Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lucien Petit-Breton

Lucien Petit-Breton (whose real name was Lucien Mazan)
 Lucien Georges Mazan (Lucien Petit-Breton) (October 18, 1882 - December 20,1917) was born in what is now Brittany, France. When he was six he moved with his parents to Buenos Aires where he took Argentine nationality. His cycling career started when he won a bike in a lottery at the age of sixteen. As his father wanted him to do a "real" job, he adapted the nickname Lucien Breton for races, to deceive his father. Later he changed it to Petit-Breton, because there already was another cyclist called Lucien Breton.
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 His first notable victory was the track cycling championship of Argentina. In 1902 he was drafted in the French Army and he moved back to France. Two years later in 1904 he won the Bol d'Or track event at his second attempt, having finished second the previous year. In 1905 he broke the world hour record on the Buffalo cycling track in Paris with a distance of 41.110 km. The same year he started road racing and finished the Tour de France in an astonishing fifth overall. In 1906 he won the third Paris-Tours race and improved on his previous performance by finishing fourth in the tour.
Winner of both the 1907 and 1908 Tours, Petit-Breton was a complete rider.
In 1907, he won the inaugural Milan-San Remo race before entering the Tour. However, by the end of stage five from Lyon to Grenoble, his chance of victory looked slim. Losing contact with the leading riders on the Col de la Porte, he could only manage a tenth place, twenty eight minutes behind Emile Georget who won his third stage. However, with the points system, time was irrelevant, and he was still in second place. In the tenth stage, Georget illegally changed bicycles and was placed last in the stage by the Tour jury, which cost him 44 points. This meant that Petit-Breton took over the lead, and with two stage wins, plus second and third places in eight other stages, he won the Tour with 47 points. 10 points ahead of second placed Gustave Garrigou and 27 points ahead of Georget in third place.

Lucien Petit-Breton (Mazan)
He also won the Tour in 1908, the first to win the tour twice after winning the Paris-Brussels race. As part of the all-conquering Peugoet team that took the first four places. Petit-Breton won the 1908 Tour de France easily with just 36 points, finishing outside of the first four places in just one stage. Behind him, team-mates Francois Faber and Georges Passerieu finished with 68 and 75 points respectively.

That was his last great victory. World War I ended his career. He joined the French Army and died in 1917 the victim of an ordinary car crash near Troyes, France.
Winner of the 1907 Tour de France, Lucien Petit-Breton. Always well-turned out, the natty Petit-Breton always had every hair in place.

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