Archiv der Kategorie: History

The Tour to the power of 10

1950: divorce Italian style (5/10)

At the turn of each decade, the Tour de France has gone through organisational changes and backstage struggles that have variously turned out to be decisive or utterly inconsequential. The journey back in time proposed by continues in 1950, marked by the collective departure of the Italian riders after incidents that resulted in Gino Bartali being threatened and assaulted by French spectators in the Pyrenees. Between the resurgence of the old internal squabbles within the „Squadra“ and the diplomatic consequences of the Col d’Aspin affair, the 1950 Tour extended well beyond the roads of France.
A quarrel between neighbouring countries on the Tour de France is both simple and, at the same time, much more complex than an anecdotal overzealousness and wine in the ranks of the supporters of both sides. In 1950, traces of World War II remained and the memory of the Mussolini regime’s collaboration with Nazi Germany was still fresh. On the political front, there was a genuine desire to reintegrate Italy into the community of nations on both sides of the Alps, but progress was slow and sport had its place in this process. In the world of cycling, the Italian federation (UVI) was not readmitted into the UCI until 1947. In concert with the authorities, the organisers worked to bring consistency to the peloton and to provoke a maximum number of encounters between the champions of the two countries, for example with the creation of the Desgrange-Colombo Challenge, in tribute to the founders of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. As a symbol of the newfound friendship, Sanremo hosted a stage finish on the 1948 Tour, where Gino Sciardis won ahead of Urbain Caffi… two French riders of Italian origin!

The understood interest of the two organizing newspapers, L’Equipe and La Gazzetta was to ensure that their races had the highest possible density, coexisting with the chauvinistic fibre that also sold newspapers. But this approach tended to heat up controversy and in the 1949 Tour, the French riders were copiously insulted, pushed and targeted by stone-throwing Italian supporters during the stage leading to Aosta. After the domination of Bartali and Coppi in the two previous editions, and a minimalist strategy that hardly made Italian riders popular in France, the 1950 Tour began in a climate of hostility towards them. Heralded as the rider to beat when Coppi was unable to ride, Gino Bartali felt threatened from the very first days, when the Italians won three of the first five stages. In the time trial in Brittany, he narrowly avoided falling after a spectator threw a stick into his wheels, but his team manager, Alfredo Binda effectively negotiated with the Italian journalists present not to worsen the situation. Gino himself declared in La Gazzetta on the eve of the Pyrenees that „it is better not to win“, just to ease tensions.

Jacques Goddet paid a visit to the Hotel de France in Loures-Barousse. The boss decided to meet the Italian delegation and convince Bartali to stay in the race. But his arguments didn’t change a thing. The leader of the „Squadra“ felt he was in danger.

The fears of the two-time winner were well-founded and the atmosphere grew increasingly tense in the Pau-Saint-Gaudens stage. On the Col d’Aspin climb, the pressure of the crowd sent both Robic and Bartali off their bikes, then the situation degenerated. Accounts of this scene of confusion varied greatly, but the limits of simple intimidation were largely exceeded and there were certainly punches thrown. In any case, Bartali, enraged, managed to get back to the leaders of the race and won the sprint in Saint-Gaudens, while his young team-mate Fiorenzo Magni claimed the Yellow Jersey, and immediately afterwards decided to leave the Tour where he felt in danger. That night, Jacques Goddet paid a visit to the Hotel de France in Loures-Barousse. The boss decided to meet the Italian delegation and convince Bartali to stay in the race. But his arguments (including financial ones, according to some…) didn’t change a thing. The leader of the „Squadra“ felt he was in danger and explained himself diplomatically in L’Equipe: „In many circumstances, I’ve been wonderfully welcomed in your country. But I think it only takes one crazy person for a disaster to happen. And that’s the madman I’m afraid of. Please understand, I have children and a family. Why take such risks? No, it’s for Italy that I’ll leave tomorrow“.

In fact, opinions were divided in the Italian camp. Fiorenzo Magni, who led the general classification, could legitimately believe in his chances of going for the greatest victory of his career. Bartali did not like this, partly because of Magni’s militia past. Alfredo Binda, who coached the team, rather thought about the need to maintain friendly relations with the French, but finally agreed with Bartali’s position and assumed the group withdrawal of the two Italian teams, taking the „Cadetti“ with him. The situation helped Ferdi Kübler, the new rider in the Yellow Jersey, but more than anything else caused a lot of upheaval. Very soon after the departure of the Italians, it was decided to cancel the arrival in Sanremo scheduled four days later for fear of reprisals from the tifosi. In the rush, Goddet and his services took on the logistical challenge of preparing a fallback arrival in Menton, with more than 1000 people to house and feed.

