Tour de Force

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Take 2100 miles. Nearly 200 riders. Mix them both with Europe’s highest mountains, most hazardous roads, and a million spectators. Add a history of murder, drugs and international intrigue, and you can begin to imagine a race as exciting as the Tour de France.

A simple contest, conceived 100 years ago as a publicity stunt by a newspaper, is now the most demanding, singular sporting event in the world. It’s hard to believe that the Tour still exists, riders used to call race organizers “assassins” because of the sheer impossibility of the course.

Or recall that it almost disappeared, back in its early days, after devious fans left nails in the road to fell rival teams. But while much has changed since the race’s inception, the goal remains the same: The battle for the maillot jaune.


Bill Strickland, executive editor, Bicycling Magazine

James Startt, author of “Tour de France – Tour de Force”

Lorna Hamilton, mother of Tyler Hamilton, member of CSC team competing in this year’s Tour

Steve Pucci, Tyler Hamilton’s first coach

Sam Abt, reporter for the New York Times and The International Herald Tribune

Peter Ford, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor.