Why is the Tour de France the most popular race


Tour de France, or La Grande Boucle and Le Tour, is one of the many cycling events globally. It is dubbed as the most popular and prestigious one out there. Also, it’s the cycling event most familiar to non-cyclists.

As it nears its 120th anniversary, one question remains, why is it the most popular one? Let’s take a closer look.

Cultural Event

Not only is it a cycling event, but it’s also a cultural one. There’s a distinctive implication of the Tour de France to France’s culture. According to one of the race’s historians, Christopher Thompson, it is “a portrait of [France’s] health.” In his book entitled, he added that it paints “an image of a vigorous and progressive French nation.”

If you want to go to Europe, especially France, try watching the Tour de France first. However, if you want to immerse yourself fully, why not follow the race live.

The race’s route runs through various towns in France and its adjoining countries. Tour de France attracts millions of watchers from different countries that flock its route. From the television or in person, spectators can see what France can offer. The onlookers will have a 3-week immersion to France and other countries in the route.

The locals are also full of excitement when the race comes through their town. Back then, most store owners usually let participants get whatever they want without paying. These locals take their ravaged store as an advertising opportunity, so more tourists visit them in the future.

Global Sensation

What started as an advertisement later turned out to be a global sensation. People across the globe are always eager to watch the Le Tour. According to Tour de France’s media figures, it garnered 40 million television viewers during the 2020 race. It’s a historic feat compared to 2019’s 33 million. The viewership averages around 3.5 million per stage, and roughly 3.8 million viewers are from ages 15-24.

Aside from the television coverage, people were tuned in through other media. During the race, there were 14.5 million unique visitors on its official website. Also, there were almost a million active users on its app.

Tissot, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, hosted a Tour de France fantasy game again to add to the crowd-pulling. Fans can create their cycling team using the names of the participating cyclers. It had 192,960 players signed up for the 2020 race. The Tour de France is the most bet on cycling race each year, and not just with French punters.

Oldest Grand Tour

The race is the first of the Grand Tours in the world. Apart from being a global sensation, you could have never thought that Le Tour started as a publicity stunt. The Tour de France began in 1903 due to a schism between two newspapers popular for French sports, namely the Le Vélo and L’Auto.

Le Vélo was the first and largest daily newspaper company in the country, while the other was still starting. Although it had journalists and wealthy business owners, L’Auto didn’t have the same allure and presence as its competitor. The staff conferred, and Géo Lefèvre, a cycling journalist, suggested a long-distance cycle race to fix their problem.

The first Tour de France ran for 19 days, from the first of July 1903. It had six stages, and it circles France starting from Paris and ends there too, and covering 2,428 kilometers.

Tour of the Champions

Tour de France is one of the most celebrated sporting events globally, and everyone shows up for it. Almost all great cyclists have participated in it, regardless if they are classic one-day cyclists, sprinters, or mountain experts. Recreational and amateur cyclists look up to those teams that join Le Tour and hope to participate in the future.

Teams from all continents compete for the massive bragging right in the cycling world. Most popular groups have diverse cyclists, which is a great prestige. Not only they’ll be racing for the unit but also for their country’s honor.


Aside from the participants and the cultural immersion, spectators will be greeted by fantastic mountain ranges at key stages of the tour. As the years progressed, the race now has over 20 day-long stages which pass through various mountains. These mountains are always breathtaking with their scenery.

Moreover, there is also a gush of excitement when participants reach a mountain pass. Riders’ limits are tested and pushed to the max due to the mountain’s incline. It’s the perfect test of their endurance and determination to win.

A good example is the Pyrenees’ Col du Tourmalet, where riders need to go up 1,395 meters. To add to the difficulty, it’s 18.4 kilometers long and has narrow roads lined with spectators.

Final Leg

Tour de France is the cardinal cycling event, and it is the epitome of the sport. If you’re visiting France during Le Tour, don’t forget to put it on your itinerary. It’s an event you’ll never forget.


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