The Tour de France was founded in 1903 to promote L’Auto, the ancestor of the current newspaper L’Équipe. What is today without a doubt the biggest celebration of cycling in the world was a much, much smaller event back at the beginning of the 20th century. It consisted of just six stages but those six were extraordinarily long, with the average distance of over 400 kilometres. That’s why the riders had to have 1-3 days off between those long rides and the whole Tour ran from 1st to 19th of July. The stages were almost completely flat, just one of them featured a significant mountain.

You can check out the unique atmosphere from the beginning of this huge cycling phenomenon in the photographs below.

The riders getting ready to start. First ever stage of Tour de France.
The riders getting ready to start. First ever stage of Tour de France.
1903 Tour de France (8)
The ancient bidon 🙂
1903 Tour de France (9)
60-man peloton

1903 Tour de France (2)

1903 Tour de France (10)
First stage finish in Lyon
1903 Tour de France (19)
Finish in Bordeaux. This stage was the first to be won be a foreigner – the Swiss Charles Leaser.
1903 Tour de France (12)
The 1903 Tour de France winner Maurice Garin in his trademark white coat and flat cap.
1903 Tour de France (7)
Maurice Garin with his son.
1903 Tour de France (4)
Maurice Garin greeted by enthusiastic fans.
1903 Tour de France (5)
1903 Tour de France winner Maurice Garin
1903 Tour de France (6)
Finish of the first Tour de France
1903 Tour de France (14)
To minimize cheating, riders had to sign in at stops along each stage.
1903 Tour de France (21)
Lucien Pothier
1903 Tour de France (16)
Willie Hume
1903 Tour de France (17)
Fernand Augereau
1903 Tour de France (20)
Maurice Garin after his victory in the first stage
1903 Tour de France (18)
Marcel Kerff
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