Maurice Garin, winner of the first Tour de France standing on the right. Photo: Wikipedia
This year’s Tour de France has been one of incredible drama, full of high stakes gambles, shock withdrawals and spectacular crashes.
But when you start looking back through history, you’ll see that such incredible happenings are pretty much par for the course when it comes to the world’s biggest bike race.
Here are 15 incredible facts you probably never knew about la Grande Boucle. 1) Greg LeMond won the Tour de France in 1989 with 35 shotgun pellets embedded in his body! The shot was the result of a “hunting accident” 2 years before.
2) While racing le Tour Italian cyclist Mario Cipollini taped a picture of Pamela Anderson to his handlebars for inspiration. We can see why…
3) With 36 wins the French have taken more titles than any other nation. Not that they’re fond of reminding people of it…
4) Four riders have died while competing in the Tour:
Fabio Casartelli crashed at 88kph while descending in 1995 and Tom Simpson died of a heart attack after taking amphetamines and attempting the climb to Alpe d’Huez in 1967.
In 1935 Francisco Cepeda crashed into a ravine and in 1910 Adolphe Helière managed to errr… drown! It was during one of the rest days apparently. We’re not sure whether he was drinking at the time…
5) The oldest stage winner was Firmin Lambot in 1922. He was 36 years old.
6) The youngest stage winner was Henri Cornet in 1904. He was 19 years old.
7) The average amount of calories used by a rider per day is 5,900. An ordinary man uses 2,500 on average.
8) The heaviest rider to take part in Le Tour de France was Sweden’s Magnus Backstedt at 97kg!
9) 13,000 Gendarmes (French Police) cover the Tour de France every year. They even came to Yorkshire this year to police the race over here.
10) In 1947 Albert Bourlon performed the longest solo breakaway: 253km.
11) 15 million spectators hit the route of the Tour every year.
12) Throughout the 3 week race the peloton uses over 790 tyres in total.
13) The overall winner of the race receives a purse of €450,000. He’ll usually split this with his team-mates, or
14) The first Tour de France in 1903 counted only 6 stages and attracted 70 entrants. Riders would start at night and pedal through to the following afternoon.
15) In the 20’s the riders would often share cigarettes while riding. The were believed to help “open the lungs” before big climbs.
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