Every July the world’s biggest sports event – as measured by the number of spectators following the live event where it happens – road cycling race the Tour of France travels along the roads of Europe. The actual race takes three weeks to complete. It is 3540 km / 2200 miles long (in 2017). Millions and millions of people arrive to the roadside to cheer the riders.
Often, the race visits neighboring countries. In 2017, the race started in Germany, made a detour via Belgium, and then arrived in France. There’s no question about it, the bicycle race is an amazing travel promotion tool for the French tourism industry.
My understanding is that each stage’s Start and Finish towns pay a fee to the Tour de France organizer to get the honour of being the start or finish town for the race. Since the race is broadcast live worldwide, also the television audience, and today, the Internet streaming audience are huge.
Live images from the race are captured by helicopters and by cameramen sitting at the backseats of motorbikes. Especially, the images shot by helicopters are sometimes so amazing that you get an instant urge to travel to the place just shown on the screen.
Here is how the race looks like on mountains. The following video was recorded at Vuelta a Valencia 2017 when the race went over the mountains from Orihuela, Tibi, Xixona to Xabia. A three-man breakaway group passed us by a couple of minutes earlier. Anyhow, here is how the race looks like when you are watching on the roadside.
There is much happening that you never see on the live broadcast. For instance, the service caravan that follows the racers. Tour de France also has a promo caravan before the racers. Free samples of consumer products are often handed out from the promo caravan. Here is the service caravan of Vuelta a Valencia.