Lilian Calmejane was less than impressed after 20 riders punctured at the Tour on Stage 2 due to someone scattering pin tacks all over the road.

He posted a video on Twitter showing the pins in his own tire and wrote a summary of his thoughts in French. Here’s what it said in English…

“Thank you for this kind of human bullshit. I don’t think I was the only victim of a puncture in the finale. You should know that you can fall and get hurt very badly with your bullshit, you stupid person.”

It looks like it happened again on Stage 3 as TV images showed two riders stopping for new wheels, with one pointing out to fans by the road what appeared to be another pin tack.

2012 Tour / More Pin Tacks

There was a near identical incident at the 2012 Tour, when a spectator (disgruntled we imagine), sabotaged around 30 riders on Stage 14, including defending champion Cadel Evans, atop a mountain.

Boxes of tacks had been strewn across the road near the summit of Mur de Peguero, causing chaos among the leading peloton.

Race leader Bradley Wiggins called for the peloton to wait for the Australian rider after Evans had to stop before the final descent and wait for a new bike.

Croatia’s Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) had to withdraw from the Tour owing to a shoulder injury from the crash on the descent.

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2009 Tour / The Shootings

The Tour de France was thrown into disarray this year after an unknown attacker fired a gun at riders during stage 13 from Vittel to Colmar.

Two riders, the triple World Champion Oscar Freire of Spain and the New Zealander Julian Dean, received minor injuries in the attack. Both riders completed the 200km stage through the Vosges region of north-east France which was won by German Heinrich Haussler.

Team reports later said that Freire had been shot in the muscle region in his upper thigh, while Dean had been struck in the right thumb. They were hit by bullets of a very small calibre, from an air-rifle fired by some kids with pretty darn good aim who were hiding in the forest at the peloton passsed.

1992 Tour / The Bomb

This thankfully did not involve riders but it did involve the total destruction of an official Tour car. A grenade-like device thrown by a young sympathizer of the Basque separatist group ETA destroyed two vehicles in an underground garage 200 yards from where the Tour de France started on the same day in San Sebastian, Spain. An official said the only injury reported was to young man, who was burned after throwing the bomb. At least two other persons were involved, according to officials.

1982 Tour / The Steel Workers

Protesting steelworkers forced the Tour be halted for the first time in history when they interrupted the fifth stage in the northern French town of Denain.

A group of 300 workers blocked the path of the Belgian team, the first to run in the 73 kilometer team time trial from Orchies to Fontaine-au-Pire, to protest the announcement of the shut down of the Denain steel factory at the end of 1984 that eventually left 1,300 jobless.

More than 10,000 spectators, lined along the sun-drenched circuit, listened incredulously when Tour directors announced the cancellation of the stage.

Local labor leaders, many of them avid Tour enthusiasts, were unhappy about having to take such drastic measures to voice their opposition to the factory shutdown.

‘Every year we give up one hour’s pay to watch the race go by,’ said a striker. ‘It is with heavy hearts that we stopped the cyclists.’

The video below is not of this incident in ’82 but fro Paris-Nice in 84, when Bernard Hinault threw a punch at another striker!

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1975 Tour / Eddy’s Punch

At the 75 Tour Eddy Merccx was on likely on his way to a record 6th win.

Some French fans were not happy with this prospect , and Merckx had received threatening letters in the run up to the event. On Stage 6 Merckx beat race leader Francesco Moser to take the Yellow Jersey. In the coming days, in the mountains, the Belgian and Joop Zoetemelk battled it out for the lead – the race was in the balance.

However, what happened on Stage 14 meant that we will never know if Merckx could have taken that golden 6th overall win. As Merckx neared a summit, a 55-year old local, Nello Breton, sucker punched Merckx in the gut. After the stage, Merckx accompanied police to the scene of the crime and identified Breton, who was arrested, found guilty of assault and fined just one franc.

The following stage would prove fatal to Merckx’s hopes of a record sixth win—and he remains convinced that what had happened on the previous stage is what was to blame.

The day immediately following ‘the punch’ was a rest day but Merckx was concerned with the huge blue and purple bruise that was growing on his side. The next day had 5 huge climbs in it and with Merckx unable to ride in his usual manner due to stomach pain, he cracked. He would never win the Tour again.

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The First Tour 1903 – The One Man Wrecking Ball

Though there were a few professional riders amongst the 60 riders who took part in the first ever Tour, the vast majority were amateurs, many of them farm and factory workers, reflecting the fact that cycling in these days was very much a blue collar sport. Desgrange offered each rider a daily allowance if they could finish the total of six stages at an average one 20km/hr of higher: this allowance would give each rider the same money he would have made in the factory. The participants rode over 400km each day on the 6 stages, a gruelling challenge that meant that after Stage 4 only 24 riders were still in the race. By the end of stage 6, only 21 men survived, with Maurice Garin dominant in first place, having taken 94 hours and 33 minutes to finish the 6 stages. Last place man was Arsene Millocheau, almost 65 hours behind Garin.

Garin averaged over 25km/hr over the 2428km , which is incredible when you consider the bicycle technology of the time, and won 3,000 French Francs, equivalent in today’s money to around $15,000US.

Garin, 1905.

However, Garin was also the instigator of the first record of cheating at the Tour. Garin nearly came to blows with rival Fernand Augereau, after Garin told his friends to knock Augereau off his bike – twice. When Augereau recovered, Garin leapt from his bicycle and stomped on Augereau’s bike himself until the wheels were mangled and inoperative. Other riders would throw glass and nails on the road, especially at night, to slow down their rivals. In 1904, Garin was caught catching a train during one stage, to get ahead of his competitors, and though he won the overall race he was finally disqualified.

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Fernand Augerau

However, Garin was lucky to leave the 1904 Tour alive, for as he and another rider approached the town of Saint-Etienne in the lead, an angry mob blocked their way, to slow then down to help the hometown favoriite, Antoine Faure. The mob began beating and kicking the pair, and only escaped after journalist Victor Goddet arrived and fired a pistol into the air.

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Maurice Garin, chipper and dodgy as hell, right, and some poor non-cheating wreck, left. 

A very skinny Garin

Gallery: Photos from the very first Tour, 1903:

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

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