Tour de France Statistics You Probably Never Heard About (Updated 2021)

Tour de France 2019 Mountain battle

Tour de France’s rich history goes back to 1903 when its first edition took place. Nowadays, it is the most famous cycling race globally. One day, I asked myself:

What will I discover if I visualize the data collected over 100 editions?

The result is a unique set of charts and facts about the Tour de France that can provide us with valuable insights. And maybe, we can also better predict the future winners.

Learn more about the total distance, average stage distance, rider’s height, weight, BMI, and other interesting data, and how they developed.

Let’s dive into one of the biggest sets about the Tour de France statistics.

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

I used publicly available data from wikipedia.org, procyclingstats.com, and the official Tour de France website letour.fr as data sources. Some data is not available (especially the rider’s weights/heights).

Please, also keep in mind the following

  • The Tour de France did not take place between 1915-1918 and 1940-1946.
  • Lance Armstrong was stripped of all his results and prizes from 1 August 1998; no alternative winners of TdF 1999-2005 have yet been declared.
  • The actual rider’s racing weight could vary.

Tour de France (Over Time)

The Tour de France was the longest Grand Tour for decades. The first 3 editions were relatively short (2,428, 2,428, and 2,994 km). However, that changed with the 4th edition. For the next decades, riders had to cover an overall distance exceeding 5,000 km.

Luckily for riders, this distance shortened. The average Tour de France length was 4,139 km between 1960-1980, 3,791 km between 1980-2000, and “only” 3,491 km between 2000-2020.

However, the overall average speed increased dramatically. Yes, it is probably thanks to technological progress, better training methods, and nutrition specialists. The overall average speed was 27.67 km/h between 1919-1939 and 40.15 km/h between 1999-2019.

Do you think we will ever see a Tour de France ridden with an average speed exceeding 45 km/h?

Tour de France Overall Distance and Average Speed
Overall Distance and Average Speed

The number of stages increased from 6-15 stages to more than 20, depending on the edition. For the last few years, it has remained the same (21).

The chart below also shows the average Tour de France stage length. It went down from a whopping 286 km between 1909-1939 to 197 km between 1949-1979 and 173 km between 1989-2019.

Tour de France Average Stage Distance vs. Number of Stages
Average Stage Distance vs. Number of Stages


Tour de France (Historical Extremes)

Can you guess the longest and shortest Tour de France edition?

The longest Tour de France took place in 1926. Riders had to cover 5,745 km (this is about the same distance as from New York to London).

The shortest Tour de France were the first two editions (1903 and 1904); they had the same length of 2,428 km.

The longest Tour de France stage was the 5th stage of the 1919 edition; it was 482 km long.

The fastest Tour de France took place in 1998. The average speed of the winner was 41.74 km/h.

The slowest Tour de France was the 22nd edition (1924). The winner, Ottavio Bottecchia, reached a winning time of 226h 18′ 21″ on an overall distance of 5,425 km. This results in an average speed of 23.97 km/h.

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.


Interested in more statistics? I summarized Giro and Vuelta as well.


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

How does the Tour de France rider’s height, weight, and BMI develop over time? How do these data differ between riders for the general classification, climbers, and sprinters (all-rounders)? You learn in this section.

NOTE: The heights and weight data are unfortunately not available for all riders.

General Classification

Tour de France winners are getting taller but leaner...

A friend once told me I am too tall for cycling (I am 1.85 m). I thought he is right, but he was not. Even tall riders like Bradley Wiggins (1.90 m), Chris Froome (1.86 m), or Miguel Indurain (1.86 m) have won the Tour de France. And it seems that Tour de France is being won by taller and taller riders (check the chart below).

The average height of a Tour de France winner is 1.77 m.

The tallest Tour de France winner ever was Bradley Wiggins (TdF 2012). He is 1.90 m tall.

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

TdF General Classification Winner Height
General Classification Winner Height

Lower weight = Better Chance to Win Tour de France?

The average weight of a Tour de France winner is 68.4 kg.

The heaviest Tour de France winner was François Faber. He won the 1909 TdF, weighing 88 kg.

The lightest Tour de France winner was Marco Pantani. He won the 1998 TdF, weighing just 57 kg.

TdF General Classification Winner Weight
General Classification Winner Weight

From all charts in this article, I like the BMI chart the most because it shows an interesting trend. Let’s quickly repeat what BMI means.

BMI uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. (Source)

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

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

With this know-how, we get a better understanding of these values.

Tour de France winners have an average BMI of 21.63.

The Tour de France 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). Yes, the Faber won TdF while being overweight.

The Tour de France winner with the lowest BMI was Chris Froome. He won the TdF 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 with a BMI of 19.08 (1.86 m, 66 kg).

TdF General Classification Winner BMI
General Classification Winner BMI

Do you want to know how do you compare with pro riders? Feel free to calculate your BMI using the calculator below.

