Friday, September 23, 2011

1906 Tour de France - The fourth Tour de France

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Route of the 1906 Tour de France

The 1906 Tour de France was the fourth Tour de France  and second to use the point system. Taking place from July 4th to July 29th 1906. The distance of this edition of the Tour was 2,824 miles. This was a substantial increase from the 1905's 1877 miles and resulted in a much slower average speed. The winner averaged 15.201 miles per hour.

It's necessary to understand the bikes and the road conditions of this early edition when comparing the average speeds of today's Tour de France with the speed of the 1906 race.

The bikes were quite different than the ones used in modern day Tour de France races. The bikes were made with lugged steel frames. Bars and stems were also made of steel. The rims were wooden with tubular tires glued on them. Early brakes were pads that rubbed on top of the tires. The wheelbase of the bikes was about 20% longer than that on modern bikes. Fork rakes were much greater to provide enough spring to soften the ride on the rough roads that they raced on.

Most of the roads were not paved. Racers used goggles to keep the dust out of their eyes. In the mountains they raced on roads that were little more than foot paths. Often sheep and cattle would block their way.
The start of the 1906 Tour de France
The 1906 Tour de France still had cheating and sabotage. Four of the racers were disqualified for taking trains as short cuts. Spectators threw nails in the road as they had done in previous tours.

This Tour  was made even more difficult than the previous tours by the addition of more mountain climbs and longer total length. The increased length made it possible to follow the borders of France, which was closely followed in the 1906 race.

A total of 100 cyclists signed up for the race, but only 76 of them came to the start. Only 14 racers were classified as finishing the 1906 edition of the Tour de France.

Rene Pottier took a big lead in the early stages and dominated the entire race to win overall. In the second stage Pottier had mechanical problems and had to stop to repair his machine 109 miles into the race. He lost 58 minutes while he worked on his bike. The other racers worked together to stay ahead of him. Pottier chased them for 120 miles and caught them 16 miles before the finish. He then rode away from all the other racers to win the stage. Pottier showed his strength in the last stage of the Tour by winning the stage in a sprint finish. 

1906 Tour de France complete final general classification.

1. Rene Pottier: 31 points
2.Georges Passerieu: 39                                                
3. Louis Trousselier: 59
4. Lucien Petit-Breton: 65
5. Emile Georget: 80
6. Alois Catteau: 129
7. Edouard Wattelier: 137
8. Leon Georget: 152
9. Eugene Christophe: 156
10. Antony Wattelier: 168
11. Georges Fleury: 201
12. Ferdinand Payan: 222
13. Leon Winant: 241
14. Georges Bronchard: 256

Rene Pottier

Georges Paserieu
Louis Trousselier

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