By 1927, Henri Desgrange, the tour director of the Tour de France, was growing tired of the race format, which at that point, had become excessively flat and drawn-out. In an attempt to refresh the event and create more of a spectator sport, Desgrange decided to introduce a staggered start. Similar to a teams time trial, the start consisted of teams starting together in intervals. The result was a race in which the riders couldn’t see their rivals, so had to constantly work hard to get ahead and ensure a place near the front.
The riders were working so hard however, that some had to drop back because of exhaustion. Amidst this battle of exhaustion, were Francis Pélissier and Ferdinand Le Drogo, strong riders beaten by a brutal course. Hector Martin, now in the lead, the whole race changed, and with Nicholas Frantz – the two-time runner up – following closely behind, the race started to toughen up.
By the final stage, only 39 of the 142 starters ended up in Paris, with many declaring the race near-impossible. Nicholas Frantz took the General Classification title and the tough ‘slogger’ of an event was put to rest.
The race also started in the Alps rather than Paris. After this new experimentation, it was decided that the format would revert back to the previous set-up and that the changes didn’t have a positive effect on the race experience.