In 1974, the Tour de France made its first appearance in England with a circuit stage in Plymouth. It would be another 20 years before the Tour crossed the Channel via the Tunnel to visit England for the second time. The event was a huge success as riders took on Dover to Brighton, and then Portsmouth.
Tour de France 2007 Opening
The 2007 Tour opening ceremony in London will be held in Trafalgar Square on July 6th. The eight-kilometer prologue begins the following day in Whitehall, going down Victoria Street and Buckingham Gate before cutting through Green Park. Cyclists will race a loop through Hyde Park before finishing back on The Mall.
Among the anticipated favorites to win the prologue is Bradley Wiggins, Britain's 2004 Olympics individual pursuit champion. “This is just like the Olympics coming to town for the day,” he said. “It is a one-off and it is going to be enormous. It is really going to build up over the next year.”
Stage one is set to depart from central London on July 8th going southeast to Dartford. The 203-kilometer route then goes through Gravesend, Medway, Maidstone, Tonbridge, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tenterden and Ashford before finishing by Canterbury Cathedral.
“It's a huge honour for London to host the first road stage of the 2007 Tour de France,” said Tony Doyle, Tour of Britain Events Director. “It's part of getting London ready for the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, to show that we can stage these events.”
After the England route, the 3,500-kilometer race dips into Belgium before tackling the Alps and the Pyrenees. The cyclists will reach the Paris finish lines July 29th and a new Tour de France winner will make history.
Also see: Tour de France 2007 List of Stages
Tour de France: World's Most Popular Sporting Event
The Tour de France has evolved into a hugely popular event thanks to the growing world of media and marketing. More popular than any other sporting event, including the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympic Games, the Tour does something that none of these can.
It reaches beyond stadium walls into the very towns and streets of the people. At its core, the Tour remains the same as it was on July 1, 1902: a cycling race rolling across, up and over the landscape of a magnificent route. But this time, 2 billion viewers from around the world are tuning in to follow the yellow jersey.
Britains who have marked the TourBill Burl and Charles Holland were the first British riders to take part in the Tour de France, in 1937. The first UK team to take part did so in 1955 and the experience was repeated in 1960, 1961, 1967 and 1968.
Tom Simpson, who succumbed to a heart collapse in 1967 on the slopes of the Ventoux, had been the first English rider to have worn the yellow jersey (in 1962).
Other Britains to have worn the yellow jersey: Chris Boardman (1994, 1997, 1998), Sean Yates (1994) and David Millar (2000). The best classifications were achieved by Robert Millar (4th in 1984) and Tom Simpson (6th in 1962). Robert Millar is the only British winner of the Grand Prix de la Montagne which he won in 1984.
Barry Hoban holds the record number of stage victories (8 between 1967 and 1975). Other stage winners include Wright, R. Millar, D. Millar (3), Robinson (2), Yates, Sciandri, Italian by birth, naturalized British (1) and Boardman (3 prologues).
Chris Boardman holds the record for the average prologue speed: 55.152 kph on Lille-Euralille in 1994.
The 2007 Tour de France routeRunning from Saturday July 7th to Sunday July 29th 2007, the 94th Tour de France will be made up of a prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,550 kilometres.
These 20 stages have the following profiles:
- 11 flat stages
- 6 mountain stages
- 1 medium mountain stage
- 2 individual time-trial stages
Distinctive aspects of the race
- 3 mountain finishes
- 2 rest days
- 117 kilometres of individual time-trials (including the prologue)
- 21 Category 1, Category 2 and highest level passes will be climbed
- 12 new stop-over towns:
Kari Masson has a very colorful collection of stamps in her passport. She grew up in Cote d’Ivoire, studied in the UK, spent time with the Maasai people of Kenya, camped in the Swedish tundra, worked in a health clinic in Senegal, and currently lives in Lyon, France with her husband. She draws on her experiences to write for travel, cross-cultural, and expatriate-focused publications.