Tour de France average speed: How fast are riders at the Tour?

How fast do professional riders do the lap around France?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The general trend at the Tour de France, since its start in 1903, is that the speed of the riders is going up.

This has happened due to multiple reasons. Mainly it is due to the quality of kit getting better and better every year as science and technology become more and more involved in the sport.

>>> Tour de France facts: stats from the world’s biggest bike race

Bikes and kit becoming as aerodynamic as it is possible to be along with new materials that are faster through the air than human skin itself have changed bike racing hugely in recent years.

On the other side of this, some of the average speeds in past Tours have potentially been due to leading riders having a little extra help than just aero kit and fast rolling tyres.

You won't be surprised to know that the fastest Tour de France on record belongs to a certain Lance Armstrong.

The American former rider had all seven of his Tour titles taken away from him after it was exposed that had doped during all his victories.

He completed the 2005 race with an amazing average speed of 41.7km/h, which is over one km/h faster than the modern day riders who ride with much faster kit.

>>> Tour de France bikes: Who’s riding what in 2020?

On the flip side, the slowest ever Tour was in 1919, after World War One. The race was won by Belgian Firmin Lambot with an average speed of 24.1km/h.

In the last 10 years the pace hasn't differed too much, staying around the 39 - 40km/h mark, but it does look to be steadily increasing as the technology and training means that riders can go faster than ever before.

The fastest ride in the last 10 years goes to Chris Froome's last overall victory in 2017.

The race only had three summit finishes and multiple flatter stages and a lot of long descents along with two time trials, which explains the higher than normal speed.

The last two editions of the race have both been around 200km shorter than the 2017 race.

Tour de France average speed (last 11 editions)

2009, Alberto Contador: 40.03km/h

2010, Andy Schleck: 39.59km/h

2011, Cadel Evans: 39.79km/h

2012, Bradley Wiggins: 39.93km/h

2013, Chris Froome: 40.68km/h

2014, Vincenzo Nibali: 40.68km/h

2015, Chris Froome: 39.64km/h

2016, Chris Froome: 39.63km/h

2017, Chris Froome: 41.00km/h

2018, Geraint Thomas: 40.23km/h

2019, Egan Bernal: 40.58km/h

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.