Friday, March 29, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France, 1906

1906 Peugeot ridden by Renè Pottier FRA
At 4545k the 1906 Tour was over 50% longer than the previous years event and a thousand kilometers longer than in 2012. Although the average speed suffered so did the riders with only 14 of the 76 starters making it to Paris.
After abandoning the 1905 Tour while leading the race, Pottier was easily the strongest rider in the 1906 edition, as he showed by attacking on the 3rd stage and staying away for 200k, to finish over 47mins ahead of the next rider.

This was the first Tour where freewheels were used with success, enabling riders to coast down the bigger descents, rather than pedaling like fury or even taking their feet off the pedals completely. It wasn't unheard of for riders to have footpegs on the forks in order to rest their feet.

With only one gear the riders obviously had to prioritize the ascents so gears were on the small side, though bigger than the smallest gears today. 44x22 was typical, or the equivalent to 22x11 since they were using 1" pitch chains. This must have lead to some incredible pedaling speeds on the faster sections. It wasn't until the 1910 to 1913 period that double sided rear wheels become commonplace.

The 1903 and 1905 winners both had toeclips, but no straps, which didn't appear until around 1907, with Petit-Breton definitely using them in 1908.

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