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December 2005
     
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

 

 

 


Felice Gimondi

 

Top 25 All Time Tours #15

1965- Gimondi's Surprise Victory

CR Timeline 1965 [also see Special Notes below]

Defending champion Jacques Anquetil opted not to race in 1965 after winning his record setting 5th Tour de France (TdF) championship in 1964. Fans, media and cycling experts began speculating about a successor. Raymond “Pou Pou” Poulidor's name appeared prominently at the headed of most lists. Poulidor, who finished second to Anquetil in 1964, was joined by 1965 Giro d'Italia winner Vittorio Adorni (Ita), Belgian superstar Rik Van Looy (Bel), Lucien Aimar (Fra), Gianni Motta (Ita), and Henry Anglade (Fra) on the list of favorites. Nowhere on anyone's list did neo-pro Felice Gimondi (Ita) appear. Gimondi had finished 3rd in this year's Giro and had been brought here to support his SALVARANI team leader Vittorio Adorni.

The 22 yearold Felice Gimondi rode aggressively during the early stages to put pressure on the contenders. His aggressive riding and time bonuses earned him the Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey) after stage 3.

The coveted Maillot Jaune is very hard to win but even harder to keep. The first individual time trial (ITT) came on Stage 5b around the City of Chateaulin. The time trialing phase of the race was a Poulidor strong point. This was his opportunity to win the stage and start his charge at the race lead.

Poulidor did manage to win the stage, but the revelation of the stage was Gimondi. The current race leader lost only 7 seconds to Poulidor and held onto the Maillot Jaune. The inspired Italian had passed his first test.

The Tour entered the Pyrenean climbing stages four days after the ITT. A confident “Pou Pou” began his move to the top of the overall classification. Stage 9 from Dax to Bagneres de Bigorre featured the brutal climbs of the Col d'Aubisque and Col du Tourmalet. Spanish climber Julio Jimenez attacked early on the first climb and broke clear of the peloton. Poulidor's team rode prominently at the front of the first chase group trying to shed Gimondi. The strong chase was not enough to catch Jimenez and the Spaniard completed his extraordinary effort with the stage win. Despite Poulidor's effort he could not ride away from the pesky Gimondi. The hard chase did shed other riders and Poulidor moved into second place overall, 3'12” behind the Italian. The final two stages in the Pyrenees saw Gimondi again match Poulidor pedal stroke for pedal stroke. Poulidor was still in second place overall as the race headed toward a showdown in the Alps.

During a well-deserved rest day after stage 11 in Barcelona, seeds of doubt became evident for Poulidor's MERCIER-BP team . A beleaguered “Pou Pou” questioned his own ability to beat the young Italian. Team manager Antonin Magne persuaded Poulidor that his strength would generate substantial time gains on the remaining mountain and ITT stages. After the Magne pep talk, Poulidor continued the race with a renewed but fragile confidence.

The unforgiving climb of Mont Ventoux is legendary in Tour history. Executing Magne's plan, Poulidor did attack from the bottom of the climb and sets a pace that only one climber could follow. Talented Spaniard Julio Jimenez had the strength to join the inspired “Pou Pou” . The climb was completed brilliantly and the stage win gave Poulidor a valuable time gain of 1'38” on Gimondi. The flying Frenchman now trailed by a slim 34 seconds.

Two stages later, the next challenge came on the classic stage from Gap to Briancon. The stage was the site of grand exploits in Tour history with two brutal, category 1 climbs, the Col du Vars and the Col d'Izoard. Poulidor rode aggressively with Gimondi solidly matching his every move until misfortune struck on the high-speed descent of the Izoard. Poulidor fell heavily. His injuries were minor and he quickly remounted. “Pou Pou's” chase of the Gimondi group was made harder because the finish in Briancon came quickly after the Izoard. The remarkable effort did limit Poulidor's time loss to only 5 seconds. The late crash had caused not only a scare but also a lost opportunity to gain time.

The Stage 18 (4 stages before Paris), 27 km ITT up the category 1 Mont Revard provided Poulidor a final opportunity to grasp control of the race. Tailing by only 39 seconds, he confidently attacked the course. The race leader followed “Pou Pou” up the mountain and knew he needed a great effort to hold onto the Maillot Jaune. At the finish Poulidor ridden well but the exceptional ride of the day was reserved for Felice Gimondi. The race leader arrived at the top of Mont Revard 33 seconds ahead of the French favorite. Poulidor now trailed by 1'12” with only the final ITT from Versailles to Paris remaining.

