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

 
November 2005
 
 

By Barry Boyce,
CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

 

 


Christophe doing repairs

 

 



xx Petit-Breton injured in a crash

 

 

Top 25 All Time Tours #18

1913- Accidents Play a Critical Role in the Race

CR Timeline 1913

Crashes, mishaps, and mechanical problems have always been part of the Tour de France (TdF) , but in 1913 these affairs of misfortune would play a large role in determining the overall winner of this Tour.

Race director Henri Desgranges returned the TdF to an overall classification based on time. Concern over the growing “political determination” (team tactics) of stage winners, Desgranges took this step to ensure that the strongest individual rider would win the overall championship.

The most notable innovation was the reversal of the race direction. For the first time the Tour raced in the count-clockwise direction with the climbs of the Pyrenees Mountains coming before the Alps.

Through the first five stages the Tour's 1912 champion Odiel Defraye (Bel) had a slight lead, followed closely by French favorite Eugene Christophe 4 minutes and 55 second behind. Stage six featured an epic trip into the “Circle of Death” (the hardest day in the Pyrenees Mountains, where Tour hopes can die). Christophe attacked early on the stage and managed to drop race leader Defraye. Talented Belgian Philippe Thys joined him at the foot of the first climb and the duo steadily pulled away from the Defraye led peloton. The struggling race leader, who was nursing an injured thigh muscle, surrendered to the pain and abandoned on the brutal climb of the Col du Tourmalet. With Defraye out of the race Christophe was the race leader on the road. Riding an inspired race, he attacked his breakaway companion. The flying Frenchman won the climb of the Tourmalet over 5 minute ahead of a small chase group of contenders, containing Thys, Lucien Petit-Breton, Gustave Garrigou, and Firmin Lambot.

On the descent of the Tourmalet solo leader crashed heavily and broke the front fork of his bike. He quickly gathered the pieces and despite his physical injuries, began to run down the mountain. Fourteen kilometers late Christophe reached the village of Ste. Marie de Campan. His time loss put him far behind the leaders but he found a forge. Frantically Christophe worked the forge and made the repairs under the watchful eye of strict race officials. When he reached a point in the repairs where a third hand was necessary, Christophe had to ask a young villager to pump the forge. After completing the repairs Christophe returned to the race. He finished the stage 3 hours and 50 minute behind the new race leader Philippe Thys. However despite having lost nearly four hours, race director Desgranges fined Christophe another 10 minutes for illegal help at the forge. The “Circle of Death.” had claimed 2 race leaders on the same stage.

After Christophe's misfortune, the race focus shifted. New race leader Philippe Thys began to tire on stage 7 and lost the overall lead to breakaway, stage winner Marcel Buysse (Bel). In full control of the Tour going into stage nine, Buysse was hit with the accident bug, when he snapped the handlebars of his bike. Like Christophe before him, the race leader walked to the nearest town for repairs. Buysse lost 3'27” on the stage and his shot at the overall victory was gone. The talented Belgian was able to stay focused and won four of the remaining six stages, but the overall prize was gone.

Thys regained the race lead on stage 9 but the race for the overall was far from finished. Two Frenchman, Lucien Petit-Breton and Gustave Garrigou were closely challenging him for the overall lead. Thys and second place Petit-Breton played out two final, dubious affairs on the roads from Longwy to Dunkerque. Riding aggressively and taking all the risks necessary to make up his time deficit, Petit-Breton crashed on a narrow turn in a small village leading to Dunkerque. Badly injured and unable to continue. He was forced to abandon the race. Shortly after Petit-Breton's misfortune, race leader Thys had a heavy crash, temporarily losing consciousness. A semi-conscious Thys remounted his bike and completed the stage. He lost more than 54 minutes to his next challenger Gustave Garrigou. The hard closing Frenchman elevated himself to second place overall, only 8'37” behind Thys.

The final stage into Paris was aggressively contested Garrigou but Philippe Thys marked his every move. Thys finished in the same time as Garrigou and earned a hard fought victory. Belgium had their second consecutive Tour de France championship.

TdF 1913 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 PARIS-LE HAVRE, 388 km

Giovanni Michelotto (Ita)

Giovanni Michelotto (Ita)

Stage 2 LE HAVRE-CHERBOURG, 364 km

Jules Masselis (Bel)

Jules Masselis (Bel)

Stage 3 CHERBOURG-BREST, 405 km

Henri Pelissier (Fra)

Odiel Defraye (Bel)

Stage 4 BREST-LA ROCHELLE, 470 km

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

Odiel Defraye (Bel)

Stage 5 LA ROCHELLE-BAYONNE, 379 km

Henri Vanlerberghe (Bel)

Odiel Defraye (Bel)

Stage 6 BAYONNE-LUCHON, 326 km

Philippe Thys (Bel)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 7 LUCHON-PERPIGNAN, 323 km

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

Stage 8 PERPIGNAN-AIX EN PROVENCE, 325 km

Gustave Garrigou (Fra)

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

Stage 9 AIX EN PROVENCE-NICE, 356 km

Firmin Lambot (Bel)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 10 NICE-GRENOBLE, 333 km

Francois Faber (Lux)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 11 GRENOBLE-GENEVA (Sui), 325 km

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 12 GENEVA (Sui)-BELFORT, 325 km

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 13 BELFORT-LONGWY, 336 km

Francois Faber (Lux)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 14 LONGWY-DUNKERQUE, 393 km

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

Stage 15 DUNKERQUE-PARIS/Parc dea Princes, 340 km

Marcel Buysse (Bel)

PhilippeThys (Bel)

TdF Champion: Philippe Thys (Bel)

Starters: 141

Finishers: 25

Distance: 5,387 km

Average: 27.625 km/h

SPECIAL NOTE: The forge at Ste. Marie de Campan still exists today. This incident became so famous in 1913, it inspired the French state government to declare the forge an official monument in 1951. It became a symbol of French will, courage, and determination , all of which this great French hero displayed in 1913. Another great legend took its rightful place in Tour history.

 

 

Return to the CyclingRevealed ToC

 
         
       
         
   


All materials are property of CyclingRevealed and Copyright © 2005
unless otherwise noted

Advertising Information | Contact Us
-