On This Day: July 19th

On July 19th 1903 Maurice Garin won the first ever Tour de France. Maurice Garin the pre-race favourite won the first stage, and retained the lead throughout. He also won the last two stages, and had a margin of almost three hours over the next cyclist. Maurice Garin actually also won the 1904 Tour de France before being stripped of his title for cheating.

The 1903 Tour de France was the first cycling race set up and sponsored by the newspaper L’Auto, ancestor of the current daily, L’Equipe. The race was invented to boost the circulation of L’Auto, after its circulation started to plummet from competition with the long-standing Le Velo. The circulation of L’Auto increased more than sixfold during and after the race, so the race was considered successful enough to be rerun in 1904, by which time Le Velo had been forced out of business. 

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