Historic Moments Tour de France Brittany

Historic moments on the Tour de France in Brittany

© J. C. Moreau

In general, the undulating routes of Brittany provide energetic stages that have often proved to be decisive and have at times determined the outcome of the Tour. We have selected four outstanding Breton stages:

1947 Vannes – Saint-Brieuc: the Tour is turned upside down

Three days from Paris, the south to north crossing of Brittany (139 km time trial between Vannes and Saint-Brieuc) terminates with a dramatic turn of events. René Vietto, in the lead for the last ten days, loses his yellow jersey to Pierre Brambilla. The Belgian rider Raymond Impanis wins the stage, but Jean Robic is not far behind. He will win the Tour during the final Caen-Paris stage.

1956 Lorient – Angers: the emergence of Walkowiak

A long breakaway, formed within the first kilometres of the race, comprises 31 riders, including Roger Walkowiak. This breakaway group separates itself from the pack and numerous favourites by 18’46’’. The Italian Fantini triumphs in the sprint, but Walko is the one who benefits most from this unexpected attack. He seizes the yellow jersey and wins the Tour.

1958 Châteaulin: Gaul beats Anquetil in the time trial

The Luxemburg climber, Charly Gaul, surprises everyone by beating Jacques Anquetil in the 46 km time trial on the Circuit de Châteaulin… a serious warning. Gaul will win this Tour de France by surpassing all his opponents in the gruelling Chartreuse stage.

1960 Saint-Malo – Lorient: an extraordinary breakaway

This stage through Brittany plays a decisive role in the outcome of this Tour de France in which national teams participate. Four riders represent four different countries and important countries too: Rivière (France), Nencini (Italy), Hans Junkermann (Germany) and Jan Adriaenssens (Belgium) break away just after the start and rapidly widen the gap. It’s the perfect breakaway. It includes only the leaders who reach Lorient almost a quarter of an hour ahead of the other riders and the winner of the Tour is evidently amongst them. Rivière triumphs in the sprint.

One week later, he is eliminated in the Cévennes by a serious fall, which puts an end to his cycling career, and Nencini arrives in Paris wearing the yellow jersey.