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.