Tour de France

But what a splendid Tour that was—and what a wonderful race the Tour de France still is! Despite everything, with all the animosities and accusations and the dark shadows, the one hundredth running of the Tour was one of the best and most exciting editions in its history. There was true joie de vivre on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday evening.

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Whenever people who don’t follow bike racing happen to meet champion cyclists, they are always surprised by how small the riders seem. So they are, both in general and compared with other sportsmen, or even sportswomen. That thought was prompted again by last Sunday’s heroic stage of the Tour de France. It began in Givors, in front of illustrious guests.

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Nowhere else in France, or on the parcours of the Tour de France, quite matches Mont Ventoux. What Edith Wharton called "the sublimest object in Provence” rises as if out of nowhere to tower 6,272 feet above the surrounding plains, magnificent and awe-inspiring. She might have added “the scariest object” if she had tried going up it on two wheels, but there is no evidence that the author of The Age of Innocence rode a racing bike up the great mountain. 

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Biking as Bloodsport

When the Tour de France turns violent

A brief history of violence at cycling's greatest race.

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The Most Glorious Weekend in the History of British Sports

Chris Froome shines alongside Andy Murray

Chris Froome shines alongside Andy Murray.

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English Swearing at Its Flippin' Finest

The blunt profanities of Mark Cavendish

The blunt profanities of Mark Cavendish

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The Ghosts of Tours Past

How Lance Armstrong and a 1998 drug test could ruin this year's race

The April bombing of the Boston Marathon raised an uncomfortable thought at this year’s Tour de France: What if Corsican separatists attempted some violent outrage? They have a habit of blowing up supermarkets and setting fire to houses they don’t like the look of, and have killed plenty of people. Here was the chance for a real terrorist “spectacular.”

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When a French rider last won the bike race named after his country, François Mitterand was in the Elysée Palace, Ronald Reagan had recently been inaugurated for his second term, Saddam Hussein was waging a terrible war on Iran with American support, and a single European currency was barely a gleam in the eye of zealous Eurocrats in Brussels. And yet as Bernard Hinault stood in the Tour de France winner’s yellow jersey on the podium in the Champs-Elysées on July 21, 1985, there were already signs that not all was well for French bike racing—or for France.

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With the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency having recently made new (and vigorously denied) accusations against the record-breaking seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, it’s tempting to imagine the annual cycling race dampened by scandal when it gets under way this weekend. But, in reality, the accusations came as little surprise to those familiar with the history of the sport. Pick any Tour de France in recent memory and a cloud hangs over the final standings.

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The straight dope on the Tour De France.

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