Those of you who enjoy watching cycling on TV must have asked yourselves, at some point or another, how did cycling come to be the sport we know of today? And, for those of you who enjoy watching live sport on TV and are interested in watching more sports on TV, why don't you give cycling a go?
Cycling is one of the most exciting sport on TV today: featuring some of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events around, a rich historical background, and feats of athleticism that are truly impressive, it's hard to go wrong with cycling!
Cycling as a sport came into existence not long after the invention of the bicycle in the 19th century. Cycling became extremely popular some time later during the century, largely thanks to the affordability of bicycles. The first official race ever held was on the 31st of May in 1868, in Paris.
However, the improvement of the maintenance of roads and the introduction of day-long races, such as the Paris-Roubaix race, caused the sport to rise to immense popularity, which saw the migration of cycling from France to countries like Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
In 1896, cycling became recognised as an Olympic sport due to its inclusion in the first modern edition of the Olympic Games. Then, in 1903, the first of the Grand Tour was premiered: Tour de France. Not long after, came its sister, Giro d'Italia, in 1909.
The final race in the series, the Vuelta a España, was introduced quite later in 1935. Together, the Grand Tours are some of the most important, prestigious and exciting sporting events and bicycle races around, making them excellent choices to view as live sports on TV today!
Rules of the Sport
The rules of cycling differ according to the race and time period; in fact, the rules of the first ever cycling race banned participants from being pulled by horses or from attaching sails to their bicycles. We certainly have come a long way from such bizarre rules!
Nowadays, many of the rules of cycling keep in mind the safety of the cyclists and their varying capabilities. For example, it is obligatory for riders to wear the appropriate safety equipment during both competitions and training. Also, their bicycles must meet the safety standards of the competition.
Before cyclists are allowed to participate in competitions, they will be placed in divisions based on their performances in preliminary trials. It is imperative that the cyclists are familiar with the tracks before the races. The most popular types of races are the time trials and the road races.
Time trials involve individual cyclists attempting to complete the track in the fastest possible time. Road races, or mass start races, involve many cyclists racing against each other on the same track, attempting to reach the finish line before all the other cyclists. The Grand Tours are also forms of road races.
Tour de France
The Tour de France is without a doubt the most important of the Grand Tours. The Tour de France is generally held in July, and lasts for 23 days. During those days, there are 21 'stages', that is, road races or time trials, one per day and each lasting about an entire day.
Although the track changes every year, the format of the Tour de France remains roughly identical with every edition: the track always passes through the Pyrenees and the Alps, and always ends at the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The total distance covered during the stages amounts to a staggering 3,500 kilometres! Want to watch Tour de France? Well, you’re in luck because we have the latest schedule here.
Whilst not always considered as important as its sister event, this tour is pretty famous, with a healthy viewership worldwide. And whether you avidly watch Giro d’Italia or not, it cannot be negated that this is an extremely important event. It is generally held during the months of May and June, and has a similar format to the Tour de France, that is, it lasts for 23 days and has 21 stages.
The stages differ somewhat from the Tour de France, in that, the Giro d'Italia also features team time trials and mountain stages, due to the notorious steep climbs within the track. Like the Tour de France, the track for the Giro d'Italia changes every year, with the exception of a passage through the Alps.
Most Successful Cyclists
The first cyclist in this section is Eddy Merckx, also known as The Cannibal. Merckx is one of the most famous and successful cyclists of all time, managing to win the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia five times, the Vuelta a España once, and multiple World Championships.
Next is Fausto Coppi, who bore the nickname Il Campionissimo (Italian for 'the champion of champions'). Coppi is one of the most famous of the Italian cyclists, who managed to win the Giro d'Italia five times, the Tour de France twice, and the World Championship once.
Finally, we have Bernard Hinault, who is also called Le Patron (French for 'the boss') and Le Blaireau (French for 'the badger'). Hinault is a well-respected and successful cyclist, especially due to winning the Tour de France five times, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España twice.
Memorable Race Moments
There are many exciting moments to mention, but here's one particularly noteworthy moment in the history of cycling on TV: Andrew Talansky's performance in stage 11 of the 2014 Tour de France; Talansky was stiff all over after a crash at Nancy and was painfully struggling to finish the track.
He dismounted his bike in agony when he was only about 20 miles away from the finish line and sat down to think. After a talk with his team director, Talansky pushed through the pain and went on to finish the track that day, where he was met by much applause from the crowd!
It is impossible to make a choice between so many exciting sports today; however, cycling on tv deserves a place as one of the most thrilling, especially considering that the grand prizes for the Grand Tours range in the millions and the fact that so many cyclists are passionately dedicated athletes!