Tour, Giro, and Vuelta: Cycling Grand Tours Statistics Compared (2022)

Cycling Grand Tours Statistics: Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España

I love cycling, and I enjoy playing with numbers. One day, I asked myself:

What if I combine these two hobbies? What if I create a comparison of cycling Grand Tours statistics?

The result is a unique comparison of all three Grand ToursTour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España.

I am sure you will see some of these stats for the first time.

Below, you find comparisons of all edition distances, average stage lengths, general, mountain, and points classification winners’ height & weight data, rider’s BMI, and many more interesting stats.

Abbreviations used: GC – General Classification, GT – Grand Tour, TdF – Tour de France, BMI – Body Mass Index

I used publicly available data from sites such as wikipedia.org, procyclingstats.com, and official GT websites letour.fr, giroditalia.it, and lavuelta.es for the statistics and charts below. Some data is not available (especially the rider’s weights/heights).

Please, also remember the following:

  • The Tour de France did not take place between 1915-1918 and 1940-1946.
  • Giro d’Italia did not take place between 1915-1918 and 1941-1945.
  • Vuelta a España did not take place between 1937-1940, 1943-1944, and 1951-1954.
  • Lance Armstrong was stripped of all his results and prizes from 1 August 1998. No alternative winners of TdF 1999-2005 were declared yet.
  • The actual rider’s racing weight could vary.

I update this article once a year once all Grand Tours are finished.


Grand Tours Total Distance

Let’s start with the basics. The chart below shows the total distance of individual Grand Tour editions. The Tour de France was the longest Grand Tour for decades.

The average Grand Tour length of all editions is 3,751 km. It was around 3,680 km between 1960-1980, 3,720 km between 1980-2000, and “only” 3,390 km between 2000-2020. The average length of the 2022 Grand Tours is 3,349 km.

The total distance of individual Cycling Grand Tours of all editions compared
Cycling Grand Tours – Total Distance of Individual Editions

Number and Length of Grand Tours Stages

The number of stages experienced an opposite trend to the average length. While the first Tour de France editions had only six stages, this number multiplied in the following decades. For the past decades, it has oscillated around 21.

The average Grand Tour stage length of all editions is 200 km (time trials included).

It was a whopping 278 km between 1909-1939 to 191 km between 1949-1979 (excluding Vuelta because its first edition took place in 1935). The average stage length of the 2022 Grand Tours is 159 km.

The average stage length vs. number of stages of all Cycling Grand Tours editions
Cycling Grand Tours – Average Stage Length vs. Number of Stages of Individual Editions

Grand Tours Average Speed

The average Grand Tours speed of all editions is 35.31 km/h.

It increased dramatically over time, mainly thanks to technological progress, better training methods, and nutrition—it exceeded the mighty 40 km/h mark.

The average speed of the 2022 Grand Tours was 40.78 km/h.

The overall average speed of individual Cycling Grand Tours of all editions compared.
Cycling Grand Tours – The Overall Average Speed

Will we ever see a Grand Tour surpassing the average speed of 45 km/h?


TIP: Interested in cycling? Feel free to read my guide on how to choose a bike type in 5 minutes or less.


Grand Tours (Historical Extremes)

What about the longest and shortest editions?

Not surprisingly, the longest Grand Tour ever was the Tour de France in 1926. Riders had to cover 5,745 km (about the same distance from New York to London).

The longest Giro d’Italia took place in 1954 (4,337 km), and the longest Vuelta a España was in 1936 (4,407 km).

The shortest Grand Tour ever was also the Tour de France.

The first two editions (1903 and 1904) were the same length of 2,428 km.

The shortest Giro was 15 km longer (1912), and the Vuelta 14 km longer (1963), resulting in 2,443 and 2,443 km.

Cycling Grand Tours The Longest Shortest Editions
Cycling Grand Tours: The Longest & Shortest Editions

Speaking of length, here is another “best” for the Tour de France.

