French cyclist Raymond Poulidor, best known for failing to win the Tour de France while coming agonisingly close on numerous occasions, has died aged 83.

Nicknamed “Pou-Pou” and a public favourite because of his perennial runner-up status, Poulidor’s rivalry with compatriot Jacques Anquetil – who won the Tour de France five times – gripped the country in the 1960s.

As Anquetil’s career wound down at the end of that decade, many thought Poulidor’s time had come. But it was not to be ashis path was then blocked by another Tour de France great, Belgian Eddy Merckx, who also won the sport’s big prize five times between 1969 and 1974.

Poulidor finished the Tour de France in second place three times (1964, 1965, 1974) and five times in third (1962, 1966, 1969, 1972 and 1976).

He did win one Grand Tour during his almost 20-year career, the Spanish Vuelta in 1964, as well as several classics, including “Monument” Milan-San Remo in 1961 and La Fl+che Wallonne in 1963. He also won seven Tour de France stages.

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