The first Tour de France was held on in 1903, and the overall winner was Maurice Garin (3 March 1871, Arvier, Aosta Valley, Italy – 19 February 1957, Lens or Haute-Savoie, France). His bicycle, a La Française was the first bike to win the Tour de France.

The first Tour de France was 2,428 km in length, and was containing only 6 stages!

  • Stage 1: Wednesday, July 1, Paris – Lyon, 467 km
  • Stage 2: Sunday, July 5, Lyon – Marseille, 374 km
  • Stage 3: Wednesday, July 8, Marseille – Toulouse, 423 km
  • Stage 4: Sunday, July 12, Toulouse – Bordeaux, 268 km
  • Stage 5: Monday, July 13, Bordeaux – Nantes, 425 km
  • Stage 6: Saturday, July 18, Nantes – Paris, 471 km
The first bike to win the Tour de France - 1903 (Maurice Garin)
The first bike to win the Tour de France (1903) (Maurice Garin’s La Française)

Garin’s La Française bike was weighing 18kg (the UCI limit is 6.8kg and all the bikes are around 6.8-7 kg now). Despite the really long stages, a heavy bike with no gears, and the bad roads, Garin’s average speed was 25.679 kph. He was riding for the “La Française Diamant” team.

Garin’s written notes said:

“The 2,500 km that I’ve just ridden seem a long line, grey and monotonous, where nothing stood out from anything else. But I suffered on the road; I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was sleepy, I suffered, I cried between Lyon and Marseille, I had the pride of winning other stages, and at the controls, I saw the fine figure of my friend Delattre, who had prepared my sustenance, but I repeat, nothing strikes me particularly.”

“But wait! I’m completely wrong when I say that nothing strikes me, I’m confusing things or explaining myself badly. I must say that one single thing struck me, that a single thing sticks in my memory: I see myself, from the start of the Tour de France, like a bull pierced by banderillas, who pulls the banderillas with him, never able to rid himself of them.”

Maurice Garin, 1903 Tour de France
Maurice Garin, in his trademark white coat and flat cap racing in the 1903 Tour de France
Maurice Garin, 1903 Tour de France
Maurice Garin, winner of the 1903 Tour de France


M. Özgür Nevres

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