The Tour de France is a three-week long race comprising 21 stages with a total distance of around 3,500km (2,188 miles). Racing for three weeks takes a heavy toll on the body, even for professional cyclists.
Hence, the need for rest days. The rest day is the day where there is no racing at the Tour de France.
Rest days at the 2023 Tour de France
In 2023, there will be two rest days. The first rest day is after Stage 9 on 10 July, and the second is after Stage 15 on 17 July. Both rest days are on a Monday.
Since 1999, there have been two rest days on Mondays in week two and week three. The rest days are preceded by a hard mountain stage on the prior day (Sunday) to allow the riders to rest and recover. In 2022, there are two rest days and a transfer day for the teams to transfer between Sønderborg, Denmark, and Dunkirk, France.
The rest days of the Tour de France started in 1934 with three days. The most number of rest days is 6 in 1936, 1937 and 1938. The last time the Tour de France didn’t have a rest day was in 1970. Since 1970, there have been either one or two rest days.
Fun fact : All three Grand Tours in 2022 will have two rest days and a transfer day as the race starts from outside the home country.
What do the riders do on a rest day?
Although the is no racing, the riders still go out for an easy, recovery ride. After the ride, the riders will get their daily massage, refuel and relax for the rest of the day. For those nursing an injury, it’s also a time to recover and visit a doctor if needed.
Depending on their fatigue levels, the recovery ride can be anywhere between one to two hours long under very low intensity. One of the main reasons to do the ride is for recovery and to keep the body going.
In recent years, the stages following the rest days are usually ridden at a harder pace, and riders who haven’t ridden on the rest day would usually struggle to keep up.
Rest days at Tour de France, 1933 to present
Tour de France Past Winners
Alex Lee is the founder and editor-at-large of Mr. Mamil. Coming from a professional engineering background, he breaks down technical cycling nuances into an easy-to-understand and digestible format here.
He has been riding road bikes actively for the past 12 years and started racing competitively in the senior category during the summer recently.