1903: The inaugural race. It covered six stages, letting riders enter, sometimes win, individual stages without being included in overall standings.
1904: Cheating by riders and rioting by fans almost killed the Tour.
1905: Organizers added more stages, scoring was based on points, and night riding was discontinued.
1906: The first true mountain stages were added, and the race route left France briefly for the first time, passing through a piece of Germany.
1915-18: Because of World War I, the race was suspended.
1920: Philippe Thys became the first three-time winner.
1926: The longest Tour, 3,569.9 miles. There were no French stage winners. It has happened once since in 1999.
1928: Leader Nicolas Frantz's bike broke with 62 miles left. He found a bike shop whose owner gave him a very small woman's bicycle. He still won the race.
1940-46: Because of World War II, the race was suspended.
1964: Jacques Anquetil becomes the first five-time winner and first to win four in a row.
1991-95: Miguel Indurain wins five in a row. Later, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault also become five-time winners.
_ Source: homepage.ntlworld.com/ veloarchive/races/tour
AERO BARS: Special handlebars that allow a cyclist to ride in an aerodynamic tuck, like a skier.
ATTACK: A burst by one rider or team away from the others.
CHAMPS-ELYSEES: The Paris boulevard on which the Tour ends. Racers do three circuits of about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) each. Speeds can reach 40 mph as they try to win this prestigious stage.
DOMESTIQUES: Cyclists who support their team's leader by chasing down breakaways, pulling the leader back up to the pack if he has fallen behind, providing a wheel or bike if he has mechanical problems and so on.
DRAFTING: Saving energy by tucking in closely behind another rider who blocks the headwind.
FEED ZONE: A point in a stage where team personnel can hand water bottles and food _ often little pastries or finger sandwiches _ to riders.
GREEN JERSEY: Won by the leader of the sprint points race. Points are earned at specific spots midway in certain stages and at the end of select stages.
INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL: A race against the clock in which riders start at set intervals and cannot give or receive a draft. Aerodynamic equipment, not allowed in mass-start stages, is used.
LEADOUT: A tactic in which a rider accelerates to maximum speed to benefit a teammate in tow. The second rider leaves the draft and sprints past at greater speed to win the stage or race.
PACELINE: A group formation in which each rider takes a turn at the front before dropping to the rear position and riding in the others' draft.
PELOTON: The main group of riders.
POLKA-DOT JERSEY: Won by the best climber. The points system is similar to the green jersey's. The winner is called King of the Mountain.
PROLOGUE: A 4.97-mile time trial that begins the race. Mainly a showcase run and a way to get the yellow jersey.
PUBLICITY CARAVAN: The procession of vehicles that traces the day's route before the pack. Each tour sponsor has at least one vehicle from which bags, newspapers, stickers, candy and the like are tossed.
PULL, PULL THROUGH: Take a turn at the front.
SAG WAGON: A vehicle following a team, carrying equipment and lending assistance in the event of difficulty.
SLINGSHOT: To move out of the draft and sprint past one or more riders.
SLIPSTREAM: The pocket of calmer air behind a rider in which another drafts.
STAGE RACE: A multi-day event of point-to-point and circuit road races and time trials. The winner has the lowest elapsed time for all stages.
SWITCHBACK: A turn of 90 degrees or more.
TEAM TIME TRIAL: A team, riding in a paceline, racing against the clock over a set distance. The time of the fifth rider for a team is used. Teams with depth, like Armstrong's, are favored here.
THROWING THE BIKE: A technique in which a rider thrusts the bike ahead of his body at the finish, gaining inches in hopes of winning a close stage.
WHITE JERSEY: Won by the best rider age 25 and under.
YELLOW JERSEY: The race leader's jersey, introduced in 1919. The accepted explanation is that race founder Henri Desgrange published L'Auto, a newspaper printed on yellow paper. L'Auto now is L'Equipe, the daily sports newspaper, and the yellow color is shared by the jersey's official sponsor, French bank Credit Lyonnais.
_ Sources: tourdefrancenews.com, uspsprocycling.com, and letour.fr