Punched in the Kidney (1975)2 of 8
Winner of the last five Tours he participated in (he skipped the 1973 edition), Eddy Merckx entered the 1975 Tour as the clear favorite. But this would be the year Merckx, arguably the greatest cyclist of all-time, would get dethroned for good. And boy, did it come about via a most bizarre string of events.
During the 14th stage, which would finish atop the Puy de Dome, Merckx had the overall race lead and was about to catch the other race favorites when a spectator jumped from the crowd and punched Merckx in the kidney. Merckx, losing precious time to the other general classification contenders, eventually stumbled across the line vomiting. Despite this, Merckx still rode down the mountain to identify the man who threw the punch.
Cycling and Dogs Don't Mix (2007)3 of 8
Cars, motorcycles, cracks and fellow cyclists—there are many things a cyclist must watch for when navigating a road. But one thing they might not expect? A dog.
In what is easily one of the most bizarre crashes in Tour history, German cyclist Marcus Burghardt hit the pavement at the paws of a wandering hound. During the ninth stage of the 2007 Tour, a rogue Labrador retriever decided to venture onto the road as the peloton passed. While a couple cyclists managed to dodge the confused canine, Burghardt struck the dog's backside, causing him to flip over the front of his handlebars. Thankfully, both the dog and Burghardt managed to walk away from the incident unscathed.
We Think We'll Just Take a Seat (1998)4 of 8
The most tumultuous Tour in history began when a physician for the French team Festina was found carrying vials of EPO, a human growth hormone, on his way to the start of the Tour. This led to law enforcement raiding numerous teams' hotel rooms and subsequently arresting several riders, including the entire Festina team.
However, the remaining Tour riders did not go quietly into that good night. Instead, feeling their rights had been violated, they began dismounting their bikes in the middle of stages and sitting for two hours in protest. This would continue for 12 full stages until the riders made it to the Champs Elysees, where less than half the field completed the Tour.
Riding Through Hay Fields (2003)5 of 8
Let's face it, between 1999 and 2005, Lance Armstrong provided cycling fans with some of the most memorable moments the Tour has ever witnessed. But none is more storied than his famous detour during the ninth stage of the 2003 Tour.
During a winding descent on an uncommonly hot day, Spain's Joseba Beloki lost control of his bike and hit the pavement hard right in front of an oncoming Armstrong. Displaying some of the greatest control skills our eyes have ever seen, the now disgraced cyclist managed to avoid Beloki while taking a shortcut through a hayfield. Armstrong was able to stay in the saddle before eventually dismounting his bike to return to the road. He would later finish second in the stage and go on to claim his fourth Tour title.
Like Taking Candy from a Baby (2010)6 of 8
A year after a horrific crash forced him to abandon the 2009 Tour, Jens Voigt probably thought he was suffering deja vu when he again crashed during the descent of the first climb in Stage 16.
In what is probably the greatest display of grit and ingenuity the Tour has ever seen, Voigt, aware the service cars had already passed, borrowed a kid's bike from the Tour's junior race. With blood smeared all over his ripped jersey and teeth grinding with pain, the German cycled for 12 furious miles until he reached a bike his team had left. Voigt would eventually cross the finish line in Paris in 125th place.
Taking a Train (1904)7 of 8
It's unfortunate that cheating has become synonymous with the Tour, but the practice goes back all the way to the inception of the multi-stage race.
In 1904, the second Tour de France, there were a mere six stages that each measured between 167 and 293 miles. Unfortunately, such gruelingly long stages made cheating both easy and a necessity to win. In the months following the race, the top four finishers were disqualified for cheating. This included the previous year's winner, Maurice Garin, who had reportedly hopped aboard a train to shave some minutes off his overall time. Henri Cornet was eventually announced the winner and the Tour would change to a point system for the next eight years to combat these swindlers.
No Bike? Run. (2016)8 of 8
This is a bike race, not a triathlon, right? Well, try to explain that to three-time Tour winner Chris Froome, who, after crashing on the final ascent of Stage 12, made a mad dash for the finish line sans bicycle.
After breaking away from a group of GC contenders with old teammate Ritchie Porte, the duo crashed into the rear of a motorcycle. Porte's face went straight into a camera while Froome's bike was no longer rideable. With the pack closing in, a panicked and tenacious Froome began running for the finish. He would eventually get a bike from his support car, but the effort was futile as the pedals didn't fit his shoes' clips. While the Englishman would finish the stage in 25th place, the UCI eventually gave Froome and Porte the same time as their competitors due to a rule that protects a rider who falls in the final 3K.