|Hector Heusghem (left) and Leon Scieur, in the 1921 Tour de France|
The 1921 Tour de France took place from June 26 to July 24, 1921. The total distance of the tour was 5,484 kilometers (3,407.6 miles) raced at an average speed of 24.72 kph (15.36 mph). This was only the third Tour de France since the end of World War I and the bicycle companies were struggling to rebuild. The individual bicycle manufactures couldn't afford to sponsor riders, so they bundled their resources to sponsor riders under the name of La Sportive. The racers were divided into two categories; First Class were the professionals and Second Class were the amateurs.
Belgian racers dominated the tour and took 7 of the top 10 places in the general classification of the 1921 Tour de France. Belgian racer Leon Scieur was the overall winner. The French press wanted the French Pelisser brothers to be in the race.
Henri and Francis Pelissier, still at odds with the race organizer and refused to race the 1921 Tour de France. During the 1920 Tour de France Henri Pelissier was given a time penalty for throwing away a punctured tire. At this time the racers had to finish the stage with everything that they had when they started the stage. In protest of the penalty, both brothers, abandoned the 1920 tour. The Pelissier brothers were the top French cyclists at the time. Many people speculated that the race results would have been different if they had participated.
Philippe Thys, the 1920 Tour de France winner, was another favorite that did not participate in the 1921 Tour de France. He was recovering from an illness that he had contracted while racing at the Brussels Six Day track race during the winter months.
During the 1st stage Honore Bathelemy had 11 flat tires. He finished the stage in second place despite having to stop and repair all those flat tires. Leon Scieur finished in 3rd place in the 1st stage.
Romain Billenger won the 2nd stage. Leon Scieur finished in 2nd place right behind him. This 2nd place finish put Scieur in the yellow jersey of the race leader.
Scieur went on to win the 3rd stage. At this point in the race he had a lead of 12 minutes and 38 seconds over Hector Heusghem, who was in 2nd place of the tour.
Leon Scieur winning the 405 km (251.66 miles) 3rd stage from Cherbourg to Brest.
The 1921 Tour de France was a battle between Leon Scieur and Hector Heusghem. Scieur increased his lead over Heusghem in the 4th and 5th stages to over 29 minutes.
|5th stage: The riders stop at the well of St. Magne.|
The 6th stage was in the Pyrenees mountains. Hector Heusghem took off on the Tourmalet and was the first rider over the top. He rode across the Aspin and the Peyresourde solo and won the stage. He had finished 25 minutes and 7 seconds ahead of Scieur. At the end of the 6th stage Scieur was still leading the tour, but he was only 4 minutes and 6 seconds ahead of Heusghem.
The General Classification after Stage 6:
- Leon Scieur: 93hr 57min 12sec
- Hector Heusghem @ 4min 6sec
- Albert Dejonghe @ 50min 4sec
|Albert Dejonghe on the Tourmalet|
Heusghem and Scieur rode the 7th and 8th stages together. So their places didn't change much during those two stages.
In the 9th stage Scieur added 10 minutes to his lead over Heusghem.
During the 10th stage Scieur had a flat tire while climbing the Allos. There was an unwritten rule that in a situation like that you waited on your opponent to fix his tire. Heusghem took off in an attemp to regain some of the time he had lost. Scieur fixed his flat tire and caught up to Heusghem and yelled at him that he had not acted like a professional racer. Scieur went on to win the stage and added another 6 minutes to his lead. Heusghem was now 21 minutes and 47 seconds behind Scieur.
Scieur walks his bike up the Galibier in stage 11.
The two leaders, Heusghem and Scieur, finished stage 11 together. So, there was no change in the standings. Stage 11 crossed the mountain climbs of the Lautaret, Galibier, Telegraphe and Aravis.
During stages 12 and 13 the time separating the race leaders didn't change. It looked as if Scieur surely had the tour won with only 2 stages remaining in the race.
The General Classification standings at the end of stage 13:
- 1. Leon Scieur
- 2. Hector Heusghem @ 21 minutes 47 seconds
- 3. Honoré Barthélémy @ 1 hour 58 minutes 35 seconds
Scieur's rear wheel came apart during the 433 kilometer (269 miles) stage 14. His wheel had 11 broken spokes. The rules of the Tour de France at that time were that a rider could replace a part on their bicycle if they could show that it was not able to be repaired. Since there were no race officials around to show his broken wheel, Scieur strapped the wheel to his back and carried it 300 kilometers (190 miles) to the finish to show the officials. He had scars on his back for years from the sprocket on the wheel digging into him as he rode. Scieur finished a few minutes behind Heusghem, but still retained a comfortable lead.
Leon Scieur rode wisely during the final 15th stage into Paris and won the 1921 Tour de France.
The top five final places of the 1921 Tour de France General Classification:
- 1. Leon Scieur (La Sportive): 221 hours 50 minutes 26 seconds
- 2. Hector Heusghem (La Sportive) @ 18 minutes 36 seconds
- 3. Honore Barthelemy (La Sportive) @ 2 hours 1 minute
- 4. Luigi Lucotti (Ancora) @ 2 hours 39 minutes 18 seconds
- 5. Hector Tiberghien (La Sportive) @ 4 hours 33 minutes 19 seconds
|Leon Scieur , winner of the 1921 Tour de France|
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Hector Heusghem, second place in the 1921 Tour de France.
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Honore Barthelemy, third place finisher in the 1921 Tour de France.
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Luigi Lucotti, fourth place finisher of the 1921 Tour de France.
He was the top placing Italian rider up to this time.
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Hector Tiberghien, fifth place finisher in the 1921 Tour de France.
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