Riding into Paris with the Maillot Jaune on his back Felice Gimondi gained the strength necessary to put the finishing touch on his grand TdF victory. The 22-year-old Italian crossed the finish line at Parc des Princes Velodrome 1'08” ahead of a fading Raymond Poulidor. The under-estimated Gimondi was the surprise winner of the Tour de France, but in 1965 he was clearly the superior rider from start to finish.

TdF 1965 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1a KOLN (Ger)-LIEGE (Bel), 149 km

Rik Van Looy (Bel)

Rik Van Looy (Bel)

Stage 2 LIEGE (Bel)-ROUBAIX, 206 km

Bernard Vandekerkhove (Bel)

Bernard Vandekerkhove (Bel)

Stage 3 ROUBAIX-ROUEN, 250 km

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 4 CAEN-ST BRIEUC, 227 km

Edgard Sorgeloos (Bel)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 5a ST BRIEUC-CHATEAULIN, 147 km

Cees Van Espen (Hol)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 5b CHATEAULIN, 27 km ITT

Raymond Poulidor (Fra)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 6 QUIMPER-LA BAULE/Pornichet, 210 km

Guido Reybroeck (Bel)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 7 LA BAULE/Pornichet-LA ROCHELLE, 219 km

Edward Sels (Bel)

Bernard Vandekerkhove (Bel)

Stage 8 LA ROCHELLE-BORDEAUX, 198 km

Jo De Roo (Hol)

Bernard Vandekerkhove (Bel)

Stage 9 DAX-BAGNERES DE BIGORRE, 226 km

Julio Jimenez (Spa)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 10 Bagneres de Bigorre-AX LES THERMES, 223 km

Guido Reybroeck (Bel)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 11 AX LES THERMES-BARCELONA (Spa), 240 km

Jose Perez-Frances (Fra)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 12 BARCELONA (Spa)-PERPIGNAN, 219 km

Jan Janssen (Hol)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 13 PERPIGNAN-MONTPELLIER, 164 km

Adriano Durante (Ita)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 14 MONTPELLIER-MONT VENTOUX, 173 km

Raymond Poulidor (Fra)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 15 CARPENTRAS-GAP, 168 km

Giuseppe Fezzardi (Ita)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 16 GAP-BRIANCON, 177 km

Joaquim Galera (Spa)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 17 BRIANCON-AIX LES BAINS, 193 km

Julio Jimenez (Spa)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 18 AIX LES BAINS-LE REVARD, 27 km ITT

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 19 AIX LES BAINS-LYON, 165 km

Rik Van Looy (Bel)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 20 LYON-AUXERRE, 294 km

Michael Wright (GBr)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 21 AUXERRE-VERSAILLES, 225 km

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Stage 22 VERSAILLES-PARIS, 38 km ITT

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Felice Gimondi (Ita)

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Julio Jiminez (Spa)

Jan Janssen (Hol)

TdF Champion: Felice Gimondi (Ita)

Starters: 130

Finishers: 96

Distance: 4,188 km

Average: 35.886 km/h

SPECIAL NOTE #1: One innovation introduced in 1965 was the start ramp for the individual time trials (ITT). The small raised platform gave the riders a rolling start into their intense TT effort. Today, this innovation has evolved into an elaborate, modern-day start house (with a ramp) for all ITT's.

SPECIAL NOTE #2: Rumors midway through the Tour began to swirl of a growing number of rider using performance-enhancing drugs. Top riders were abandoning with health problems in the heat of southern France. Race officials began discussions about the drug use in the peloton and consider the institution of drug testing to address the problem. However, race officials proceed cautiously realizing they would meet strong resistance from the riders. This was only the beginning of an ongoing battle with the peloton that would last for years.

SPECIAL NOTE #3: Special note must be made for a grand champion. The end of a TdF career came on stage 10 with the abandonment of Federico Bahamontes in the Pyrenees Mountains. Bahamontes won the overall Tour championship in 1959 and won the Best Climber's Prize a record six times. It seemed fitting for such a great Spanish climber to end his career on top of his beloved mountains.

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