French connect: 10 astonishing facts about the Tour de France
As the 103rd annual Tour de France tournament begins today, we give you some interesting, astonishing and lesser-known facts and trivia about this esteemed tournament.
>> The nickname for Tour de France is 'La Grande Boucle' which means 'the big loop'.
>> The first Le Tour had 70 entrants. It began in the night and would conclude the next afternoon.
Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange. Pic/ AFP
>> During the 1920s, it is believed that the cyclists would share cigarettes with each other during the race. This helped them in breathing much easily before encountering huge climbs.
>> American cyclist Greg LeMond won the tournament in 1989 with 35 shotgun pellets still in his body. This was due to an accident during 'hunting' that occured 2 years prior.
Greg LeMond. Pic/ AFP
>> Italian cyclist Mario Cipollini stuck a picture of Pamela Anderson to the handle bars of his cycle during a race for inspiration.
>> Four cyclists have died while competind in the Tour de France - Adolphe Heliere in 1910, Francisco Cepeda in 1935, Tom Simpson in 1967 and Fabio Casartelli in 1995.
Tom Simpson. Pic/ AFP
>> The oldest winner is Firmin Lambot at age 36 in 1922 and the youngest winner is Henri Cornet at 19 years in 1904.
>> A Tour de France rider burns around 5,900 per day. The average man uses about 2,500.
>> Magnus Backstedt of Sweden is the heaviest man to take part in the competition. He weighed 97 kgs.
Magnus Backstedt . Pic/ AFP
>> On an average there are around 15 million spectators at the Tour de France every year.