The Tour de France is the world’s greatest cycling competition and one of the most coveted championships for riders around. Starting in late June or early July, riders from all over the world compete for the title of champion throughout the course of three weeks of competition.
Nine British cyclists have topped the Tour de France general classification after completing a stage in one of the 103 Tours de France since the event was founded in 1903. This is why they are popular among cycling fans, and persistent gamblers, taking advantage of european casinos that accept UK players, confidently bet on their favorites.
Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark is currently the champion. He managed to hold off Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia, who was going for his third Yellow Jacket in a row, but he ended up two minutes and forty-three seconds behind the victor in the end. Vingegaard’s triumph made him only the second Dane in history to win the prestigious competition, and the first in 26 years.
The Main Britons in the Tour de France
The Tour de France, one of the three Grand Tours of professional road bicycle racing, is the most well-known road cycling competition in the world and takes place every year in July. Despite the fact that all riders compete together, the Tour winners are separated into classifications, each of which is distinguished by the coloured jersey worn by the leader of that classification. The general classification (GC), denoted by the yellow jersey (maillot jaune in French), is for the rider who has the lowest overall time. The points classification, also known as the sprinters’ classification (green jersey), the mountains classification (polka dot jersey), and the young rider classification (white jersey) are the other individual classifications in the Tour.
In 1962, Tom Simpson became the first rider from Britain to wear the yellow jersey when he was first among the riders on stage twelve from Pau to Saint-Gaudens. In the mountain time trial that followed, he lost the lead.
Thirty-two years later, Chris Boardman won the first prologue in Lille during the 1994 Tour. Up to the conclusion of the team time trial on stage three, he was wearing yellow for the next three stages. Sean Yates then grabbed the lead and held the yellow jersey for one stage on the sixth stage, which went from Cherbourg to Rennes. Following his victory in the prologue in Rouen in 1997, Boardman once more earned the yellow jersey. In the next stage, which ended in a group sprint but gave the winner a time bonus, he lost it. The following year, he returned to Dublin and won the prologue. Up until the second stage, when he lost the race, he held it. David Millar won the first individual time trial at Futuroscope in 2000, keeping yellow until the team time trial in stage four.
In 2012, Bradley Wiggins became the next cyclist from Britain to win the general classification after finishing second in stage seven’s summit finish at the La Planche des Belles Filles ski station, behind fellow countryman and colleague Chris Froome. To become the first Briton to win the event, Wiggins maintained the yellow jersey until the finish of the Tour. After finishing second overall, Froome improved the following year, winning the Tour after taking the lead early on and maintaining it after winning the mountain stage eight from Castres to Axe 3 Domaines.
Following his injury-forced retirement in 2014, Froome returned in 2015 and won the yellow jersey at the summit finish of stage three at Huy. However, he lost it the next day to German rider Tony Martin, who won the race alone. following Martin withdrew from the Tour following stage six, Froome reclaimed the yellow jersey.
Since Martin had already completed the seventh stage, no cyclist wore yellow for that one, hence Froome retained the colour after that and held it until the end of the race to win his second Tour. In addition, he won the mountains classification, making history as the first rider to do so since Eddy Merckx in 1970. Mark Cavendish became the fifth rider from Britain to wear yellow in 2016 as he won the group sprint on the opening stage at Utah Beach. After the next stage’s uphill sprint finish, he was stripped of the jersey. Froome took the lead in the race and maintained it until the finish of the Tour, winning his third title, thanks to his solo triumph during the descent into Bagnères-de-Luchon.
British cyclists have carved out a significant legacy in the Tour de France, particularly in recent years. This prestigious cycling race, which began in 1903, has seen an increasing presence and success of British riders, especially since the early 21st century.
- Early Years and Limited Success: Initially, British participation in the Tour de France was sparse and largely unsuccessful. It wasn’t until 1955 that the first British cyclist, Brian Robinson, completed the race. Robinson then went on to achieve Britain’s first stage win in 1958.
- Breaking Through in the 1960s: The 1960s saw further progress with Tom Simpson becoming the first British rider to wear the yellow jersey, which he did in 1962. Simpson’s career, unfortunately, was tragically cut short due to his death during the 1967 Tour.
- Quiet Period: Following Simpson’s era, British success in the Tour de France was limited for several decades. While there were individual stage wins and moments of promise, a British cyclist did not stand atop the podium for many years.
- The Rise of Team Sky and British Dominance: The game-changer came with the formation of Team Sky (now known as INEOS Grenadiers) in 2010. This British team, with a strong focus on the Tour de France, brought about a golden era for British cycling in the event. Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France in 2012. This victory was a breakthrough moment and signaled the start of a period of British dominance.
- Froome’s Reign: Chris Froome, riding for Team Sky, took the mantle from Wiggins, winning the Tour de France four times (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017). His success marked him as one of the most successful riders in the history of the Tour.
- Recent Success: The trend of British success continued with Geraint Thomas winning in 2018, further solidifying the UK’s position as a powerhouse in professional cycling.
- Impact and Legacy: The success of British cyclists in the Tour de France has had a substantial impact on the sport in the UK. It has increased the popularity of cycling, influenced the development of new talents, and led to significant investment in the sport.
Winners of the British Yellow Jersey
Although Britain has historically done well in the Tour, they have never had a rider finish first, win the Tour, and take home the Yellow Jersey. All of that came to an end in 2012 when Britain was admitted to the winners’ club of the Tour de France.
The individual responsible for the achievement was Bradley Wiggins, who became the first British winner of the overall championship. In addition, he became the first rider from Britain to win three stages of the race, making his accomplishment even more noteworthy in light of his recent injury recovery.
Geraint Thomas was the most recent British champion of the Tour de France, having triumphed in 2018 following an outstanding mountainous effort. As the first rider from the United Kingdom to win the race in four years, Thomas’ triumph was celebrated as a significant turning point for British cycling.
However, Chris Froome, one of the best cyclists in Tour de France history, is positioned between those two. Between 2013 and 2017, the British citizen of Kenya earned four Yellow Jerseys in five years. Vincenzo Nibali, an Italian, defeated him for the title the following year after he achieved his maiden victory in 2013.
But Froome was only encouraged by that loss. In 2015, 2016, and 2017, he would achieve a hat trick of triumphs, becoming the first rider to win three straight Yellow Jerseys since Miguel Indurain, a Spaniard, in the early 1990s. In 2018, he made a bid to make it four on the spin, but he ultimately finished third, losing out fellow countryman and Team Sky member Geraint Thomav for the victory.
Success in Other Areas
Several of the British champions have gone on to compete in the Olympics in addition to the Tour de France and UK cycling events. Boardman and Wiggins both took home gold in the individual pursuit, and in London in 2012, Wiggins also took home a gold medal in the team pursuit. Thomas has also competed in two Olympics, placing fourth in the London 2012 solo pursuit and fifth in the Rio 2016 Madison.
Overall, there has been a long and prosperous history of British cyclists competing in the Tour de France, with five winners and two runner-ups. It appears that British cycling is here to stay based on this incredible record and noteworthy Olympic accomplishments.
In summary, the history of British cyclists in the Tour de France has evolved from humble beginnings to a period of remarkable success, particularly in the 21st century. This success has not only transformed the UK’s standing in professional cycling but has also inspired a new generation of cyclists and enthusiasts in the country.