The first winner was Frenchman Maurice Garin (see winners list).
The race has been held annually since 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars (1915-1919; 1940-1947).
The Tour de France was won in 1990 by Greg LeMond, without winning any individual stages.
In 1968 the green jersey was changed to red to please a sponsor.
The record number of wins was seven by Lance Armstrong of the United States (1999-2005) - however after being found guilty of doping by the USADA in 2012, he has lost all of these titles.
Four riders have managed to win the Tour five times:
Jacques Anquetil of France (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964)
Eddy Merckx of Belgium (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974)
Bernard Hinault of France (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985)
Miguel Induráin of Spain (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995)
Miguel Induráin of Spain was the first to win five times in consecutive years.
The oldest Tour de France cyclist is Henri Paret, who was 50 years when he competed in 1904. The oldest winner was Firmin Lambot (Belgium) who was 36 years old in 1922
The youngest winner was Henri Cornet (France) in 1904 who was 20 years old at the time.
Eddy Merckx has worn the yellow jersey for 96 stages, more than any other rider in the history of the Tour de France.
In addition to those who have won the tour five or seven times, three other riders have managed to win the Tour three times:
Philippe Thys of Belgium (1913, 1914, and 1920)
Louison Bobet of France (1953, 1954, and 1955)
Greg LeMond of the USA (1986, 1989, and 1990).
Gino Bartali holds the record of longest time span between titles, having earned his first and last Tour victories 10 years apart (in 1938 and 1948 respectively).
The most career Yellow Jerseys is 111 by Eddy Merckx of Belgium. He also holds the record for the most career stage wins with 33.
The German rider Erik Zabel has won the most green jerseys with six consecutive wins from 1996 through 2001.
Two riders have won the "King of the Mountains" six times: Federico Bahamontes of Spain in 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964; and Lucien Van Impe of Belgium in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983; while Richard Virenque of France won his record-breaking seventh title in 2004 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004).
As of 2005, in terms of nationality, riders from France have won most Tours (36), followed by Belgium (18), United States (10), Italy (9), Spain (8), Luxembourg (4), Switzerland and the Netherlands (2 each) and Ireland, Denmark and Germany (1 each).
The Tour de France inspired the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, to write the song "Bicycle Race" in 1978.
The longest Tour was in 1926 with 5,745 km.
At least a few of times in the history of the race has the rider awarded the win been disqualified at a later date.
The first time was in 1904 when the leader was found to have caught a train for part of the event.
After the 2006 race the initial winner Floyd Landis of USA was disqualified for elevated testosterone levels found in a urine sample taken after one of his stage wins
in 2010 Alberto Contador was later stripped of his win following a lengthy investigation into his drug use during the event.
in 2012, Lance Armstrong was found guilty of doping by the USADA, and all of his titles were taken off him.