Tour de France 2022: why is the Grande Boucle so popular?

Every year, during the Tour, the roads are occupied by millions of fans or intrigued people. (© ASO / Charly Lopez)

I hate it Tour de France. Well, that’s what I think. Watching men ride bikes for hours and hours, not really understanding the meaning of broadcasting it on television. In the summer, the Tour de France rhymed more with a nap than with emotions and feats.

And then one day I understood why people loved the Big Loop. A touch of masculinity, history, a bespoke event for television and a splash race nostalgia. This is the recipe for the Tour, and has been a hit since 1903.

Although the departure took place this Friday, July 1, from Denmark, notí back to the reasons for this enthusiasm.

42.4 million French people watching television

In 2021, according to France Télévisions, there are no less 42.4 million viewers who attended at least one minute of the Tour de France. In comparison, in 2020 they were 39.6 million.

A good increase, proof of a falling in love safe for the ordeal that lasts three weeks. ” The Tour was created to be publicized for the newspaper Car [ce média n’existe plus aujourd’hui, ndlr.] “, he remembers notí David Guenel, a great observer of cycling and a history buff. On his Twitter account, he shares his two passions with 32,000 subscribers.

It is a soap opera for three weeks. There are twists, misfortunes, and so on. This is the first stage race in history, it has always been very popular. Cycling isn’t as popular as it was 50 years ago, but the Tour’s popularity rating hasn’t changed much.

David Guenel

“We feel a craze as the Tour approaches, it is social“, confirms Guillaume, member of the Group, a cycling news Twitter account and which has a podcast dedicated to two-wheeled vehicles. “There are three or four times as many spectators as the Critérium du Dauphiné”, which was held a few weeks earlier.

The French love their champions

If before Raymond Poulidor On Bernard Hinault raised the public in its wake in the 70s and 80s, since then, “France has eaten its black bread in terms of sports results in the Grande Boucle,” continues David Guénel.

Between 2000 and 2010, French cyclists did not celebrate it. But since 2010“It’s renewal, there is a form of masculinity: there are results, so people are interested in it again “remarks David Guénel.

Guillaume, from Gruppetto, also believes that “spectators have moved far away from cycling with the stories of doping. But since there have been no new cases for years, the citizenry is back. »

A star effect

Even without being a fan of cycling, everyone has already seen these images of Marc Madiot, sports director of the Groupama-FDJ team, cheering on his rider. Thibaut Pinot on the neck of the Tourmalet.

“Today you are tall, you are very tall,” he shouted when Thibaut Pinot achieved an anthology victory on July 20, 2019. Those moments helped land the runner, now known to the general public.

In 2019 there is a turning point: Julian Alahpilippe spends 14 days in the yellow shirt, Thibaut Pinot gave the impression of being able to win, and then he gets injured. People identified with him.

GuillaumeMember of the Group

The two riders thus created more excitement for the bike. Julian Alaphilippe’s two world titles have also contributed greatly to (re) popularizing the race. “There are more young people than before,” says Guillaume.

The proof is: in 2021 there were 23% additional coverage for young people aged 15 to 24according to France Televisions.

The five French runners who will follow this summer

As for the Gruppetto, here are the five tricolor drivers to follow for this 109th edition.
– David Gaudu: “The best Frenchman in the general classification”.
– Romain Bardet: “If he can play with the best, maybe he can make the overall. Otherwise, he will bet on the stage victories.”
– Warren Barguil: “You can play with the polka dot shirt [de meilleur grimpeur, ndlr.]”
– Thibaut Pinot: “To do with his back pain, he may be the guardian angel of David Gaudu on the mountain.”
– Guillaume Martin: “He was the first Frenchman in 2021.”

The Tour innovates

An element that can also explain the popular enthusiasm around the Tour: innovation. “Christian Prudhomme [directeur du Tour, ndlr.] he is always on the lookout for new things. This involves, for example, a shortened stage with a “Formula 1” type start.

In the old days, there were only the Alps and the Pyrenees, “Now there are intermediate massifs.” “He wants to break the codes,” says Guillaume.

In 2022, there won’t be too many sprint stages. Because the stages are broadcast in their entirety, there should not always be the same [pour le public].

GuillaumeMember of the Group

Not just sports

If Dantesque mountain events appeal to fans, we also admit, it’s not just sport which makes the Tour de France a popular event.

“A significant percentage of spectators look at the landscape, more than the race ”, says David Guénel. “That’s why the France Télévisions group has also appointed a specialist in history”, in the presence of Franck Ferrand.

We must not forget that the Tour de France is protected by law. “Must be broadcast in clear”confirms Guillaume.

If it was broadcast on a pay channel, “55-60 year olds would not subscribe to see landscapes and see historical monuments,” he continues. Free access, both on TV and on site, which makes the Tour a popular event and open to everyone.

He caravan it is an additional attraction for the public that is concentrated along the roads. 12 million people go there every year.

The Tour’s 10-kilometer-long advertising caravan also attracts spectators who aren’t necessarily passionate about cycling. It’s a full-fledged free racing show where people try to grab flying candy.

Nostalgia when you hug us

This is especially the case for younger people. When the Tour de France arrives, best regards go up. “The Tour is good memories, it’s summer with grandparents, it brings back memories of childhood,” says David Guénel.

It is true that during the summer period, the Tour is a classic, especially when it is very hot. We sit on the couch, turn on the TV, and let the magic of the bike work (or take a nap).

But in any case, when we hear, even on television, “the noises of bicycles, helicopters and commentators,” we know, it’s the Tour that’s there. And, even if we don’t like it, we’ll take a good look at the monuments or feats for a minute.

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