On This Day

Henri Desgrange

Cyclist and Founder of the Tour-de-France Henri Desgrange

Profession: Cyclist and Founder of the Tour-de-France


Biography: Desgrange is known not only for setting twelve world track cycling records but, perhaps more enduringly, for organising the first Tour de France in 1903.

Credit for the idea, however, must go to one of Desgrange's journalists, Géo Lefèvre, and Victor Goddet, the L'Auto financial manager whose support was critical in arranging the first event. Indeed, Desgrange himself seems to have doubted the idea until it was a certain success—even staying away by feigning an illness.

Meanwhile, on the track, Desgrange was a renowned bicycle racer in his own right. He was particularly suited to endurance racing and set the first recognised record for kilometres in an hour, when he rode 35km on the Buffalo velodrome in Paris. During this time he wrote a book of advice to younger riders, 'La tête et les jambes,' framed as a conversation.

Born: January 31, 1865
Birthplace: Paris, France
Star Sign: Aquarius

Died: August 16, 1940 (aged 75)

Historical Events

  • 1893-05-11 Henri Desgrange establishes world's 1st bicycle world record, travelling 35.325 km (21.95 miles) an hour
  • 1894-04-24 French cyclist Henri Desgrange rides 100km in a world record time of 2:39:18
  • 1902-11-20 Geo Lefevre and Henri Desgrange create Tour de France bicycle race

Famous Cyclists