Adolphe Hélière's fatal rest on a beach

The 19-year-old Frenchman was the first dead in the history of the Tour. He suffered a digestion cut in Nice in the 1910 edition.

The 1910 Tour de France was remembered as the first edition to include the Pyrenees, but it was also a pioneer in a more tragic statistic, the one that inaugurated the first death in the history of the race. Adolphe Hélière did not die on a bicycle in the heat of competition, as years later happened with Paquillo Cepeda, Tom Simpson or Fabio Casartelli, but during a rest day in Nice.

Hélière was a 19-year-old who dreamed of being a professional cyclist. The money he made as a car mechanic he invested in race registrations. The best known result for him was a 13th place in the Paris-Le Mans in 1910, the same year that he participated in the Tour as an isole, that precarious category in which you had to buy your own equipment, reserve your hotels, finance your power…

A legend indicates that the readers of L'Auto bet 100 francs that Hélière did not pass the third stage. If true, they were wrong. The Breton finished the first six, with numerous penalties: he suffered breakdowns, collided with a horse ... His best classification was 61st place out of 72 participants. But he also won the love of the squad for his solidarity, after carrying Emile Georget on his back after a fall.

Hélière finished the sixth stage in Nice after midnight, nine hours after the winner, Julien Maitron. Due to late hours and his financial shortage, he slept on a beach the night. The next day he wanted to make good use of the rest day. He ate a copious meal in a restaurant and finished it off with a good ice cream. From there he went, along with three other cyclists, to another beach near Les Bains de l'Opera. The dip was fatal. Hélière died on July 14 from a hydrocution, which is erroneously also called a digestion cut. Other less reliable sources point to a jellyfish sting.

His father and brother, notified by telegram, arrived from Rennes in time to attend his funeral, but it took ten months for his body to be repatriated. The Nice daily L'Eclaireur opened a subscription to raise funds up to 1,000 francs, of which 100 came from L'Auto.

His death certificate stated that his profession had been that of 'cyclist'. His dream came true posthumously.

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