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.
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 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.
In 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.
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.
Picture courtesy of www.membres.lycos.fr
Anquetil 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.
Later 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.