Saturday, April 7, 2012

Raymond Impanis

Raymond Impanis

Raymond Impanis (1925 –  2010) was a Belgian professional cyclist from 1947 to 1963. 

He was born in the Flemish Brabant town of Berg. Where his family owned a bakery. During World War II there was no gasoline to fuel their delivery truck. Each morning teenaged Raymond would get up and make bread deliveries on his bike. After his deliveries were done he would haul over 200 pounds of flour from the supplier to his family's bakery on a three wheeled delivery bike. He bought his first racing bike with the tip money he received from the customers.

Impanis started racing in the junior races in 1942. In one of his early races he had a very bad crash, slamming into an electric pole during a sprint. As a result of the crash his right arm was almost completely paralyzed. For the rest of his life he could barely lift his right hand. This didn't stop him from racing, he just became a lefty.

Raymond Impanis turned pro in 1947 after racing succesfully as a junior and an amateur. He raced the Tour de France his first year, winning a stage and finishing 6th overall. After such a great debut Impanis became Belgium's great Tour de France hope. He never won the Tour, but won a total of three stages and finished in the top ten in 1949 and 1950. 
Impanis had a long career of 17 years as a professional: 1947 -1963. He is most famous for his 1954 season where he won the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Nice. At the end of his long road career, Raymond had hoped to cash in for big pay days on the winter six-day indoor track circuit. Only one problem can't do a hand-sling very well in the jams when your right arm is nearly paralyzed. He started motopaced racing on the track to extend his paydays and popularity a little longer.

Raymond Impanis motorpaced racing on the track.

After retiring Impanis worked for race radio and was a fixture at Belgian races. He never really stopped riding, still cruising around on a lightweight bicycle with flat bars well into his eighties.

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