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  Posted August 9th, 2011 by Zdenko  in Cycling | 3 comments

Monday, May 18, 2009

I remember year 1964 when I was just beginning to watch my older brother racing on his bike. In the daily sporting paper “Sportske Novosti” there were pictures of one French cyclist who was winning most professional bike races at that time. His name was Jacques Anquetil.

anquetil_jacques5Soon, he would become my first cycling idol (next one was Eddy Merckx), because that same year I started to ride my own bicycle. But this is a story about Jacques Anquetil… the legend!

anquetil_j13_cutJacques Anquetil

Picture courtesy of www.img.stern.de

Jacques Anquetil was born on January 8, 1934. He died on November 18, 1987.

Anquetil was the pre-eminent stage race and time trial rider of his day, and was the first to win five victories in the Tour de France.

Anquetil was also the first rider to win all three Grand Tours (Tour de France five times, Giro d’Italia twice, Vuelta a Espana once). His total of eight Grand Tour victories is third behind Eddy Merckx (11) and Bernard Hinault (10).

anquetil_jacques6Anquetil was also 3rd in the Tour de France once, 2nd in the Giro d’Italia twice, and 3rd in the Giro d’Italia twice. Anquetil won the Tour de France – Vuelta a Espana double in 1963 (the first rider to do so) and the Tour de France – Giro d’Italia double (the second rider after Fausto Coppi to do so) in 1964.

Anquetil won one of the cycling’s monuments, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He also won the Ghent-Wevelgem, and finished second and fifth in the World Championships Road Race.

anquetil_jacques4In addition to the CyclingHallofFame.com designated races, Anquetil won the most prestigious time trial of the year, the Grand Prix des Nations, a record nine times, the first one in 1953 at age 19, and his last in 1966 at age 32. Anquetil also won the Paris-Nice stage race five times.

In all, Anquetil won an impressive 200 road races during his career.

1969_jacquesanquetil_vittorio_adorni_rudi_altigAnquetil claimed that his sole aim was to make money in cycling and he chose his targets carefully to maximize his value.

During the height of his career, the French public viewed him as an emotionless machine and often sided with his beaten rivals, such as Raymond Poulidor who was nicknamed “The Eternal Second”.

His popularity wasn’t what it should have been because the French public found him too distant. It was thought that most of his wins were the result of his time trialing expertise, not necessarily by grit and determination.

Anquetil was also a known partier and consumer of fine wines and fine foods, as the next story illustrates.

anquetil_j19Picture courtesy of www.membres.lycos.fr

anquetil_j18_cutAnquetil left, Poulidor right on the Puy de Dome during the 1964 Tour de France, picture courtesy of www.deblauwe.org

On the rest day in Andorra during the 1964 Tour de France, Anquetil feasted on a slab of roast lamb while the other riders were out for an easy ride and a day of rest.

The next day Anquetil was dropped on the first climb and was behind the leaders of the stage by over four minutes. Only after drinking a champagne-filled water bottle did his stomach troubles subside and allow him to rejoin the leaders after a considerable chase.

anquetil_jacquesLater in the 1964 Tour, on a stage up the Puy de Dome, Anquetil and Poulidor had a showdown. Poulidor was normally a much better climber than Anquetil. This being the last major climb in the Tour, with Anquetil holding roughly a minute advantage over Poulidor, Anquetil bluffed Poulidor and rode side by side with Anquetil matching the better climber, Poulidor, with each turn of the pedal.

Anquetil finally cracked and Poulidor beat Anquetil by roughly forty seconds. The only decisive stage left in the race was a time trial which Anquetil easily won and stretched his lead over Poulidor by 55 seconds.

Anquetil retired in 1969 at age 35, and died from stomach cancer in on November 18, 1987 at age 53.






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3 comments to “JACQUES ANQUETIL”

  1. Comment by McKinley Bruno:

    Very well written post. It will be beneficial to anyone who utilizes it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – looking forward to more posts.

  2. Comment by Rod Thackaberry:

    Excellent thread… I remember Anquetil… he was on amphethamines at all times… but great timetralists… womenizer also, haha!

  3. Comment by Ronnie:

    Hey, I am so glad I found your blog page. I only found you by mistake, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else. Regardless I am here now and would just
    like to say many thanks for a fantastic post about good old Jaques and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design). I don’t have time to browse it all at this minute but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I’ll have more time I will be back to read more…
    Please do keep up the great job.

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