14 Fun Tour De France Facts You Can Use To Impress Your Friends
Bicycling South Africa|September/October 2020
How do riders pee on the bike? Why is there no women's tour? Why is the leader’s jersey yellow? We’ve got the answers.
Molly Hurford
HOW DO TOUR DE FRANCE RIDERS PEE?

LONG, HOT JULY DAYS MEAN THE PROS ARE HYDRATING A LOT ON THE BIKE, which also means bathroom breaks are inevitable. In the first five to 10 minutes of a race, when the pace is more leisurely, “riders pull to the side of the road, pull their shorts down just like you would underwear – you know, pull the front down, do your business,” says retired pro cyclist Ted King, who’s ridden the Tour de France several times. During this neutral roll-out, King says, there’s plenty of time to catch up and get back into the peloton before the race starts in earnest.

Once the pace picks up, riders still use this tactic to pee while racing. “It’s a lot easier to wait for a lull in the race when a large proportion of the peloton pulls to the side of the road rather than doing it solo because that solo chase is tough!” King says.

But nature calls doesn’t mean riders even have to slow down. You can also pee off the bike while riding. (Too much information? Maybe, but now you’ll know why riders sometimes look awkward when they’re coasting.) “If peeing to the right, your right leg is in a 6 o’clock position, left at 12. Left hand on the handlebars, right-hand holds the shorts down, and coast while relieving yourself,” King advises.

2 WHO HAS WON THE MOST TOUR DE FRANCE TITLES?

THAT DEPENDS WHETHER YOU’RE COUNTING TITLES THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY (cough – Lance – cough). If you’re not, says Christopher Thompson, author of The Tour de France: A Cultural History, the answer is a four-way tie between Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault. They’re in good company.

3 HAS THE TOUR EVER NOT HAPPENED, SINCE IT STARTED IN 1903?

ONLY THE TWO WORLD WARS CAUSED THE RACE TO BE PUT ON HOLD, says Thompson. All in all, battles cost the world 11 editions of the Tour: WWI broke out a few days after the 1914 Tour, he says, and didn’t run again until 1919. It went on hiatus again during WWII, from 1940 to 1946, running again in 1947 – two years after the end of the war.

“WWI was a war of attrition, and the French were fighting the whole time. There were several Tour winners who were killed in the trenches,” he says. “But in WWII, France was defeated and occupied quite early, and that was different. There was a government that went along with the Nazis, so there was some racing to prove that things were ‘normal’ under the occupation, but the Tour wasn’t held. Afterward, France was so devastated by the war that it took a while to get restarted.”

And of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we nearly lost the Tour this year.

4 WHY IS THE LEADER’S JERSEY YELLOW?

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