The cycling in the UK has encountered a lot of challenges, but as many people enjoy this sport or love it as a hobby, it has shown a phenomenal success for many decades. It has collected a vibrant history for over 140 years of its existence. Due to its popularity, it was recognized as an Olympic sport and played around the world.
As it became the public’s favourite, cycling competitions were held in many countries that usually takes place from spring through autumn. A team or an individual cyclist may be involved in this physical activity. The first race took place at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, Paris on May 31, 1868. It was a 1,200-meter race and was won by James Moore. It was also a historical event because he rode using a wooden bicycle operated by iron tires, which leads the vehicle to be preserved at a museum in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England.
Cycling has different ranges of events. It can be a one-day road race, time trial, multi-stage events, and criterium. Among the most popular cycling competition that took place is the Grand Tours. It consists of the three prestigious European professional cycling stage races namely, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. Take note that the Grand Tours is participated by men only.
The Grand Tours takes place for over three consecutive weeks including the two rest days. The stages have different formats which may include start races, individual or team trials, and exhibition, but the general length should only be under 200 kilometres.
Tour de France
The oldest cycling competition is the Tour de France. It is a multi-stage bicycle race for men consisting of 21 day-long segments over 23 days period and covering around 3,500 kilometres. This event is held annually in France.
The Tour de France was established in 1903 and is currently operated by Amaury Sports Organization. It was originally established to boost the sales and promote the newspaper L’Auto, and the organizers never failed with their goal. This first cycling competition started from May 31 through July 5, beginning from Paris and passing Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Nantes, and before cyclists returned to Paris again. The competition continued to grow and Henri Desgrange, the editor of L’Auto, decided to change some formats of the race such as judging the winner, stages, and perimeters.
Another well-known cycling competition is the Giro d’Italia, also a multi-stage bicycle race held at Loreto Place in Milan, Italy. It is also called Tour of Italy in English term. It started on May 13, 1909, to promote the newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport and increase its sales. During that period, 127 riders participated in the race. Currently, it is operated by RCS Sport, a sports and media company in Italy. The event was then held annually since it was established.
During this time, the Giro has gained its popularity in the race. It is a UCI World Tour event in which UCI ProTeams mostly participate the race while others came through the invitation of the organizers. It typically takes place from May through June, passing through different routes each year. The aspects of the Giro d’Italia was inspired by Tour de France wherein the modern edition also consists of 21 day-long segments over 23 days period.
However, at the time it started, there were only eight stages where 49 riders finished the 2,448 kilometres race. The first cyclist to win the competition was Luigi Ganna who also succeed in the General Classification, which is a category that sums up the overall time finished by the bicycle riders to complete the multi-stage race. In this classification, winners are awarded a special jersey to honour them. The winner of Tour de France will get a yellow jersey, Giro will have the pink jersey, while the champion for Vuelta a España will win the red.
Vuelta a España
Spain also has their own multi-stage bicycle race which is called the Vuelta a España. It is primarily held in Spain, and cyclists may also pass on the nearby countries. It was established in 1935 and was inspired by the phenomenal success of both Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. It only became an annual competition since 1955 right after World War II and the Spanish Civil War. During its existence, a few organizations have handled it, and it was until 2014 when the control was passed to Amaury Sports Organization.
Just like the Giro, it is also a part of the UCI World Tour event. Its popularity made it to the cycling’s prestigious Grand Tours. The route of the race changes every year, but the format stays at least two-time trials. It typically passes through the Pyrenees mountain chain and ends in Madrid. The most sought-after on the competition is the General Classification.
With this tremendous success of the cycling competition, it has been a sportive event that gained popularity. It is an excellent activity whether you are part of a team or an individual trying to make a name in the cycling world. The camaraderie expressed by each participant gives strength to each organization to pursue what they have started. Regardless of their goal in establishing a cycling race, what matters are the benefits anyone can reap at every end of the competition.