Schlagwort-Archive: Tour de France

2019 La Course by Le Tour de France: Latest news with one day to go

Key points:
 The sixth edition of La Course by Le Tour de France will be held in Pau on Friday, 19 July, just a few hours before the Tour de France stage 13 time trial takes place on the same course. The start is scheduled for 9:30.
 Watch the race live on France Télévisions and Eurosport from 10 am to 12:50 pm.
A circuit race where anything can happen
After the sprinters in Paris and the climbers on the Izoard and Le Grand-Bornand, the time has come for a different breed of riders to shine in La Course by le Tour de France. Punchers will have the upper hand on the undulating circuit around Pau, on which the elite of women’s cycling will have to complete five laps for a total of 121 km. Expect fireworks on the Gelos (1.1 km at 7.8%) and Esquillot (1 km at 7.2%) climbs. However, sprinters will still have 12 kilometres between the top of the last climb and the finish line to latch back onto the peloton and fight for the win. Will it be enough to lead to a bunch sprint? Race coordinator Jean-Marc Marino says that anything can happen, pointing out the short but super-steep section (70 m at 17%) that comes 400 m before the finish. „Smart riding will be key. Will there be a team that tries to keep a lid on the race in the hope that its leader can survive the climbs and take the sprint? We’ll see. At any rate, expect a war of attrition, a thrilling race. We want to show the public that women’s cycling is more than just girls sprinting on the Champs-Élysées or climbing mountains. Our aim this year was to underline the wealth of diversity of women’s cycling.“
All previous champions on the start line after Van Vleuten confirms
Fresh off her second victorious Giro campaign, Mitchelton–Scott’s Annemiek van Vleuten will be chasing her third triumph in a row. She will have to work harder for it this time round. The two-time world time trial champion from the Netherlands brought her climbing prowess to bear to win the previous two editions, but she is hardly the most explosive rider in the peloton. The same holds true for another Dutch champion, Anna van der Breggen, who has some accounts to settle with the race despite having won the 2015 edition. Last year, the leader of the fearsome Boels–Dolmans team was pipped on the line by Van Vleuten in Le Grand-Bornand. If she is to win on Friday, she will have to pull off something similar to the solo exploit that got her the rainbow jersey last year. Jean-Marc Marino still sees Marianne Vos, the most prolific rider of the last decade and winner of the inaugural edition in 2014, as the big favourite: „She’s the fastest sprinter among all the climbers.“ The CCC Liv leader will first need to knock Chloe Hosking out of contention. The Australian winner of the 2016 edition, the only non-Dutch rider to have won the race so far, will be banking on a bunch sprint.

Franck Vandenbroucke’s daughter on the start line
Australia’s Amanda Spratt, riding for the same team as Van Vleuten and fourth in last year’s race, Amstel Gold Race winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma, British 2015 world champion Lizzie Deignan and Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, third in 2017, are the most notable outsiders. Franck Vandenbroucke’s daughter Cameron will be making her debut in La Course by le Tour at the age of 20.
French riders eager to spring a surprise
The local girls are facing long odds again this year. However, Jean-Marc Marino, sports manager of the event, still believes in their chances: „The race will be wide open, we could get a little French surprise. They’ll be racing as outsiders, so it’s up to them to upset the favourites with a long-range attack.“ Aside from Juliette Labous (Sunweb), Aude Biannic (Movistar) and Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek–Segafredo), who finished sixth in last year’s Amstel Gold Race, neo-pro Jade Wiel (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) is another rider to watch. The 19-year-old from Provence recently became French champion. Her first participation in La Course by le Tour will also be her first outing in the tricolour jersey: „I hope it gives me that extra oomph. I want to prove that I deserve this jersey and do the best possible race for the team to finish as high as possible. It is a circuit that could play to my strengths.“
Fun all day round
Stage 13 of the Tour de France, a time trial held on the same circuit, will start an hour after the finish of La Course by le Tour de France. The crowds lining the roads are in for a special treat. „It will be fun all day round, from the presentation of the women’s teams at 8 am to the men’s podium at 6 pm“, promises Jean-Marc Marino. You won’t regret coming.“
– TV broadcast in 190 countries
– TV coverage information on www.lacoursebyletourdefrance.com on the official broadcasters area
@ASO

A DAY IN YELLOW: MARK CAVENDISH (X/X)

Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Back in 2016, Mark Cavendish, who had claimed virtually every honour available to sprinters bar the yellow jersey, was finally rewarded for his patience.
Foto: Presse Sports
Foto: Presse Sports
From time to time, the Tour de France puts the yellow jersey within reach of the sprinters with a flat opening stage in which the fastest men in the peloton can go toe to toe in a mad dash to the line, allowing riders such as André Darrigade and Rudi Altig in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as Mario Cipollini, Thor Hushovd and Marcel Kittel in more recent years, to wear the golden fleece for a while. Mark Cavendish, on the other hand, went into the 2016 Tour with 26 stage wins to his name and a history of near-misses with the yellow jersey. Although he had already pulled on the leader’s jerseys in the Giro and the Vuelta, the rainbow jersey after winning the 2011 Worlds, the green jersey in the 2011 Tour and the British champion jersey, the most coveted one of them all seemed to evade him. Some near-misses had been outright painful, such as the stage on home turf in Harrogate that had kicked off the 2014 Tour.
By the time that the race featured another flat opening stage two years later, the majority of pundits were adamant that the rise of riders such as Kittel, Sagan, Kristoff, Greipel and Matthews had closed the window of opportunity for „Cav“. Yet the Manx Missile fired again on Utah Beach, one of the scenes of the D-Day landings, beating Marcel Kittel by two bike lengths to take his 27th career stage win and the first with Dimension Data. Writing in the next day’s edition of L’Équipe, Philippe Bouvet explained how „It is a childhood dream come true for the sprinter from Isle of Man, who also made amends for the frustrating experience in Harrogate two years ago, when he missed out on the yellow jersey in front of the royals“.
It had been a long, long wait, but Cavendish had finally got his hands on the yellow jersey in his tenth Tour start. Other riders have had to bide their time for even longer: Henk Lubberding only found out what it felt like to lead the Tour in his 12th start (1988), while Alberto Elli finally got a taste of yellow in his 11th start (2000) and, like Cavendish, Sylvain Chavanel also had to wait until his 10th Tour (2010). 24 hours later, Peter Sagan, just as prolific but nowhere near as patient as Cavendish, toppled the Manxman and pulled on the yellow jersey for the first time after winning the stage to Cherbourg.
@ASO

A DAY IN YELLOW: ROMAIN FEILLU (IX/X)

Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Romain Feillu’s stint in yellow, limited to about 40 minutes in the time trial stage around Cholet in the 2008 Tour de France, was as short as it was intense.
Foto: Presse Sports
Foto: Presse Sports
Back in 2008, there was no clear favourite to win the Tour, even though a duel between Australian Cadel Evans and the Luxembourgish Schleck Bros. seemed the logical outcome. France was having trouble finding leaders who could challenge the big names and waiting for the next generation of mountain goats and fast men to rise. Unable to tackle the world’s best climbers and sprinters head-on, many French riders tried their luck in breakaways instead. Shortly after the start of stage 4 from Saint-Malo to Nantes, American William Frischkorn attacked and took Italian Paolo Longo Borghini, Samuel Dumoulin and Romain Feillu with him. Caisse d’Épargne only mounted a half-hearted defence of Alejandro Valverde’s yellow jersey, raising the four men’s hopes of bringing their adventure to a successful conclusion. In the end, it was Dumoulin, then riding for Cofidis, who came out on top in the dash to the line, while their two-minute gap to the peloton was more than enough to make Romain Feillu the new overall leader.
Despite spending almost the whole night awake,
replaying the events of the previous day,
he savoured every minute of his ride in the yellow jersey
Feillu, still a young sprinter at the time, quickly moved on from the lost opportunity to win a stage and basked in the glow of the yellow jersey, especially after spending most of the season bedridden due to a bout of toxoplasmosis. „I was thinking about it all the time“, he said after pulling on the coveted garment. „Wearing the yellow jersey was something that only happened in my wildest dreams. As a kid, I used to watch Indurain and LeMond. Sure, I didn’t take it in a mountain stage, but even getting it in a flat stage is pretty awesome.“ Feillu had just become the first French rider to wear the yellow jersey since Cyril Dessel two years earlier, but keeping it for as long as Thomas Voeckler in 2004 seemed out of the question.
The next stage was a 29 km time trial around Cholet in which the Agritubel rider appeared to have a snowball’s chance in hell of holding out against the Tour favourites. These long odds did nothing to curb the new leader’s enthusiasm and, despite spending almost the whole night awake, replaying the events of the previous day, he savoured every minute of his ride in the yellow jersey. There was to be no fairy-tale ending, however, and Feillu finished the time trial far behind Stefan Schumacher, who won the stage and took the yellow jersey, only to be later stripped of these honours following a positive doping test. History will remember Feillu as one of the most ephemeral leaders of the Tour de France, with 40′43″ in yellow, only a bit longer than Patrick Sercu in 1974 (11 minutes in the 9 km team time trial in Harelbeke) and another Belgian, Philippe Gilbert, in 2011 (25 minutes in the 23 km team time trial around Les Essarts).
@ASO

