If you’re a cycling fan living in Barcelona or perhaps thinking of coming to Barcelona then now is the time to get excited as cycling’s biggest event is coming to the city!! For only the third time in its history, cycling’s most famous competition, the Tour de France, will be making an appearance in Barcelona. It first appeared in the city in 1957 and the last time it graced Barcelona’s roads was over four decades ago in 1965.
The Tour de France is not the only famous bike race in Europe, as there are similar events in Spain and Italy but this one is the oldest, most prestigious and certainly the most revered of them all. Its course route and length differs every year but it always finishes in France’s capital city, Paris.
Here are some stats and figures for you to mull over about the Tour. Each race normally has around 20 stages (2009 had 21), the majority of races are usually between 3000 and 4000 kilometers (this years will cover a total distance of 3500km). It usually takes place over 3 weeks (22 days for last years 2009 Tour, 4th – 26th July), with the riders getting just 2 days recuperation. Over 10,000 riders have tried their luck at the race in its 106 year history while more than 6000 of those have actually completed the full course. Its most successful rider, in terms of numbers of Tours won, is Lance Armstrong. He now enjoys global fame due to his success as well as his much publicised battle with testicular cancer which is another victory he can add to his personal achievements.
Regarding last years race, Catalonia will be the setting for Stages 6 and 7. Stage 6 begins in Girona. This is the first time that the Tour has come to Girona but the town is not unfamiliar with hosting the cycling elite. It has hosted the Tour of Catalonia several times. This section of the race is 175km long and the winding hills of Montjuïc will provide a tough end to this stage.
Stage 7 leaves from Barcelona and will make its way through 224km of steep hills back towards the French border before finishing in Andorra Arcalis, an Andorran ski resort in the Pyrenees. The finish to this stage will be at an elevation of 2240m above sea level, making it one of the highest stage finishes in the competitions history.