While watching the Tour this year, I began to wonder what was the overall average speed of the past Tour winners. So, after compiling the information I can now share with you via Google tables.
It would appear that I would have had a chance in the year 1919. Of course, the key would be taking my current stable of bikes back in the time machine with me. That year, winner Firmin Lambot averaged a mere 14.95 MPH. That was the slowest tour ever. Now, that must have been a very tough year. Sixty-nine entrants started but only eleven finished. And the route didn't leave much to the imagination, as shown below.
Why? The impact of World War I had been large on the French road system, which made cycling difficult. This tour was important because the yellow jersey was introduced for the first time and was so successful that it has been used ever since.
The fastest year? That would be 2005 won by Lance Armstrong. His speed for the tour that year averaged 25.88 MPH.
It took until 1948 for any rider to average above 20 MPH for the entire tour when 38-year old Gino Bartali averaged 20.78 MPH. In 1960, the 23 MPH average for the entire tour was cracked by Gastone Nencini. In 1981, Bernard Hinault brought home the overall title with 24.21 MPH average for the tour. The 1999 tour was won by Armstrong at 25.02 MPH, the first time the 25 MPH tour average was broken.
Some fun trivia to close out this blog entry.
•123,900 - calories burned by a rider in the course of the Tour
•324,000 at 60rpm, 486,000 at 90rpm - number of pedal strokes taken per rider over the Tour
•Three - average number of chains worn out by a single rider (Armstrong goes through one chain per week)
•792 - total number of tires used by the peloton
•Eleven - fewest ever finishers (1919, out of 69 starters)
•34 - most stages won by a single rider, career total (Eddy Merckx - 1969, six stages plus overall; 1970: eight stages plus overall; 1971: four stages plus overall; 1972: six stages plus overall; 1974: eight stages plus overall; 1975: two stages)
•Eight - most number of stages won on single Tour (Charles Pelissier, 1930 - Eddy Merckx, 1970 and 1974 - Freddy Maertens, 1976)
•Eight - most riders to wear yellow jersey in one Tour (1987)
•96 - most days spent in yellow jersey (Eddy Merckx in seven Tours)
•28 minutes 27 seconds - biggest winning margin (Fausto Coppi over Stan Ockers, 1952)
•Eight seconds - smallest winning margin (American Greg LeMond over Laurent Fignon in 1989)
•22 minutes 50 seconds - biggest winning margin on stage win (Jose Luis Viejo, 1976)
•34.27 MPH over 4 miles - fastest prologue (Chris Boardman, 1994)
•Seven - highest total number of "King of the Mountains" victories (Richard Virenque)
•33.89 MPH over 15.22 miles - fastest individual time trial (Greg LeMond, 1989)
•34.13 MPH kph over 41.63 miles - fastest team time trial (Gewiss, 1995)
•36 - age of oldest winner (Firmin Lambot, 1922)
•20 - age of youngest winner (Henri Cornet, 1904)
•16 - most times Tour finished by one rider (Joop Zoetemelk, 1970 and 1986)