On this Day:
On May 11, 1893 Henri Desgrange set the 1st bicycle world record, travelling 35.325 km (21.95 miles) an hour. He also founded the Tour-de-France; he was a French sports journalist and a professional cyclist. He was born in Paris, January 30, 1865 and died August 16, 1940 at the age of 75. He was born in Paris, January 30, 1865 and died August 16, 1940 at the age of 75.
On the track, Desgrange was a renowned bicycle racer. He was particularly suited to endurance racing and set the first recognized record for kilometres in an hour, when he rode 35km on the Buffalo velodrome in Paris. During this time he wrote a book of advice to younger riders, ‘La tête et les jambes,’ framed as a conversation.
In all, Desgrange set twelve world track cycling records. Following are some highlights of his records. On August 1, 1893 he rode 50 and 100 kilometres in 1 hour and 30 minutes and 3 hours 4 minutes 7 seconds. In all of these races Desgrange did not have a coach. On October 3 he beat the record for 100 miles, in 4 hours 40 minutes 43 seconds. In this case he was coached by by Jules Dubois, the previous holder of the 6-hour record. Desgrange also broke a few records in tricycle, a discipline which was already falling into disuse at that time
During the last few years of his professional cycling career, Desgrange started a sports journalism career. Then in 1900, Henri Desgrange became director of L’Auto-Vélo, a sports newspaper. Alongside Desgrange, Victor Goddet became treasurer of L’Auto-Vélo. The Comte de Dion and Adolphe Clément, supported by automobile and cycle manufacturers, launched this sports newspaper with the aim of competing with, even “sinking” Le Vélo , Pierre Giffard ‘s newspaper. They maintained a political, economic and sporting conflict with him. Combining aptitude for directing men, journalistic and sporting experience, loyalty to Clément, Desgrange was the perfect choice to take over the management of this new newspaper. He himself maintained a rivalry with Giffard.
The beginnings of L-Auto-Vélo were timid. It struggled to compete with Vélo. For its leaders, it was necessary to copy Giffard by organizing sports competitions. Desgrange obtained the organization of Paris-Brest-Paris, the oldest cycling event in history. This race, created by Giffard when he was at the Petit Journal, had remained in his hands. Desgrange’s organization of this race and the exclusive rights to report on it allowed L-Auto-Vélo to achieve record sales. Giffard sued L’Auto-Velo because their name included his name, Velo. Gifford won and they had to drop the Velo and change their name to L-Auto.
Two years later, the promotion of the Tour de France proved the greatest success for the newspaper. Circulation leapt from 25,000 before the Tour to 65,000 after it. In 1908, the race boosted circulation past a quarter of a million, and during the 1923 Tour, it was selling 500,000 copies a day. The record circulation claimed by Desgrange was 854,000, achieved during the 1933 Tour.
Desgrange is known best for organizing this first Tour de France in 1903. Credit for the idea, however, must go to one of Desgrange’s journalists, Géo Lefèvre, and Victor Goddet, the L’Auto financial manager whose support was critical in arranging the first event. Indeed, Desgrange himself seems to have doubted the idea until it was a certain success.
In 1903, Géo Lefèvre was race director, while Desgrange remained in Paris to run the newspaper. Although the first tour was a success, the second Tour was marked by cheating and acts of chauvinism. Desgrange then wrote: “This second Tour de France will have been the last, it will have died of its success, of the blind passions that it will have unleashed”. The Tour de France nevertheless restarted in 1905, and Desgrange himself took the lead. He kept it for more than thirty years, almost until his death.
Tour de France
Tour de France is the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race. Of the three foremost races (the others being the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España), the Tour de France attracts the world’s best riders. Staged for three weeks each July, it consists of 21 stages, each a day long, over the course of 23 days. The Tour typically comprises 20 professional teams of 9 riders each and covers some 3,600 km (2,235 miles), mainly in France, with occasional and brief visits to such countries as Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Each stage of the race is timed, and the rider with the lowest aggregate time for all stages is the winner.
The race was first organized in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper, L’Auto, and is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organization. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars. As the Tour gained prominence and popularity, the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe. Participation expanded from a primarily French field as more riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year. The Tour is a Union Cycliste Internationale World Tour event, which means that the teams that compete in the race are mostly UCI WorldTeams, with the exception of the teams that the organizers invite. It has become “The world’s biggest annual sporting event.”
A similar race for women was held under different names between 1984 and 2009. Following criticism by campaigners and the professional women’s peloton, a one/two day race (La Course by Le Tour de France) was held between 2014 and 2021, and Tour de France Femmes will stage its first edition in 2022.
While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same, including the appearance of time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments (stages) over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi). The race alternates between clockwise and counterclockwise circuits of France.
There are usually between 20 and 22 teams, with eight riders in each. All of the stages are timed to the finish; the riders’ times are compounded with their previous stage times.The rider with the lowest cumulative finishing times is the leader of the race and wears the yellow jersey. While the general classification garners the most attention, there are other contests held within the Tour: the points classification for the sprinters, the mountains classification for the climbers, young rider classification for riders under the age of 26, and the team classification, based on the first three finishers from each team on each stage. Achieving a stage win also provides prestige, often accomplished by a team’s sprint specialist or a rider taking part in a breakaway.
https://www.britannica.com/sports/Tour-de-France#ref715447 https://whistlemag.in/henri-desgrange-the-man-who-organised-tour-de-france-the-most-renowned-cycling-contest-in-the-world/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Desgrange https://wikii.online/en/Henri_Desgrange https://www.uci.org/ https://www.apidura.com/journal/paris-brest-paris-everything-you-need-to-know/
First, a Story:
Why could the bike not stand up on its own?
It was two tyre’d. – Peter Smyth
Second, a Song:
WHEN HENRI DESGRANGE CREATED LE TOUR DE FRANCE – DID HE IMAGINE
IT WOULD TURN INTO THE GREATEST CYCLING RACE OF ALL TIME ? – DID HE IMAGINE
IT WOULD TAKE OVER JULY EVERY YEAR SINCE 1903 ONWARD,
START FROM MAJOR CITIES IN EUROPE,
GO THROUGH ICONIC PLACES,
DEFY THE HIGHEST MOUNTAINS,
AND FINISH ON THE CHAMPS-ELYSEES ? – DID HE IMAGINE
IT WOULD GATHER 10 MILLION PEOPLE,
AND MAKE THEM CHEER FOR HOURS ?
PUT THE CROWD ON ITS TOES,
MAKE A FAMILY HOLD ITS BREATH,
AND MAKE A 2 BILLION AUDIENCE SHOUT ? – DID HE IMAGINE
THE YELLOW JERSEY
WOULD BECOME ONE OF THE MOST COVETED TROPHIES IN THE WORLD,
TURNING MEN INTO LEGENDS – DID HE IMAGINE
LE TOUR DE FRANCE
WOULD INSPIRE PEOPLE TO RIDE A BIKE
AND SHARE ITS VALUES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD ?
Courtesy of L’Etape by Tour de France and YouTube.com, here is: “Did Henri Desgrange Imagine?”.. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft… As for me, give me a fixed gear!” — Henri Desgrange
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Dave & Colleen
© 2022 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky