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Ricin

Castor beans

The protein ricin (pronounced rye-sin) is a poison manufactured from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). Its name comes from the seed's resemblance to the tick. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures [1]. It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom.

Toxicity and manufacture

Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. There is no known antidote; only symptomatic and supportive treatment is available. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. In small doses, such as the typical dose contained in a measure of castor oil, ricin causes digestive tract cramps. Ingested in larger doses, ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock. (See abrin).

Although the castor bean plant has long been noted for its toxicity, ricin was first isolated and named in 1888 by Hermann Stillmark. Modern feed-making techniques break down the ricin in castor beans by heating at 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, although some studies suggest that residual toxic effects may linger. Although one seed contains enough ricin to kill an adult human, they may pass harmlessly through the digestive system if swallowed whole. [2]. Typically 2.5–20 raw seeds can kill an adult human; 4 a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox, 6 a horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but 80 for cocks and ducks.[3]

Ricin consists of two distinct protein chains (almost 30kDa each) that are linked to each other by disulfide bond:

  • Ricin A is toxic to the cell by interfering with Ribosomes, responsible for protein synthesis
  • Ricin B is important in assisting ricin A's entry into a cell by binding with a cell surface component.

Many plants such as barley have the A chain but not the B chain. Since people do not get sick from eating large amounts of such products, ricin A is of extremely low toxicity if and only if the B chain is not present.

Ricin is easily purified from castor-oil manufacturing waste. The seed-pulp left over from pressing for castor oil contains on average about 5% by weight of ricin. Since 0.2 mg of purified Ricin constitutes a fatal dose, this is a considerable amount of ricin.

As little as one castor bean, about 0.5 grams, may be fatal in a child.

In the United states, a person caught manufacturing or possessing ricin may be sentenced up to 30 years in prison.

Potential medicinal use

Ricin may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines

Use as a chemical/biological warfare agent

The United States investigated ricin for its military potential during the First World War. At that time it was being considered for use either as a toxic dust or coated bullets and shrapnel. The dust cloud concept could not be adequately developed, and researchers believed the coated bullet/shrapnel concept was unethical. The War ended before it was weaponized.

During the Second World War the United States and Canada undertook studying ricin in cluster bombs. Though there were plans for mass production and several field trials with different bomblet concepts, the end conclusion was that it was no more economical than using phosgene. This conclusion was based on comparison of the final weapons rather than ricin's toxicity (LD50 <30 mg.min.m–3). Ricin was given the military symbol W.

The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously 'shot' him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg. He died in hospital a few days later; the pellet was discovered by chance during an autopsy and the poison linked back to the KGB. Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378).

Despite ricin's extreme toxicity and utility as an agent of chemical/biological warfare, it is extremely difficult to limit the production of the toxin. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. Despite this, more than 1 million metric tonnes of castor beans are processed each year, and approximately 5% of the total is rendered into a waste containing high concentrations of ricin toxin [4].

In August of 2002, US officials asserted that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam tested ricin, along with other chemical and biological agents, in northern Iraq.

To put ricin used as weapon into perspective, it is worth noting that as a biological weapon or chemical weapon, ricin may be considered as not very powerful, if only in comparison with other poisons such as botulinum or anthrax. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. (Jan van Aken, an expert on biological weapons explained in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that he judges it rather reassuring that Al Qaeda experimented with ricin as it suggests their inability to produce botulin or anthrax.)

Pure ricin could be dispersed through the air, however it would tend to be oxidized and rendered harmless by ozone, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in a matter of hours. Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult.

The major reason it is dangerous is that there is no specific antidote, and that it is very easy to obtain (the castor bean plant is a common ornamental, and can be grown at home without any special care). Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain.

Ricin patent

"Preparation of Toxic Ricin",
patent application.

The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. Craig, O.H. Alderks, Alsoph H. Corwin, Sally H. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel.

The patent was removed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database sometime in 2004, but is still available online through international patent databases.

Ricin extraction process

The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates

Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. The leachate is filtered to remove insoluble matter and the crude ricin then precipitated by the addition of a 12% solution of sodium sulfate with a pH of 7.0-8.0. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it.

The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air.

Ricin-related arrests in Britain in 2003

It was widely reported in the media that traces of ricin were detected by British police in a flat in Wood Green, North London after a raid on a suspected ring of terrorists on 5 January 2003. Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. However at the trial of Kamel Bourgass in 2005 it became apparent that within a few days of the raid the leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory had concluded that ricin was not present at Wood Green [5] [6]. Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid.

A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. The analytic confusion was caused by the similarity of many plant proteins to one of the ricin components, which suggests that higher quality (better specificity and sensitivity) analytic tests for ricin are needed.

Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. They were not convicted of any poisons related crime.

Three more suspects were arrested in Manchester in England in connection with the investigation of the alleged ricin found in London, following a raid carried out pursuant to an investigation into immigration issues. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously.

On January 20, 2003 Finsbury Park mosque was raided by police, apparently as part of the investigation into the alleged discovery of ricin in Wood Green. A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested.

On February 5, 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented those arrested as the "UK Poison Cell" of a global terrorist network in making the case for military intervention in Iraq to the UN Security Council [7].

In April 2005 31-year-old Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons and explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts.

Ricin in Washington, D.C.

Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. in November of 2003. The letter containing it was intercepted at a mail handling facility off the grounds of the White House, and it never reached its intended destination. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. This information was not made public until February 3, 2004, when preliminary tests showed the presence of ricin in an office mailroom of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution.

Ricin in popular culture

Ricin was the poison used in the Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence whodunnit The House of Lurking Death in a 1929 collection of short stories called Partners in Crime.

Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure.

Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner

The Penn and Teller book How To Play With Your Food (ISBN 0679743111) includes a "gimmicks envelope" of small objects related to the tricks inside the book. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". The book explains that ricin is a poison.


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The book explains that ricin is a poison. [4] IMDB link. One of these is a sticker reading "With all-natural ricin!". The film is directed by Pepe Danquart who won an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 1993 for Black Rider (Schwarzfahrer). The Penn and Teller book How To Play With Your Food (ISBN 0679743111) includes a "gimmicks envelope" of small objects related to the tricks inside the book. It is a record of the 90th Tour de France in 2003, the centenary year, from the perspective of Team Telekom. Ricin was mentioned in the "call me the prankster" comic at toothpaste for dinner. In 2005 a film titled Hell on Wheels was released.

Ricin was used as the poison of choice of the murderer in the 1962 comedy film Kill or Cure. [3]. Ricin was the poison used in the Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence whodunnit The House of Lurking Death in a 1929 collection of short stories called Partners in Crime. Noted personalities such as Daniel Baal and Lance Armstrong have denounced probable doping. Several Senate office buildings were closed as a precaution. They attribute those speed increases to better performance-enhancing drugs, possibly not detected by current anti-doping investigations. There were no signs that anyone who was near the contaminated area developed any medical problems. Many commentators have remarked that the average speed at which the Tour is run has continued to rise, whereas improvements in training methods, bicycles etc., on a fairly mature sport, should only yield marginal improvements.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. Although they intend to test the samples once the new test is ready, it is not clear what actions will be taken if the tests come back positive. This information was not made public until February 3, 2004, when preliminary tests showed the presence of ricin in an office mailroom of U.S. However the samples were not tested for EPO, as the test was not ready for use and would not be until after the race completed. Investigators said it was low potency and was not considered a health risk. In 2004, the UCI introduced a somewhat more rigorous testing program, taking urine samples a few times during the race. The letter contained a fine powdery substance that later tested positive for ricin. Furthermore, it is claimed that EPO is already passé and that other potent blood replacement products that do not increase the hematocrit rates are already in use in the cycling world.

The letter containing it was intercepted at a mail handling facility off the grounds of the White House, and it never reached its intended destination. This fear is surfacing in other sports, as Major League Baseball and track and field have been dogged by steroid controversies as well in recent years. in November of 2003. The UCI appears to be too afraid to lose popular Tour riders, and would rather operate under continued controversy than lower participation. Ricin was detected in the mail at the White House in Washington, D.C. The UCI has done little to address these problems, taking a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" attitude, and running only a small and semi-voluntary drug testing program that is considered trivial to beat. All others accused in connection with the Wood Green flat were acquitted on all counts. Some claim that EPO use is almost universal.

He was also jailed for life following a conviction for murdering the Special Branch policeman who went to arrest him. In particular there is continued controversy over the use of EPO, a hormone that increases the amount of red blood cells in the blood and thus offers increased cardiovascular endurance. In April 2005 31-year-old Kamel Bourgass was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance "by the use of poisons and explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury". Professional cycling in general has a reputation for being one of the most doped sports. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented those arrested as the "UK Poison Cell" of a global terrorist network in making the case for military intervention in Iraq to the UN Security Council [7]. However, during the official announcement of the 2006 Tour route in October 2005, an event that typically highlights the previous year's winner, the Tour management scrubbed all mention of Armstrong from the program. On February 5, 2003, U.S. Armstrong denied using EPO, and because there was no "counter-sample" to test, the UCI would not sanction him.

A number of men who were apparently living at the mosque were arrested. This claim was based on a newer test on frozen urine samples that had been kept at the French national dope testing laboratory. On January 20, 2003 Finsbury Park mosque was raided by police, apparently as part of the investigation into the alleged discovery of ricin in Wood Green. In late August 2005, one month after Armstrong's seventh consecutive victory in the Tour, the French sports newspaper L'Equipe claimed to have uncovered evidence that Lance Armstrong used EPO in 1999, before any EPO test had yet been invented. A Special Branch policeman, DC Stephen Oake, was fatally stabbed during the arrests, and three other officers were also injured, one seriously. While Armstrong had been subjected to urine testing after nearly every stage he raced in the Tour, a urine test for EPO was not available until 2002, and even then the test was unable to detect EPO usage after more than a few days. Three more suspects were arrested in Manchester in England in connection with the investigation of the alleged ricin found in London, following a raid carried out pursuant to an investigation into immigration issues. Armstrong, wearing the yellow jersey at the time, took umbrage.

They were not convicted of any poisons related crime. While he stopped short of directly accusing Armstrong of doping, Christophe Bassons (who is widely cosidered to be one of the few members of the 1998 Festina team who did not dope, and a known opponent of doping) wrote a newspaper diary during the 1999 Tour in which he implied that it was impossible to win the Tour without doping. Six more suspects were arrested in Bournemouth in England in connection with the investigation into the alleged ricin incident in London. Other athletes have suggested that Armstrong's performances are unnatural without doping. The analytic confusion was caused by the similarity of many plant proteins to one of the ricin components, which suggests that higher quality (better specificity and sensitivity) analytic tests for ricin are needed. Simeoni's defamation suit against Armstrong is currently scheduled to be argued in the Spring of 2006. Further analysis identified the material as ground wheat germ. Although Simeoni has since signed with the Amore e Vita team, the team that also signed Jesus Manzano, it appears unlikely that he will again ride on a major ProTour team.

A little later several arrests were made in France and a bottle of something that tested positive for ricin was found. Simeoni and Armstrong then rejoined the peloton. It appears that an individual conducting amateur research on poisons was found in this raid. Having the race leader in an early break dooms their chances, so the members of the leading group pleaded with Simeoni to return to the peloton and, by implication, to take Armstrong with him. Some acetone, 22 castor beans, and poor recipes for ricin and other poisons copied from the Internet were found. In a highly unusual move for a wearer of the yellow jersey, Armstrong himself chased Simeoni and they rode together to join the break. However at the trial of Kamel Bourgass in 2005 it became apparent that within a few days of the raid the leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory had concluded that ricin was not present at Wood Green [5] [6]. Shortly thereafter, during the 18th stage of the 2004 Tour, Simeoni broke free of the peloton in an attempt to join a "break" that was up the road.

Media reports stated that a group was suspected of intending to use the poison in an attack on the London Underground. In a 2003 interview with the French paper Le Monde, Armstrong said that Simeoni was a liar ("menteur absolu"), eventually leading to Simeoni suing him for defamation. It was widely reported in the media that traces of ricin were detected by British police in a flat in Wood Green, North London after a raid on a suspected ring of terrorists on 5 January 2003. Armstrong had admitted to using Ferrari's services just before Simeoni's disclosure, leading to questions about whether Armstrong had used EPO. An aerosol powder may be prepared by spray drying or air grinding the purified ricin using cold air. He also stated that Ferrari had developed a program for EPO use that would remain undetected. The final ricin precipitate is dried and then purified by floatation in carbon tetrachloride. Michele Ferrari as his source of EPO.

The precipitated ricin may be reextracted once to further purify it. In 2002, Italian cyclist Filippo Simeoni, while under suspension for doping, began to cooperate with prosecutors and implicated Dr. After precipitation, the crude ricin cake is washed with a 16.7% solution of sodium sulfate to remove extranious nitrogenous substances. Controversy continues to surround Lance Armstrong. The leachate is filtered to remove insoluble matter and the crude ricin then precipitated by the addition of a 12% solution of sodium sulfate with a pH of 7.0-8.0. Other members of Cofidis were also implicated by the testimony of fellow rider Philippe Gaumont, who told investigators and the press that doping with steroids, human growth hormones, EPO, and amphetamines was systematic on the team. Ricin is initially extracted from defatted castor beans by aquous extraction at pH 3.8 to yield a leachate containing solubilized ricin. Millar later admitted to doping with EPO before the 2003 World Championships -- his title was stripped from him, and he was suspended from professional cycling for two years.

Modern extraction plants might use membrane filtration to make highly purified ricin isolates. In 2004, British cylist David Millar of Cofidis, then the reigning time trial World Champion, was taken in for questioning by French police. The extraction of ricin from castor beans is very similar to the prepartion of soy protein isolates. Kelme had refused to renew Manzano's contract after the 2003 season, citing both lack of results and behavioral problems -- Manzano had been kicked out of the 2003 Vuelta a Espana by Kelme, ostensibly for having a girl in his room during the race. The patent was removed from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database sometime in 2004, but is still available online through international patent databases. In the Spring of 2004, Jesus Manzano, a Spanish rider who had ridden for Kelme from 2000 to 2003, told Madrid sports newspaper As that he had been forced by his former team to take banned substances, and went into considerable technical detail about how riders avoid detection. Dieke, and Charlotte Karel. Use of prescriptions unmotivated by medical needs, particularly external corticoids which cannot be distinguished from (prohibited) injected ones, has been described by some cycling insiders as a widespread trick.

Corwin, Sally H. However, sports authorities decided not to apply this article and cleared Armstrong. Alderks, Alsoph H. Although the amount detected both was well below the "positive" threshold and was consistent with the amount that would be used for a topical skin cream, prescriptions must be shown to sports authorities in advance of use (UCI Rules Title XIV Chapter 4 Article 43). Craig, O.H. Armstrong explained he had used an external "cortisone" ointment in order to treat a saddle sore, and produced a prescription for it. Secretary of the Army, are Harry L. An accusation was made against Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour, when a glucocorticosteroid was detected in his urine.

The inventors named in US Patent 3,060,165 (granted October 23, 1962) "Preparation of Toxic Ricin", assigned to the U.S. While Virenque was not sentenced (but had penalties imposed on him by sports authority), the management of Festina, the aides, the doctors, and some pharmacists were found guilty and handed down fines and suspended jail sentences. The process for creating ricin is well-known, in part because a patent was granted for it in 1952. During the trial, he confessed to doping himself. Ricin is actually several orders of magnitude less toxic than botulinum or tetanus toxins, but those are more difficult to obtain. In 2000, he and the management of the Festina team were tried. The major reason it is dangerous is that there is no specific antidote, and that it is very easy to obtain (the castor bean plant is a common ornamental, and can be grown at home without any special care). This denial sounds as convoluted in French as it does in English, and the mock news show Les Guignols de l'Info quickly catapulted the phrase into French popular culture.

Presumably it could be sealed inside some sort of dust particle that would dissolve in water, but this would be difficult. Richard Virenque denied doping himself and said that if he had been doped, it was not willfully (literally, "à l'insu de mon plein gré"). Since it acts as an enzyme, catalyzing destruction of ribosomes, even a single oxidation is likely to render the ricin molecule harmless. (Daniel Baal, Droit dans le mur). Pure ricin could be dispersed through the air, however it would tend to be oxidized and rendered harmless by ozone, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in a matter of hours. Polemics ensued, especially alleging the weakness of UCI's measures compared to the measures decided by the French cycling federation. (Jan van Aken, an expert on biological weapons explained in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that he judges it rather reassuring that Al Qaeda experimented with ricin as it suggests their inability to produce botulin or anthrax.). In the end the "Tour of Shame" continued after the UCI backed down and promised to limit the heavy-handed actions, although several teams were forced to withdraw from the race.

Ricin denatures (ie, the protein changes structure and becomes less dangerous) much more readily than anthrax spores, which may remain lethal for decades. UCI, the international sport body for cycling, promised tough measures. Ricin is easy to produce, but is not as practical nor likely to cause as high casualities as other agents. The Spanish teams quit the Tour in a show of solidarity led by the ONCE team. Hence, a military willing to use biological weapons and having advanced resources would rather use either of the latter instead. In response the riders started a "sit-down strike" and refused to ride, thereby putting millions of dollars of endorsements and advertising revenue in jeopardy. To put ricin used as weapon into perspective, it is worth noting that as a biological weapon or chemical weapon, ricin may be considered as not very powerful, if only in comparison with other poisons such as botulinum or anthrax. On July 23, 1998, French police forces acting on search warrants raided several teams in their hotels and found significant quantities of doping products in the hotel and cars of the TVM (cycling team) team.

In August of 2002, US officials asserted that the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam tested ricin, along with other chemical and biological agents, in northern Iraq. The team's lawyer was Thibault de Montbrial. Despite this, more than 1 million metric tonnes of castor beans are processed each year, and approximately 5% of the total is rendered into a waste containing high concentrations of ricin toxin [4]. Well-known riders on the 1998 Festina team included Laurent Brochard, Christophe Moreau, Didier Rous, Richard Virenque, and Alex Zülle. Under both the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, ricin is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. It was argued that doping was generalized inside the cycling world, at least for racers who wanted to achieve major results. Despite ricin's extreme toxicity and utility as an agent of chemical/biological warfare, it is extremely difficult to limit the production of the toxin. In the 2000 criminal trial that ensued, it became apparent that the management of the Festina team had deliberately organized doping inside the team, including the hiring of a physician (Doctor Eric Rijkaert) because, the director sportif of the team Bruno Roussel later said, it was thought safer for the athletes than if they were left to their own individual doping schemes without competent medical advice.

Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life, 368-378). He later revealed many common practices of the cycling world in his book, Massacre à la Chaîne. Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after a 1971 encounter with KGB agents (D.M. On July 8, 1998, a major scandal erupted when French Customs arrested Willy Voet, one of the soigneurs for the Festina cycling team, for the possession of illegal quantities of prescription drugs and narcotics, including erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone and amphetamines. He died in hospital a few days later; the pellet was discovered by chance during an autopsy and the poison linked back to the KGB. The 1998 Tour de France was perhaps the most scandal-ridden Tour in recent memory. In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously 'shot' him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg. On July 13, 1967, British cyclist Tom Simpson died climbing Mont Ventoux following excessive usage of amphetamines, probably complicated by the now defunct practice of limiting daily water intake to only four bidons, circa 2 litres.

The best-known documented use of ricin as an agent of biological warfare was by the Soviet Union's KGB during the Cold War. As time went by, riders began using substances as a means of increasing performance rather than dulling the senses, and organizing bodies such as the Tour and the International Cycling Union (UCI), as well as government bodies, enacted policies to combat this practice. Ricin was given the military symbol W. Early tour riders have been said to have consumed alcohol and used ether among other substances as a means of dulling the agonizing pain of competing in endurance cycling. This conclusion was based on comparison of the final weapons rather than ricin's toxicity (LD50 <30 mg.min.m–3). Analysis of the 2005 competitors shows that:. Though there were plans for mass production and several field trials with different bomblet concepts, the end conclusion was that it was no more economical than using phosgene. That said, even a rider who is chosen to ride but does not finish the race will have had to have been very fit to be selected.

During the Second World War the United States and Canada undertook studying ricin in cluster bombs. To finish the Tour de France, a cyclist must be in a very good physical state. The War ended before it was weaponized. In terms of nationality, riders from France have won most Tours (36), followed by Belgium (18), United States (10), Italy (9), Spain (8), Luxembourg (4), Switzerland and the Netherlands (2 each) and Ireland, Denmark and Germany (1 each). The dust cloud concept could not be adequately developed, and researchers believed the coated bullet/shrapnel concept was unethical. Gino Bartali holds the record of longest time span between titles, having earned his first and last Tour victories 10 years apart (in 1938 and 1948 respectively). At that time it was being considered for use either as a toxic dust or coated bullets and shrapnel. Three other riders have managed to win the Tour three times:.

The United States investigated ricin for its military potential during the First World War. Four other riders have managed to win the Tour five times:. Use of ricin as an adjuvant has potential implications for developing mucosal vaccines. Lance Armstrong (United States) holds the record as the only rider to have won the Tour seven times (consecutively 1999–2005); he retired after the 2005 Tour. A promising approach is also to use the non-toxic B subunit as a vehicle for delivering antigens into cells thus greatly increasing their immunogenicity.
. Genetic modification of ricin is believed to be possible to lessen its toxicity to humans, but not to the cancer cells. .

Ricin could be linked to a monoclonal antibody to target malignant cells recognized by the antibody. For the upcoming tour, a route description is given. Ricin may have therapeutic use in the treatment of cancer. For previous tours this includes detailed results. In the United states, a person caught manufacturing or possessing ricin may be sentenced up to 30 years in prison. Note: Hyperlinked tour numbers point to more information on that particular tour. As little as one castor bean, about 0.5 grams, may be fatal in a child. Terms specific to the Tour de France include:.

Since 0.2 mg of purified Ricin constitutes a fatal dose, this is a considerable amount of ricin. Much of the terminology used to describe the Tour de France is frequently used in bicycle racing across the world. The seed-pulp left over from pressing for castor oil contains on average about 5% by weight of ricin. As the Tour becomes ever more international and commercial, it remains to be seen whether the customs of the past will continue to be observed. Ricin is easily purified from castor-oil manufacturing waste. Other riders may just be ill or slightly injured and unwillingly end up as the lanterne rouge. Since people do not get sick from eating large amounts of such products, ricin A is of extremely low toxicity if and only if the B chain is not present.. Thus, in the past many riders have attempted to engineer themselves into last place by artificial means.

Many plants such as barley have the A chain but not the B chain. The money a rider can generate through publicity is much greater if he finishes last than second from last. Ricin consists of two distinct protein chains (almost 30kDa each) that are linked to each other by disulfide bond:. The rider may just be a lowly domestique, but such is the sympathy of the French public that finishing last is actually very prestigious. Typically 2.5–20 raw seeds can kill an adult human; 4 a rabbit, 5 a sheep, 6 an ox, 6 a horse, 7 a pig, 11 a dog, but 80 for cocks and ducks.[3]. The lanterne rouge is the rider ranked last in the general classification, who may wind up in Paris with an overall time five or more hours longer than that of the winner. [2]. Unless the final stage is a time trial--or in the case of Pedro Delgado attacking the yellow jersey of Stephen Roche in 1987 on the Champs-Elysées--riders generally do not launch attacks on the leader of the tour on the final stage, giving the leader one final day to bask in the glory of winning the yellow jersey.

Although one seed contains enough ricin to kill an adult human, they may pass harmlessly through the digestive system if swallowed whole. One does not attack a leading rider who has suffered a mechanical breakdown or other misfortune, one who is eating in the feed zone or one who is enjoying un besoin naturel (roughly translated to a natural need, the practice of answering nature's call). Modern feed-making techniques break down the ricin in castor beans by heating at 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, although some studies suggest that residual toxic effects may linger. Whenever reasonably possible, one allows a rider to lead the peloton when the race passes through his home village or on his birthday, and it often happens that the winner of the stage held on Bastille Day is French. Although the castor bean plant has long been noted for its toxicity, ricin was first isolated and named in 1888 by Hermann Stillmark. The riders, unlike some of their fans, have traditionally tempered their competitiveness and enthusiasm with an elaborate but unwritten code of honor. (See abrin). As word passes that the riders are approaching, the fans begin to encroach on the road until they are often just an arm’s length from the riders.

Ingested in larger doses, ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock. Any amateur rider or, in fact, just about anyone, is free to attempt the course on his bicycle in the morning, and after that there begins a garish cavalcade of advertising vehicles blaring music and tossing hats, souvenirs, sweets and free samples of all sorts. In small doses, such as the typical dose contained in a measure of castor oil, ricin causes digestive tract cramps. In the hours before the riders pass, a carnival atmosphere prevails. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. Millions of spectators line the route every year to see the Tour first-hand, some of them having encamped a week in advance to get the best views. There is no known antidote; only symptomatic and supportive treatment is available. It is said that any rider who has worn the yellow jersey, even for a day, will never go hungry or thirsty again in France.

Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. Any Frenchman who has won the Tour becomes an object of public adoration in his native land. . The Tour is immensely popular and important in France, not only as a sporting event but also as a matter of national identity and pride. It is considered to be twice as deadly as cobra venom. The Tour alternates between starting inside and outside France; traditionally, the first few stages are in a neighbouring country. Ricin can be extracted from castor beans and is known to have an average lethal dose in humans of 0.2 milligrams (1/5,000th of a gram), though some sources give higher figures [1]. In some years, like 2005, there is no prologue.

Its name comes from the seed's resemblance to the tick. Usually one town will host the prologue (which is too short to go between towns) and also the start of stage 1. The protein ricin (pronounced rye-sin) is a poison manufactured from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). The prologue and first stage of the Tour are particularly prestigious to host. Ricin B is important in assisting ricin A's entry into a cell by binding with a cell surface component. Sometimes the Tour will jump very long distances between stages, requiring a rest day to allow riders to be transported. Ricin A is toxic to the cell by interfering with Ribosomes, responsible for protein synthesis. Whereas formerly each stage would start at the preceding stage's finish line, making a continuous course for the race, nowadays each stage can often start some distance from the previous day's finish, to allow more towns to share in the glory.

To host a stage start or finish brings prestige, and a lot of business, to a town. The Tour usually features only one of these two climbs in a year. Another famous mountain stage is the climb of the Mont Ventoux, often claimed to be the hardest climb in the Tour due to the harsh conditions there. This seems less likely to be repeated, following complaints from the riders.

In 2004, in another experiment, the mountain time trial ended at Alpe d'Huez. The particularly tough climb of Alpe d'Huez is a favourite, providing a stage finish in most Tours. It is unlikely that this would be repeated in the future. Most famously, the final stage of the 1989 Tour saw Greg LeMond overtake Laurent Fignon's overall lead by just 8 seconds, the closest winning margin in the Tour's history.

In recent years the Tour organisers have experimented with holding the final time trial as the final, rather than as the penultimate, stage. (In fact he was caught, he and Roche both finished in the peloton, and Roche thereby won the Tour.). In 1987, with Stephen Roche leading Pedro Delgado by only 40 seconds after the final time trial, Delgado broke away from the peloton on the Champs-Elysées, threatening to snatch victory at the last minute. There have been exceptions, however.

This stage is not usually competitive in terms of the overall lead since it is a flat sprinters' stage, and the leader is likely to have a sufficiently large margin to be unchallengeable. The race takes multiple turns over the avenue, which is lined with enormous spectator crowds. Since 1975, the final stage always finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, which, being cobbled, is an unpleasant surface to cycle on, though not as much as the famous Paris-Roubaix. Jan Ullrich on Team Bianchi in the 2003).

There is, however, no evidence that indicates this is true, and it is more reasonable to conclude that the new rules are simply designed to limit how much time any legitimate contender for the overall win could lose in the TTT stage due to being on a weak team (e.g. Some people speculate that the motivation behind the TTT rule change was an attempt by the race organisers to "Lance-proof" the Tour, limiting how much time Lance Armstrong could gain in this stage. If they finished in sixth place (still assuming two minutes behind the winning team), they would lose only one minute (per the table). However, if they finished two minutes behind (still assuming 14th place), they would only lose the two minutes.

For example, riders on a team that finished in 14th place, six minutes behind the winning team, would lose only two minutes and 20 seconds in the General Classification relative to the winners of the TTT. The following table indicates the time penalty added to the winning team's time that a member finishing with his team will receive, according to his team's placing, if their actual time is greater than the winning team's time plus this penalty. However, since the 2004 Tour, the only riders that necessarily receive actual time are those on the winning team; members on trailing teams (who finish ahead of or with the fifth member of their team) receive either the fifth member's actual time, or a computed time based on the winning team's time plus a penalty based on their team's placing in that stage, whichever is lower. Traditionally, riders received the actual time recorded by the fifth member of their team in that stage.

Members who finish clearly behind the fifth member of their team receive their individual actual time for the stage. Each member of the team who crosses the finish line ahead of or with the fifth (or last, if the team has less than five riders) member of the team is credited with the time of the fifth (last) team member to cross the finish line; this is the middle member of a nine-person team. Often in the first week of the Tour there is a team time trial (TTT). Although other riders had used aerodynamic aids in previous tours, LeMond's aero handlebars and helmet were considered a major factor in his victory.

Fignon wore the yellow jersey for the final stage, with a narrow lead of 50 seconds, and was beaten by LeMond's superior time trial performance. The most recent occasion on which this was done, in 1989, yielded the closest ever finish in Tour history, when Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds overall. On a few occasions, the race organisers made the final stage into Paris a time trial. Traditionally the final time trial has been the penultimate stage, and effectively determines the winner before the final ordinary stage which is not ridden competitively.

One of these may be a team time trial (see below). There are usually three or four time trials during the Tour. The purpose of the prologue is to decide who gets to wear yellow on the opening day, and provide a large and prestigious spectacle for one lucky city. Here, riders start in reverse order of race number, meaning the weakest rider on the lowest ranked team will be first off, with the final rider being the defending champion, wearing Number 1.

The first stage of the tour is often a time trial, known as a prologue. In an individual time trial each rider rides individually. With the exception of the now traditional finish at the Champs-Elysées all famous stages, like Alpe d'Huez and Mont Ventoux, are mountain stages, and these often bring out the most spectators who line up the roads by the thousands to cheer and encourage the cyclists and support their favorites. The so called mountain stages are often the deciding factor in determining the winner of the Tour de France.

On ordinary stages that do not have extended mountain climbs, most riders can manage to stay together in the peloton all the way to the finish; during mountain stages, however, it is not uncommon for some riders to lose 40 minutes to the winner of the stage. Some ordinary stages take place in the mountains, almost always causing major shifts in the General Classification. The final kilometre is indicated in the race course by a red triangular pennant - known as the flamme rouge - raised above the road[2]. A crashed sprinter inside the final kilometre will not win the sprint, but avoids being penalised in the overall classification.

This prevents riders from being penalised for accidents that do not accurately reflect their performance on the stage as a whole given that crashes in the final kilometre can be huge pileups that are hard to avoid for a rider farther back in the peloton. Riders who crash within the last kilometer of the stage are credited with the finishing time of the group that they were with when they crashed. These bonuses generally are a maximum of 20 seconds, and can allow a good sprinter to qualify for the Yellow Jersey early in the Tour. Time bonuses are awarded at some intermediate sprints and stage finishes to the first three riders who reach the specified point.

It is not unusual for the entire field to finish in a single group, taking some time to cross the line, but being credited with the same time as the stage winner. This avoids what would otherwise be dangerous mass sprints. While only finishers are awarded sprint points, all riders finishing in an identifiable group (with no significant gap to the rider in front, as determined by race officials) are deemed to have finished the stage in the same time as the lead rider of that group for overall classification purposes. In the first week of the Tour, this usually leads to spectacular mass sprints.

The one who crosses the finish line first wins. The latter is called drafting and is an essential technique. Riders are permitted to touch (but not push or nudge) and to shelter behind each other, in slipstream [1]. The real start (départ réel) usually is some 2 to 5 km away from the starting point, and is announced by the Tour director in the officials' car waving a white flag.

In an ordinary stage, all riders start simultaneously and share the road. Its King of the Mountains wears a green jersey. The Giro d'Italia notably differs in awarding the overall leader a pink jersey, having been organized and sponsored by La Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian sports daily newspaper with pink pages. For example, the Tour of Britain has yellow, green, and polka-dot jerseys with the same meaning as in the Tour de France.

The Tour's jersey colours have been adopted by other cycling stage races, and have thus come to have meaning within cycling generally, rather than solely in the context of the Tour. No jerseys are exchanged in this situation. Sometimes a rider takes the overall lead during a stage and gets sufficiently far ahead of the yellow jersey wearer such that his current time lead is greater than his time deficit to the yellow jersey in the general classification; when this happens, this rider may be referred to as being "the yellow jersey on the road". They also get a high-quality jersey to keep as a souvenir: the ones that are worn get dirty and are sometimes damaged by the day's cycling.

Overnight, a high-quality jersey is printed to be worn the next day. The jersey bears their team logo, and the copy that they are awarded immediately after the stage end must have the logo attached in a matter of minutes, so this is done by a rapid process that can be done in the field but which yields an inferior jersey. A rider who leads a classification for a stage of the Tour gets three copies of the coloured jersey. At the end of the tour an award is given to the rider who was thought to be the most aggressive bike racer throughout the entire three week tour.

While this is usually is given to the winner of the previous stage, it is not always, especially during a mass sprint. Not an actual jersey, a red number is given to and worn by the rider who a panelist of judges deemed the most aggressive bike racer the day before. In this case the leading rider will wear the yellow jersey and the rider placed second in the points competition will wear the green jersey. For example, in the first week it is common for the overall classification (yellow jersey) and points (sprint) competition (green jersey) to be led by the same rider.

Where a single rider leads in the competition for more than one jersey, they wear the most prestigious jersey to which they are entitled, and the second-placed rider in each of the other classifications becomes entitled to wear the corresponding jersey. Jerseys are awarded in a ceremony immediately following the stage, sometimes before trailing riders have finished the stage. The rider leading a classification at the end of a stage is required to wear the corresponding jersey during the next stage. Often, therefore, national championship titles are held by domestiques or young, "up-and-coming" riders.

National championships are held the weekend before the tour starts, and many of the tour favourites and team leaders do not compete in them. National time-trial champions are allowed to wear their national jerseys in time-trial stages only. As in all road races, current national road race champions can wear their national jerseys in "ordinary stages"; the current world champion can wear the rainbow jersey. This was abolished in the same year as the red jersey.

