100 Tours: 10 iconic moments (+ videos)

As Yorkshire prepares to make its mark on Tour history we pick 10 people and incidents that have shaped its 111 year history

by roadcc staff   July 3, 2014  

Jacques Anquetil in the yellow jersey (picture courtesy Le Coq Sportif)

This Saturday 5 July marks the start of the 101st Tour de France in Leeds. With the race and the yellow jersey coming back to the UK for the first time since 2007 – and to Yorkshire for the first time ever. With luck the three UK stages will produce some truly memorable moments for the crowds and the riders taking part. Whether they will be good enough to  make it in to a future Top 10 Tour moments - we'll find out soon enough, for the moment though here's our Top 10. You may choose to differ…

1903 – The first Tour

In the first year, just 60 riders started and only 21 finished the 19-day, 2,428km route. It was won by the French rider, Maurice Garin, who stated: “The 2,500km that I've just ridden seem a long line, grey and monotonous, where nothing stood out from anything else. But I suffered on the road; I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was sleepy, I suffered, I cried between Lyon and Marseille, I had the pride of winning other stages, and at the controls I saw the fine figure of my friend Delattre, who had prepared my sustenance, but I repeat, nothing strikes me particularly. “

Garin also won the 1904 race but was disqualified for cheating along with eight others.

Andre Leducq, Tour founder Henri Desgrange, and Maurice Garin

1910 – The mountains

Mountains were introduced for the first time in 1910, with the race’s eventual winner, Octave Lapize, famously shouting “You’re all murderers” at the race organisers after scaling the unmade roads of the Col d’Aubisque in the Pyrenees on foot.

In 1911, the organisers ignored Lapize and added the Alps as well.

1919 – The yellow jersey

The Tour wouldn’t be the Tour without that yellow jersey and, according to figures from Le Coq Sportif, the official supplier of the jersey since 1951, there have been 2,036 official jerseys worn by 276 riders since it was introduced on the 11th stage of the 1919 event.

The Frenchman Eugène Christophe, who had led the race from stage four, would be the first to wear the jersey, but lost it stage 13 to the race’s winner, Belgium’s Firmin Lambot.

The jersey has become one of the most iconic trophies in sport with the 1988 winner, Pedro Delgado saying: “They give you famous cups and they pay tribute to you, but really the special gift is the yellow jersey. You’ve sweated and suffered in it. You’ve peddled so hard on that road, in the sun and the rain.”

You can see Delgado and Bernard Hinault discuss the yellow jersey in Le Coq Sportif’s video, below.

le coq sportif - The new 2012 maillot jaune (EV) from le coq sportif on Vimeo.

1961 – Jacques Anquetil

Shortly before the 1961 Tour, Jacques Anquetil made the bold declaration that he would hold the yellow jersey throughout the 21 days of racing. With two former champions in the field, Charly Gaul and Federico Bahamontes, this would be no easy ride.

Anquetil’s also won in 1962, 3 and 4 was the first rider to win five times, the first to win four in a row and the first to win all three grand tours. His average speed from the 1962 tour would not be beaten until 1981.

Jacques Anquetil

1969 – Three jerseys, one rider

No list would be complete without the Belgian Eddy Merckx, and his first of five Tour wins with arguably the most dominant displays of the race. It is famous for being the only year that one rider has taken the yellow, the green and the polka dot jerseys (the GC, points competition and the King of the Mountains). But it is particularly memorable for stage 17, a 214km mountain stage that saw Merckx launch a solo breakaway 140km before the finish line and hold it to the finish line in Mourenx.

Eddy Merckx in the yellow jersey

1979 – Alpe d’Huez… twice

1979 remains the only year to finish on Alpe d’Huez twice. The 1,803m mountain, which a recent poll declared Europe’s favourite, gave Joacquim Agostinho and Joop Zoetemelk stage victories. But it was Bernard Hinault who made his mark on the race taking both the yellow – his second of five – and green jerseys.

The rider nicknamed 'the Badger' is arguably the best, and still the last, Frenchman to win the yellow jersey.

He recently said there are two types of winners of the yellow jersey: “The rider who sleeps with it, because he’s won and he’s so scared of losing it [and] the one who puts it in the cupboard at the other end of the room and then goes and looks at it, thinking it’s mine now, no-one can take it from me.”