Practical considerations were quickly relegated to the back burner, as the Aspin affair entered the judicial arena with the opening of an investigation, and political considerations as soon as the stability of Franco-Italian relations was compromised. The diplomats of both countries were much less heated than their respective supporters and tried to calm things down. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Robert Schuman, first of all hastened to send a message to the Italian ambassador, expressing his „deep regret at the incidents of which the Italian riders were victims“. The issue also came up in parliamentary debates in both countries, with Edouard Bonnefous, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, solemnly declaring that „the Italians are friends who came to our country to demonstrate their class, not to be insulted. We cannot allow a handful of scoundrels to jeopardise good relations between the two countries“. In the same spirit of appeasement, the Italian Ambassador in Paris replied that „the regret expressed by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs served as a reminder that such incidents could never disrupt the friendly relations between the two governments and the two peoples, whose collaboration will increasingly develop in all areas“. As far as cycling was concerned, the presidents of the two federations, Adriano Rodoni and Achille Joinard, met in the second week of August with the Tour de France organisers to talk about the future. The Italian riders would definitely come to the 1951 Tour de France.
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The Tour to the power of 10

1940: The Tour that wasn’t (4/10)

At the turn of each decade, the Tour de France has gone through organisational changes and backstage struggles that have variously turned out to be decisive or utterly inconsequential. The journey back in time proposed by continues in 1940: when the country entered the war, Henri Desgrange tried to keep the 34th edition of the Tour alive until spring, but had to resign himself to its cancellation. Before July France was already under German occupation, and Desgrange left the Tour orphaned in August.

According to the tautological principle that you can’t suppress something that doesn’t exist, the 1940 edition of the Tour de France is the only one in history to have been cancelled. Although its detailed route was never published and its dates were not officially announced, its organisation was well thought out, envisaged and programmed in the offices of the organising newspaper, in a France that was nevertheless at war and whose youth had been drafted in September 1939. It would be far-fetched to suspect L’Auto of existing naively in a sports bubble ignoring the major issues in the balance on the battlefield, quite the contrary. From mid-September, the newspaper even assumed a total commitment by changing its title to L’Auto-Soldat, and its editorial line then split between news of the world conflict, analysis of the competitions that continued to take place and news of the champions called up to serve in the armed forces. On 16 September, the headline was accompanied by an unequivocal quote from Voltaire: „Every man is a soldier against tyranny“. It is in this line that Henri Desgrange, who, although seriously ill, did not let go of his pen but distanced himself from sport, multiplied patriotic editorials and caricatures, for example Hitler, whom he described as a „house painter“.

In its services, all the assistants were active and strove to give shape from the very beginning of winter to a cycling season that could also sustain the idea that France continued to live on. In December, discussions began with the heads of the bicycle manufacturers to try to come up with a calendar and invent a new formula. How can a bunch of riders of at the same skill level be formed when most of the riders in the 1939 Tour were fighting? Were foreign cyclists from non-belligerent countries going to be accepted? Who would therefore have their best people available? Where can we get bicycles when the entire industry is focused on the war effort? The debate was launched, and even initiated in the columns of the newspaper, which transcribed the content of the negotiations like a soap opera. Alcyon’s boss was optimistic, but not as determined as Colibri’s: „I’ve come, like all my colleagues, to put a white ball in to get unanimous congratulations,“ read the 16 January edition of L’Auto. On the other hand, Genial-Lucifer had more misgivings („Maurice Evrard felt that in his own opinion the uselessness of certain road races was obvious“, L’Auto of 13 January), and the tone was also very cautious from the head of Dilecta. However, we manage to get everyone to agree year after year on a formula published on 6 February which, among other measures, only admits riders who are not yet old enough to carry weapons and limits the number of foreigners to 33% of the peloton.

On 11 July, on the BBC, an anonymous columnist chose sport to make the voice of London heard. „Today, if Mr. Hitler had agreed to let Europe live in peace, the 34th Tour de France would have set off joyfully.”

