Tour de France legend Rene Vietto cut off toe in last-ditch attempt to win

Tour de France legend Rene Vietto once cut off his toe to lose weight in a desperate bid to win.

The French cyclist never won the iconic race but went to great lengths in his bid to get his hands on the yellow jersey during his illustrious career. That desperation saw him dramatically request that his toe be removed during the 1947 Tour de France after he was prevented from racing due to sepsis in his toe.

In order to return to the race, Vietto went to a doctor and had the toe removed, returning to the tour the very next day.

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Despite removing his toe in order to get back on his bike, Vietto was unable to claim the yellow jersey during the 1947 Tour and ultimately finished in fifth place overall.

13 years earlier, a then 20-year-old Vietto had been within touching distance of the yellow jersey during one stage of the race before being told that his team-leader had crashed and buckled their wheel behind him.

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In response, Vietto turned around and rode back to his team-mate before giving him his own front wheel so that his teammate could continue, while he sat the event out. Again, Vietto ended the 1934 Tour in fifth place.

His best finish would come in 1939 when he ended the tour in second place, with Vietto holding the record for most time spent wearing the yellow jersey without ever winning it until as recently as 2012.

Vietto did once claim the polka dot jersey after being named the King of the Mountains in 1939 for earning the most points from mountain stages during the tour.

During his career, Vietto also won eight individual stages across the 1934, 1935 and 1947 tours. He passed away in 1988 at the age of 74.


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