102 Years of Tour de France Globalization

This year is the 102nd edition of the Tour de France. What was once a predominantly French race—created to up the sales of the sports newspaper L’Auto—is now a global competition, with riders from 34 countries joining the race. Here’s a geographic look at every rider, every race.

By Xaquín G.V., Kelsey Nowakowski, Anna Scalamogna, and Joey Fening, NG staff; Art by Álvaro Valiño.
Sources: Le Tour, Bill McGann of BikeRaceInfo.com

A French affair goes global

In 1903 the pack is mostly blue, white, and red: 72 of the 83 cyclists are French. In 2015, it is a multicolor peloton: Only 31 of 167, around a fifth of the total participants, are French. This year’s Tour—and the two previous ones—has the most countries represented: 34.

The last French winner

Bernard Hinault wins his fifth Tour de France. After Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tours, Hinault shares with Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, and Eddy Merckx the glory of most wins. France, with 36, is still the winningest country.

So long, commercial sponsorship

Fearing the Tour is being corrupted by sponsors, its organizer swaps the trade teams for national ones in 1930. Typically, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and France assemble teams, while others compete as touriste-routiers, or tourist riders—often French bike-shop owners hoping to get more business. The sponsored and national system goes back and forth until 1969, when the commercial team format is reestablished.

For each continent, a first

An African, Ali Neffati of Tunisia, becomes the first non-European to ride in the Tour in 1913. The following year, two Australians join him in the race. The first Asian competes in 1926, the first North American in 1937, and the first South American in 1975. 2014 is the first time a Chinese cyclist participates in the Tour.

But from every continent, a late first

It is not until 2001 that participants from every continent compete in the same edition, which will happen nine more times in future years.

Explore every rider, every race

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