Everything seemed more or less in place, but while it was business as usual at the velodromes throughout the winter, there were great difficulties at the start of the road racing season. Paris-Roubaix, whose route was initially validated by military authorities, was transformed into Roubaix-Paris and finally saved in-extremis as Le Mans-Paris! It looked like there was also going to be course reversal for Paris-Tours, and the clouds were particularly threatening on the Race to the Sun, which L’Auto was exceptionally associated with the Le Petit Niçois newspaper in an attempt to save the organisation. Above all, Henri Desgrange published a paper with a very pessimistic tone for the future of the 1940 Tour de France. He evoked a course in the form of a „deflated bladder“, listed all the constraints he faced, and concluded as follows: „It would be enough, wouldn’t it, for you to expect this article to end with the announcement that the 1940 Tour de France will not take place? Well! It is not enough for us and we still have one last hope of being able to triumph over all these difficulties, and we want to give it a try“. The sentence was not long in coming. Four days later, the announcement was posted on the front page: „The Tour de France will not take place this year. It is postponed to 1941. See the explanations provided by its creator, Henri Desgrange, in the 13 and 14 April issues.”

Events then precipitated the country into the dark sequence of the German occupation following the signing of the armistice of 22 June 1940 by Philippe Pétain. Meanwhile, Charles De Gaulle launched his 18 June appeal on the BBC, the Free France timidly structured itself behind the „Leader of the French who continue the war“. It so happened that from London, the following 11 July, a small French enclave decided to act as if the Tour de France had started. The programme „Ici la France“ was broadcast daily for half an hour on the BBC. That day, an anonymous columnist whose name remains unknown chose sport to make the voice of London heard. „Today, if Mr. Hitler had agreed to let Europe live in peace, he would have set off joyfully on the 34th Tour de France*. A completely fictitious story began, as a way to reunite the divided country and to find itself in a shared and happy wistfulness. This was far from reality, but in the legend of the Tour, the story is as important as the race.

It is unlikely that Henri Desgrange could have heard this report, which would have certainly given him chills, perhaps even drawn a few tears. For the 1940 Tour de France, even if it had been able to take place, would also have been the first without him. Operated on a few months earlier and seriously weakened, the father of the Tour de France died on 16 August, at the age of 75. His successor and spiritual son, Jacques Goddet, took over the reins of the newspaper and the following year he opposed the organisation of a Tour de France whose prestige would be claimed by the Vichy regime. The return of the real Tour de France had to wait until 1947.

The Tour to the power of 10

1930: The Tour revolutionizes (3/10)

At the turn of each decade, the Tour de France has gone through organisational changes and backstage struggles that have variously turned out to be decisive or utterly inconsequential. The journey back in time proposed by continues in 1930, the year of a major revolution when, Tour boss and editor-in-chief of L’Auto, Henri Desgrange decided riders would compete in national teams and no longer for bicycle manufacturers. To pay for this costly reform, the newspaper also found a new source of income with the creation of the advertising caravan.

Tensions between the bicycle brands and the organisers were a common thread that followed and forged the history of the nascent Tour de France and then the interwar period. Henri Desgrange, who was a purist and uncompromising in his conception of sporting competition, despised and fought against any form of agreement likely to contaminate the simple athletic confrontation between the heroes of the Grande Boucle. Since the resumption in 1919, following the First World War, the Tour de France boss introduced regulations to reduce the influence of the most powerful manufacturers in the industry, which had a tendency to dictate race scenarios. The situation even began to disgust Desgrange following the 1929 Tour, won by Maurice De Waele, a Belgian champion who was certainly solid and exemplary, but in the end wasn’t challenged nearly enough by the competition on his victorious ride to Paris.

For the 1930 edition, Desgrange decided to radically change the format. Teams were no longer formed by bicycle manufacturers, but were made up of national selections whose composition was also decided by L’Auto. In order to be in complete control, he committed to supplying the bikes to the Tour riders, at least those entered in the Aces category, even if it meant making the “tourists-routiers” wait a few years. The great project quickly developed in the mind of Desgrange, who announced precisely his plans and objectives in L’Auto on 25 September 1929: „The major change is the suppression of commercial rivalries that have been significantly shattering the success of the race every year since 1903. With only one brand available for the Aces, we can say that there is no longer a commercial battle, and that the race will be able to take place in a sporting manner. From now on, nothing will prevent the best from winning“.

The change to national teams must not be considered as a declaration of war, as the brands retain their riders in all other competitions throughout the year and could, for example, require them to boycott the Tour.

