The Bordeaux–Paris professional cycle race was one of Europe's Classic cycle races, and one of the longest in the professional calendar, covering approximately 560 km (350 mi) - more than twice most single-day races. It started in northern Bordeaux in southwest France at 2am and finished in the capital Paris 14 hours later.
The event was first run on 23 May 1891, and the Derby of the Road as it was sometimes called, was notable in that riders were paced - allowed to slipstream - behind tandem or conventional cycles. From 1931, pacing was by motorcycles or small pedal-assisted Dernys. Pacing was also briefly by cars. In early events, pacing was provided from Bordeaux. In later events, it was introduced part-way towards Paris. From 1946 to 1985, more than half the distance was paced, Dernys being introduced at Poitiers or Châtellerault, roughly half-way.
The organisers of the inaugural event, Bordeaux Vélo Club and Véloce Sport envisaged riders might take a few days, but the first edition was won in a continuous ride by George Pilkington Mills. Mills raced through the night to win the 600 km long event in just over a day. Post-war winners include Louison Bobet (1959) and Jacques