Tour de France: La Grande Boucle

Updated 1:45 PM ET, Tue July 18, 2017

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Story highlights

  • Tour de France involves 21 stages in 23 days
  • Nicknamed "The Big Loop"

(CNN)The Tour de France is one of sport's most physically demanding races.

The 104th edition of La Grande Boucle -- or "The Big Loop" -- as the Tour de France is otherwise known, has the riders tackle five different mountain ranges: the Vosges, the Jura, the Pyrénées, the Massif central and the Alps.
This year's edition sees the 198 riders tackle a grueling 23-day, 21-stage, 3,540-kilometer route that takes in 23 mountain climbs and affords competitors just two rest days.
Defending champion and three-time winner Chris Froome, who lost the yellow jersey mid-race for only the second time in his career Thursday, will be looking to wrestle the race lead back from Italy's Fabio Aru.
However, Friday's short but mountainous stage -- at 101km the shortest mountain stage in the Tour's history -- doesn't play to the Briton's strength as a specialist in long, arduous climbs.


    There have been four cyclists who have won the tour five times:
    - Jacques Anquetil of France (1957 and 1961-1964)
    - Eddy Merckx of Belgium (1969-1972 and 1974)
    - Bernard Hinault of France (1978-1979, 1981-1982, and 1985)
    - Miguel Indurain of Spain (1991-1995), the first competitor to win five consecutive races.
    Lance Armstrong held the record for most Tour de France wins (seven) but he was stripped of those wins in 2012.
    France has won more times than any other country. (36)
    Three Americans have won: Greg LeMond (1986, 1989, 1990), Lance Armstrong (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005) and Floyd Landis (2006). Both Armstrong and Landis have had their titles stripped due to allegations of doping.


      1903 - Henri Desgrange, a reporter and cyclist, creates the Tour de France.
      1903 - Maurice Garin of France is the first cyclist to win the race.
      1910 - First time the race goes through the Pyrenees.
      1989 - Greg Lemond defeats Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds, the smallest margin of victory so far.
      1999-2005 - Lance Armstrong wins seven times in a row.
      2003 - The 100th Anniversary, but not the 100th race (the race was canceled 11 times during WWI and WWII).
        September 20, 2007 - Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France, is stripped of his title when an arbitration panel rules in favor of the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency). Landis, the first Tour de France winner stripped of the title, initially maintained his innocence but later admitted to doping and accused others, including Armstrong, of doing the same.
        October 22, 2012 - The International Cycling Union announces that Armstrong is being stripped of his Tour de France titles and is being banned from professional cycling for life.
          October 26, 2012 - The International Cycling Union announces that no one will be declared the winner of the Tour de France from 1999-2005, after Armstrong is stripped of his titles.