“Age and treachery
will overcome youth and skill.”
Fausto Coppi, Italian
"Champion of Champions"

 
January 2006
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Top 25 All Time Tours #12

1952: Coppi's Dominating Return to Form

CR Timeline 1952 [also see Special Notes below]

Italy 's “Campionissimo” Fausto Coppi returned to the Tour de France determined to regain his dominating form of past years. After his impressive win in the 1949 TdF, a crash in the Giro d'Italia prevented him from defending his title in 1950. The tragic death of his brother Serse kept him from finding the physical fitness necessary to win the 1951 Tour. This year's Tour promised to be Coppi's return to form.

After trading the Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey) almost daily through the early stages, the talented flatlanders began to fade when the Tour hit the mountains on stage 10.

Several stages earlier Fausto Coppi made his move toward the race lead with a stage win in the 60 km, individual time trial from Metz to Nancy . The win put Coppi into third place overall with the Tour headed into the hard Alpine climbing stages.

A great TdF legend got its start in 1952 with the introduction of the Alpine climb to the ski station at Alpe d'Huez on stage 10. Frenchman Jean Robic started the action launching a strong attack near the bottom of the finishing climb. Through the 21 numbered hairpin turns Coppi slowly chased down Robic's attack. He caught and passed Robic to ride away from all his challengers. The time gain put Coppi in the Maillot Jaune for the first time in 1952.

After a rest day in Bourg d'Oisans, the race continued with another mountain top finish at Sestrieres , Italy . The French tried to crack the race leader with numerous attacks on the Col du Galibier. Coppi responded to an aggressive move by Raphael Geminiani. Quickly dropping Geminiani, Coppi was alone over the Galibier.

“I was feeling good, I kept going”, said Coppi. The finishing climb of the stage was lined with vocal Italian fans and Coppi reacted to the cheers. Through rain and strong wind, he gained inspiration from his fans and flew up the mountain. In Sestrieres, Coppi had his second stage win in a row, finishing over 7 minutes ahead Spanish climber Bernardo Ruiz. The dominance of these two mountain stages put the Italian superstar into an insurmountable lead in the overall classification.

Through the Pyrenees mountain stages Coppi closely marked his main challengers. Race director Jacques Goddet, fearing complacency in the peloton, doubled the prize for second place in order to keep the other riders racing hard.

“Campionissimo” Fausto Coppi rode into Paris with a 28-minute lead and claimed his second Tour de France championship. As in 1949, Coppi won both the Maillot Jaune and the Best Climber Prize. The Tour de France 1952 truly marked Coppi's dominating return to form.

TdF 1952 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 BREST-RENNES, 246 km

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Stage 2 RENNES-LE MANS, 181 km

Andre Rosseel (Bel)

Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)

Stage 3 LE MANS-ROUEN, 189 km

Nello Lauredi (Fra)

Nello Lauredi (Fra)

Stage 4 ROUEN-ROUBAIX, 232 km

Pierre Molineris (Fra)

Nello Lauredi (Fra)

Stage 5 ROUBAIX-NAMUR, 197 km

Bim Diederich (Lux)

Nello Lauredi (Fra)

Stage 6 NAMUR-METZ, 228 km

Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)

Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)

Stage 7 METZ-NANCY, 60 km ITT

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Nello Lauredi (Fra)

Stage 8 NANCY-MULHOUSE, 252 km

Raphael Geminiani (Fra)

Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)

Stage 9 MULHOUSE-LAUSANNE (Sui), 238 km

Walter Diggelmann (Sui)

Andrea Carrea (Ita)

Stage 10 LAUSANNE (Sui)-L'ALPE D'HUEZ, 266 km

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 11 LE BOURG D'OISANS-SESTRIERES (Ita), 182 km

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 12 SESTRIERES (Ita)- MONACO , 251 km

Jan Nolten (Ned)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 13 MONACO-AIX EN PROVENCE , 214 km

Raoul Remy (Fra)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 14 AIX EN PROVENCE-AVIGNON, 178 km

Jean Robic (Fra)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 15 AVIGNON-PERPIGNAN, 275 km

Georges Decaux (Fra)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 16 PERPIGNAN-TOULOUSE, 200 km

Andre Rosseel (Bel)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 17 TOULOUSE-BAGNERES DE BIGORRE, 204 km

Raphael Geminiani (Fra)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 18 BAGNERES DE BIGORRE-PAU, 149 km

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 19 PAU-BORDEAUX, 195 km

Hans Dekkers (Ned)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 20 BORDEAUX-LIMOGES, 228 km

Jacques Vivier (Fra)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 21 LIMOGES-CLERMONT FERRAND, 245 km

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 22 CLERMONT FERRAND-VICHY, 63 km ITT

Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Stage 23 VICHY-PARIS, 354 km

Antonin Rolland (Fra)

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

x Fausto Coppi (Ita)


Starters: 122

Finishers: 78

Distance: 4,827 km

Average: 31.871 km/h


Best Climber Category:

1. Fausto COPPI (Ita) 92 pts

2. Antonio Gelabert (Spa) 69 pts

3. Jean Robic (Fra) 60 pts

SPECIAL NOTE: 1952 marked the first use of television to broadcast the Tour. Brave cameramen, lugging bulky cameras on the back of motorcycles, did the TV coverage of the early years. Each day the films were rushed by train to Paris for editing and were broadcast the following day. These early pioneering days helped make the Tour a worldwide event and today the Tour's stages are watched by millions of fans around the world.

 

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