A DAY IN YELLOW: JEAN-FRANÇOIS BERNARD (VIII/X)

Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Back in 1987, Jean-François Bernard was taking part in his second Tour, the first one as the leader of Toshiba-La Vie Claire, when he added the yellow jersey to his race number 1 after a colossal performance on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux. However, things were about to go pear-shaped…

French cycling fans were looking for references in summer 1987. Bernard Hinault had just hung up his bicycle and Laurent Fignon was out of shape, while those who had fallen in love with Greg LeMond, an American with a lot of French character, in 1986 were left disappointed after a serious hunting accident forced him to sit out the race. The Tour had „changing of the guard“ written all over it, with riders such as Charly Mottet, Pedro Delgado and Stephen Roche as the main favourites. However, it was another contender who burst onto the scene in stage 18, a gruelling time trial on the Mont Ventoux coming right after a rest day. It was a performance that turned Jean-François Bernard from an outsider into a hero: Hinault’s former lieutenant crushed the best power riders in the flat section between Carpentras and the foot of the mountain and then left the Colombian mountain goats in the dust on the slopes of the Giant of Provence. Jean-François Bernard’s stellar performance evoked memories of Charly Gaul, who had also won a time trial to the summit of Mont Ventoux, and turned him into the new leader of the race and the odds-on favourite to take the yellow jersey all the way to Paris.

„Bernard à la Hinault“, read the provocative headline in the next morning’s edition of L’Équipe, harking back to Bernard’s glorious origins and auspicious future. In his column in the newspaper, Pierre Chany wrote about the young Burgundian’s leap forward: „This rider who has just proved to be one of the favourites to win the race on the Champs-Élysées with this dazzling performance, maybe even the top favourite, showed in just under an hour and a half that he knows perfectly how to amalgamate his talent and the animalistic fire that burns within all extraordinary riders, without which talent means nothing or almost nothing.“ However, Bernard was still not in the clear, with Roche, Mottet and Delgado within less than 4 minutes and four Alpine mountain stages left before the finish.

In the next stage, the yellow jersey suffered a series of setbacks that his rivals did not hesitate to use to their advantage. It all began with a puncture right before the Col de Tourniol, about 100 km from the finish in Villard-de-Lans. „It was insane: I had a flat, it got fixed and I got back“, explains „Jeff“ Bernard, evoking the bitter memories of that day. „After that, bottlenecks formed in the feeding zone and then my chain came off on the Col de la Bataille. I was going crazy. I managed to hold on at 1′, 1′30″, until I just gave up 10 km from Villard-de-Lans after chasing for 90 klicks. I had nothing left in the tank.“ Bernard’s ordeal cost him 4′16″ to the stage winner, Pedro Delgado, and put him 1′39″ behind the new leader, Stephen Roche. Even winning the Dijon time trial on the eve of the finish in Paris was not enough to put him back in contention, and the Burgundian had to settle for the bottom step of the podium in the 1987 Tour de France.
@ASO

A DAY IN YELLOW: ALEX STIEDA (VII/X)

Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Back in 1986, Alex Stieda started his very first Tour with the very last race number in the peloton — 210 — pinned to his back. The Canadian surged to the top of the general classification in the first mass-start stage, beating LeMond to the punch to become the first North American rider to lead the Tour de France.

