First Tour memories

We invited fans to share their first memories of the Tour de France. Here are their responses.

Words by Edward Pickering

Thursday June 21, 2012

In a piece I wrote yesterday, I shared my first memory of seeing the Tour de France, back in 1985.

I was 12 years old, and I happened upon the Channel Four coverage of the race. All I really remember is that two Colombian riders were riding up a long hill, then winning a stage, and the commentators seemed to find this unusual enough to get very excited about it. The spectacle intrigued me enough to follow the rest of that 1985 Tour. It was the beginning of a love for the race that has endured ever since.

Then I invited Cycle Sport’s Twitter followers to share their own first experience of the Tour, with the hashtag #FirstTourMemory. We got so many that we felt it was worth putting them together in a blog, as a way of documenting a fans’ history of the race, a tapestry of memories.

Some readers’ first Tour memories go as far back as the 1960s and 1970s. Others started watching in the last couple of years. There’s no hierarchy here – the Tour needs to be accessible to each new generation of fans, and the new fans of today may well be getting excited about the 2032 race while realising its 20 years since their first Tour.

Here’s your collection of first Tour memories. We’ve listed them in chronological order. Email us your own at, or Tweet us @cyclesportmag, and we’ll add yours to the list.



steve wiltshire ‏@stevewilts
I guess my #1stTourMemory is, aged 11, hearing of Tommy Simpson’s death. a month later i rode the Tourmalet, Aubisque & Soulor


Ruud Wouters ‏@ruud2u
As a child, Eddy Merckx defeated by Poulidor in the Alpes. Black and white tv with my dad and grandad.

TelWhen12 ‏@TerryWhenman
Listening to RTL on the radio in the early 70s

Richard Clayton ‏@DrRickClayton
I 1st read about Le Tour in 1976. The photos were in the mountains & the riders faces told so many stories.

Ian ‏@JackHughex
76 and van impe. Cycling holiday in Normandy. Didn’t see live, but saw it on TV in bars for 1st time. #1sttourmemory

Kristian Stentoft ‏@KStentoft
Lucien Van Impe going solo up Alpe D’Huez in 1977 only to be beaten by Kuiper #1stTourMemory. #tdf

Magic Spanner ‏@magic_spanner
Hinault winning on Champs whilst in yellow #neverhappenagain


Brendan Casey ‏@scarface_9toes
1981 or 1982 on the World Of Sport. I thought “I could do that! ” I can’t but I’ve been cycling ever since. #1stTourMemory

Kenny Pryde ‏@KenBobPryde
Dickie Davies, ITV World of Sport Saturday morning, 15 minute clip of the race that week or Millar, 1983, Luchon, STV news.

Alain Rumpf ‏@alainrumpf
Jean-René Godart on Europe 1 radio moto reporting on ’83 Tour won by Fignon. Made me buy my 1st road bike #1stTourMemories

Mark Norris ‏@Nozzer64
world of sport showing about 3 mins of coverage

Dave Walsh ‏@davewalshphoto
#1stTourMemory – loosely flowing 1985 tour, Kelly took 4th AND points. Looking bk, what an achievement!

Tim Brink ‏@timbrink
Hinault getting back on the bike in St Etienne in 85 after Anderson helped remove his RayBans in the sprint #1stTourMemories

Neil Hutchins ‏@NeilHutchins
#1stTourMemory 1985. Hinault. Blood on face. St Etienne.

DAVE NICHOLLS ‏@DaveNicholls25
Phil Anderson in 85 TDF with his Oakley pilots,the great Panasonic kit & green BP cap over his hairnet helmet #1stTourMemory

Lea Valley CC ‏@LeaValleyCC
#1stTourMemory La Vie Clare kit

Lea Valley CC ‏@LeaValleyCC
not sure who the riders were but the scenery + sun were stunning ~ thanks C4 for igniting a lifelong passion #1stTourMemory

Hermit ‏@CycleHermit
#1stTourMemory The weekly 1-hour Sunday CBS Specials on the Tour de France. That’s all we Americans got in the 80’s.

Hermit ‏@CycleHermit
#1stTourMemory Seeing Greg LeMond disappointed & pissed about Hinault’s betrayal in ’86:

Hermit ‏@CycleHermit
#1stTourMemory John Tesh’s kickass (seriously!) theme music for the Sunday CBS #TdF specials:

Chad Carney ‏@ccarney75
1986 Greg Lemonds 1st Victory watched it on Wide World of Sports! #1stTourMemory

Don Bartholomew ‏@donbart
Calling the TDF Hotline phone number for daily tour updates, and watching Greg LeMond battle teammate Hinault in the Alps #1stTourMemory

Mark Phillips ‏@phips73
#1stTourMemory C4 theme; LeMond & Hinault crossing the line together up Alpe d’Huez; Billy Ocean’s “Going gets tough” #1986

The World of Cycling @twocgame
first memory of the Tour in 1986, Alex Stieda becoming the first North American rider to take yellow

Scott Stewart ‏@ImnotSkip
@alexstieda in yellow for 7-11. #1stTourmemory

Ian Dayman ‏@IanDayman
Richard Keys spending July ’86 sitting in what appeared to be the window display of a London bike shop #1stTourMemories

Brian McKay ‏@BrianMcKay
Being 8 and hearing Greg Le Mond’s name for the first time. Hanging up a poster in my room. And becoming a life long fan.

jeff connor ‏@jeffconnor12
#1stTourMemory Le Champ du Feu and La Plagne – both ’87.

David Dryden ‏@JD1866
first memory of #tdf was commentators screaming as stephen Roche won and not really getting what a huge achievement it was

Philip Robins ‏@Phil2Cannes
riders sticking newspapers under their jerseys at the top of a mountain in ’87 #1stTourMemory

Phil Grummitt ‏@philgrum
#1stTourMemory Roche & Liggett on La Plagne ’87 & the red Coca-Cola water bottles they all used. Wanted one of those.

Claire Read ‏@readthewriter
1987. Stephen Roche being given oxygen at top of La Plagne. What a crazy sport, I thought. 25 years later I’m still hooked. #1stTourMemory

Mark Sullivan ‏@sullieship
#1stTourMemory Roche on La Plagne

Gerry O’Rourke ‏@gerryorourke
Again Roche / Liggett at La Plagne. Don’t know if I remember the commentary more than the cycling. #1stTourMemories

OldBelgian ‏@OldBelgian
Roche winning (and battle with Delgado) and the C4 theme music, still listen to it and enjoy

BigTex GoingtoJail ‏@Digger_forum
Roche la plagne. Being told he was carted off to hospital thinking it was all over.

The Dark Passenger ‏@dirtyleeds1969
#1stTourMemory my mates going to see Roche win in Paris and bringing me a Roland Skala shirt back

Jef ‏@jef722
#1stTourMemory got to be the channel 4 music

Paul Kelly ‏@minime006
#1stTourMemory The Channel 4 theme & thinking sounds good for a travel show, think I’ll watch it! Hooked right away. ‏@Sportenkortdk
This: I was at the Tourmalet that day. #1stTourMemory

Performance Bicycle ‏@performance_inc
Definitely LeMond beating Fignon on the final day in 1989

Chris Walker ‏@ploughclose
Greg Lemond beating Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds!!!

David Halliwell ‏@dahalliwell
#1stTourMemory ‘C’est perdu!’ – French TV commentator 7 secs before Fignon crossed the line

Wayne Barber ‏@wmbbarber
#1stTourMemory watching the final TT of’89 tour in my nans kitchen, watching @GregLemond win by 8seconds, hooked ever since, thanks greg