It started out as a spectacle to sell newspapers, but Henri Desgrange's creation, the Tour de France, turned into a lasting legacy that has been the backbone of cycling as a sport.
The original Tour, held in 1903, was barely recognizable as a cycling stage race by today's standards - it was six epic stages, averaging 400km each, with one to three days of rest in between. Riders were on their own for support and food, they rode fixed-gear bikes on tubular wheels over mostly gravel and dirt roads.
Fast forward to the technicolor spectacle of today, with riders on lightweight, high-tech machines, riding in teams with cars packed full of food, fluids and spare gear, the race covers almost twice the distance as the original, bringing the rolling circus to towns all around France and neighboring countries.
Though the scandal of cheating of various types over the years has sullied the reputation of the race and cycling as a sport over the decades, only the two World Wars ever stopped the Tour de France from going forward. In 1903, it nearly tripled the circulation of L'Auto for Desgrange, today it brings millions of fans to the television, to the internet and to the roadsides to witness the show.
We hope you enjoy this gallery looking back over the 100 editions of the Tour de France to date. Vive le Tour!
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