A Tour de Force : The Picture Show After 97 years the Tour de France is still riding strong — only with a few less bears and a lot more gears.
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A Tour de Force

As the World Cup comes to a close many of us may find ourselves wondering where to turn next for vuvuzela-esque revelry. Enter the Tour de France.

In it's 97th year, the Tour boasts riders from all over the world who compete in 20 stages over three weeks. The competition is fierce and the stages are treacherous as riders try to navigate brutal cobblestone streets and oil slicked descents.

Much has changed since the race first began in the early 1900s. Riders used to climb the Pyrenées on steel framed single speed bicycles, not the ultra light multi-geared bikes of today. These pioneers of the race tackled the terrain, despite the threat of bears, and set a precedent that riders have been trying to live up to ever since. It may not be soccer, but there is still plenty of guts and glory, just please leave your vuvuzelas at home.

Check out more classic sport photos on the Nationaal Archief Flickr page.