Cycling fans were still pondering several questions as the 1986 Tour got under way: how would La Vie Claire deal with the tension between Bernard Hinault, who was entering the race for the last time, and Greg LeMond, the rising star he had pledged to support? Would Lucho Herrera or Fabio Parra manage to take Colombian cycling all the way to the top and win the race outright? Would Système U and its leader Laurent Fignon be able to fish in troubled waters? Especially curious fans were also debating what 7-Eleven, the first American team to get a Tour de France wildcard, brought to the race. Some were looking forward to following five-time speed skating Olympic gold medallist Eric Heiden’s quest to finish the Tour de France, but only the most hardcore fans had ever head of Alex Stieda, whose only success to date had been a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games.

The joy of Alex Stieda and his 7-Eleven teammates turned to ashes in a calamitous 56 km team time trial between Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Meudon

The frisky young Canadian went on a solo breakaway in the very first mass-start stage, trying to manoeuvre himself into a distinctive jersey by grabbing „Catch“ points along the way. The adventure also netted him a few bonus seconds and, even though he was eventually caught by another five men and finished fifth in Sceaux, behind stage winner Pol Verschuere, Stieda was still the best-placed rider in the general classification. The former medicine student hit a milestone in the globalisation of cycling, beating older and more famous cyclists such as Steve Bauer (then sitting in third place overall) and Greg LeMond to the punch to become the first rider from North America to wear the yellow jersey.

Hours later on that same 5 July, the joy of Alex Stieda and his 7-Eleven teammates turned to ashes in a calamitous 56 km team time trial between Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Meudon. The team was knocked out of kilter by a crash and four punctures, one of which involved the yellow jersey, who was dropped and eventually crossed the finish line alone while his comrades posted the second-worst time out of 21 teams. While Stieda went from heaven to hell in one day, 1986 was a bumper crop for North America as a whole, with David Phinney claiming the first stage win for the continent in Liévin on the next day and, a couple of weeks later, the Stars and Stripes flying in Paris in honour of Greg LeMond as the first American to win the Tour de France.

A DAY IN YELLOW: MARINUS WAGTMANS (VI/X)


@Presse Sports
Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Back in 1971, Dutchman Marinus Wagtmans took the yellow jersey from his leader Eddy Merckx without even realising… but only for a third of a stage!

It was 1971 and Merckx Mania was in full swing. The two-time winner and defending champion of the Tour de France had (again) won Milan–San Remo and Liège–Bastogne–Liège in the early season, as well as strengthening his team with several super-domestiques. Eddy Merckx’s new team, Molteni, had recruited 1968 Tour runner-up Herman Van Springel as well as Marinus Wagtmans, who had finished sixth in 1969 and fifth in 1970. Even with Luis Ocaña’s dominant performance in the Critérium du Dauphiné a few weeks before, these star signings further dimmed the competition’s already faint hopes of toppling the Cannibal from the throne. The Italian-Belgian outfit struck with overwhelming force from the opening team time trial, putting Merckx in yellow from the start.
The next stage dabbled with a peculiar formula due to the influence of sports politics related to the Regio* bid to organise the first European Games. It was agreed to hold three partial stages on the same day, with finishes in Basel (Switzerland), Freiburg (Germany) and Mulhouse (France). Even though this stage race within a stage tested the patience of the peloton, the riders started the triple challenge almost at the crack of dawn. There was no doubt that Éric Leman had won the first sector in a sprint, but the overall lead had to be decided on countback… with Marinus Wagtmans coming ahead of the rest of the Molteni riders without even realising.
„Rini“ began the 90 km romp from Basel to Freiburg clad in yellow, but the Cannibal remained as voracious as ever despite racing for the same team, and he pounced on a „Miko hotspot“ just 7 km into the stage to claim a five-second time bonus. Merckx continued to widen the gap all the way to the finish line, stripping Wagtmans of the yellow jersey after only 2 h 29′31″. However, the Dutchman does not hold the record for the shortest stint in yellow, as several riders have only got to wear it in a time trial. Philippe Gilbert has been the most ephemeral leader so far, keeping the coveted garment for just over 25 minutes in the Les Essarts team time trial at the beginning of the 2011 Tour. After this golden experience, Wagtmans went on to win the stage to Nancy and finish the 1971 Tour in 16th place overall… at a respectable distance from Eddy!
*: short for Regio Basiliensis, meaning „Basel Region“ in Latin.
@ASO

A DAY IN YELLOW: JEAN-PIERRE GENET (V/X)


