The Tour de France is a mythical, monumental event. It’s much more than a cycling race: it’s a legend, an odyssey. Okay, a bit over the top, but us real fans are quite enthusiastic about it and we can’t get enough of the endless source of inspiration that La Grande Boucle provides. Rapha is to cycling what Patek Philippe is to watches, and once again the chicest brand with dropped handlebars has released a new product that has us drooling: Cartes du Tour. This beautiful book printed on hefty paper delves into the rich history of Tour de France route maps.

History lesson

Every Tour de France has its official maps published by the organisation, their style closely guarded by the house style police so that they always look the same, wherever they appear. In the past, newspapers and magazines often opted to give their own graphic designers and illustrators a freer rein to invoke that year’s event. The official maps and these freer interpretations form the backbone of the book which is billed as “A cartographic history of the world’s greatest cycle race”.

Collectors’ archives

The book includes all the official maps from the Tour, including the inaugural race in 1903, plus a number of maps from the private collection of Guy Andrews (cycling journalist, founder and editorial director of Rouleur) and other collectors.

Le Podcast

The book’s author, Paul Fournel, is a renowned cycling specialist and prize-winning author of Anquetil Alone. There is a link below to The Cycling Podcast which includes an interview with him about this unique record of the greatest bike race on earth. The episode with the Fournel interview is “Kilometre 0” from 12 July 2018.

Special edition

For those who like a particularly special edition, there’s the yellow one, which carries the cool price tag of £150. You can buy it here.

Photos: Road cc/Rapha