The 27th Paris-Brest cycle race starts on 20th August 2023. This year, 6810 riders have registered to participate in this gruelling event. Held every 4 years, the course is 1,200 km long and must be completed in less than 90 hours. The route is between South Yvelines and Brest and passes through the Mayenne via the following towns and villages:
St Berthevin la Tannière
St Ellier-du Maine
With high temperatures expected for the duration of the event, don’t be surprised to find exhausted cyclists by the side of the road. And if you are out and about in your car between Sunday and Wednesday, remember to be considerate of the increased number of cyclists on the roads.
A brief History…
In 1891 Pierre Griffard, editor of Le Petit Journal, created the 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris cycle race, held under the “Le Petit Journal” name to promote newspaper sales due to the high interest in cycling events.
400 entered, 200 started, and 100 finished in the first ever race. The winner was Charles Terront, who arrived back in Paris after 72 hours of riding to a cheering crowd of thousands.
Such was its difficulty that PBP wasn’t held again for ten years, but the organisation was taken on by another savvy newspaper editor, Henri Desgrange, in 1901 (won by Maurice Garin). Two years later, Desgrange would go on to organise the first-ever Tour de France, and Garin would win that too.
The race was run again in 1911 and 1921, but in 1931 it was announced that the touriste-routieres (amateurs without professional support on the route) would not be welcome to the event. There was a huge public outcry, and Audax Club Parisien, the administrating body, felt the need to act.
They announced that they would be organising a 1,200km event – from Paris to Brest, and back – on exactly the same day as the professional race. In this new amateur race, riders had 96 hours to complete the course, and unlike the pro race, it was open to all (women included) who met the qualifying regulation of having completed a 300km “brevet” (nationally recognised cycle races). 60 riders participated in that first-ever Paris-Brest-Paris race in 1931. The professional race was held for the last time in 1951, following dwindling numbers due to competition from other cycling events in France.
For more information and live tracking of the event visit the PBP Facebook page and website: https://www.facebook.com/ParisBrestParis Paris Brest Cycle Race 2023
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For more information in English about the Mayenne department, check out our website: www.mayenne53.com