@Presse Sports
Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Jean-Pierre Genet, one of Raymond Poulidor’s most loyal domestiques, went from finishing dead last in the 1967 Tour to taking the yellow jersey at the start of the 1968 edition.
Back in 1968, Raymond Poulidor was still in the first half of his Tour de France career, but with a few weeks to go before the start of a race he was touted to win, the book Poulidor, or Glory Without The Yellow Jersey could already be found in every bookshop. Even though this edition was the last hurrah for national teams in the Tour, the ties forged throughout the season remained strong in the peloton, with „Poupou“ receiving the support of some of his teammates in Cycles Mercier. One of them, a 1.83 m and 78 kg giant known as Jean-Pierre Genet, was as unconcerned about the general classification as he was hard-working and devoted to his leader. He had served Poulidor in every spring campaign since 1964, helping him to three podium finishes in the four previous editions. In 1967, Genêt had even dragged his wounded, aching body all the way to Paris, finishing dead last in the general classification (78th).

The Belgian and French teams carved up the first few stage wins after the Grand Départ in Vittel. As the peloton headed to Rouen on the fourth day of racing, Poulidor’s lieutenants at Mercier were on top of things. Jean Stablinski blew up the race going into the final third of the stage, only to be caught by a counter-attack including riders such as George Chappe and Jean-Pierre Genet. The rider from Marseille and the man from Brest worked well together and shared the spoils on 1 July: Chappe took the stage win by pre-empting the sprint, while the 3′26″ gap to the peloton was enough to catapult Genet past Van Springel and into the yellow jersey.
„Until now, he was a water carrier. From now on, he will play a more glorious role, with its fair share of trials and tribulations, as a gold carrier“, waxed lyrical Jacques Goddet in his column in L’Équipe the next day. Multiple articles in his newspaper hailed a self-effacing rider who offered his perspective on serving as a domestique: „I’ve always stayed true to my commitments and friends. I’ll freely admit that, some years, when I looked back, there were a lot of regrets and not a lot of money, but it turns out I was right to keep going at it. I got my reward, so I’m happy.“ The first half-stage of the next day started at 7 am and took the peloton to Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. Sporting the ephemeral nickname Bouton d’Or („Buttercup“), Genet had returned to his usual role by the end of the morning, surrendering the yellow jersey to Georges Vandenberghe… but another triumph awaited in the shape of a stage win in Saint-Étienne two weeks later. Genet would remain a „Poupou“ man through and through, supporting his leader in every Tour de France campaign until the last one in 1976.
@ASO

A DAY IN YELLOW: TOM SIMPSON (IV/X)


@Presse Sports
Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. Years before he met a tragic end on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour, Tom Simpson had become the first British rider ever to wear the yellow jersey in 1962.
The 1962 Tour ushered in a small revolution as trade teams returned to the race and national teams exited the stage. The favourites were galvanised under the leadership of their directeurs sportifs, who now managed their campaigns (and paid their wages) year-round. For example, defending champion Jacques Anquetil spearheaded the fearsome ACBB–Saint-Raphäel outfit, while Raymond Poulidor, who had put his name on the map with victories in Milan–San Remo and the French championships, was making his Tour debut with Cycles Mercier. Tom Simpson had an unassuming start to the race after failing to make an impression in his previous two starts (29th in 1961 and DNF in 1961), while his leader in the team sponsored by chicory company Leroux, André Darrigade, hit the ground running with a bunch sprint triumph in stage 2 to Herenthals.
„If it’s raining in Wimbledon, I’ll no doubt have a chance of seeing a few articles a bit longer than normal in the press. Otherwise, there’s a risk this will go unnoticed.“
The Brit (a Breton by adoption ever since moving to Saint-Brieuc) had long struggled with a reputation as a dreadful strategist. L’Équipe described him as „a fool with an incredible amount of talent, which was seemingly wasted on someone so impetuous“. In any event, Simpson was well positioned as the race headed into its first mountain stages in the Pyrenees, sitting in third place overall and ready to pounce on the road to Saint-Gaudens. Bahamontes jumped on the Tourmalet and Col d’Aspin to hoover up mountain points, but the real selection was made on the Col de Peyresourde, leaving a 22-man group that included almost all the favourites. Even though Robert Cazala ended up taking the stage, it was Tom Simpson who stepped into the limelight as the first British rider ever to wear the yellow jersey.
Seven years earlier, Brian Robinson had led the charge for the first British team in the Grande Boucle, later going on to take the first British stage win in 1958. Since then, Simpson had risen as a contender for the Tour de France, notching up a win in the Tour of Flanders in 1961 and second place in Paris–Nice in spring 1962. It was enough to fill with confidence a champion who revelled in his role as an ambassador for cycling hours after seizing the lead of the Tour: „If it’s raining in Wimbledon, I’ll no doubt have a chance of seeing a few articles a bit longer than normal in the press. Otherwise, there’s a risk this will go unnoticed“, he said humorously before predicting he would struggle in the next stage. „Of course, I’d like to keep the yellow jersey for as long as possible, but I’m a bit apprehensive about the Superbagnères time trial. It’s a bit too long for my taste.“ And so it was: Simpson surrendered the yellow jersey to Jef Planckaert, who would in turn yield it to Anquetil a few stages later. 50 years later, Simpson’s distant heir and fellow track racer Bradley Wiggins took the Union Jack to the top step of the podium on the Champs-Élysées.
@ASO

