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French cycling great Poulidor dies at 83

Raymond Poulidor finished the Tour de France in second place three times five times in third. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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

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.

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome paid tribute to Poulidor via Twitter.

Poulidor finished the Tour de France in second place three times five times in third.

Born in 1936 in central France, Poulidor started racing professionally in 1959.

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 Flèche Wallonne in 1963. He also won seven Tour de France stages.