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34th Tour de France 1947

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Welcome Return of the Grand Boucle

After a seven-year interruption because of World War 2, the Tour de France (TdF) returned to the racing schedule. Europe was still reeling from the devastation of caused by the war and TdF organizers, eager to re-start the Tour, scrambled for funding to put on the race. Despite severe shortages of supplies, the organizers were successful in raising the necessary money and the Tour did happen. Desperately needing a diversion, all of France eagerly awaited the event.

SPECIAL NOTE: The Tour resumption happened under additional and sad circumstances. Shortly after the start of WW2, on August 16, 1940, the longtime race director and father of the TdF, Henri Desgrange passed away in Beauvallon, France. From 1903, Desgrange was the driving force behind the success of the Tour. His "iron will" and "strict adherence to the rules" were legendary. The grandeur of the TdF is a legacy to the father of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange.

During the seven-year absence a new group of young riders had come of age. They were young and strong, and ready to take on the "old boys" (called the old guard) of the pre-war Tours. The sensation of the “old boys” in 1947 was Frenchman Rene Vietto. The Frenchman took the race lead after a brilliant breakaway on stage 2.

When the Tour reached the first day of climbing in the Alps on stage 7, French climber Jean Robic broke away to win all three major climbs of the day and rode into Grenoble for the stage win. Italian Aldo Ronconi finished fourth on the stage 2'51” ahead of race leader Vietto and gained the Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey).

After a rest day in Briancon, Rene Vietto slowly dropped each challenger on stage 9. Only regional rider Apo Lazarides could match Vietto's strength over the final climb, the Col d'Allos. By the finish in Digne, Vietto gained the stage win, +4'20” ahead of Pierre Brambilla (Ita) in 3rd place. Race leader Aldo Ronconi (Ita) struggled into Digne in 9th place 7'35” behind the stage winner. The time gain gave Vietto the Maillot Jaune.

The brutal stage 15 from Luchon to Pau featured 5 major Pyrenees climbs in the “Circle of Death” (the hardest day in the Pyrenees Mountains). Again, Jean Robic, still struggling in the General Classification, broke away on the first climb. Steadily Robic increased his time gap and won the stage by a substantial 10'43”. The stage win and time gain moved Robic well up in the GC with 6 stages to finish in Paris.

As the Tour left the Pyrenees Mountains, Vietto held a 1'35” race lead over second placed Brambilla. One major test remaining, the 139 km (!!!) individual time trial on stage 19, Vietto's chance of victory was slowly becoming realistic. However the longest ITT in Tour history was blocking his clear path into Paris.

Vietto was not known for his time trialing ability and on stage 19 his aging legs did not deliver. By the finish in St. Brieuc Belgian Raymond Impanis had won the stage with Italian Pierre Brambilla taking the Maillot Jaune. Vietto finished fifteenth, 6'40” behind the new overall leader. Only 2 flat stages remained until the finish in Paris and most experts thought the Tour winner had been determined. One feisty Frenchman had another idea.

What is normally an easy final stage run in to Paris became an all out attacking stage in 1947. The promoter spiced up the final stage with special cash prizes for the first rider over small climbs on the way to Paris. The most significant was the Cote de Bonsecours. A tired race leader, Pierre Brambilla, had a large lead in the King of the Mountains competition and seemed to have more interest in defending the overall lead than contesting the special climbing prizes. Small groups were allowed to escape the peloton and battle for the special prizes.

SPECIAL NOTE: Jean Robic offered his biggest rival, Fachleitner, Fr 100,000 to assist him in the final stage. Accepting the fact that he was unlikely to beat Robic, Fachleitner took the money.

Jean Robic, standing third place in the overall classification 2 minutes and 58 seconds behind Brambilla, attacked on a small climb and broke away from the main peloton. Robic was riding flat out and driving the 9-rider breakaway group. When the peloton realized the breakaway was significant Brambilla and his Italian team took up the chase. They could not catch the breakaway and at the finish in Paris Belgian Brik Schotte gained the stage win. Jean Robic rolled across the finish line 8th on the stage but with a gap of over 13 minutes over a very disappointed Brambilla. The huge gap was sufficient enough to thrust Robic into the overall lead and onto the top step of the podium.

SPECIAL NOTE: As Tour legend tells the final tale, Pierre Brambilla was so disappointed over losing the Tour de France on the final stage that he returned home and buried his Tour bicycle in the garden. The machine was never ridden again.

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 PARIS-LILLE, 236 km

Ferdi Kubler (Sui)

Ferdi Kubler (Sui)

Stage 2 LILLE-BRUXELLES (Bel), 182 km

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 3 BRUXELLES (Bel)- LUXEMBOURG , 314 km

Aldo Ronconi (Ita)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 4 LUXEMBOURG-STRASBOURG, 223 km

Jean Robic (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 5 STRASBOURG-BESANCON, 248 km

Ferdi Kubler (Sui)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 6 BESANCON-LYON, 249 km

Lucien Teisseire (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 7 LYON-GRENOBLE, 172 km

Jean Robic (Fra)

Aldo Ronconi (Ita)

Stage 8 GRENOBLE-BRIANCON, 185 km

Fermo Camellini (Ita)

Aldo Ronconi (Ita)

Stage 9 BRIANCON-DIGNE, 255 km

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 10 DIGNE-NICE, 255 km

Fermo Camellini (Ita)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 11 NICE-MARSEILLE, 230 km

Edouard Fachleitner (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 12 MARSEILLE-MONTPELLIER, 165 km

Henri Massal (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 13 MONTPELLIER-CARCASSONNE, 172 km

Lucien Teisseire (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 14 CARCASSONNE-LUCHON, 253 km

Albert Bourlon (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 15 LUCHON-PAU, 195 km

Jean Robic (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 16 PAU-BORDEAUX, 195 km

Giuseppe Tacca (Ita)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 17 BORDEAUX-LES SABLES D'OLONNE, 272 km

Eloi Tassin (Fra)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 18 LES SABLES D'OLONNE-VANNES, 236 km

Pietro Tarchini (Sui)

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Stage 19 VANNES-ST BRIEUC, 139 km

Raymond Impanis (Bel)

Pierre Brambilla (Ita)

Stage 20 ST BRIEUC-CAEN, 233 km

Maurice Diot (Fra)

Pierre Brambilla (Ita)

Stage 21 CAEN-PARIS, 257 km

Brik Schotte (Bel)

Jean Robic (Fra)

 

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Pierre Bramilla (Ita)



TdF June 25-July 2, 1947
4,666 Km

1. Jean ROBIC (Fra) 148h11'25"

2. Edouard Fachleitner (Fra) +3'58"

3. Pierre Brambilla (Ita) +10'07"

Starters: 100
Finishers: 53
Average Speed: 31.412 km/h

TdF 1940-46

TdF 1948

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