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Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Showcasing everything from high mountain stages in the Alps and Pyrénées to high-speed sprint finishes like the final day on the Champs-Élysées, the Tour de France is the season’s biggest race.

The Tour has been held annually in July since 1903, when it was first organized by Henri Desgrange, a charismatic editor at French newspaper L’Auto. Though the race was not run during the two World Wars, it remains the “Grande Boucle,” the oldest, most prestigious of the three-week grand tours.

In addition to individual wins in the Tour’s 21 stages, riders vie for three coveted jerseys: yellow for the overall winner on time, green for the best rider in the points classification (ordinarily a sprinter), and polka-dot for the best climber, who collects the most points on the route’s biggest ascents. Prizes are also awarded for the best overall team, based on cumulative time, and the most aggressive rider, which is decided by a race jury.

Four riders have won the Tour overall a record five times each: France’s Jacques Anquetil, Belgian Eddy Merckx, Frenchman Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain of Spain. Although American Lance Armstrong finished first in seven Tours, he was stripped of those yellow jerseys after confessing to doping.