1986 – LeMond vs Hinault on Alpe d’Huez

In 1985 Greg LeMond followed team orders to return from a breakaway that, many say, would have given him a defendable lead in the GC and help his teammate, Hinault, to victory. In 1986 the favour was meant to be returned, but the Frenchman hadn’t read the script. The two battled up the mountain’s 13.1km with an 8.19% average gradient, 21 hairpin turns and exceptionally steep ramps. Hinault forced his wheel across the line first, but accepted LeMond – who would go on to take the winner’s jersey in Paris – as the better rider.

Bernard Hinault leads team mate Greg LeMond

1998 – Festina and Pantani

1998 is famous for the Festina affair, which began with the arrest of the soigneur Willy Voet and ended up revealing just how widespread doping within the peloton was – retrospective EPO testing in 2004 on the 60 remaining samples returned 44 positive results – leading to the 1998 race being dubbed the Tour du Dopage.

But it is also the year Marco Pantani won the yellow jersey (and the Giro’s maglia rosa, the last rider to win both in the same season). The Italian rider, who died in 2004 of a cocaine overdose, divides opinion but was arguably the best climber of his era.

2003 – Lance’s detour

His tours may have been stripped from him but one moment involving Lance Armstrong from the 2003 Tour will remain a firm favourite for many. The 2003 race was one of the hottest on record and the melting road surface of the Col de la Rochette caused Joseba Beloki to hit the deck, leaving Armstrong with nowhere to go … other than off the road, though a field and eventually jumping a ditch to re-join the race seamlessly.

2012 – Here come the Brits

Just four British riders had worn the yellow jersey before David Brailsford launched Team Sky in 2009 and made the declaration to win the Tour clean with a British rider within just five years: Tom Simpson (1962), who would tragically die on Mont Ventoux just seven years later, Sean Yates (1994), Chris Boardman (1994, 96 and 98), and David Millar (2000), who is also the only British rider to wear all four TdF jerseys.

2012 saw Sky’s Bradley Wiggins take the yellow jersey on stage nine with British riders winning over a third of the stages and taking the top two places on the podium. The 2012 race is also famous for the animosity between Froome and Wiggins – and the public spat on Twitter between their partners.

Bradley Wiggins and son Ben on the Champs-Elysees

These are our favourite moments, but what do you think, does Gino Bartali (1938 and 1948) deserve a mention for his humanitarian work in the war? Should we have mentioned Landis’s ‘magical comeback’ in 2006 or Indurain’s five-year domination (‘91-‘95) of the peloton? Let us know in the comments below.

All pictures courtesy Le Coq Sportif

7 user comments

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posted by cub [45 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 16:39

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I don't think that's Gino Bartali in the photo with Henri Desgrange. It looks like Andre Leducq.

posted by dreamlx10 [134 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 17:25

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Not Indurain - dreary racer & about as clean as LA (80kg rider beating best climbers without even getting out of the saddle anyone?!). Those pics of Jacques Anquetil though - he has to be the coolest rider ever...


posted by pastaman [210 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 17:54

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'incredible short cut'. Anyone else not completing the whole course would have been DQ'd. The bell end.

posted by andyp [804 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 18:21

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pastaman wrote:
Not Indurain - dreary racer & about as clean as LA (80kg rider beating best climbers without even getting out of the saddle anyone?!). Those pics of Jacques Anquetil though - he has to be the coolest rider ever...

That being Anquetil who openly admitted doping and often refused to take drug tests (including after beating the Hour record the second time, meaning it was never officially recognised)-so what year is your cut off point for deciding someone is cool despite their doping and not cool due to it? Thinking

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posted by Otis Bragg [105 posts]
4th July 2014 - 1:18

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In the twisted logic of pro cycle history it's about personality not cut off. It's more acceptable to have doped if you had some panache like Anquetil. Unfortunately Indurain's tactics and personality were dull even when (allegedly) enhanced.

I suspect if Froome was busted for doping many of us would feel cheated that he hasn't the flawed charisma of Armstrong.

It's theatre.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1031 posts]
4th July 2014 - 9:51

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OK, I'm an Aussie, so I will admit some national bias in some of my faves, but here they are:
1. The stage to Galibier in 2011. Brilliant attack by Schlek, then Cadel dragging what was left of the peleton up the hill, limiting his losses and ultimately winning the tour.
2. The stage to Canterbury last time the tour was in the UK. McKewan crashed just as the peleton began to wind up near the end of the stage, his team chased, but no-one gave them a chance. He was not seen until 100m to go, but was first across the line.
3. Hoogerland finishing the tour and still attacking despite being attacked by a car and a barbed wire fence.
4. Pretty much any time Voekler decides he wants to race properly. That man can suffer.

Well, I'll be...

posted by Zebra [27 posts]
6th July 2014 - 10:42

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