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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.
Henri dESGRANGE
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
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
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
Magnus Backstedt . Pic/ AFP

>> On an average there are around 15 million spectators at the Tour de France every year.

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