Why is the Tour De France so hard?

It is hard to believe but The Tour de France isn’t half as hard as it used to be when it first began in 1903. Riders would ride all day and all night on bikes we wouldnt contemplate riding for 1 mile nowadyas! But, as you can imagine this faced major issues and so as time went on the Tour de France evolved making it what it is today and still proving to be the hardest bike race in the world. But what makes it so hard? What makes it different to any other race in the world?

The Racing Bicycle


Miles day after day

How good do you feel about yourself after you have ridden 100 miles? Let’s be honest with ourselves. How hard is it to ride 100 miles? For most of us reaching one 100 miles in one year can be the biggest achievement we have ever done. So when you think the TDf riders are clocking up over 110 miles a day with the shortest stage (excluding the TT stages) being 100 miles that pretty insane numbers.

Physical Strength

Let’s be honest, most TDF riders have barely got a big muscle to show for on their body. Their physical strength is very much hidden. These riders have trained and tuned their body to have as much strength per kilo as possible. So lean muscle is the key to a successful TDF rider. Whilst massive muscles like Jason Kenny may show this kind of muscle mass would be no good to a Grand tour rider like Chris Froome or Nibali as the sheer weight of the muscle would be impossible to carry up such long steep mountains like the galibier.

Best riders hand picked

First you have to get up the monstrous climbs and finish the epic km stages, then you have to add into the whole mix that you are having to race these people. These riders have been hand picked and selected from the very best riders in the world. Every rider in the tour has earned a place in this prestigious event. so add that into it all and it starts becoming even harder. We asthe spectator focus on the winners the challengers at the front of the race and the GC contenders but we should all take a look at the riders that are finishing the race. The pride to have finished a tdf is momentous achievement..


OK so these are not just any ordinary climbs. Most of us would go away on holiday to France to tackle Mont ventoux or L’Alpe d’Huez just the once. The whole holiday would be focused around ensuring you get up the mountain without stopping. Well put yourself in their cycling shoes. This year the TDF goes up Mont Ventoux Twice! Not to mention the other climbs that day they have to tackle, then the day after that and the day after that! It is a fact hard to grasp. But it is real, in order to compete and finish in the tdf this is the kind of effort your body has to endure.



Whilst you could argue the heat isn’t as hot as some races we have seen like the World road race champs in Dubai. Imagine racing in 30 plus degrees all day then having to go back out the very next day and race in it again. The amount of energy this takes out of a rider is significant, add in the effects of heat stroke,  that is a potential factor can be quite challenging. This requires the riders and the team around them to be very well managed, take on enough fluids and ensure you are replacing the salts daily.

Vincenzo Nibali felt the heat on stage 18, but didn’t feel any presure on the road. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Mental strength

The mental strength to keep going when your body and your legs are screaming at you to stop is a barrier only very few of have potentially experienced. There are so many aspects to the tdf that could break you mentally like, crashes, cramp, mechanical, illness, race tactics and fear of failure. all these aspects that need to be mastered to overcome.




Think you can take on the Tour de France? Find your own piece of Tour De France near you. Wheather it the hardest climb you can find or your favorite decent or most epic view. Take a video or picture or video and be part of #YourTour this year with #YourRide

Writer and expert