___Race Snippets

 

31st Tour de France 1937

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Provides Great Racing Drama

Throughout Europe political tensions remained high as the 1937 mid-summer Tour de France (TdF) prepared to start. The fascist propaganda machine got a huge boost when Italian dictator Benito Mussolini lifted his boycott of the Tour and hand picked Giro d'Italia winner Gino Bartali to lead the Italian national team. His efforts would play a large part in the drama of this year's Tour.

After surviving the early flat stages through the treacherous cobbled roads in north of France , L'enfer du Nord ( the Hell of the North), Bartali began his challenge for the Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey). On stage 4, which featured the first major obstacle of the Tour, the climb of the Ballon d'Alcase, he finished second and moved into third in the overall classification.

Gino “the Pios” put his stamp on the race during stage 7, on the climb of the great Col du Galibier. Bartali won the climb and rode solo into Grenoble for the stage win. He finished the stage over 2 minutes ahead of his main rivals and took the Maillot Jaune for the first time. He seemed to be well in control of the Tour. Riding aggressively, Bartali initiated another breakaway on stage 8, which featured the climbs of Col Bayard and Col de Laffrey. He won the climb of the Col de Laffrey, when disaster struck. Descending the mountain, some 20 km from the finish in Briancon, Bartali's teammate slid down forcing the race leader over a barrier into a small river below. Dazed and injured, he remounted his bicycle and finished the stage. He lost almost 10 minutes, but retaining his race lead.

On the next stage, Bartali's rivals began to attack the vulnerable race leader. By the finish of stage 9 in Digne, Bartali had lost 22 minutes and the Maillot Jaune. Belgian Sylvere Maes, the defending champion, became the new race leader. Injured and losing time on each stage, Bartali received orders from the Italian Federation to abandon the Tour.

With Bartali out of the race, the overall classification was very hotly contested. Maes had a 35 second lead on Italian independent rider Mario Vicini and 1 minute 22 seconds on Frenchman Roger Lapebie. As the Tour approached the Pyrenees Mountains, the powerful Belgian team tried but could not shake Lapebie. The Frenchman moved into second place in the overall classification. Whispers in the peloton set the Belgian strategy, Get rid of Lapebie.The already heated competition was getting hotter.

Panic hit the French team, when Lapebie's handlebars broke off in his hands while warming up for stage 15 in Luchon. The broken bars had been mysteriously sawed through by an act of sabotage. After quick repairs, Lapebie just made it to the start of the stage. Demoralized, he began to lose time early in the stage. By the top of the Col d'Aspin, Lapebie was more than 5 minutes behind. Fatigued and emotionally down the Frenchman slowed to abandon the Tour, when a persuasive teammate arrived and he convinced Lapebie to remount and continue. Steadily on the Col du Tourmalet, an inspired Lapebie regained his energy and closed the gap.

Aided by the race leader's late in the stage delay for a puncture, the French team with Lapebie in tow caught a tiring Maes nine miles from the finish in Pau . The chase and capture set up a wild sprint finish. The rejuvenated Lapebie took the field sprint for second place and reduced Maes' lead to 1 minute and 33 second. The joy of the moment was short lived, because race officials assessed a 1 minute and 30 second penalty for having received a push on the ascent of the Tourmalet. Despite the penalty, Lapebie sensed a weakness in the race leader. Lapebie and the French team planned the final push to Paris .

After a rest day the Tour headed north toward Roger Lapebie's home in Bordeaux . Lapebie attacked early and gained time after a Maes puncture. Several teammates and 2 Belgians, Gustaaf Deloor and Adolph Braeckeveldt, both were touriste-routiers (non national team riders), accompanied the race leader in pursuit of the breakaway. At the finish Lapebie had a 2 minute and 33 second victory over an emotional Maes. Shortly after Maes finished, the race officials assessed the Belgian a 30 second penalty for illegal help from the 2 touriste-routiers. Maes did retain his race lead, but by just 25 seconds.

