Cycling is a means of transport, a form of recreation, and a sport. It involves riding bicycles, unicycles, tricycles and other human powered vehicles. A bicycle, the most notable instrument of cycling, is a pedal-driven land vehicle with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. As a sport, cycling is governed internationally by the Union Cycliste Internationale, headquartered in Switzerland.
Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number about one billion worldwide. They are the principal means of transportation in many parts of the world.
Cycling is widely regarded as a very effective and efficient mode of transportation optimal for short to moderate distances. Bicycles provide numerous benefits by comparison with motor vehicles, including the sustained physical exercise necessarily involved in cycling, that cycling involves a reduced consumption of fossil fuels, less air or noise pollution, much reduced traffic congestion, easier parking, greater maneuverability, and access to both roads and paths.
The 1903 Tour de France
was the first Tour de France
, a cycling race set up and sponsored by the newspaper L'Auto
, ancestor of the current daily, L'Équipe
. It ran from 1 to 19 July in six stages over 2,428 km (1,509 mi), and was won by Maurice Garin
The race was invented to boost the circulation of L'Auto, after its circulation started to plummet from competition with the long-standing Le Vélo. Originally scheduled to start in June, the race was postponed one month, and the prize money was increased, after a disappointing level of applications from competitors. The 1903 Tour de France was the first stage road race, and compared to modern Grand Tours, it had relatively few stages, but each was much longer than those raced today. The cyclists did not have to compete in all six stages, although this was necessary to qualify for the general classification.
The pre-race favourite, Maurice Garin, won the first stage, and retained the lead throughout. He also won the last two stages, and had a margin of almost three hours over the next cyclist. The circulation of L'Auto increased more than sixfold during and after the race, so the race was considered successful enough to be rerun in 1904, by which time Le Vélo had been forced out of business.
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Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx
(Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɛrks]
) (born 17 June 1945), better known as Eddy Merckx
, is a Belgian
former professional road
and track bicycle racer
. He was born in Meensel-Kiezegem
, Belgium to a couple who ran a grocery store. He grew up playing several sports, but found his true passion in cycling. Merckx got his first bicycle at the age of three or four and competed in his first race in 1961. His first victory came at Petit-Enghien
in October 1961.
After winning eighty races as an amateur racer, he turned professional on 29 April 1965 when he signed with Solo-Superia where his first major victory came in the Milan–San Remo a year later after switching to Peugeot-BP-Michelin. Following the 1967 season, Merckx moved to Faema where he won the Giro d'Italia, his first of eleven Grand Tour victories – a record that still stands today. Four times between 1970 to 1974, Merckx managed to complete a Grand Tour double. His final double also coincided with winning the men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships to make him the first rider to accomplish cycling's Triple Crown. Merckx broke the hour record in October 1972, extending the record by almost 800 meters.
He acquired the nickname "The Cannibal" after a teammate told his daughter of how Merckx wouldn't let anyone else win and the daughter referred to him as a cannibal. Merckx finished his eighteen-year career with 525 victories to his credit. He is one of only three riders to have won all five 'Monuments of Cycling' (i.e., Milan–San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and the Giro di Lombardia). The other two are fellow Belgians Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Looy. The only major one-day race he did not win was Paris–Tours; his best performance was sixth in 1973. Merckx was able to achieve success on the road and on the track, as well as in the large stage races and one-day races. He is widely thought to be the greatest and most successful rider in the history of cycling. However, Merckx was caught in three separate doping incidents during his career.
Since Merckx's retirement from the sport on 18 May 1978, he has remained active in the cycling world. He began his own bicycle chain, Eddy Merckx Cycles, in 1980 and its bicycles were used by several professional teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Merckx coached the Belgian national cycling team for eleven years, stopping in 1996. in 2001, he played a large role in getting the Tour of Qatar organized and geared to start up in 2002. He co-owns the tour and also the Tour of Oman, both of which he still organizes.
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