A day in yellow: Andrea Carrea (III/X)


@Presse Sports
Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. In the 1952 Tour de France, Andrea Carrea, a domestique riding for Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali in the Italian team, burst into tears as he pulled on the yellow jersey, saying that he was not worthy of an honour meant for his leaders.
Being a domestique is a professional commitment. Some would even liken it to a sacred office. While it can be a logical career path for riders who are acutely aware of their limits, it takes a clear picture of the generosity of this arduous task and a strong sense of loyalty to become a trusted lieutenant. „Only a brave soul can accept as ideal a job that involves toiling away anonymously and burning the energy surplus that makes the difference for the win, while giving up all hopes and dreams of entering the pantheon of cycling“, wrote Jacques Goddet in L’Équipe, paying tribute to Andrea Carrea and, in effect, all the riders pedalling in the shadow of their own moral fibre.
Andrea Carrea started the 1952 Tour de France following a Giro d’Italia in which he had helped Fausto Coppi take his fourth win in the corsa rosa. Il Campionissimo had crushed the competition with raw power and sheer class. At this point in his career, Coppi commanded huge respect from the peloton for his physical capabilities and constant humility alike. However, their hierarchical and emotional ties were also a powerful driving force for Carrea, born just a few kilometres from Castellania. When a group rode clear more than 140 km into the stage to Lausanne, the gregario went with it to protect his captain’s interests. By the end of the stage, the breakaway had gained over 9 minutes. Carrea, who had not realised he was the highest-ranked rider in the group, took over the yellow jersey in tears, fearing the wrath of Coppi, previous leader Fiorenzo Magni and Italian coach Alfredo Binda. „He looked like a child who had stolen a jar of jam in the afternoon and could now see his father coming, fully aware of what he had done“, wrote the journalist covering the return of the squadra to their hotel for L’Équipe. Of course, instead of the severe rebuke he had expected, what he got was the warm and sincere congratulations of everyone around him.
Even though he deemed himself unworthy of the honour, Carrea rolled out in yellow for what was to be a historic stage, featuring the very first high-altitude finish in the history of the Tour de France. As fate would have it, this humble gregario will forever be remembered as the first rider to tackle the 21 hairpin bends of the Alpe d’Huez in yellow. What a powerful symbol it was! Meanwhile, Fausto Coppi smashed the opposition on the fearsome climb and snatched the yellow jersey. The provisional podium at the end of the day was an all-Italian affair, with Carrea right behind Coppi, who was now poised to enter Italian soil with a spectacular performance on the road to Sestriere. Everything was back to normal.
@ASO

Tour de France – A day in yellow: Amédée Fournier (II/X)

Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. In the last Tour de France before the war, surprise guest Amédée Fournier brought his experience as a track cyclist to bear to claim the first yellow jersey.

Photo: @Presse Sports
Although dark clouds loomed on the horizon as the 1939 Tour de France rolled out onto the roads, no-one even suspected it would be eight years before the peloton flocked to Paris again for the great July celebration. The French team was banking on Victor Cosson, René Vietto and Maurice Archambaud to fill the vacuum left by André Leducq and Antonin Magne. No-one had even thought of inviting Amédée Fournier to either the big national team or any of the four regional ones, but a last-minute withdrawal opened up a spot, resulting in Fournier’s hasty conscription into the blue-and-yellow North-East–Île-de-France team. It was not the first time that Amédée Fournier was going to take part, as he had already started the race as a touriste-routier in 1936, when a crash in stage 4 had left him with a broken wrist and out of the Tour.