The longest Grand Tour stage ever (482 km) was the 5th stage in the 1919 edition.

Meanwhile, the longest Giro stage (stage 3 in 1914) was 52 km shorter. Vuelta falls behind with only a 310 km stage (stage 6 in 1935).

Cycling Grand Tours The Longest Shortest Stages
Cycling Grand Tours: The Longest & Shortest Stages

However, Vuelta holds a record for the fastest Grand Tour edition ever. Riders covered the 58th edition of Vuelta a España (2003) with an average speed of 42.53 km/h.

The fastest TdF was in 2022 (41.84 km/h) and Giro in 2011 (41.86 km/h).

The title for the slowest Grand Tour holds Giro d’Italia. 1914 Giro was ridden at an average speed of 23.37 km/h.

My humble guess is that this record won’t be broken – 8 out of 12 stages were classified as mountain stages.

The slowest Tour de France took place in 1924 (5,425 km). The winner, Ottavio Bottecchia, reached the winning time of 226h 18′ 21″, resulting in an average speed of 23.97 km/h.

The slowest Vuelta a España (25.72 km/h) took place in 1948. It took the winner 155h 06′ 30″ to cover the 3,990 km.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many websites (including Wikipedia) list the 1919 Tour de France as the slowest TdF ever. This figure is incorrect because the winning time of Firmin Lambot was 231h 07′ 15″. The 1919 edition was 5,560 km long. When we do some math, it is easy to calculate that the average speed was 24.0567 km/h.

The historical speed extremes of Grand Tours (fastest and slowest editions)
Cycling Grand Tours: The Fastest & Slowest Editions


Rider’s Height, Weight, and BMI (Over Time)

How do the rider’s height, weight, and BMI develop over time? How do these data differ between riders for the general classification, climbers, and sprinters?

Unfortunately, the weights and heights of riders from the past century are often missing. So, the resulting trends can be skewed.

General Classification Winners

Are GC riders getting taller and leaner?

The past decades have shown that even riders above 1.85m can win Grand Tours—to name a few: Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Miguel Indurain, Fabio Aru, or Tom Dumoulin, who are all tall riders.

The GC winner’s height oscillates around 179 cm (±10 cm). Giro and Vuelta seem to be more “short riders friendly.” More riders below 175 cm won these Grand Tours in the past decades.

The height of General Classification winners of individual Cycling Grand Tours (all editions compared)
Cycling Grand Tours – GC Winners Height

The trend for the lower weight also seems not to be a myth.

Although many heights and weight data are not available, the following chart shows that riders are really getting leaner on average.

An average GC winner’s weight was 67.67 kg between 1980-2000, while only 64.33 kg between 2000-2020.

The weight of General Classification winners of individual Cycling Grand Tours (all editions compared)
Cycling Grand Tours – GC Winners Weight

Probably the most interesting chart of the series of these 3 is the following BMI chart. BMI uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. (Source)

Here is a quick guide on how to interpret the values:

  • Below 18.5 – underweight,
  • 18.5-24.9 – normal,
  • 25.0-29.9 – overweight,
  • 30.0 and above – obese.

The GC winner’s BMI has varied between 21 and 19 in recent decades, averaging around 20.11. For example, Chris Froome’s BMI was around 19.08 when he won his Grand Tours, and Fabio Aru’s (Vuelta 2015 winner) was even lower at 18.81.

The BMI of General Classification winners of individual Cycling Grand Tours (all editions compared)
Cycling Grand Tours – GC Winners BMI

BMI CALCULATOR

System:

Weight: kg

Height: cm




Mountain Classification Winners

The height data of the winners of mountain classification is also exciting. The average height of the GT mountain classification winner is 1.74 m.

The height of the mountain classification winners of Cycling Grand Tours winners (TdF, Giro, Vuelta)
Cycling Grand Tours – Mountain Classification Winners Height

Vuelta is, according to some people, considered the toughest GT. However, based on data, the average weight of the Giro mountain classification winner is 63.4 kg.

