The Tour De France is coming up, and the eyes of the cycling world will be on France and the arduous 3,351-kilometer (2,082 mile) race that attracts the top cyclists from around the world. Here, now, are some questions you may not have known you even had about cycling’s most prestigious event.
Why Does The Winner Wear A Yellow Jersey?
Advertising. The newspaper that originally sponsored the race, L’Auto, was printed on yellow paper, so they granted the winner a yellow jersey as an extension of the color associated with the newspaper. Similarly, according to Bicycling, the winner of Italy’s premiere cycling competition, the Giro d’Italia, gets a pink jersey because the newspaper that created the event was printed on pink paper.
Why Aren’t Women Allowed To Compete?
Sexism, of course. Seriously: bicyclist Lindsay Kandra, writing a guest column in Taking The Lane, says that there just isn’t any money to be made in allowing women to compete, so Tour De France sponsors don’t want women competing. A separate women’s Tour De France has failed to gain any traction (pun intended), so don’t expect a competing women’s event to be the next big thing in cycling any time soon.
Lance Armstrong Aside, Why Aren’t There More Americans Competing?
Geography and sports culture. In Europe, bicycling has always been a legitimate means of getting around, whereas most American cities are so spread out that bicycling is an alternative means of transportation for a far smaller slice of the population. That means that, in Europe, a career in professional cycling can be appealing to a young athlete, whereas in America, it’s probably around 13th or 14th on the list of sports a young athlete might someday play professionally.
Furthermore, according to Bicycling, an American would be competing against Europeans for European sponsorship, putting them at a monetary disadvantage.
How Do Riders Pee During The Race?
Everybody does it, even professional athletes during competition. And unlike baseball, there’s no locker room to retire to for a quick leak. A Tour De France cyclist pees the same way everyone else does: pulls down his drawers and does it. Most competitors will pull off to the side of the road and find an obstacle for the sake of privacy, but that’s not always an option. Nor is it always an option to stop: it’s not unheard of for riders to just let loose while they’re riding (TV cameras don’t show you this, of course).
The 105th edition of the Tour de France begins on July 7.