A furious Maes appealed what he considered an unjust penalty. After heated discussions, his appeal was denied. Still wearing the Maillot Jaune Sylvere Maes and the entire Belgian team withdrew from the Tour. The second placed Lapebie inherited the Maillot Jaune.

During the final stages Lapebie and the French team steadily increase the lead and in Paris he celebrated an emotional victory. Felicien Vervaecke (Bel) easily won the Best Climber Prize .

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 PARIS-LILLE, 263 km

Jean Majerus (Lux)

Jean Majerus (Lux)

Stage 2 LILLE-CHARLEVILLE, 192 km

Maurice Archambaud (Fra)

Jean Majerus (Lux)

Stage 3 CHARLEVILLE-METZ, 161 km

Walter Generati (Ita)

Marcel Kint (Bel)

Stage 4 METZ-BELFORT, 220 km

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Stage 5a BELFORT-LONS LE SAUNIER, 175 km

Henri Puppo (Fra)

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Stage 5b LONS LE SAUNIER-CHAMPAGNOLE, 34 km TTT

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Stage 5c CHAMPAGNOLE-GENEVA (Sui), 93 km

Leo Amberg (Sui)

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Stage 6 GENEVA (Sui)-AIX LES BAINS, 180 km

Gustaaf Deloor (Bel)

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Stage 7 AIX LES BAINS-GRENOBLE, 228 km

Gino Bartali (Ita)

Gino Bartali (Ita)

Stage 8 GRENOBLE-BRIANCON, 194 km

Otto Weckerling (Ger)

Gino Bartali (Ita)

Stage 9 BRIANCON-DIGNE, 220 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 10 DIGNE-NICE, 251 km

Felicien Vervaecke (Bel)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 11a NICE-TOULON, 169 km

Eloi Meulenberg (Bel)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 11b TOULON-MARSEILLE, 65 km TTT

Gustave Danneels (Bel)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 12a MARSEILLE-NIMES, 112 km

Alphonse Antoine (Fra)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 12b NIMES-MONTPELLIER, 51 km

Rene Pedroli (Sui)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 13a MONTPELLIER-NARBONNE, 103 km

Francesco Camusso (Ita)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 13b NARBONNE-PERPIGNAN, 63 km

Eloi Meulenberg (Bel)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 14a PERPIGNAN-BOURG MADAME, 99 km

Eloi Meulenberg (Bel)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 14b BOURG MADAME-AX LES THERMES, 59 km

Mariano Canardo (Spa)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 14c AX LES THERMES-LUCHON, 167 km

Eloi Meulenberg (Bel)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 15 LUCHON-PAU, 194 km

Berrendero Julian (Spa)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 16 PAU-BORDEAUX, 235 km

Paul Chocque (Fra)

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Stage 17a BORDEAUX-ROYAN, 123 km

Erich Bautz (Ger)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 17b ROYAN-SAINTES, 37 km

Adolph Braeckeveldt (Bel)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 17c SAINTES-LA ROCHELLE, 67 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 18a LA ROCHELLE-LA ROCHE SUR YON, 81 km TTT

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 18b LA ROCHELLE-RENNES, 172 km

Paul Chocque (Fra)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 19a RENNES-VIRE, 114 km

Raymond Passat (Fra)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 19b VIRE-CAEN, 59 km ITT

Leo Amberg (Sui)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Stage 20 CAEN-PARIS/Parc des Princes, 234 km

Edward Vissers (Bel)

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

 

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Felicien Vervaecke (Bel)

 

TdF June 30-July 25, 1937
4,415 Km

1. Roger LAPEBIE (Fra) 138h58'31"

2. Mario Vicini (Ita) +7'17"

3. Leo Amberg (Sui) +26'13"

Starters: 98
Finishers: 46
Average Speed: 31.768 km/h

 

 

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