Saturday 2nd – Sunday 24th July
The race first took place in 1903, and had very humble beginnings. The motive behind the first Tour de France was to increase sales for the magazine L’Auto, from then it has gone on to become one of the oldest and most revered cycling races in the world. Held annually, The Tour is a multiple stage race which takes place largely in France, occasionally dipping into nearby countries. Since it began in 1903 the race has only been stopped for the two World Wars, and now welcomes riders from all over the world. The Tour de France is one of three races which make up the three week long Frand Tours, the other two being the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. The route takes riders through the mountainous Pyrenees and the Alps to finish at the Champs-Elysees. 2016 will see the riders take on 9 flat stages, 1 hilly stage, 9 mountain stages and 2 individual time trial stages, all with only 2 days’ rest. The Tour de France 2016 promises to be a fiercely fought race for the coveted yellow jersey.
There is no enforced dress code as most of those viewing the action will be spectators on the sides of the road, viewing from balcony vantage points, or watching on screens around France. There is a laid back attitude towards the attire of those watching, and the feeling is that the cycling takes precedence over everything else.
Cycling has become an increasingly popular sport in recent years, with many high-profile cyclists beginning to enjoy celebrity status, more of us than ever are invested in events like the Tour. As a result those watching the event tend to be an accumulation of die-hard fans, those new to the sport, and those who are there to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere the Tour de France enjoys. In previous years royals such as Prince Harry have been seen enjoying the race, as well as plenty of French socialites and sporting fans.
What to do
The Tour de France has a lot to offer besides the usual hospitality packages. Various tour companies have teamed up with the race and are offering cycling tours of the area. These tours include riding an entire Tour de France mountain stage only a few days before the pros take to their bikes. This kind of access to stages is a definite for those fanatical about cycling. In your spare time there are also companies offering to show spectators around the charming Pyrenees, with VIP race access, and insider tips and tricks for finding the best spots to enjoy the race from.