Champion Cyclist. Known as "The Little Chimney Sweep", he was the winner of the first Tour de France. He and his family moved to France from their native Italy in 1885 and he began work as a chimney sweep. He bought his first bicycle in 1889 and started racing in northern France in 1892, the year he adopted French nationality. He won his first race in 1893, in spite of having to commandeer a rival's spare bike because his own had punctured. His won his first professional event while still an amateur, setting off after the other riders had started. He took home 300 francs which had been collected for him by the enthusiastic crowd after the race organizers refused to recognize his victory. His first official professional victory came in 1893 when he won a twenty-four hour race in Paris. He rode 701 kilometres in twenty-four hours, beating the only other finisher by forty-nine kilometres. He went on to set an hour record for riding behind pacers in 1895, and came third in the first Paris-Roubaix race in 1896. He was to win this event in the following year and again in 1898, when he had a lead of twenty minutes over his nearest rival. In 1901 he won the Paris-Brest-Paris race by almost two hours when the early leader, Lucien Lesna, stopped to take a bath. In 1903 he became the first ever winner of the Tour de France, winning 6125 francs in total prize money and being honoured with a procession in his adopted home town of Lens. He won the Tour again in 1904, but was later disqualified for allegedly taking a train for part of the race. He then retired from racing and ran a garage in Lens until his death at age eighty-five. the "Stade Velodrome Maurice Garin" in Lens was named in his honour in 1933.
Bio by: js