Why the Tour de France is so brutal

It’s all about the climbs.

The Tour de France is finishing its 106th edition this Sunday after three weeks and more than 3,400 kilometers of cycling. Since its founding in 1903, the Tour has become the most prestigious bike race in the world and one of the most impressive feats of endurance in sports. It owes a lot of this fame to a specific part of the race: the climbs.

Much of the strategy revolves around the mountain stages, where riders climb thousands of meters on steep roads in the French Pyrenees, the Vosges, and the Alps. That’s when the strongest riders make their moves, and it’s where the Tour’s best moments happen.

In fact, this year’s Tour is being called “The Highest in History” because of how much climbing there is. The route features 30 categorized climbs, including seven in the Tour’s most difficult category.

This episode of Vox Atlas explains how climbs made the Tour de France famous, why they are the most important part of the race, and what it takes to conquer them.

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