BMI CALCULATOR

System:

Weight: kg

Height: cm




Mountain Classification

The average height of a Tour de France mountains classification winner is 1.75 m.

The tallest Tour de France mountains classification winner ever is Mauricio Soler (TdF 2007). He is 1.90 m tall.

The shortest Tour de France mountains classification winner ever was Julián Berrendero (TdF 1936). He was 1.62 m tall.

TdF Mountain Classification Winner Height
Mountain Classification Winner Height

The average weight of a Tour de France mountains classification winner is 64.6 kg.

The heaviest Tour de France mountains classification winners were Louison Bobet (TdF 1950) and Santiago Botero (TdF 2000). They won the mountain classification, weighing 75 kg.

The lightest Tour de France mountains classification winner was Luis Herra. He won the 1985 and 1987 TdF mountain classification, weighing just 57 kg.

TdF Mountain Classification Winner Weight
Mountain Classification Winner Weight

Tour de France mountains classification winners have an average BMI of 21.21.

The Tour de France mountains classification winner with the highest BMI was Sylvère Maes. He won the 1939 Tour de France mountains classification with a BMI of 24.80 (1.68 m, 70 kg).

The Tour de France mountains classification winner with the lowest BMI was Warren Barguil. He won the 2017 Tour de France mountains classification with a BMI of 18.42 (1.82 m, 61 kg). This means he was underweight.

TdF Mountain Classification Winner BMI
Mountain Classification Winner BMI

Points Classification

The average height of a Tour de France points classification winner is 1.78 m.

The tallest Tour de France points classification winner ever was Tom Boonen (TdF 2007). He is 1.90 m tall.

The shortest Tour de France points classification winner ever was Stan Ockers (TdF 1955, 1956). He was 1.65 m tall.

TdF Points Classification Winner Height
Points Classification Winner Height

The average weight of a Tour de France points classification winner is 72.3 kg.

The heaviest Tour de France points classification winner was Tom Boonen. He won the 2007 TdF points classification, weighing 82 kg.

The lightest Tour de France points classification winner was Stan Ockers. He won the 1955 and 1956 TdF points classification, weighing just 61 kg.

TdF Points Classification Winner Weight
Points Classification Winner Weight

A Tour de France points classification winner has an average BMI of 22.88.

The Tour de France points classification winner with the highest BMI was Walter Godefroot (1.71 m, 73 kg). He won the 1970 Tour de France points classification with a BMI of 24.96.

The Tour de France points classification winner with the lowest BMI was Bernard Hinault (1.74 m, 62 kg). He won the TdF 1979 points classification with a BMI of 20.48.

TdF Points Classification Winner BMI
Points Classification Winner BMI

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Overall Victories, Stage Wins, Days in Yellow…

The riders with the most Tour de France GC wins (5) are Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain. Chris Froome is the closest active rider to these legends with his 4 TdF wins.

Riders with the Most Overall Tour de France Victories
Riders with the Most Overall Tour de France Victories

Eddy Merckx also dominated another statistic as he is the rider with the most days spent in the yellow jersey (Maillot Jaune).

Riders with the Most Days in Yellow Jersey
Riders with the Most Days in Yellow Jersey

The following table shows three riders with the most Tour de France stage wins.

#RiderWins
1Eddy Merckx34
2Mark Cavendish30
3Bernard Hinault28
4André Leducq25
5André Darrigagde22
The most Tour de France stage wins

Who is the rider with the most Tour de France participations? Sylvain Chavanel. The 2nd place belongs to George Hincapie, Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt, and the 3rd to Joop Zoetemelk and Haimar Zubeldia.

#RiderParticipationsFinishes
1Sylvain Chavanel1816
2George Hincapie1713
Stuart O'Grady15
Jens Voigt14
3Joop Zoetemelk1616
Haimar Zubeldia15

Riders with the Most Mountain & Points Classification Victories

The best climber, according to the number of Mountain Classification victories, was Richard Virenque. He won this classification seven times.

#RiderVictoriesYears
1Richard Virenque71994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004
2Federico Bahamontes61954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964
Lucien Van Impe1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983
3Julio Jiménez31965, 1966, 1967

The best sprinter, according to the number of Points Classification victories, is the Slovak Peter Sagan with 7 wins. Will he add another one in 2021?

#RiderVictoriesYears
1Peter Sagan72012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019
2Erik Zabel61996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
3Sean Kelly41982, 1983, 1985, 1989

If you are into cycling and numbers, make sure you also read these Incredible Bicycle Statistics.


Summary

I hope you enjoyed these Tour de France statistics as I did when putting them together. What is your favorite stat? Let me know in the comments section.

Be sure to also check my Cycling Grand Tours Statistics, where I compare all Grand Tours or continue reading:


Tour de France Statistics FAQ


Sources

wikipedia.org
procyclingstats.com
letour.fr
The preview picture ©A.S.O./Pauline BALLET (cropped)

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