something for everyone, whether that be the high-octane thrills of the sprint stages, the breakaway stages favoured by the rouleurs and the high-mountain tests where the General Classification (GC) really takes shape.
And while the likes of Mark Cavendish made their name on the Champs-Elysees, it's the yellow jersey - worn by the best GC rider - which is the most coveted prize in cycling.
Tour de France 2023
Bilbao to Paris
Saturday, July 1st - Sunday, July 23rd, 2023
How to watch
NBC, USA Network, Peacock
Jonas Vingegaard -110, Tadej Pogacar +137, Jai Hindley +1400, Enric Mas Nicolau +2200
Initially founded as a reason to sell more newspapers, the first Tour de France took place in 1903 as a six-stage race won by Frenchman Maurice Garin.
Contested by national teams until 1961, that year's edition marked the second of five GC wins for Frenchman Jacques Anquetil, who claimed the yellow jersey in the opening-day time trial and remained in the lead all the way to Paris.
Nicknamed Monsieur Chrono due to his ability to pull out extraordinary times against the clock, Anquetil would win three more in a row after 1961, a feat which has not been surpassed.
Five years after Anquetil, along came arguably the most complete rider of all-time, Eddy Merckx or 'the Cannibal' to use his ominous nickname.
A dominant winner of the General Classification by more than 17 minutes in 1969, Belgian rider Merckx won just about all there was to win in cycling, claiming five Tour de France wins across a six-year period of dominance, probably only failing to make it six because he instead targeted the Giro d'Italia - Vuelta a Espana double in 1973.
Merckx returned to win the 1974 Tour de France, but his reign ended a year later at the hands of Frenchman Bernard Thevenet.
Hinault the last of the French to wear the Maillot Jaune
Thevenet's time at the top would itself come to an end courtesy of another Frenchman, Bernard Hinault, who remains the last French winner of the Tour de France.
Racing for Renault-Gitane-Campagnolo, Hinault won the General Classification for the first time in 1978, winning a time trial in the antepenultimate stage to take the yellow from Joop Zoetemelk, who he would defeat again in 1979.
Hinault won again in 1981 and 1982 before he was dethroned by compatriot Laurent Fignon, who famously rode away from him on Alpe d'Huez in 1984, but with Fignon absent, Hinault equalled the record the following year.
American Greg LeMond would win three times from 1986-1990 and the early 1990s were all about Spanish superstar Miguel Indurain.
Big Mig rode for the Banesto team and rode his rivals to sleep, winning five titles from 1991 to 1995, but he struggled in going for a sixth consecutive GC, losing time from the early stages and trailing in 19th. He would announce his retirement later that year.
British dominance gives way to new breed
No British rider had won the Tour de France at the turn of the 2010s, but the ambitious Team Sky project provided funding never seen before in professional cycling and brought with it huge success in the world's most famous race.
Bradley Wiggins blazed a trail, winning the 2012 Tour de France en route to Olympic glory at London 2012, but it was his team-mate Chris Froome who was the real Grand Tour rider - he would go on to claim the yellow jersey in 2013, producing a stunning stage victory on Mont Ventoux in the process.
Forced to abandon in 2014 when Vincenzo Nibali won, Froome was victorious three more times from 2015 to 2018 before Welshman Geraint Thomas became the most recent British champion the following year.
Froome never quite managed to draw level with the immortal names of Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain, but Tadej Pogacar may well have his sights set on achieving, or even surpassing the four Tour de France legends.
Riding for UAE Team Emirates, Pogacar's first Tour victory came in 2020 in sensational circumstances as he flew up La Planche des Belles Filles in a time trial on the penultimate stage, stunning heavy favourite Primoz Roglic in the process.
The following season would be much more straightforward for Pogacar, who exuded control in Roglic's absence, beating Jonas Vingegaard by 5 minutes and 20 seconds.
Vingegaard got revenge in 2022 taking yellow with his victory on stage 11 and keeping hold of the jersey all the way to Paris.
The Dane lost to Pogacar at Paris-Nice, but is likely to be looking to tailor his form towards July when he will look to produce his best riding.
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