What is the most gruelling and demanding sports event?

Being a Sports Journalist I’ve often found myself getting into heated debates discussing the above question.

It’s a difficult one to answer and many struggle to provide one such is the complexity of the question and what various people’s interpretation of the word `gruelling` actually is. There are also a number of races or events which could legitimately inherit such a title, such as the London Marathon, the Olympic Decathlon or the Le Mans 24 Hour Motor Race.

Every sport is challenging in its own way, but naturally some require different traits and attributes from the competitors that take part. Obviously it’s a matter of opinion and understandably many will disagree, but in my view the most demanding challenge is the Tour de France which takes place every July………..in France.

The Tour this year lasted 23 days and consisted of 21 stages totalling over 3,430 kilometres (the equivalent of 2,130 miles). Riders were only granted two days rest and had to contend with inclines, time trials and mountain stages along with variable weather conditions to provide the platform for the toughest cycle race in the world.

Participants don’t just require mental strength, the best kit and a decent bike in order to win. Of course that helps (and you can find some of the very best equipment here at Sport Pursuit with brands such as 2XU, Bont and Uvex) but they’re fitness has to be at a supreme level, they need to be exceptionally strong and an almost super human determination to win.

Very few have the privilege to claim a tour win, but one person has the unprecedented title of having won the event a record seven times. His name is Lance Armstrong (pictured), an American athlete who has positioned himself alongside a host of other sports people with an equally strong reputation such as Pele, Roger Federer and Michael Schumacher.

He retired in 2005 after his seventh win, only to make an unsuccessful comeback four years later to raise awareness of Cancer, which he himself was diagnosed with in 1996. The way he fought the illness to go and win the Tour a record breaking seven times is a total inspiration, and he is somebody I have always admired and looked up to.

The event is totally relentless and physically draining in every way. Gallons of fluid needs to be taken on board, and riders inevitably lose weight as the tour progresses. The strength, determination and willingness to succeed over a period of three weeks with differing stages is immense, and these are the reasons that the Tour de France gets my vote every time.

Armstrong in action