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Lowdown on the Tour de France
Around the Academy:

The race passes through beautiful French countryside
The race passes through beautiful French countryside

The Tour de France is the world's biggest annual sporting event.

Every July the greatest bike race on earth brings France to a standstill for a whole month.

The Tour de France 2004 consisted of a prologue and 20 stages, with a total distance of 3,395km.

Twenty-two teams of nine riders battled it out on the flat roads of France and the steep climbs of the Alps and Pyrenees.

The route started in Liege in Belgium and followed the non-traditional anticlockwise direction, considered on paper to be the more difficult of the two routes.

The American superman Lance Armstrong completely dominated the race, winning six stages and clinching a record-breaking sixth successive Tour victory.

The riders approach the Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Tour is 100 years old

The first race took place in 1903 and over a hundred years later it remains as popular as ever.

It attracts competitors and millions of followers from all nations.

The race has changed a lot over the last century but it's essence remains the same.

The battle of one man against another, one man against the daunting mountains.

In all conditions, from searing heat to snowstorms.

And to think it all started out as a crazy publicity stunt!


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Introduction
Publicity stunt
Early days
Gino & Fausto
Jacques & Eddy
Bernard & Greg
Miguel & Lance


2005 Tour de France facts
Starts: 2 July, Fromentine
Finishes: 24 July, Paris
Distance: 3607 km
Number of stages: 20 + prologue
Longest stage: Stage 17 - Pau-Revel, 239.5km
Number of teams: 21
Number of riders: 189


FROM THE BBC >>
:: BBC Sport's Tour coverage

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:: Tour de France

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