Saturday, April 6, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France 1913

1913 Peugeot ridden by Philippe Thys BEL
The race follows an anticlockwise course around France and creates the formula that last to today of anticlockwise routes in odd years and clockwise in even years. The Tour also reverts to elapsed time as the way of deciding the winner, rather than points.
Peugeot were to take the first three places plus 5th and 7th.

The 1913 Tour is most famous for the story of Christophe, his broken forks and the penalty he was given when a 7 year old boy help him by pumping the bellows while Christophe worked at the repairs in a blacksmiths forge.
Actually the story seems to have been over emphasized since he was only docked 10 minutes, and even that was later reduced to 3, especially considering that he'd lost over three hours on the repairs. More interesting is the story that after the stage Peugeot took the forks away and claimed that they'd been damaged in an accident with a car, while Christophe made no mention of a crash. Clearly Peugeot thought that there was a better marketing story around a car crash being responsible for the breakage than them giving way due to the stresses of the terrible road conditions.

This was the first Tour where gears started to be used in anger and by 1914 they'd become commonplace, with most riders opting for Eadie two speed hubs. In 1913 Petit-Breton was using a Sturmey-Archer two speed hub but despite being able to shift on the fly he was still outclimbed by riders who were flipping their rear wheels to change between the two gears, notably Thys and Buysse, but it was early days for the geared hub and internal losses cancelled out the time gained. 

Another interesting story is that Tour history states that in 1919 Christophe was the first wearer of the yellow jersey, whereas Thys claimed that he was awarded the jersey during this addition. He says he was initially reluctant to wear it, stating that it made him a more obvious target for his rivals but after pressure from his Peugeot team, who saw the marketing potential, he eventually relented. The garment wasn't the slick tailored item of today and needed a knife taking to it to ensure his head passed through the neck hole.

Firmin Lambert on th Aubisque. Note the road conditions.
Faber and Garrigou on the Galibier

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