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January 2006
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Top 25 All Time Tours #11

1968: Janssen's Final Push Upsets the Favorites

CR Timeline 1968 [also see Special Notes below]

The 1968 Tour de France was billed as the “Clean Tour.” After the death of British rider Tom Simpson during the 1967 race, cycling officials took the hard but necessary steps to clean up the rider-doping problem. They instituted new drug testing at stage finishes.

The popular National team format continued in 1968, but it did create bad relations with the trade team sponsors. Several large-sponsor teams withheld star riders from National teams. Most notable was the Faema team's withholding of World Champion Eddy Merckx, who had just won the Giro d'Italia. Consequently, the eternal challenger, Raymond “Pou Pou” Poulidor was installed as the heavy pre-race favorite. Roger Pingeon, the defending champion, pledged his support to his popular French teammate.

The race action got heated on the first climbing stage in the Pyrenees Mountains . Raymond Poulidor motivated a 10-rider breakaway into the stage 12 finish in St. Gaudens. The Poulidor group finished the stage 2'30” ahead of contenders Jan Janssen, Herman Van Springel and Lucien Aimar.

On July 14 th , France 's Bastille Day , defending champion Roger Pingeon launched an attack with 200 km to go on stage 15. Pingeon passed the banner marking 50 km to the finish in Albi with a lead in excess of 13 minutes. French team leader, Poulidor, jumped away from the remaining peloton and began chasing the solo Pingeon. The move did attract a small group of strong riders including Janssen, Van Springel, Aimar and overall leader Georges Vanderberghe. Disaster struck “Pou Pou” when a press motorcycle lost control and skidded into his rear wheel, sending the Frenchman to the ground heavily. With blood pouring down his face, his rear wheel wobbling and a broken pedal, the brave “Pou Pou” remounted his bicycle and continued the race.

The chase continued through the final kilometers and managed to catch Pingeon with 7 km to go. Although his breakaway was gone his drive for the stage win was alive. Into the finish in Albi, Pingeon capped a strong effort winning the field sprint and the stage. Battered and sore Poulidor charged hard into Albi and managed to limit his time loss but the spirit had gone from the fallen warrior. The following day, his injuries cost him over 9 minutes, his Tour hopes were gone. The very popular “Pou Pou” sadly abandoned the Tour on stage 17.

Newly proclaimed leader of the French team, Roger Pingeon came out fighting on the second stage in the Alps . Trailing in the overall classification, Pingeon launched another attack on the Stage 18 climb of the Col de Granier. He won the final three major climbs and rode solo into Grenoble for the stage win. Herman Van Springel and Jan Janssen got into the first chase group and gained enough time to vault into second and third respectively. Without Poulidor, the race for the overall classification was heating-up.

The last climbing stage in the Alps featured a finish at the top of the Col de Condon. Barry Hoban (GBr) broke away on the Condon to win the stage. Herman Van Springel (Bel) finished third and gained enough time to don the Maillot Jaune for the first time. With only three days until the finish in Paris , Van Springel's dream of becoming the first Belgian to win the TdF since Sylvere Maes in 1939 seemed real.

The only major test remaining for Van Springel was the final stage, a 54 km individual time trial from Melun to Paris . The overall classification was extremely tight with Gregorio San Miguel (Spa) trailing by 12 seconds, Janssen by 16” and Ferdinand Bracke (Bel) by 1'56”. Inspired by the Maillot Jaune, Van Springel had a 5 second lead on Janssen at the intermediate time check. Janssen, riding the race of his life, came back in the closing kilometers to take a 54 second stage win over a fading Van Springel.

Dutchman Jan Janssen had won the Tour de France on the final day. The 38-second victory gave Janssen the distinction of winning without having worn the Maillot Jaune during the race.

SPECIAL NOTE 1: French National team director Michel Bidot bid farewell at the end of the Tour. He retired after a 42-year association with the Tour de France as a rider and a coach.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: The new finish line for the TdF in Paris was in the municipal Velodrome La Cipale , Bois de Vincennes in the southeastern section of Paris . The Velodrome La Cipale replaced the venerable old Parc des Princes, which had hosted all of the previous Tour finishes.

TdF 1968 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage-Prologue VITTEL, 6.1 km ITT

Charly Grosskost (Fra)

Charly Grosskost (Fra)

Stage 1 VITTEL-ESCH SUR ALZETTE, 189 km

Charly Grosskost (Fra)

Charly Grosskost (Fra)

Stage 2 ARLON-FOREST, 213 km

Eric De Vlaeminck (Bel)

Charly Grosskost (Fra)

Stage 3b FOREST-ROUBAIX, 112 km

Walter Godefroot (Bel)

Herman Van Springel (Bel)

Stage 4 ROUBAIX-ROUEN, 238 km

Georges Chappe (Fra)

Jean-Pierre Genet (Fra)

Stage 5a ROUEN-BAGNOLES DE L'ORNE, 165 km

Andre Desvages (Fra)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 5b BAGNOLES DE L'ORNE-DINARD, 154 km

Jean Dumont (Fra)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 6 DINARD-LORIENT, 188 km

Aurelio Gonzalez (Spa)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 7 LORIENT-NANTES, 190 km

Franco Bitossi (Ita)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 8 NANTES-ROYAN, 223 km

Daniel Van Rijckeghem (Bel)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 9 ROYAN-BORDEAUX, 138 km

Walter Godefroot (Bel)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 10 BORDEAUX-BAYONNE, 200 km

Gilbert Bellone (Fra)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 11 BAYONNE-PAU, 183 km

Daniel Van Rijckeghem (Bel)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 12 PAU-ST GAUDENS, 226 km

Georges Pintens (Bel)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 13 ST GAUDENS-SEO DE URGEL, 209 km

Herman Van Springel (Bel)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 14 SEO DE URGEL-PERPIGNAN/Canet-Plage, 231 km

Jan Janssen (Ned)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 15 FONT ROMEU-ALBI, 251 km

Roger Pingeon (Fra)

Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)

Stage 16 ALBI-AURILLAC, 199 km

Franco Bitossi (Ita)

Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger)

Stage 17 AURILLAC-ST ETIENNE, 236 km

Jean-Pierre Genet (Fra)

Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger)

Stage 18 ST ETIENNE-GRENOBLE, 235 km

Roger Pingeon (Fra)

Gregorio San Miguel (Spa)

Stage 19 GRENOBLE-SALLANCHES/Cordon, 200 km

Barry Hoban (GBr)

Herman Van Springel (Bel)

Stage 20 SALLANCHES-BESANCON, 242 km

Joseph Huysmans (Bel)

Herman Van Springel (Bel)

Stage 21 BESANCON-AUXERRE, 242 km

Eric Leman (Bel)

Herman Van Springel (Bel)

Stage 22a AUXERRE-MELUN, 136 km

Maurice Izier (Fra)

Herman Van Springel (Bel)

Stage 22b MELUN-PARIS/La Cipale, 54 km ITT

Jan Janssen (Ned)

Jan Janssen (Ned)

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Aurelio Gonzales (Spa)

Franco Bitossi (Ita)

 

Starters: 110

Finishers: 63

Distance: 4,684 km

Average: 34.894 km/h


Best Climber Category:

1. Aurelio GONZALEZ (Spa) 98 pts

2. Franco Bitossi (Ita) 84 pts

3. Julio Jimenez (Spa) 72 pts


Green Jersey :

1. Franco BITOSSI (Ita) 241 pts

2. Walter Godefroot (Bel) 219 pts

3. Jan Janssen (Hol) 200 pts

 

 

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