The jersey design was a patchwork, with areas resembling each individual jersey design. There also used to be a combination jersey, scored on a points system based on standings for the yellow, green, red, and polka-dot jerseys. The red jersey was abolished in 1989. The sprints remain, with all these additional effects, the most significant now being the points for the green jersey.

These sprints also scored points towards the green jersey and bonus seconds towards the overall classification, as well as cash prizes offered by the residents of the area where the sprint took place. Historically, there was a red jersey for the standings in non-stage-finish sprints: points were awarded to the first three riders to pass two or three intermediate points during the stage. The team classification is not associated with a particular jersey design. The Tour currently has 21 teams of 9 riders each (when starting), each sponsored by one or more companies - although at some stages of its history, the teams have been divided instead by nationality.

For this classification, the time of the first three riders from each team is added after each stage. Finally, there is a team classification. The rider with most points in total gets a white-on-red (instead of a black-on-white) identification number. Each day, a group of judges awards points to riders who made particularly attacking moves that day.

Two lesser classifications are that for the maillot blanc (white jersey), which is like the yellow jersey, but only open for young riders (those who are less than 25 years old on January 1 of the year the Tour is ridden), and that for the "fighting spirit" award which goes to the most combative rider. See also: Climbing specialist (cycling)
. Two riders have won the "King of the Mountains" six times: Federico Bahamontes (Spain) in 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964; and Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983; while Richard Virenque (France) won his record-breaking seventh title in 2004 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004). The colours were decided by the then sponsor, Poulain Chocolate, to match a popular product.

Although the best climber was first recognized in 1933, the distinctive jersey was not introduced until 1975. Additionally beginning in 2004, points scored on the final climb of the day were doubled if said climb was at least a second category climb. Further points over a fourth category climb are only for the top three places while on a hors category climb the top ten riders are rewarded. In 2004, the scoring system was changed such that the first rider over a fourth category climb was awarded 3 points while the first to complete a hors category climb would win 20 points.

A fifth category, called Hors categorie (outside category) is formed by mountains even more difficult than those of the first category. The climbs are divided into categories from 1 (most difficult) to 4 (least difficult) based on their difficulty, measured as a function of their steepness and length. At the top of each climb in the Tour, there are points for the riders who are first over the top. The "King of the Mountains" wears a white jersey with red dots (maillot à pois rouges), referred to as the "polka dot jersey".

See also: Cycling sprinter
. The German rider Erik Zabel has won the most green jerseys with six consecutive wins from 1996 through 2001. Additional points are available at intermediate sprint contests, usually occurring 2 or 3 times in each stage at pre-determined locations; currently 6, 4 and 2 points are available to the first 3 riders at each sprint. Points are also awarded for individual time trial stages: 15 for the winner down to 1 for the 10th rider.

This is because, generally speaking, the more mountainous a stage is, the less likely the chance of a sprint finish between many riders. The number of points for each place and the number of riders rewarded varies depending on the type of stage - flat stages give the winner 35 points down to 1 point for the 25th rider; medium mountain stages give the winner 25 points down to 1 point for the 20th rider; high mountain stages give the winner 20 points down to 1 point for the 15th rider. At the end of each stage, points for this jersey are gained by the riders who finish first, second, etc. The maillot vert (green jersey) is awarded for sprint points.

The colour of the leader's jersey was originally a reference to the newspaper which sponsored the race, which had yellow pages.
. However, these bonuses are rarely significant enough to cause major upset in the classement géneral (general classification). As of 2005, the first 3 places to finish are awarded bonuses of 20, 12 and 8 seconds respectively, while the first 3 places at intermediate sprints are awarded 6, 4 and 2 seconds. Additional time bonuses, in the form of a number of seconds to be deducted from the rider's overall time, are available to the first 3 riders to finish the stage or cross an intermediate sprint (see below).

Desgrange added the yellow jersey in 1919 because he wanted the race leader to wear something distinctive and because the pages of his magazine, L'Auto, were yellow. The rider with the lowest total time is the leader, and at the end of the event is declared the overall winner of the Tour. It is awarded by calculating the total combined race time up to that point for each rider. The maillot jaune (yellow jersey), worn by the overall time leader, is most prized.

If a single rider is entitled to wear more than one jersey (for example, both overall leader and King of the Mountains), he wears the most prestigious one with the second place holder in the category wearing the other. The current holder of the prize is required to wear the jersey when racing. Generally a colored jersey is associated with each prize. Since 1984 there has been a Tour de France for women, La Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale or simply Le Tour Féminin.

The Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Cycling Championship constitute the Triple Crown of Cycling. Other major stage races include the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain). (A notable exception in recent years being the late Marco Pantani, the winner in 1998, who was a mountain climbing specialist.). Although the tour is often won in the mountain stages, the length and variety of terrain ensures that only an all-round rider can win the race.

The most famous mountains are those in the hors-categorie (peaks where the difficulty in climbing is beyond categorization), including the Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, the Hautacam and Alpe d'Huez. Next year's race can be expected to visit those two mountain ranges in the reverse order.) Some of the visited places, especially mountains and passes, recur almost annually and are famous on their own. (For example, the most recent Tour (2005) was a clockwise direction Tour - visiting the Alpes first and then the Pyrenees. The itinerary the race changes each year and alternates between clockwise and anti-clockwise direction around France.

With the variety of stages, sprinters may win stages, but the overall winner is almost always a master of the mountain stages and time trials. The remaining stages are held over relatively flat terrain. During the Tour, various stages occur, including a number of mountain stages, individual time trials and a team time trial. The traditional finish is in Paris on the Champs-Élysées.

