“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” — Eddy Merckx, Winner of Four Tour de France Races (1969-1972)
The first leg of the inaugural Tour de France began 116 years ago today, featuring a mixture of sponsored professionals and avid cycling enthusiasts taking on six different courses averaging a monstrous 250 miles each. The demanding race wasn’t just for bragging rights — and while the original prize money of 20,000 francs is a mere fraction of what the winners receive today, it proved enticing enough for bikers from several nation across Europe. The historic 1903 race was technically won 32-year-old pro Maurice Gaurin, though he would later be stripped of his title along with several other riders for cheating and using automobiles to cut through the stages, starting an unfortunate trend of scandals that continue to plague the Tour de France more than a century later.