Friday, March 29, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France 1908

1908 Peugeot ridden by Lucien Petit-Breton FRA
The 1908 race can only be seen as one thing, a tribute to the Peugeot team. To this day the most successful team ever and winners of more Tours than any other team.

This year, not only did they win overall with Petit-Breton but they also took the first 4 places (and 6th and 8th) and won EVERY stage.
It's hardly surprising when the team included, alongside Petit-Breton, who had won the previous year, Français Faber who would win the following year and go on to take the Paris-Roubaix, Henri Cornet the 1904 winner, Georges Passerieu who had a 2nd in the Tour to his name and was also a Paris-Roubaix winner, Hippolyte Aucouturier, another Tour runner up and double Paris-Roubaix victor and Gustave Garrigou, second again in 1908 and winner in 1911. Even the lesser know team members were, or would go on to be, stage winners.

Petit-Breton himself was considered the perfect bike racer. He had great endurance, yet he had a formidable sprint which was useful at a time when the Tour was decided on points, meaning that losing minutes in the mountains was no more of a penalty than missing out in the sprint by a bikes length. This was important when you realise that when they crossed the Ballon d'Alsace, which is by no means the hardest climb in France, only one rider managed it without getting off and pushing.
His other great strength was that as a bicycle mechanic, which also shouldn't be underestimated in the days when riders had to do all their own repairs, without outside assistance.

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