Tour de France Stage 1

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Written By David Girones

Engineer in love of Data and passionate about cycling, running and triathlon

The beginning of each year’s Tour de France is one of the biggest days for the sport of cycling. This year, Tour de France Stage 1 of 2022, the “Grand départ” will be outside of France, in the danish capital of Copenhagen.

The stage 1 of “Le Tour” will be a 13 km (8.1 miles) individual time trial in the streets of Copenhagen (Denmark).

However, as you will see in this post and the following ones that will be covering the different stages of Tour de France, the approach of Speedy Hedgehog to speak about the different stages is quite unusual and mostly based in data, facts and some anecdotes.

Facts and data of Tour de France Stage 1

Average Tour de France Stage 1 distance

To calculate the average distance of the Stage 1 of the Tour de France there is some extra information to be provided.

  • 39 times the Tour de France has started with a prologue
  • 38 of the 39 prologues have been an Individual time trial
  • 1 time (1971) the prologue was a Team Time Trial
  • 13 times stage 1 was divided in two splits 1a and 1b
  • 1 time (1971) stage 1 was divided in three splits 1a, 1b and 1c

The average distance in kilometers of the Stage 1, not calculating stages considered Prologue and grouping all the kilometers of split stages, has been 193.73 kms (120.3 miles)

Stage 1 Tour de France Average distance

Otherwise, if we consider also the prologues as stage 1 then the average distance of the stage 1 drops significantly to 148.44 km (92.2 miles)

Stage 1 Tour de France average distance considering prologues as stage 1

If we analyze the distance details of Stage 1 2022 edition of “Le Tour” we observe the amount of kilometers is much lower than average, only 13 km (8.1 miles). However if we compare the distance of 2022 stage 1 with the average of all first stages that were an Individual Time Trial (8.52 km) then we can consider 2022 stage 1 a longer than usual Stage 1 Time Trial.

Evolution of TdF Stage 1 kilometers

As we can see in the graph below the amount of kilometers has decreased enormously since the first editions of the Tour.

This evolution will be a constant across most stages (not only the first stage). The amount of kilometers has decreased significantly in Professional Cycling compared with the past.

Distance evolution of Stage 1 at the Tour de France
  • Longest 1st Stage: 467 km (290 miles). 1903 and 1904 edition
  • Shortest 1st Stage: 1 km (0.6 miles). 1988 edition

On the graph, the years with a prologue and stage 1, both stages have been added together. Also years with a stage 1 split.

Tour Stage 1 types of stage

The “Grand Départ” of the tour this year will be an Individual TT with start line and finish line in the city of Little Mermaid.

This type of stage is the second most usual type of stage to start the fight for the yellow jersey, however flat stages have been the most common during the 108 editions of the Tour.

TdF stages by type

TdF Stage 1 Locations

For the lovers of cycling probably you know which city is the one with more finish lines of the last stage of “Le Tour” due to the famous end in Paris (Champs-Élysées).

The host city of the first stage is more like a lottery, every year is a surprise and almost always a new location becomes the “Guest Star” of the year. However, during the history of Le Tour de France, some cities have been more than once the start line of the first stage.

  • Paris – 37 times
  • Brest – 4 times
  • Liege (Belgium) – 3 times
  • Brussels (Belgium) – 3 times
  • And 2 times the following cities: Nice, Luxembourg, Fleurance, Angers, Strasbourg, Rouen, Mulhouse, Lille, Futuroscope, Basel (Switzerland), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Nancy and Le puy du Fou.

Tour de France Stage 1 winners

Winning the first stage has less glamour than winning the last stage in “les Champs-Élysées” however the reward is much bigger. The winner is awarded by wearing the first “Maillot Jaune” of the year.

When I was analyzing the data, I was not sure if there were many cyclists with more than one victory in the Stage 1 of the Tour de France. However, surprisingly enough, 23 cyclist have won more than once the first stage of TdF.

A big shout out for three riders that have won the first stage five times:

  • Fabien Cancellara (Switzerland)
  • Bernard Hinault (France)
  • André Darrigade (France)

The list of riders with three victories in the first stage are:

  • Thierry Marie (FRA)
  • Rudi Altig (FRG)
  • Chris Boardman (GBR)
  • Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
  • Freddy Maertens (BEL)*
  • Jan Raas (Netherlands)*

The list with two victories is much longer and have historic names of cycling as five time Tour winner Miguel Indurain (Spain) or the famous italian sprinters Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi.

*They achieved victories only in two years with more than one victory in the different splits of stage 1.

Winners of Tour de France Stage 1

Stage 1 Tour de France anecdotes and important days

This section of the page will be a live document where I will be adding information that I gather through the time or that I receive in the comments.

Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash

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