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On July 1, 1902, bicyclists competed in the first Tour de France race. Today, the Tour de France remains the most prestigious cycling race in the world. 
 
The Tour de France is a stage race, meaning the race is divided into several parts. The first Tour de France was 2,428 kilometers (1,509 miles) divided into six stages. The 2013 Tour de France was 3,404 kilometers (2,115 miles) divided into 21 stages. 
 
Most of the race is cycled through the varied terrain of France, including rural villages, agricultural areas, and a grueling stage through the Alps. The course, which changes every year, has also crossed into neighboring nations, such as Andorra, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, and Monaco.
 
French cyclist Maurice Garin won the first Tour de France with an average speed of 25.7 kilometers per hour (16 miles per hour). The fastest Tour de France was raced by Spanish cyclist Oscar Pereiro in 2006, with an average speed of 40.8 kilometers per hour (25.4 miles per hour).
compete
Verb

to work against someone or something else for an award or acknowledgment.

course
Noun

path or route

grueling
Adjective

physically difficult.

Noun

political unit made of people who share a common territory.

prestigious
Adjective

having a good reputation.

rural
Adjective

having to do with country life, or areas with few residents.

terrain
Noun

topographic features of an area.

varied
Adjective

diverse.

Noun

small human settlement usually found in a rural setting.