The Tour de France is a three-week long, 2,174 miles sprint through France and some neighboring countries. Every July, the best riders from around the world gather to furiously pedal up and down mountains, and sprint along flat surfaces as they head to the finish line in Paris. Along the route, millions of fans cheer the athletes on.
The cyclists ride in teams of nine. Usually only one team member has a chance of winning. The rest are there to help the leader win. How do they do this? By riding in front during parts of the course to shield the leader from the wind, by setting a pace for the leader to follow, and by making sure he has plenty of water and other supplies. Team members will even give up their bike to the leader, in case his breaks down.
The race is divided into stages, each lasting a day. There are 21 stages in all, nine of which take place in the mountains where biking is extra hard. The winner of the Tour de France is the rider with the fastest time overall.
Great Moments in Sports
The final moments of the 1989 Tour de France were nail-biting ones. The two leads, American Greg LeMond (left) and Frenchman Laurent Fignon (right), approached the last 15 miles separated by 50 seconds, with Fignon in the lead. In one of the most exciting wins in the sport's history, LeMond whittled down the time second by second. He completed the race eight seconds faster than Fignon, the narrowest tour win ever.