Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Romain Maes

Romain Maes (1912-1983) was a Belgain cyclist who raced as a professional from 1933 through 1944. 

His second year racing as a professional, 1934, he entered the Tour de France for the first time. He finished the first and third stages in second place. Later in the race he crashed and ended up leaving the race in an ambulance.

He is most famous for winning the Tour de France in 1935. During the race he wore the yellow jersey of the race leader from the beginning of the race all the way to end. During the 1935 tour he won the first, eleventh and twenty first stage. The twenty first stage was the final stage and ended in Paris. Maes crossed the finish line of the final stage all alone. The next rider to cross the finish line, of the final day, crossed the line thirty nine seconds behind Maes. After winning the 1935 Tour de France, Romain Maes collapsed in tears into his mother's arms.
His win ended a six year streak of the tour being won by Frenchmen. Maes was celebrated as a hero in his home country of Belgium. 

Maes was the first rider to cross the finish line at the 1936 edition of Paris-Roubaix. But a judges awarded the victory to Frenchman Georges Speicher. The race official said he had seen Speicher win.

He had the 1938 edition of Paris-Brussels almost won. Maes had a hundred meter lead over the chasing racers with just five hundred meters to go. He crossed the finish line, inside the velodrome where the race ended, and stopped. Romain had forgotten that he was suppose to ride another full lap around the track before the race was finished. The other races didn't forget and went flying by Maes as he was sitting still. When he realized what was going on, it was too late. Marcel Kint made the additional lap around the velodrome and won the race.

At the 1939 Tour de France, Romain Maes appeared to be on his way to another good ride. He won the second stage, a sixty three kilometer time trial from Caen to Vire. He was unfortunately involved in a bad crash during the eighth stage and had to abandon the race.

Romain Maes raced successfully on the track in the later years of his career. His track racing partner's name was Sulvere Maes. They were not related.

After the 1944 season, Romain Maes retired from racing and opened a bar. The bar was named "In de Gele Trui" (In the Yellow Jersey) and was located near the North Station in Brussels.

Romain Maes

Romain Maes and Sylvere Maes at the 1935 Tour de France

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