The transformation wanted by the organizing newspaper implied major constraints since the bicycles, accommodations and provisions were fully taken care of. The financial expenditures to be made were significant and had to be paid for by some income if the reform was to be feasible. This is where a genius idea was born to balance the accounts. Desgrange was assisted by an advertising director, Robert Desmarets, who had noticed that for several years, brands had taken advantage of the exceptional crowds around the peloton to set up commercial ventures. Vehicles in the colours of Menier chocolates, for example, were already handing out thousands of bars to the public in 1929. “Grand Bob”, as he was nicknamed, decided to officially accept them at the opening of the race, in return for a fee covering most of the extra expenses for the year. Menier, Fromagerie Bell (Vache Qui Rit), Biscottes Delft and Montres Noveltex formed the Tour’s first publicity caravan.

The power struggle between Desgrange and the bicycle manufacturers can, however, be put into perspective, as the co-dependent relationship remained very real. The move to the national teams should not have been seen as a declaration of war, as the brands retained their riders all year round on all other the competitions, on the roads of France as well as on the velodromes, and could for example require them to boycott the Tour. This context of more or less harmonious cohabitation partially explained the tone adopted by Desgrange in his opening article on the day of the race’s start: „It will be the honour of the bicycle manufacturers to have accepted this experience, which may seem to deprive this or that of a profitable advertisement, but which must benefit the entire bicycle industry. (…) They did not accept this experience passively; they followed it and will follow it, for a month, with great interest. (…) Yes, we owe André Leducq and Delannoy to Alcyon, Marcel Bidot to La Française, Demuysère to Génial-Lucifer, Bonduel to Dilecta, and the Magne Brothers to the Société Française de Cycles. Our great brands have lent them to us, or better said… they gave them to us without any restrictions. What a guarantee of success that such a gift, and what recognition for such a gesture do we not owe to our major cycle manufacturers?”. The recognition was also that of a businessman, well aware that these firms were also huge advertisers who contributed to the financial health of the newspaper throughout the year.

In any case, in the Aces category there were five national teams of eight riders at the start. Belgium’s black jerseys, Italy’s green, Spain’s red, Germany’s yellow and France’s blue-white-red were about to spark phenomenal enthusiasm among the public… and among the readers. Desgrange naturally found that the patriotic fibre was working to full effect with the French Tennis Musketeers, who were taking the entire country by storm in their matches with the Australians and Americans in the Davis Cup. He found his Musketeers on wheels with André Leducq, Antonin Magne and Charles Pélissier. As if by magic, while the French were generally outclassed during the 1920s by the Belgians, Luxembourgers and Italians, the collective force of the French squad was impressive. Pélissier won a total of eight stages, a record that still stands, while „Dédé gueule d’amour“ won the general classification after a hard-fought battle with Alfredo Binda and Learco Guerra among others. The success of the French clan was also a tremendous victory for Henri Desgrange, who concluded the Tour with these words: „This is now, indisputably, the National Bicycle Holiday. From now on, we will celebrate it every year under the same conditions, to the greatest glory of this divine machine and to the glory of our great cycling industry. (…) Thus the Tour de France will henceforth be a great international and peaceful competition where cycling nations will come every year to measure the value of their champions“.

The Tour to the power of 10 / 1920: “sportsmen” according to Desgrange (2/10)

1920: “sportsmen” according to Desgrange (2/10)

At the turn of each decade, the Tour de France has gone through organisational changes and backstage struggles that have variously turned out to be decisive or utterly inconsequential. The journey back in time proposed by continues in 1920, with a look at the strong-minded decisions and writings of Henri Desgrange, the director of the Tour de France and chief editor of the newspaper L’Auto. In keeping with a French nation in admiration of its heroes from the Great War and enthralled by the adventures of the first aviators ready to risk their lives for heroics, the former holder of the hour record, who had become a powerful press figure, can also be considered to have made the Tour rhyme with trial and tribulation…

It is a tricky exercise to determine the level of difficulty when designing a race to be demanding, to require its participants to stand out via their bravery and endurance, but to avoid going beyond what is reasonable… This question has been central to debates between organisers, participants, supporters and journalists since the beginnings of sport. Evidently, the notion put forward by Henri Desgrange, the boss of L’Auto newspaper and the Tour in France of the 1920’s, was not troubled with tantrums and bellyaching: his role was to organise a trial, in both the sporting and true sense of the word. It is always possible to discuss which edition of the Tour de France has been the most formidable. The race in 1920 may not necessarily feature at the top of the list, but it definitely included all the suitable ingredients. With a total distance of 5,503 kilometres, it is not the longest in history, though due to only boasting 15 stages, the average daily distance of 367 km is only beaten by the 1919 edition. It should be remembered that the damage caused by the First World War still disfigured the country, with most of the roads made up of potholes, broken cobbles, cracks and ruts… These conditions were not exactly ideal for a bicycle race, especially in light of the fact that the stage starts took place on average at 2 o’clock in the morning.

