Monday, September 26, 2011

Nicolas Frantz

 Nicolas Frantz (November 4, 1899 - November 8, 1985) born in Mamer, Luxembourg, was a bicycle racer with 60 professional racing victories over his 12-year career (1923 - 1934). He rode for the Thomann team in 1923 and then for Alcyon-Dunlop from 1924 to 1931.

He had immediate success after turning professional in 1923, winning Paris-Lyon and the GP Faber. His advantage in stage races was his consistent health and fitness. He rode the Tour de France for the first time in 1924, won two stages and finished second just 35 minutes and 36 seconds behind Ottavio Bottecchia. In 1925 and 1926 he won another four stages and finished fourth and second respectively.

Frants then dominated the race for two successive years. He won three stages in 1927 and won overall. He was seventeen minutes behind the race-leader Hector Martin before the start of the stage to Luchon but finished in yellow. His  second stage win was between Toulon and Nice and the final win was at Metz. He finished an hour and forty eight minutes ahead of second placed Maurice De Waele.

He wore the yellow jersey from the first to last day in the 1928 Tour de France, the only rider since Ottavio Bottecchia to have done so. In that race, the frame on his bicycle broke on a level-crossing during the 19th stage with 100 km remaining. He borrowed an undersized, women's bicycle and was helped back into the race by his Alcyon domestiques. He exchanged it for another Alcyon bicycle, which he rode to victory in Paris.

He  dedicated himself to the  Tour de France and prepared exclusively for the race year round. Frantz worked relentlessly to stay in top physical condition. In the race he was always scanning the road surface ahead of his wheels. The result- during the 1928 Tour he punctured his tires only twice. At the overnight stops he was careful of his health and what he ate. He was obsessed by detail, to the point that he arrived at the start of the Tour with twenty-two jerseys, twenty-two pairs of socks and twenty-two pairs of shorts, one for each day of the event. 

Frantz won Paris-Brussels in 1927 and Paris-Tours in 1929. He twice finished in the first three of the world championship. He also won the championship of Luxembourg  for 12 consecutive years (1923 - 1934)

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