Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The 1913 Tour de France

Route of the 1913 Tour de France
The 1913 Tour de France was the 11th Tour de France. Total distance of the race was 5,388 kilometres (3,348 miles) covered at an average speed of 26.72 kph (16.60 mph) by the racers. For the first time the route of the race was run in a counterclockwise direction. The first African cyclist took part in the Tour de France in 1913: Ali Neffati from Tunisia. In all there were 140 riders that started the Tour that year.
The sprint finish at the end of stage 4 in La Rochelle, won by Marcel Buysse.

Between 1904 and 1912, the overall classification had been calculated by points, but in 1913 the classification was reverted to the original format from 1903, where the overall classification was calculated by adding up the times of the individual stages. 

Calculating the winner of the tour on a points-based system instead of elapsed time created rather flat racing. Since a gap of 1 second had the same effect on the overall lead as a deficit of 3 hours, riders could let a break get a big lead without worrying about its having a serious effect on the standings. 

The other reason was a because of Desgrange's, the tour organizer, stern rules regarding bicycle repairs. A rider had to fix his own bike without assistance. If a rider had to spend the better part of an hour performing a repair it would be devastating to his standings in a time-based system. in a points based system, it might mean the loss of only a few places in a single stage.
The riders finish stage 5 in Bayonne.
Alcyon's Odile Defraye, winner of the 1912 Tour de France, was never out of the top 7 places and usually in the top 3 in the first 5 stages. That put him in the lead after stage 5 with Eugene Christophe second. Phillpe Thys, Christophe's Peugeot teammate, was sitting in fifth place. 85 riders had already abandoned the Tour. 

After stage 5, the standings were:

1. Odile Defraye
2. Eugene Christophe @ 4 minutes, 55 seconds
3. Marcel Buysse @ 10 minutes, 5 seconds

Thys, Christophe, Buysse and Garrigou suffer on the rough roads of the time, during Pyreneen Stage.

Firmin Lambot, winner of the 1919 and 1922 Tour de Frances, crests the Aubisque.

Stage 6 is one of the most famous in Tour de France history. It was 326 kilometers (202.57 miles) from Bayonne to Luchon and took the winner 14 hours to complete. It also cross (in order) the mountain passes of the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde. At the start of stage 6, last year's winner Odile Defraye lead the general classification, some 5 minutes ahead of Eugene Christophe. When the first mountains were climbed, Defraye was dropped quickly, and Christophe lead the race. Christophe came up first on the Aubisque, and in second place behind Phipippe Thys on the Tourmalet.

 The fork on Christophe's bike broke on the way down the Tourmalet. His bicycle was completely unusable, and the rules said that he had to repair it himself. He shouldered his bike and carried his broken fork and front wheel in his other hand. Accounts differ on the distance that he had to walk/run to get to the next village. According to L' Auto, the newspaper that sponsored the Tour de France, he had to walk/run 14 kilometers (8.70 miles). Christophe's account of the distance puts it at 10 kilometers (6.21 miles). When he reached the village a young girl took him to the blacksmith's shop. 

In those days, remember, there where no follow cars with bikes ready at a moment's notice to be handed to a racer with a mechanical problem. These were the days in which a racer had to perform his own repairs on his bike.

Christophe was not only a good bicycle mechanic, he had been  a locksmith and had metalworking skills. The blacksmith gave Christophe some verbal guidance. Under the rules, that was all that could be allowed. He worked on it for four hours, being watched by race officials, who made sure that he was not helped by anyone. When Christophe asked a small boy to work the bellows, he was penalised 10 minutes. After his bicycle was fixed, he rode away and finished the stage, 3 hours and 50 minutes later than the stage winner Thys. Christophe's chances to win the 1913 Tour de France were over. 
Chasing Buysse on the Galiber are Francois Faber (left) and Gustave Garrigou.

After the sixth stage, Marcel Buysse was in the lead. In the ninth stage, Buysse had a broken handlebar, and finished almost three and a half hours after stage winner Lambot. This was the end of the chances for Buysse for the victory. Buysse did not give up, and won four of the remaining five stages.
Marcel Buysse was first over the Galibier and went on to win stage 11.

The lead had transferred to Thys now.  In the last stages, the race focussed on the duel between Petit-Breton and Thys. In the 14th stage, Petit-Brton fell down and stopped the race. In the same stage,  Thys also fell down and remained unconscious for a while. When he was conscious again, he was helped to repair his bicycle. All help was illegal in 1913, but the jury only gave him a 10 minute penalty. Thys finished the stage, and kept 8min. 37 seconds in front of Gustave Garrigou in the general classification. In the final stage, Thys stayed with Garrigou, and so won the 1913 Tour de France.

Final 1913 Tour de France General Classification:
1. Philippe Thys (Peugeot) 197 hours 54 minutes
2. Gustave Garrigou (Peugeot) @ 8 minutes 37 seconds
3. Marcel Buysse (Peugeot) @ 3 hours 30 minutes 55 seconds
4. Firmin Lambot (Griffon) @ 4 hours 12 minutes 45 seconds
5. François Faber (Peugeot) @ 6 hours 26 minutes 4 seconds
6. Alfons Spiessens (JB Louvet) @ 7 hours 57 minutes 52 seconds
7. Eugène Christophe (Peugeot) @ 14 hours 6 minutes 35 seconds
Peugeot took 5 of the top 7 places and won 10 of the 15 stages. 25 riders finished.

Philippe Thys, winner of the 1913 Tour de France
Click here to learn more about Philippe Thys

Gustave Garrigou, 2nd place in the 1913 Tour de France
Click here to learn more about Gustave Garrigou.

Marcel Buysse, 3rd place in the 1913 Tour de France.
Click here to learn more about Marcel Buysse.

Firmin Lambot, 4th place in the 1913 Tour de France.
Click here to learn more about Firmin Lambot.

Francois Faber, 5th place in the 1913 Tour de France.
Click here to learn more about Francois Faber.

No comments:

Post a Comment