The average weight of the GT mountain classification winner is 64 kg.

Cycling Grand Tours - Mountain Classification Winners Weight
Cycling Grand Tours – Mountain Classification Winners Weight

The average BMI of mountain classification winners is 21.22.

We can see a similar trend as with GC winners. Nowadays, climbers have a lower BMI on average than at the beginning of this classification. The average BMI of mountain classification winners is lower than the BMI of GC winners (21.54).

The BMI of the mountain classification winners of Cycling Grand Tours winners (TdF, Giro, Vuelta)
Cycling Grand Tours – Mountain Classification Winners BMI

Points Classification Winners

Sprinters and all-around riders’ height rarely goes below 1.70 m or exceeds 1.85 m. The average height of a points classification winner is 1.79 m.

Cycling Grand Tours - Points Classification Winners Height
Cycling Grand Tours – Points Classification Winners Height

Not surprisingly, sprinters and all-around riders are heavier than climbers. The average weight of a GT points classification winner is 71.1 kg.

The weight of the points classification winners of Cycling Grand Tours winners (TdF, Giro, Vuelta)
Cycling Grand Tours – Points Classification Winners Weight

The average BMI of points classification winners is 22.3. However, the BMI variance of individual winners has been relatively significant in recent years.

Cycling Grand Tours - Points Classification Winners BMI
Cycling Grand Tours – Points Classification Winners BMI


Rider’s Height, Weight, and BMI (Historical Extremes)

The following stats are focused on historical extremes. You can easily compare your own height and weight with Grand Tour GC winners.

General Classification Winners

The average height of a Grand Tour GC winner is 1.77 m.

The tallest GC winner ever is Bradley Wiggins (TdF 2012). He is 1.90 m tall.

The shortest GC winner ever was Romain Maes (Tour de France 1935 winner). He was 1.60 m tall.

Cycling Grand Tours The Tallest and Shortest GC Winners from Available Data
Cycling Grand Tours: The Tallest and Shortest GC Winners (from Available Data)

The average weight of a Grand Tour GC winner is 67.49 kg.

The heaviest GC winner was Tour de France 1909 winner François Faber. He weighed 88 kg.

The lightest GC winner was Marco Pantani. He won Tour de France and Giro in the same year (1998), weighing just 57 kg.

Cycling Grand Tours The Heaviest and Lightest GC Winners from Available Data
Cycling Grand Tours: The Heaviest and Lightest GC Winners (from Available Data)

A GC winner has an average BMI of 21.54.

A GC winner with the highest BMI was François Faber. He won the 1909 Tour de France with a BMI of 27.77 (1.78 m, 88 kg).

A GC winner with the lowest BMI was Fabio Aru. He won the 2015 Vuelta with a BMI of 18.81 (1.83 m, 63 kg).

Cycling Grand Tours GC Winners BMI from Available Data
Cycling Grand Tours: GC Winners BMI (from Available Data)

Mountain Classification Winners

The average height of a mountain classification GT winner is 1.74 m.

The tallest mountain classification winner ever was Mauricio Soler (TdF 2007). He is 1.90 m tall.

The shortest mountain classification winner ever was Mariano Díaz (Vuelta 1967). He was 1.59 m tall.

Cycling Grand Tours The Tallest and Shortest Mountain Classification Winners from Available Data
The Tallest and Shortest Mountain Classification Winners (from Available Data)

The average weight of a mountain classification winner is 64.47 kg.

The heaviest mountain classification winner was the Giro d’Italia 1933 mountain classification winner Alfredo Binda. He weighed 77 kg.

The lightest mountain classification winner was José Rujano. He won the 2005 Giro mountain classification weighing just 48 kg.

Cycling Grand Tours The Heaviest and Lightest Mountain Classification Winners from Available Data
The Heaviest and Lightest Mountain Classification Winners (from Available Data)

A mountain classification winner has an average BMI of 21.22.

