July 16, 2014
Non-European Riders in Tour de France since 1903

The Tour is predominantly a European affair and that continent alone has provided 13465 riders in the race’s history (counting each rider’s appearance separately for each year). But how do the other continents compare?

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There’s some disagreement about the first non-European to ride (or, at least, start) the Tour. My main source, Cycling Archives, says Antoine Gregory (also spelt Gregori) in the 1909 edition was born in Puerto Rico which would make him the first non-European participant. But another reliable source, Memoire du Cyclisme, has him as French. The confusion could be the result of French immigration to Puerto Rico from the 17th Century onwards. Certainly, “Gregori” is one of the listed surnames of French immigrants to Puerto Rico in the 19th Century. I’ve not been able to confirm his nationality one way or the other.

There is agreement, however, that in 1910 two Algerians rode the Tour - Emile Godard and Raphael Galiero. Algeria was, of course, a French colony at the time. In fact, in the first half of the race’s history, there were a number of North Africans taking part. 

South America’s contribution to the Tour is dominated by Colombia whose first rider was Martìn Emilio Rodríguez in 1975.

Oceania first made an appearance back in 1914 when two Australian cyclists took part, Don Kirkham and Ivan Munro. 

Central Asia, specifically Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, accounts for most of the Asian riders on the Tour although a Chinese rider took part for the first time in 2014. The first ever Asian rider on the Tour was the Japanese cyclist, Kisso Kawamuro, in 1926.

DATA SOURCE: www.CyclingArchives.com

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Filed under: tour de france