Bretons and the Tour de France

Brittany

Jean-Yves Le Drian

It is claimed that men are shaped by their surroundings; this can also be said of sport, to such an extent does Brittany seem to have been made for the sport of cycling.

This is confirmed in the seemingly interminable hill climbs that at length give way to breathtaking landscapes, and the diversity of our roads and pathways, with roadsides almost certainly designed to receive thousands of enthusiastic competition spectators.

The people of Brittany themselves are made for the sport of cycling: the distinguishing pugnacity, obstinacy and force of character that they incarnate has produced some of the greatest champions.

But above all, the men and women of Brittany adore cycling with a passion. This is what led me to recommend to my colleagues at the County Council the creation of a Breton cycling team, the Brittany Armor Lux team. In Brittany cycling is extremely popular and highly appreciated; it appeals to both men and women; it is par excellence a democratic and festive sport, and it is this that encouraged our economic and sporting commitment.

All of these factors herald a magnificent start to the 2008 Tour de France, which in Brittany will incontestably find its ideal public.

Brittany awaits the Tour; it is ready to do everything possible to make the celebration perfect and to ensure that participants, spectators, organisers, journalists all remember a spectacular event.

Brittany is waiting for you in order to open a page in the history of cycling with you, a new Tour legend.

Welcome to our land of cycling; you are here on home ground.

 

Jean-Yves Le Drian
Président du Conseil régional de Bretagne

Brittany, Breton people and the Tour de France

© Presse Sport - Bernard Hinault

Cycling was born in Brittany” declared Achille Joinard, former president of the F.F.C. and the U.C.I. And Brittany, with its traditional cycling vocation, has contributed much to the sport of cycling, in particular to the Tour de France.

In the course of its long history, the great July event has travelled the length and breadth of all the counties of Brittany, with stages in the principal towns of the Armor Peninsula. Rennes hosted the first Breton stage in 1905.

The following year, the organisers innovated with a stage in Brest, from where the Tour will be launched in 2008.

The riders

Four Bretons appear on the Tour de France prize list: Petit-Breton, whose real name was Lucien Mazan (1907–1908), Jean Robic (1947), Louison Bobet (1953–1954–1955) and Bernard Hinault (1978-1979-1981-1982-1985).

The 11 victories obtained by these four champions represent 11, 8 % of total wins, and 30, 5 % of French wins.

For the period 1947–2006, the 9 wins achieved by Robic, Bobet and Hinault represent 15 % of total wins and 42, 85 % of French wins.

Breton winners

  • Lucien Petit-Breton: two victoires in 1907 and 1908 (the centenary of his second victory will be celebrated in 2008), 4th in 1906,
    5th in 1905.
  • Bernard Hinault: five victories between 1978 and 1985, and two second places (1984, 2nd behind Fignon – 1986, 2nd behind LeMond), i.e. 7 places on the podium in Paris. Hinault, who abandoned in 1980 following a knee injury and whilst wearing the yellow jersey, remains the best Tour winner in terms of performance ratings.
  • Louison Bobet: Three wins in a row between 1953 and 1955 (the first rider to achieve this feat). 3rd in 1950, 4th in 1948, 7th in 1958.
  • Jean Robic: A victory in 1947 (without having worn the yellow jersey during the race). 4th in 1949, 5th in 1952.

Prize-list

© A.S.O.
  • Jean-Marie Goasmat: 9th in 1947.
  • Roger Lambrecht (Belge, Breton d’adoption): 7th in 1948.
  • Pierre Cogan: 10th in 1949, 7th in 1950.
  • Jean Mallejac: 2nd in 1953 (Doublé breton: L. Bobet – Malléjac), 5th in 1954.
  • François Mahé: 10th in 1953, 10th in 1955, 5th in 1959.
  • Georges Groussard: 5th in 1964.
  • Désiré Letort: 4th in 1967, 9th in 1969.
  • Christian Seznec: 5th in 1978, 6th in 1980.
  • Ronan Pensec: 6th in 1986, 7th in 1988.
  • Gérard Rué: 10th in 1991.
  • Pascal Lino: 5th in 1992.
  • Jean-Cyril Robin: 6th in 1998.

Breton stage winners

  • Bernard Hinault: 28 (from 1978 to 1986).
  • René Le Grevès: 16 (from 1933 to 1939).
  • Louison Bobet: 11 (from 1948 to 1955).
  • Lucien Petit-Breton: 7 (1907 and 1908).
  • Jean Robic: 6 (from 1947 to 1953).
  • Guy Ignolin: 3 (from 1961 to 1963).
  • Jean-Pierre Genet: 3 (from 1968 to 1974).

Other stage winners:

Jean Bourlès, Pierre Cloarec (2), Jean Gainche, Jean-Marie Goasmat, Joseph Groussard, Roger Lambrecht, Pierre Le Bigaut, André Le Dissez, Philippe Leleu, Pascal Lino, François Mahé, Jean Malléjac, Pierre-Henri Menthéour, Joseph Morvan, Pascal Poisson, Maurice Quentin, Christian Seznec (2), Joseph Thomin.

Breton winners of the Grand Prix de la Montagne: Louison Bobet (1950) and Bernard Hinault (1986). Hinault also won the General Points Classification (green jersey) in 1979 and the prize for the Most Aggressive Rider in 1986.

Breton riders who have worn the yellow jersey

Ferdinand Le Drogo (1927), Léon Le Calvez (1931), Jean Fontenay (1939), Louison Bobet (1948, 1953, 1954, 1955), Jean Robic (1953) – winner in 1947, he only wore the yellow jersey at the finish in the Parc des Princes, François Mahé (1953), Jean Malléjac (1953), Joseph Groussard (1960), Georges Groussard (1964), Jean-Pierre Genet (1968), Désiré Letort (1969), Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986), Ronan Pensec (1980), Pascal Lino (1992).

We obviously cannot talk about Breton riders on the Tour without mentioning Jean Bobet, Robert Bouloux, Albert Bouvet, Jean Dacquay, Jean Guéguen, Maurice Le Guilloux, Jean Le Guilly, Ange Le Strat, André Mahé, Fernand Picot, Francis Pipelin, André Ruffet, Georges Talbourdet and… the doyen Alfred Le Bars classified 26th and 19th, respectively, in the 1907 and 1909 Tour.