A mountain classification winner with the highest BMI was Mariano Díaz. He won the 1967 Vuelta a España mountain classification with a BMI of 24.92 (1.59 m, 63 kg).

A mountain classification winner with the lowest BMI was José Rujano. He won the 2005 Giro mountain classification with a BMI of 18.29 (1.62 m, 48 kg).

Cycling Grand Tours Mountain Classification Winners BMI from Available Data 1
Mountain Classification Winners BMI (from Available Data)

Points Classification Winners

The average height of a points classification GT winner is 1.79 m.

The tallest points classification winner ever was Tom Boonen (TdF 2007). He is 1.92 m tall.

The shortest points classification winner ever was Stan Ockers (TdF 1955 and 1956). He was 1.65 m tall.

Cycling Grand Tours The Tallest and Shortest Points Classification Winners from Available Data
The Tallest and Shortest Points Classification Winners (from Available Data)

The average weight of a points classification winner is 71.1 kg.

The heaviest points classification winner was Rik Van Steenbergen. He won Vuelta a España 1956 points classification weighing 83 kg.

The lightest points classification winner was Joaquim Rodríguez. He won the 2012 Giro points classification weighing just 57 kg.

Cycling Grand Tours The Heaviest and Lightest Points Classification Winners from Available Data
The Heaviest and Lightest Points Classification Winners (from Available Data)

A points classification winner has an average BMI of 22.3.

A points classification winner with the highest BMI was Walter Godefroot. He won the 1970 Tour de France points classification with a BMI of 24.94 (1.71 m, 73 kg).

A points classification winner with the lowest BMI was Chris Froome. He won the 2017 Vuelta points classification with a BMI of 19.08 (1.86 m, 66 kg).

Cycling Grand Tours Points Classification Winners BMI from Available Data
Points Classification Winners BMI (from Available Data)


Overall Victories & Stage Wins

Eddy Merckx is the rider with the most Grand Tour GC wins (11). He won TdF and Giro 5 times, as well as Vuelta once.

Riders with the Most Overall Grand Tour Victories
Riders with the Most Overall Grand Tour Victories

The following table shows the three riders with the most stage wins for a given Grand Tour.

 Tour de France WinsGiro d'Italia WinsVuelta a España Wins
1.Eddy Merckx
Mark Cavendish
34Mario Cipollini42Delio Rodríguez
39
---Alfredo Binda41Alessandro Petacchi20
3. Bernard Hinault28Learco Guerra31Laurent Jalabert
Rik Van Looy
18
Riders with the most Grand Tours stages wins

Consider these Incredible Bicycle Statistics to discover more about the sport we all love so much.


Summary

We have a song in the Czech Republic that goes like this:

“Statistics are boring, but it has valuable information…”

I have never enjoyed statistics, but spending dozens of hours putting this comparison together was fun. I was surprised to see some Grand Tour data visualized. The riders’ height, weight, and BMI data points are pretty interesting. What do you think about these cycling Grand Tours statistics?

I hope you like this comparison. If so, don’t forget to share it with your friends.

You can also check out my other articles dedicated to individual Grand Tours that go into more detail:


Cycling Grand Tours FAQ


Sources

wikipedia.org
procyclingstats.com
letour.fr
giroditalia.it
lavuelta.es

About The Author

4 thoughts on “Tour, Giro, and Vuelta: Cycling Grand Tours Statistics Compared (2022)”

  1. Great work!
    Can you add a cumulative vertical meters comparison to each GT?
    And create a weighted index according to Cumulative distance – Cumulative ascent – Average speed.

    Thanks a lot.
    – Eran

    1. Hi Eran,
      I thought about doing something like you describe. Unfortunately, total vertical meters are unavailable for many editions. Therefore, I decided not to include it. But you are right, that would be interesting!

      – Petr

  2. You’re the guy to do it, you’re Great! I’d like to see day by day where riders have gained or lost time to the current GC leader. Does that make sense? I think it would be interesting as hell! Thanks for doing such a great job at what you do!!!

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