Tour de France bikes play a role in this premier international cycling. They are the most technologically advanced racing bikes in the world, and as there is constant competition to reach new heights in their creation, the bikes themselves have featured in cheating scandals, and the Tour de France rules for equipment are as extensive as the rules for the participating humans. Most recently, there were claims that rider Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland "doped" his bike with a hidden motor after his amazing performances in the 2010 Paris Rouxbais and Tours de Flanders competitions, though these claims proved to be totally false. Nonetheless, the bikes used in the most famous of all bike races must conform to strict rules and undergo rigorous visual inspections; now bikes are X-rayed and scanned.
Tour de France Bikes
While Cancellara has never been one of the overall Tour de France winners (he is a time-trial specialist), he has won Tour de France stages and time trials and is an Olympic cycling gold medallist. He has also won a number of other prestigious cycling competitions in Europe.
Tour de France bikes come in two basic types. One is the kind that specialists like Cancellara use for time trials. Time trial bicycles are subject to slightly less rigid rules than those used in the regular part of the "massed start" road race that most people are most familiar with. This bike is less stable (there are far fewer chances to bump into other riders), less comfortable (time trials are relatively short, meaning comfort is less important), and less easy to control (the course is not very technical).
The racing bikes used in the massed start stages of the Tour de France are almost surgically aerodynamic, combine an almost poetic balance of light weight and sturdiness, and conform to mathematically precise measurements. There are few official rules on the color and/or designs painted onto the aluminum frames. Most bikes are prominently emblazoned with the logos of their designers or the team sponsor. Only a very few individuals like seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong have the status, money, and clout to paint their bikes with personal designs.
Top image: A.S.O.