Academic Tour de France

By Sam Newton

With just under a month remaining until the Tour de France proudly rattles through Yorkshire, academics from the University of Sheffield have created an innovative website designed to offer a fresh perspective on the world’s most prestigious cycling event.

This will be the first time the Tour has come to Yorkshire and the University of Sheffield are eager to celebrate it. Their new interactive website – Deconstructing the Tour – gives an academic viewpoint of the Tour de France. It drawing on the event’s diverse history and evolution through video clips, sound files and blog posts.

Perhaps owing his career to the Tour, the first set of videos on the site comes from Emeritus Professor of French David Walker. A cycling enthusiast from a young age, Walker became interested in the Tour and began learning the vocabulary of the event, alongside taking a serious interest in France’s language and culture.

Noting the importance of the event in France, Professor Walker said “The Tour de France is significant as a cultural event in France and dates back before the invention of modern bikes. “ Walker continues, “It can initially be traced back to young apprentice artisans travelling around France to work with skilled masters in their field to learn their craft. This was a process known as the ‘Tour De France”.

Running between Saturday 5 July and Sunday 27 July 2014, the 101st Tour de France will cover 3,656 kilometres split into 21 stages, with the 2nd stage culminating at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena on July 6th after a 201 kilometre flat race from York.

The Deconstructing the Tour website will be regularly updated with new content between now and the start of the race, and can be found at