During the early years of the Tour de France, guzzling alarming amounts of alcohol was the norm. Beer, wine, and brandy were considered safer to drink than water from questionable roadside wells or springs, and cyclists drank copiously.
One of the ‘unwritten rules’ of the Tour de France is when the Tour is passing through where one of the riders grew up, everyone will slow down to let that rider lead the whole Tour through his hometown (also, if the race leader needs to stop to take a pee break, everyone else slows down/stops too).
More than 100 years ago, a French sports journalist suggested the idea of organizing a 6-day cycling race to the editor of a local newspaper to boost sales – because he couldn’t think of any other idea. That race was called Tour de France – it’s now the most prestigious bicycle race in the world.
During WW2, the winner of the Tour de France, Gino Bartali, put his fame to a good cause. He hid counterfeit document in his bicycle and smuggled them through Nazi checkpoints. These documents saved over 800 Jews lives.
In the 1913 Tour de France, Eugène Christophe‘s front fork on his bike broke. He carried it 10 km to the nearest blacksmith, where he used the forge to weld it back together. He was penalized 3 minutes because he had a local kid pump the bellows for him.
The first Tour de France winner was disqualified because he cheated by taking the train
During the 1913 Tour de France, riders could have no outside help repairing their bicycles. The race leader at one point had his front fork break, so he trekked 10 km to a blacksmith where he repaired them himself. He was penalized 3 minutes for allowing a child to work the bellows.
Cyclist Gerhard Schönbacher stopped and kissed the road before he finished last in the 1979 Tour de France.