The Tour de France is the pinnacle of men's bike racing, so every edition has a guaranteed turnout of the best riders in the world. And so, as you might expect, they ride pretty fast.
Strictly speaking the Tour is no faster than other professional bike races, with factors like the route, the weather, and, honestly, just how bothered the riders are, affecting the race speed.
One-day races are often faster than entire stage races or even individual stages, with a race like Paris-Tours notorious for its average speed when the win gets behind the riders. But all three Grand Tours are still ridden at a ferocious pace and can change rapidly depending on conditions and fatigue. In fact, the fastest speed officially recorded over 200km came late in the 2019 Vuelta a España on stage 17, when the winner that day, Philippe Gilbert, averaged a blistering 50.63kph.
But just how fast is the Tour de France? And what could we expect the speed to be in the 2022 edition?
What is the average speed of the Tour de France?
While distances have been reduced over the years, the average speed of the riders taking part has increased dramatically.
A whole raft of improvements to equipment and apparel, alongside a host of scientific advancements in training and nutrition, have allowed professional cyclists to go faster than ever before.
The winner of the inaugural Tour de France Maurice Garin averaged 25.7kph, but this was not the slowest Tour de France ever. The 1919 edition, the first to follow the First World War, took that dubious honour, with the winner averaging just 24kph.
In the modern era, winning riders usually average around 40kph. In 2021, Tadej Pogačar averaged 41.2kph on his way to victory and became the second fastest winner ever in the process. The fastest was in 2005, although this statistic is technically void as the UCI declared the races from the Armstrong era to be without winners.
The slight changes in speed in recent years may reflect the type of route rather than the winning rider’s ability. In 2020 for example, the route featured four summit finishes, with three in 2021. With five planned for the 2022 Tour route, we could expect a slightly lower average speed for whoever becomes the eventual victor.
Tour de France average speed over previous 10 years
- Tour de France 2021: Tadej Pogačar – 41.2 kph
- Tour de France 2020: Tadej Pogačar - 39.9 kph
- Tour de France 2019: Egan Bernal - 40.6 kph
- Tour de France 2018: Geraint Thomas - 40.2 kph
- Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome - 41 kph
- Tour de France 2016: Chris Froome - 39.6 kph
- Tour de France 2015: Chris Froome - 39.6 kph
- Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali - 40.6 kph
- Tour de France 2013: Chris Froome - 40.5 kph
- Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins - 39.8 kph
- Tour de France 2011: Cadel Evans - 39.8 kph