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The history of professional road cycling
[Histoire du cyclisme sur route professionnel]


  • Jean-François Mignot

    (GEMASS - Groupe d'Etude des Méthodes de l'Analyse Sociologique de la Sorbonne - UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - FMSH - Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme)


Why did cycling become professional as early as the late 19th century, while other sports (such as rugby) and other sport events (such as the Olympic Games) remained amateur until the 1980s? Why are the organizers of the most important cycling races private companies? To what extent have bicycle races changed since the late 19th century? And how does cycling reflect long-term economic changes? The history of professional road cycling helps to answer these questions and to understand many related phenomena. This chapter provides a long-term historical perspective on (1) professional road cycling's economic agents, i.e. the public, race organizers, team sponsors and riders, and the relationships among them; (2) cycling's governing body, the International Cycling Union; and (3) professional cycling's final product, i.e. the show of bicycle races. The chapter focuses more specifically on the history of male professional road cycling in Western Europe since the late-19th century. It is founded on both an analysis of quantitative time series of the most important races and a review of the existing literature on the history of professional cycling, whether economic history, institutional history, cultural history or sport history.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-François Mignot, 2016. "The history of professional road cycling [Histoire du cyclisme sur route professionnel]," Post-Print halshs-01326719, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-01326719
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-22312-4
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. A Gift From Europe to the World: Globalization, Capitalist Expansionism and Professional Bicycle Road Racing
      by stefanotijerina in NEP-HIS blog on 2016-11-24 02:49:44


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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander Genoe & Ronald Rousseau & Sandra Rousseau, 2021. "Applying Google Trends’ Search Popularity Indicator to Professional Cycling," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 22(4), pages 459-485, May.

    More about this item


    Sports History; Cycling; Europe; Tour de France; Giro d'Italia; Vuelta a Espana; Cycling Race; International Cycling Union;
    All these keywords.

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