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 Tour de France 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 pellets were the result of a “hunting accident” two years before
2) While racing le Tour Italian cyclist Mario Cipollini taped a picture of Pamela Anderson to his handlebars for inspiration
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 suffered a Tour de France crash 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
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 in 2013 to police the race
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 domestiques
14) The first Tour de France in 1903 counted only six 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