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TDF Speed trends 1947 - 2019

TDF Speed trends 1947 - 2019

It’s been a couple of years since I posted about average speed of the winner at the Tour de France. The last blog item followed the 2017 tour:


The main conclusion? If you like to look at the speed trends, read on.

TL;DR version:
Speeds were pretty much on trend.
It was the sixth shortest tour since WWII and the sixth fastest.

Here are the charts.

Let’s start with the overall race distance and speed trend chart:

We can see the overall general trend for the race distance getting shorter while the general trend for speeds is increasing. Of course the 2019 Tour was shorter by a little more than expected due to the adverse weather events impacting stages 19 and 20.

Isolating averages speeds for those interested in the data and showing the average stage distances since there have been a variable number of stages over the course of the Tour’s history:

2019 was won with the 6th fastest average speed since 1947. Average stage distance was right in line with the long term trend and this was the 6th shortest tour by total distance and by average stage distance. The shortest was the 2002 Tour (3,272km).

It is fair to say that the general trend of average winning speed increases seems to have plateaued in the last decade.

Now looking at the data another way (thanks to Robert Chung for the idea) by plotting the TdF average speed v distance. In these plots I colour code each decade so you can get a sense of the progression, as well as the variability with both speeds and distances over the Tour’s history. The Tours during the 1980s in particular were all over the place.

Similar chart below, except this time it is average speed v average stage distance.

And finally, the residuals chart comparing the average speed with the expected trend. Dots above the zero line indicate the average speed was quicker than the trend, and dots below the line indicate the average speed was lower than the trend.

2019? A fraction faster than trend, but not by much (+0.36km/h).

As with previous years, when we consider the long term trends, nothing particularly stands out for the 2019 Tour. Tours are still, on average, getting shorter in overall and stage distance, while the speed of this year’s edition was nothing unusual when these distance trends are taken into account.

Since WWII, the 2019 Tour was the sixth shortest and the sixth fastest.

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