I don't agree. "I love the Tour de France" should be accepted. Who in their right mind would say, "I like the Tour de France"? It is simply nonsensical? In England, in English you say I love.. a sport, a particular event - no one says I like the something like the Tour de France - it would be so limp-wristed! One loves a sport, an event, etc. Simple!
I don't think the point is that "love" is inappropriate in English per se in this sort of situation, and I take your implied point that there can be ambiguity and slippage in translation, but I also think there are many people who appreciate various sports without being so ardent in their expression.
The 'Tour de France' is a famous bicycle race that happens every summer in France. It is the name of the race, and even English/American sportscasters will call it the 'Tour de France'. Thus, it does not need to be translated literally into english--and since it is a proper noun, it stays the same. Hope that helps!
Yes, "the" is necessary here, and "I like Tour de France" sounds like caveman English.
Formula 1 isn't a specific event. It refers to Formula 1 racing as a whole. "I like F1" is like saying "I like road racing", in bicycling terms.
Translating "I like the Tour de France" back into F1 terms, you get something like "I like the Circuit de Monaco" (i.e. "the Circuit de Monaco is one of my favorite F1 races").