The 102nd edition of the Tour de France begins this Saturday in Utrecht, Netherlands and is set to be an exciting race.
With the Tour fast approaching, Guinness World Records takes a look back at 10 cycling records: From the most impressive sporting records held by professional cyclists, to the whacky challenges achieved by the determined and daring - and of course, going the distance in record-breaking time on cycling tours.
1. The largest attendance for a sporting event
It would only be right to kick off our top 10 with a Tour de France record:
Over the 3 week Tour de France race in 2012 an estimated 12,000,000 spectators attended. As a result, this event has the record for the largest attendance for a sporting event.
The 2012 Tour took place in three countries: Belgium, Switzerland and France from 30 June to 22 July with the riders coving a total distance of 3,496.9 km (2,173 m).
The organisers estimate that 80% of spectators were French and 70% of those watching were men.
2. Fastest time to cycle around Australia
Australia's Reid Anderton took to his bicycle in March 2013 and managed to cycle around the whole continent of Australia in a record-breaking 37 days.
In total, he cycled 14,178 km (8,809.78 m) – roughly four times the distance of the 2012 Tour de France.
3. First cyclist to win the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal in the same year
Bradley Wiggins (UK) capped a memorable summer for British cycling when he eased to victory in the men’s time trial at the London Olympic Games on 1 August 2012 – just 10 days after becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France.
Wiggin’s time trial win, in 50 min 39 sec, gave him a record seventh Olympic cycling medal (4 gold, one silver, 2 bronze) and he becomes the most decorated British Olympian of all time, eclipsing the medal haul of Sir Steve Redgrave.
4. The fastest 400 m hurdles on a bicycle
The fastest 400 m hurdles on a bicycle is 44.62 seconds and was achieved by Thomas Öhler (Austria) in Linz, Austria, on 26 August 2013.
To make his record attempt even tougher, Thomas decided to race against London 2012 Olympic gold medal winner for the men's 400 m hurdles, Félix Sánchez (USA/Dominican Republic).
Thomas ultimately prevailed in the race, with Sanchez clocking a time of 49.86 seconds, more than five seconds behind Thomas.
5. Fastest women’s 4-km team pursuit – track cycling
In December 2013, the Great Britain team – consisting of Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Danielle Kind and Joanna Rowsell – completed the 4 km team pursuit in a record-breaking 4 min 16.552 sec in the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Since Great Britain sped into forefront of women’s cycling in 2013, they have continued to dominate this event. When they achieved the record, they were breaking their own record for the 4th time.
6. Longest distance cycling backwards in 24 hours
Andrew Hellinga (Australia) holds the record for the longest distance cycling backwards since he travelled 337.60 km (209.77 m) at the Holden Performance Driving Centre, Norwell, Queensland, Australia, on 7-8 October 2013.
7. Oldest person to win one of the three major cycling tours (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana)
The oldest person to win one of the three major cycling tours (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España) is American Chris Horner.
He won the Vuelta a España at the age of 41 years 327 days in Madrid, Spain, on 15 September 2013 – he managed to stay ahead of his Italian rival, Vicenzo Nibali, in the final three stages, having gradually worn down his lead during the three week tour.
He overtook the previous record which has been intact since 1922, when Belgian rider Firmin Lambot won the Tour de France aged 36.
Not only this, he also holds the record title for the first North American winner of the Tour of Spain.
8. Deepest cycling underwater
The deepest cycling underwater is 66.5 m (218 ft 2.11 in) and was achieved by Vittorio Innocente (Italy) in Santa Margherita Ligure, Liguria, Italy, on 21 July 2008 – significantly beating his own previous record of 60 m (196 ft 10 in) which he attained in 2005.
9. Furthest distance cycling underwater
From 2003 to 2011 Vittorio also held the record for the furthest distance cycling underwater, but he has since been surpassed by serial record-breaker Ashrita Furman and Jens Stotzner (Germany), who now holds the record.
Jens cycled 6,708 m (22,007 ft 9.96 in) at Bibert Bad Zirndorf, Germany, on 8 September 2013.
He successfully completed 78 laps of a 86 m (282 ft 1.82 in) course, marked out at the bottom of a swimming pool.
10. The most riders to finish an edition of a Grand Tour (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana)
During the 2012 Tour of Spain, a record-breaking 175 riders finished the tour.
The tour was said to be easier than the previous editions because most of the stages were very similar – particularly the mountain stages, which meant there were fewer riders unable to finish.
The highest number of finishers in the Tour de France is 170 (in 2010), while the most in the Tour of Italy is 169 (in 2009).