Tour de France Rest Days have changed over the years in some respects, in some ways they are as traditional as ever. The obvious thing is the rest. The unseen contract deals going on in hotel rooms as those riders rest, the team swapping, at all levels. What is obvious is the rider in yellow has a huge role to fill on a rest day, traditionally with a copy of L’Equipe in hand, checking out the ‘news’.
Legend has it, Jacques Anquetil, 0n the rest day in Andorra during the 1964 Tour de France, feasted on a slab of roast lamb while the other riders were out for an easy ride and a day of rest. Greg Lemond famously played golf on his rest day. Team Lotto more recently went for a little jaunt on Segways
Most riders though spend time actually resting, often in less than glamorous rooms and such mundane and pressing matters such as washing kit. Although a lot of the team infrastructure now takes care of this. Historically it was up to the rider to look after hit kit and the mechanic, the bike. Certainly true of the mechanic today.
The early editions of the Tour de France had more rest days. Stages often running overnight, so the cyclists were offered the next day to recover from the punishing rides.
The 1911 edition had 14 rest days. It was a gruelling tour, with the longest stage, 470 km long, taking almost 18 hours for the fastest riders to complete. Out of the 84 riders who started the tour, only 28 completed the race. After the introduction of the Pyrénées in the previous edition, in 1911 the Alps were first visited; for this addition, the 1911 edition has been named the first modern Tour.