Henri Desgrange - regarded by some as 'father' of the Tour de France
By Judy Evans
August 2, 2017 12:09am CST
We had a marvellous day recently going up, then down the Col de Galibier in the French Alps. This was part of the route of the 2017 Tour de France cycle race. Along the way we passed a monument to Henri Desgrange. I’ve never heard of him but a search on Google revealed that he is often regarded as the ‘father’ of the Tour de France. Desgrange was born in 1865 and set 12 world track cycling records. He became editor of the magazine L’Auto and it was actually one of his journalists actually put forward the idea of a bike ride through much of France. It seems that Desgrange wasn’t convinced that the ride would be a success and actually stayed away from the start of the first race. Riders also complained that they’d be eaten by bears if they ever reached the summits of the Pyrenees alive. However the race was a success and sales of L’Auto soared. The Tour de France has gone from strength to strength. In fact, according to two academics who studied the role of the race, Desgrange and the Tour de France can take credit for familiarising many Frenchmen with the shape of their country
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The Tour went to the Galibier this year, but the tv did not even showed the monument. I think the Tour was in the air of the time. Since the 1880's the bicycle was considered like an instrument of freedom, and there were already races for tough men : Paris-Brest, Bordeaux-Paris and even Paris-Nice, proving that a "steel horse" was more tough than a horse. Speaking of horses these incredible races make me think at the old Pollack's movie "They shoot horses, don't they ?" The Tour de France was a great idea. The length of the stages are more reasonable today, and the Tour de France is no more really a complete tour, but it is stlll very popular, thanks to Desgrange.
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• Pamplona, Spain
On the free channel they have missed a lot of the W "Tour Of France" out this time so I have to go back now and see the days I missed well in parts as the Spanish Commentators do go on a bit. "Tour of Spain" coming up next.