Monday, October 10, 2011

Francois Faber

Francois Faber

Francois Faber was born on January 26, 1887 in Aulnay-sur-lton, Eure, France. His father, Jean-Francois, was born in Wiltz, Luxemburg, which gave his son Luxembourg nationality. His mother, Marie-Paule, was born in Lorraine, France. Fancois Faber had a Luxembourg passport but lived in France and considered himself French. 

Faber was a professional from 1906 to 1914 and won 27 races. His size, 6 feet & 1 inch and 200 pounds, and his suburb of Paris gave him the nickname "The Giant of Colombes".

He rode the Tour de France for the first time in 1906 but didn't finish. In the 1907 Tour he finished seventh overall. In 1908 as part of the all-conquering Peugoet team, he finished second, winning two stages including the final stage at the Parc des Princes.

He dominated the 1909 Tour de France winning five consecutive stages, which is still a record. The 1909 Tour had the worst weather the race had seen. Fifty riders dropped out in six days when rain, snow, thick mud, frost and deeply rutted, unsurfaced roads dogged the race from July 7th to the 13th. The worse things got, the better Faber rode. He was the first foreigner to win the Tour de France.

Francois Faber on the left
In the 1910 Tour, Fabor was leading Alcyon teammate Ocatve Lapize in the overall general classification when in Stage 7, a collision with a dog at the foot of the Pyrenees left him serously injured. Despite winning the stage at Nimes, the injury cost him the Tour. 

He continued to compete in the Tour de France with moderate success until his cycling career, like many of his peers, was curtailed with the start of World War I.

Faber joined the French Foreign Legion when the First World War broke out. He was promoted to corporal. On May 9, 1915, the first day of the Battle of Artois at Carency near Arras he received a telegram saying his wife had given birth to a daughter. One story is that, cheering, he jumped out of the trench and was killed by a German bullet. Another more commonly accepted account is that he
was shot while carring an injured colleague back from no-man's land.   The GP Francois Faber, a small race in Luxembourg, is named after him.
Francois Faber during World War I

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