Monday, February 6, 2012

Jean Stablinski

Jean Stablinski

Jean Stablewski, known as Jean Stablinski (1932 - 2007) was a French professional cyclist from a family of Polish immigrants.  It was while riding the Peace Race, at the age of 16, that a journalist's error in writing his name 'Stablinski' created the surname by which he was known from then on.  He rode from 1952 to 1968, winning 105 races as a professional. He won the French national road championship four times - 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964 - the world road championship in 1962, the first Amstel Gold Race, in 1966 and Vuelta a España in 1958.

Jean Stablinski was the son of Polish immigrants in the mining area of the Nord region of France. His father died in a work accident in 1946 and Jean, at 14, started working in the mine to provide for his family. It was at this time that he won a bicycle in an accordion competition. Legend says that his mother was so displeased by her son's new hobby that she damaged his bike.

Stablinski was recognised as a rider who made up for his physical limitations by his tactical sense and his chance to profit from the moment. His knack was to recognise which breakaway attempt would count and not to waste effort on the others.

Jean Stablinski never stopped riding a bike until the illness that led to his death. He said he never put a water bottle on his bike when he rode for pleasure. He had spent too many years racing as a professional with no chance to stop and look around or to meet people. If he had no water on his bike but a few euros in his pocket, he could stop and buy a drink at any bar he fancied and get into a conversation with whomever he met.

Road World Championships 1962

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