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Thread: How a small French newspaper began the Tour de France...

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    Arrow How a small French newspaper began the Tour de France...

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    How a small French newspaper began the Tour de France... Adin Dobkin on L'Auto, the War Torn Year of 1919, and the Beginning of the Legendary Bike Ride


    The one-day cycling races worked well for the newspaper’s aims: the races didn’t require much in the way of logistics and took place on regular roads instead of in stadiums—for-profit companies themselves that would have their own ideas about coverage. The events appealed to competitive cyclists but also attracted amateurs. Races any longer than one day would be difficult for cyclists who didn’t train for endurance. On a longer race, registrants would flag, but the sponsoring newspaper could extend the days it offered in-depth coverage. More adventurous than Desgrange, with less to lose, Lefèvre suggested a cycling race longer than anyone before had considered, one spanning France’s entire border. “A Tour de France,” Desgrange clarified.

    The Tour had existed as part of French life even if it had never been a cycling race. Kings went on tour to inspect their more distant lands, to let those with tenuous allegiances know that they remembered them; craftsmen left their hometowns for tours to learn how others in regions not their own built cathedrals, baked pastries. Le Tour de la France par deux enfants, a book French children read in primary school, described two children’s journey around their country to find their uncle. A Tour de France race on bikes had never been considered, but it could be imagined. It was enough for Desgrange to not dismiss Lefèvre’s idea immediately.

    The editor took the journalist to a café after the meeting and dis*cussed the proposed race further. The pair decided Desgrange would bring the idea to l’Auto’s business director and cofounder, Victor Goddet, for his input. If Goddet thought it impossible, that was easy enough: the idea wouldn’t go any farther. When Desgrange went to him, however, Goddet thought it was just what l’Auto needed.

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    The Tour de France’s first years surpassed Desgrange’s guarded expectations. People left their homes to watch the cyclists on the 1903 Tour’s six stages. In time, the Tour route extended, hewed closer to France’s borders. The cyclists beat the bounds of their country. They marked France’s borders and every town they rode through, in each new clime they reached. As the cyclists biked through some of the same small towns in subsequent years, the association between that town and the Tour grew. The towns formed the Tour, and the Tour formed the towns as well as the country.

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    I saw some of the race this weekend.
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    I can't find anything on what happened to the woman with the sign that caused the crash this year. What do you charge an idiot with?

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