Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep: The Tale of the First Tour de France
The Tale of the First Tour de France. For the first time, the full story behind the creation of the Tour de France and the remarkable first edition of the race in 1903.
In 1902, the journalist Géo Lefèvre met Henri Desgrange, editor of struggling newspaper L'Auto, for lunch in Montmartre in Paris. Lefèvre pitched him a totally unprecedented cycling event, comprised of multiple stages over thousands of kilometres, touring the country. It sounded preposterous, but, desperate to revive the publication, Desgrange went along with it. In 1903 the first Tour de France took place.
Cyclists of the time weren't enthusiastic about this 'heroic' race through roads more suited to hooves than wheels, with bikes weighing up to twenty kilos, on a single fixed gear, for three full weeks. Assembling enough riders for the race meant bribing unemployed labourers from the suburbs of Paris, including a butcher, a blacksmith, a chimney sweep, and a wrestler.
Through these characters' backstories, acclaimed cyclist writer Peter Cossins paints a nuanced portrait of France in the early 1900s. The race itself was packed with mishaps and adventure - nighttime starts, nefarious strategies employed to gain advantages over competitors, riders hydrating with wine.
There was no indication that a ramshackle cycling pack would draw crowds to throng France's rutted roads and cheer the first Tour heroes. But they did, and cycling would never be the same again
- Peter Cossins
- Yellow Jersey Press
- Fecha publicación
- July 2017
Peter Cossins ha estado escribiendo sobre ciclismo desde 1993. Ha cubierto dieciséis ediciones del Tour de Francia y pasó tres años como editor de la revista Procycling y los últimos cuatro como editor colaborador de ese título. También ha colaborado con The Guardian, The Times, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Express y Sunday Herald. En 2012 colaboró con el ganador del Tour de Francia, Stephen Roche, en su autobiografía, Born to Ride.