This time round, the protégé of the newly retired Charles Pélissier went into the Tour with hunger tempered with smarts. Sparks flew in the opening stage, with riders launching one rash attack after another but going nowhere, while Fournier bode his time. „Did you, at any point during the day, see our young ‚Médoche‘ chase the yellow jersey like all the bird-brained youngsters I just wrote about? Nay. He was as quiet as a mouse and thus managed to fly under the radar“, gushed Henri Desgrange in his column in L’Auto to salute his cunning strategy. Fournier had waited until the peloton was just a few kilometres from Caen to go on the offensive, joining another seven gutsy riders in a counter-attack determined to catch defending champion Romain Maes, who was chugging along on his own at the front of the race. Once in the velodrome, the track cycling medallist in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics simply had to let his raw speed do the talking: „It was like an hallucination. I immediately realised I could be the one to start in yellow in Caen tomorrow. It was galvanising. I pushed forward like a madman and, when I looked up, I’d won“, explained Fournier as the magnitude of his exploit started to sink in at the hotel.

Brimming with confidence ahead of the time trial scheduled for the next morning, especially after pocketing a 30″ time bonus along with his stage win, the first yellow jersey of the 1939 Tour ended up yielding the lead to… Romain Maes! A few days later, Fournier plummeted down the general classification (54th), but he still managed to take another stage after a rough sprint in Nantes Velodrome. It was to be his final success in the Grande Boucle.
@ASO

Tour de France – A day in yellow: Max Bulla (I/X)


@Presse Sports
Light-years behind the records of Eddy Merckx and nowhere near as famous as the three other five-time winners of the Tour de France, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, a total of 67 riders have worn the yellow jersey for just one day (or even less) in their careers and exemplified the pursuit of excellence from a humble start. In the 1931 Tour, Max Bulla snatched the overall lead at the end of stage 2, becoming the first —and only— touriste-routier to get his hands on the coveted yellow jersey. A monster performance.
Back then, the Tour had „aces“… and touristes-routiers („tourists of the road“). Just the names of these categories speak volumes about the low opinion people had of these unglamorous cyclists, who were only invited to the Grande Boucle to make up the numbers but still represented about half of the peloton at the start of the 1931 edition. As well as being excluded from national teams, these riders received no mechanical support and had to settle for participating in the Tour with little hope of shining at the front. While most of these „individual“ competitors were indeed a step or two below the champions, the main reason Max Bulla had to race in this category was that his country, Austria, lacked enough riders to field a team capable of rubbing shoulders with the elite.

The rouleur from Vienna had already shown his talent in the 1930 Deutschland Tour, as well as proving to be a serious contender in the 1929 Worlds until an ill-fated choice of gear left him unable to follow Ronsse and Binda. Despite these top-notch performances, Bulla started the second stage of the 1931 Tour in Caen as part of the „shadow peloton“, which was furthermore required to start 10 minutes after the stars to avoid getting in the way of the big men. However, the three strongest and bravest touristes-routiers managed to come close enough to the first peloton to post the fastest times at the finish in Dinan. Their performance catapulted Max Bulla from Austria, René Bernard from Paris and Adrien Van Vierst from Reims to the top of the general classification, with Bulla clad in yellow at the end of the day.

The next day, Henri Desgrange, who again poured scorn on the prima donnas in his column in L’Auto, had nothing but praise for Bulla: „We had the opportunity to follow Bulla throughout his endeavour. This harmonious lad who stays balanced and well seated on his saddle without letting his effort spoil the beauty of his movements looks like a real class act. He may not speak a single word of French, but his lithe figure and eyes sparkling with ingenuity, if not intelligence, leave nothing to be said. His unwavering cordiality, with a cheerful demeanour like Leducq’s, completes the delightful appearance of the new wearer of the yellow jersey.“ However, even the alluring maillot jaune did not save Bulla from having to start the next stage to Brest with the other touristes-routiers. The Austrian was unable to repeat the exploit of the previous day and slipped down the general classification. He went on to claim another two stages and finish the Tour in 15th place overall, first among the „individual“ riders. 84 years later, Austria has yet to see another one of its cyclists in yellow in the Tour.
@ASO