A Million Things We Have Learned about the Tour de France

The Organisation 

Number of towns hosting a start or finish for the first time 10

Percentage of those towns’ inhabitants planning on decamping to Corsica to avoid the whole damn thing 14% 

Number of journalists and photographers covering Le Tour 2,000

Number of those who will be in Michelle Froome’s bad books by the first rest day 1998

Proportion of French tractors that will, at some point in the next three weeks, be used to form part of a bicycle wheel spinning in a wheat field 48%

The Roadside

Number of people attending with children 3.8 million 

Number of those children, who would rather be at Eurodisney 87%

Spectators from countries other than France 2.4 million 

Percentage of those who are Brits hoping no-one thinks they voted for Brexit 14% 

Number of those who will watch wearing full Team Sky kit anyway 438


Volume of white paint impulsively purchased from branches of Bricomarche on the way down to the Alps 14000 litres 

Amount which will be used to misspell riders’ names 478 litres

Amount that will turn out to be French Ronseal 54 litres 

Number of fans who attend the Tour as a group of five or more 11.1 million

Number of those who are 20-something Belgians who will miss the peloton passing due to being passed out in their camper-van, by peaking before the breakaway even arrives 361 

Bits of tat flung out by the publicity caravan 18 million 

Number of children that will still somehow manage to miss out on a bag of Haribo, even though it was tossed straight to them and how long did we spend teaching you how to cup and catch, Alastair? 2836

The Armchair Fans

Hours of TV coverage over the three weeks 110 

Number of warning emails you will receive from the boss if you try to sneakwatch even a tenth of those 3 (and a verbal ticking off)

Number of times Sean Kelly will refer to the race as “the Tour of France” 84 

Number of riders’ names you’ll finally learn how to say properly, thanks to Eurosport commentator, and pronunciation policeman, Rob Hatch 43 

Number of times David Millar will predict a team could be “about to blow the race to pieces” 48

Number of times the word “echelons” will be used by commentators in the first week (and more in hope than description) 19 

Passage due Tour – Issue 17.4 Cover Print

The Race

Number of facial expressions worn by Nairo Quintana on the bike 1

Amount of time Chris Froome will spend staring at his stem 4354 minutes

Number of times Valverde will dive across the road as if to attack before just as quickly aborting and returning to the bunch with a wry “lol made u look” 7 

Number of attempts by Wanty-Groupe Gobert riders to get into the break in the first week 47 

Number of successful attempts by Wanty–Groupe Gobert to get into the break in the first week 1 

Number of riders who will say “The Tour is the Tour” to a journalist 198

Number of riders who will say “It was full gas” (“il etait plein gaz”) at some point over the three weeks 198

*some of which may be more authoritatively sourced than others

Rouleur 17.4, the Tour de France issue, is available now 

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