France's Julian Alaphilippe
The pack with France's Julian Alaphilippe wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey rides during the ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 170.5 kilometers (105.94 miles) with start in Saint Etienne and finish in Brioude, France, Sunday, July 14, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Paris: A group of French members of parliament urged on Sunday that the Tour de France be added to UNESCO's world intangible cultural heritage list.

France has 17 traditions on the UNESCO list, including "Equitation" and gastronomic meals. Only China, with 40 pieces of intangible heritage, Japan, South Korea and Spain are better represented.

"The Tour de France, more than a national emblem, is a global myth," Philippe Folliot, a centrist deputy from the Tarn, wrote on the Journal de Dimanche website in a piece signed by 54 politicians.

"Like what we did for the 'Gastronomic meal of the French' we must protect it and carry it like a banner of our culture, our heritage, our living together, in short, what we are."

The MPs point out that the Tour, one of the world's most popular sporting events, is "the only show of its kind in the world that is both popular and free."

"On the roadsides, the excited crowds of ordinary people come in droves. Everyone wears team jerseys and accessories and expresses their joy and happiness as they participate in this moment of fraternity and sport"

The lawmakers also point out that the annual race gives a tour of French scenery and history.

"Lovers of sport, geography, architecture or history (we) are all in front of our televisions, always enjoying these images presenting our country from North to South and from East to West," they wrote.