This was scrapped in 2005, with the presumption that future editions will see the prologue reinstated. In recent years, the first stage had been preceded by a short individual time trial (1 to 15 km), called the prologue. The three weeks usually includes two rest days, which are sometimes used to transport the riders long distances between stages. Most stages take place in France though it is very common to have a few stages in nearby countries, such as Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany as well as non-neighbouring countries such as the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom (visited in 1974 and 1994) and the Netherlands.

Even when commercial cycling teams had become commonplace in other events, the Tour was contested by national teams for several years during the 1950s and early 1960s. The Tour is nowadays contested by professional teams backed by commercial sponsors, but the event began as a race for individuals; slipstreaming and other team tactics were initially savagely condemned by Desgrange, and he only accepted their inevitability during the 1920s. The leaders of these competitions are represented by certain coloured jerseys; see below for more information. In addition to the race for the overall win, there are several additional competitions.

Although the number of stages has varied in the past, recently the Tour has consisted of about 20 stages, with a total length of between 3,000 and 4,000 km (1800 to 2500 mi). Winning a Tour de France stage is considered a great pro cycling achievement, more prestigious than winning most single day races, regardless of one's overall standing in the GC. It is possible to win the overall race without winning any individual stages (which Greg LeMond did in 1990). The overall winner is the one who is ranked first on GC at the end of the final stage.

The ranking of the riders according to accumulated time is known as the General Classification, or GC. The amount of time it takes each rider to complete each stage is noted, recorded and accumulated. The Tour is a "stage race", divided into a number of stages, each being a race held over one day. Today, the Tour is organised by the Société du Tour de France, a subsidiary of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which is part of the media group that owns l'Équipe.

The record circulation claimed by Desgrange was 854,000, achieved during the 1933 Tour. Promotion of the Tour de France certainly proved a great success for the newspaper; circulation leapt from 25,000 before the 1903 Tour to 65,000 after it; in 1908 the race boosted circulation past a quarter of a million, and during the 1923 Tour it was selling 500,000 copies a day. L'Auto announced the race on January 19, 1903. The idea for a round-France stage race is also credited to one of his journalists, Géorges Lefèvre, with whom Desgrange had lunch at the Café de Madrid in Paris on 20 November 1902.

The Tour was founded as a publicity event for the newspaper L'Auto (ancestor of the present l'Équipe) by its editor and co-founder, Henri Desgrange, to rival the Paris-Brest et retour ride (sponsored by Le Petit Journal), and Bordeaux-Paris. .
. It is also the world's largest annual pro sporting event, measured in the number of viewers.

Only the best cycling teams in the world are chosen to compete and competitors must have an invitation to enter the race. The Tour de France, in contrast, has long been a household name around the globe, even amongst people who are not generally interested in pro cycling, and is for cycling what the FIFA World Cup is to football (soccer) in terms of global popularity. While the other two European Grand Tours are well-known in Europe and attract many professional cyclists, they are relatively unknown outside the continent, and even the UCI World Cycling Championship is only familiar to cycling enthusiasts. The Tour de France is by far the most prestigious of all cycling competitions in the world.

The most recent Tour was the 2005 Tour de France. It has been held annually since 1903, interrupted only by World War I and World War II. The Tour de France (French for "Tour of France"), often referred to as La Grande Boucle, Le Tour or The Tour, is a long-distance road bicycle racing competition for professionals held over three weeks in July in and around France. The "average" rider in 2005 was 1.79 metres (5 ft 10 in) tall, weighed 71 kg (157 lb, 11 stone 3 lb), and had a resting heart rate of 50 beats per minute.

Chris Horner and Laurent Lefevre shared the lowest resting heart rate, 35 beats per minute. The lightest was Leonardo Piepoli at 57 kg (126 lb or 8 stone 14 lb). The heaviest rider was Magnus Backstedt at 95 kg (209 lb or 14 stone 13 lb). The shortest was Samuel Dumoulin at 1.58 metres (5 ft 2 in).

The tallest rider was Johan van Summeren at 1.98 metres (6 ft 5.5 in). French racer Adolphe Helière drowned at the Côte d'Azur during a rest day. 1910: Hors Categorie. 1935: Spanish racer Francesco Cepeda died after plunging down a ravine on the Col du Galibier.

His death prompted tour officials to begin a programme of drug testing. Amphetamines and alcohol were found in Simpson's jersey and bloodstream. 1967: Friday July 13, Stage 13: English rider Tom Simpson died of heart failure on the ascent of Mont Ventoux. Casartelli, not wearing a helmet, received massive trauma to the top of his head from a concrete block and died on the scene.

1995: July 18, stage 15: Italian racer Fabio Casartelli crashed at approximately 88 km/h descending the Col de Portet d'Aspet. Greg LeMond (USA) in 1986, 1989, and 1990. Louison Bobet (France) in 1953, 1954, and 1955;. Philippe Thys (Belgium) in 1913, 1914, and 1920;.

Miguel Induráin (Spain) in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 (the first to do so in five consecutive years). Bernard Hinault (France) in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985;. Eddy Merckx (Belgium) in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974;. Jacques Anquetil (France) in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964;.

lanterne rouge - meaning "red lantern" (as found at the end of a rail train), the name for the overall last-place rider.

Further information: Tour de France#Culture and Customs

. flamme rouge, or red kite - the red pennant hanging from an archway at the start of the final kilometre (it may not always be exactly one kilometre from the finish; it is roughly 1000 metres from the finish, sometimes before where a crash may be likely, and/or where the erection of a large, tent-like inflatable arch is easiest). hors catégorie - a climb that is "beyond categorization", an incredibly tough climb. course - all riders taken together, from the tête de la course to the arrière de la course.

2005 to present Christian Prudhomme. 1989 to 2005 Jean-Marie Leblanc. 1988 to 1989 Jean-Pierre Courcol. 1987 to 1988 Jean-François Naquet-Radiguet.

1962 to 1986 Jacques Goddet and Felix Levitan. 1947 to 1961 Jacques Goddet. 1903 to 1939 Henri Desgrange.

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