As if the physical conditions of the race were not tough enough, Desgrange inaugurated a formula aimed at diminishing bicycle brands’ influence on the race and forbid any sort of collusion. The director of the Tour de France was obsessed by this combat, conveyed by strict rules that were applied without the slightest indulgence: “A participant on the Tour de France is placed in the situation of a rider who sets off to train alone without having prepared anything on his route for refreshments. This means: 1. He cannot assist his comrades or competitors in any way and they cannot accept anything from him; 2. On the road, the rider must be responsible for his own refreshments, without having ordered or requested the ordering of anything, and must not receive any help from whomsoever, to the extent by which he is obliged to collect water from the springs or fountains he may encounter by himself. With regard to the bicycle, each rider must complete the Tour de France on the same machine, except in the case of serious accidents. In such a case, he may swap the machine with a cyclist encountered on his route, on the sole condition that the machine borrowed is a different brand to his own”.

After 4 stages, the pack was only made up of 48 riders out of the 113 who started the race.
The mood was glum, all the more so as the French were palpably dominated by the Belgians.

Thus the scene was set. When the Grande Boucle began at Place de la Concorde on 27th June, the worries about a plethora of punctures became reality. After four stages, the pack was only made up of 48 riders out of the 113 who started the race. The mood was glum, all the more so as the French were palpably dominated by the Belgians. Of course, Henri Pélissier triumphed in Brest and at Les Sables-d’Olonne, but the rebellious temperament of the winner on the Paris-Roubaix and Bordeaux-Paris races in 1919 was hardly to the liking of Desgrange, who did not hold back from writing exactly what he thought about him in L’Auto, the day after he exited the race on the longest stage, between Les Sables d’Olonne and Bayonne (483 km). “Firstly, is Pélissier worse after the war than before? Not at all! (…) He is not worse, but the others are better and the obstacles have become more difficult. Those are some of the reasons. They count for something, but not as much as the reason which dominates all the rest and that Pélissier finely explains as follows: ‘I have money and circumstances that exempt me from undertaking such difficult tasks’. Who can blame him for such a line of thought? At the most, could we ask him why he even starts to undertake them? His mind is no longer what it was in days gone by. He enjoys life, his enthusiasm has been becalmed with age and his heart no longer beats to the devilish rhythm of his beginnings. (…) Moreover, for him the cream is too thick, the spoon stands up in it by itself. He is already morally flabby and cuts a heavy figure, when on the Tour de France it is necessary to be as skinny as a whippet”.

Le 1920 Tour de France continued without Henri Pélissier (who nevertheless enjoyed his revenge over Desgrange in 1923!) and continued to wring out the pack, whittled down to 31 members on completion of the first Pyrenean stage. In his diatribe against Pélissier, the director of the Tour incidentally continued to describe the mental and moral qualities of the valiant champion as he saw them: “And what about his effeminate edginess?! In Morlaix he was not interested, in Brest he was; at Les Sables-d’Olonne he showed intent, but one hundred kilometres further he would not show the slightest bit more. Compare this ‘fair-weather’ attitude with, if I may say, the unswerving will of Christophe”.

Dogged, as often, by bad luck, Eugène Christophe, Desgrange’s favourite, also exited the race, beaten by unconquerable back pains. Nonetheless, it was a similarly tough guy who was victorious in Paris. Philippe Thys became the first three-time winner of the Tour when completing a series started before the war (in 1913 and 1914). He dominated the classification in which the top seven places were occupied by Belgians, after more than 228 hours on the saddle, which is almost three times more than the 83 hours on a bike that Egan Bernal spent last July. It would be interesting to read a portrait of the first Colombian winner of the Tour de France written by the hand of “HD”!

The TdF to the power of 10

1910: Alphonse Steinès’s great deception (1/10)

At the turn of each decade, the Tour de France has gone through organisational changes and backstage struggles that have variously turned out to be decisive or utterly inconsequential. Our journey back in time begins in 1910 with journalist-organiser Alphonse Steinès, who was tasked with reconnoitring the course before the riders were sent on their first high-mountain challenge, in the Pyrenees. He was the first winner on the Tourmalet!

110 years ago, the organisers of the Tour de France were already looking for new ways of spicing up the race, be it with rule changes or with gruelling new courses. At the office of the newspaper L’Auto, the most audacious and creative of these visionaries was Alphonse Steinès, Henri Desgrange’s odd-job man. He was the one who had first come up with the idea of letting the riders cross swords on the highest roads of the Pyrenees, at a time when the Tour de France had never gone higher than the 1,326 m Col de Porte and sporadic visits to Col Bayard (1,264 m), the Ballon d’Alsace (1,178 m) and Col de la République (1,161 m). The course of the 1910 edition spelled double trouble for the peloton, featuring a mountain stage from Perpignan to Luchon and an even more fearsome one from Luchon to Bayonne. Desgrange, every bit as reluctant as he had been a few years earlier when Géo Lefèvre had first suggested organising the Tour de France, decided to send Steinès to find out first-hand just how ridiculous his idea was. According to Desgrange, wanting to climb the Tourmalet was insane, not to mention the fact that the road was impassable.

Steinès, not one to give up easily or pass up the opportunity to go on a trip, took Desgrange at his word, jumped behind the wheel of his trusted Dietrich and headed to the Pyrenees. Although Steinès hit the road in late June, the previous winter had been harsh and long in the region, and snow had been reported at high altitude only two weeks earlier. Our very special correspondent found that the Tourmalet lived up to its ominous name (bad detour), seeing only a few bears and the occasional intrepid shepherd. The recce quickly deteriorated into an adventure and then into a nightmare after leaving Sainte-Marie-de-Campan. Steinès was forced to abandon his car and spend hours marching towards Barèges, on the other side of the massif. Once there, he wired Desgrange a reassuring message: „Crossed Tourmalet… STOP… Perfectly passable… STOP.“
„Keep in mind that going over the mountain passes, even when rehabilitated, will be no child’s play. It will require the biggest effort that any rider has ever made.“
It was just a bluff. He knew his boss was right to be concerned, as he freely admitted when recounting the ascent, which he described as an odyssey, in his column in L’Auto of 1 July: „Even if I lived to the ripe old age of 100, I would never forget the adventure of my struggle against the mountain, the snow, the ice, the clouds, the ravines, hunger, thirst… against everything. Trying to go over the pass in its current condition would be madness. My reckless gamble almost cost me my life. No more, no less.“ Quite the dramatic account. Steinès explained how, after covering the last two kilometres of the ascent on foot with a shepherd as a guide, he tackled the descent alone in the dark, got lost in a snow drift and fell into a freezing river, which he used to find the direction of the valley.

After this brief introduction, which cast our hero from Luxembourg as the earliest predecessor of climbers such as Charly Gaul and the Schleck Bros., the piece set out Steinès’s rationale on the feasibility of sending the riders into such inhospitable terrain. „The Col du Tourmalet and Aubisque are still not smoother than the concrete of the Parc des Princes, but based on what I saw, they will be passable once rehabilitated. What the hell, the Tour de France is no walk in the park! Keep in mind that going over the mountain passes, even when rehabilitated, will be no child’s play. It will require the biggest effort that any rider has ever made.“ In somewhat different words, Octave Lapize confirmed this assessment three weeks later when he became the first rider to reach the top of the Tourmalet, albeit on foot. Coming across Victor Breyer —one of Steinès’s colleagues in L’Auto— at the summit, the man who would go on to win the stage did not mince his words: „You are murderers! No-one can ask men to make an effort like this.“ Since the Giant of the Pyrenees made its debut in 1910, the peloton of the Tour de France has climbed it no fewer than 84 times —and Thibaut Pinot certainly looked much happier than „Tatave“ when he crested the mountain last summer.

DM 100km 2er Mannschaft 1983 am Reichelsdorfer Keller

Das Foto ist eine schöne, wie auch gleichzeitig traurige Erinnerung für mich.
Günter Kobek und Reinhold Kleebaum wurden im Sommer 1983 vor den Donike Brüdern Deutscher Meister im 2er Mannschaftsfahren der Amateure über 100km.
Leider verunglückte Günter Kobek am 30.10.2016 tödlich, als ein 82-Jähriger Autofahrer ihn auf der Landstraße mit seinem Rennrad übersah und mit ihm kollidierte.

Text und Fotos: Gerhard Plomitzer