___Race Snippets

 

38th Tour de France 1951

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koblet's Great Escape

The “Swiss Cowboy” Ferdi Kubler did not return to defend his Tour de France title in 1951. However, his fellow countryman Hugo Koblet picked up where Kubler left-off. The personable and elegant Koblet was always carrying a comb and sprits of cologne in his jersey pocket. He must be presentable for the press and his fans.

SPECIAL NOTE: For the second time in Tour history (1926 was the other) the race started outside Paris . This year it was the July 4 start on the Place de la Republique in Metz.

The Swiss strongman made his presence felt on stage 1. Koblet launched an all out attack after only 5 km of racing. The chasing group tried for 35 km to catch the solo breakaway, but they could not close the gap. Koblet did eventually relent to the chasers after maintaining the lead for 140 km. The Swiss strongman liked riding alone and this effort was a simple a flexing of the “Swiss legs.”

Needing to gain significant time, Koblet embarked on one of the greatest breakaways in TdF history. The extraordinary effort came on the 177 km stage 11 from Brive to Agen. With 140 km remaining in the stage, Koblet launched another all out attack. The move was similar to his stage 1 escape, but this time the bunch did not react as quickly. By the time the peloton realized the seriousness of the escape Koblet had a 4-minute lead. The finish line was now 70 km away and the peloton started its charge. The bunch steadily chased with little time gain as the kilometers clicked down. At the finish in Agen, the Swiss strongman crossed the finish line, combed his hair, and waited for the peloton to finish. For over 4 hours Hugo Koblet held off the charging peloton for grand solo victory. He still trailed by over 3 minutes in the overall classification but t he time gain put Koblet into third place overall with the ominous Pyrenees mountain stages only 2 days away.

SPECIAL NOTE: Famous Yellow Jersey Crash! The first hard climbing stage in the Pyrenees Mountains , stage 13, was not lucky for the race leader Wim Van Est (Ned). He was not known for his climbing ability but he was stubborn fought up the Col d'Aubisque with the climbers. Near the summit of the climb, he lost contact with the lead pack. Aggressively he plunged down the descent, taking all the risks necessary to retain his Maillot Jaune. Several hairpin turns into the descent Van Est crashed and slid 30 meters down the road. Relatively unhurt he quickly remounted and continued his hair-raising descent. A short distance farther down the mountain the race leader ran out of luck. Around another hairpin turn Van Est punctured and flew off the edge of the road into a deep ravine. Seventy-five meters later, a clump of small trees broke his fall.

From behind the race, the team cars stopped in horror and rescued Van Est. Remarkably, the race leader was not seriously injured. He slowly climbed up the mountain with the assistance of spare tires strung together by team managers from above the crash site. Upon his rescue, dazed and in shock, the Maillot Jaune still on his back, Van Est looked for his bike to continue the race. At the strong request of his Dutch team manager, a depressed Wim Van Est climbed into the ambulance and abandoned the Tour.

On Stage 14 Koblet again rode aggressively and generated a small lead pack, with Raphael Geminiani, Louison Bobet and Stan Ocker. Through the valley leading to the Col d'Aspin, the “Swiss Hammer” set the pace trying to catch a Fausto Coppi breakaway. One by one the big stars dropped off the lead group. By the summit of the Aspin, Koblet and Coppi were together. In Luchon the Swiss dominated the sprint, easily taking the stage win from Fausto Coppi. The stage win and time gain put Koblet into the Maillot Jaune.

In Paris at the Parc des Princes Velodrome, he crossed the finish line, gave his hair a quick comb and claimed the greatest victory of his career.

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 METZ-REIMS, 185 km

Giovanni Rossi (Ita)

Giovanni Rossi (Ita)

Stage 2 REIMS-GHENT (Bel), 228 km

Bim Diederich (Lux)

Bim Diederich (Lux)

Stage 3 GHENT (Bel)-LE TREPORT, 219 km

Georges Meunier (Fra)

Bim Diederich (Lux)

Stage 4 LE TREPORT-PARIS, 188 km

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Bim Diederich (Lux)

Stage 5 PARIS-CAEN, 215 km

Serafino Biagioni (Ita)

Serafino Biagioni (Ita)

Stage 6 CAEN-RENNES, 182 km

Edouard Muller (Fra)

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Stage 7 LA GUERCHE-ANGERS, 85 km ITT

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Stage 8 ANGERS-LIMOGES, 241 km

Andre Rosseel (Bel)

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Stage 9 LIMOGES-CLERMONT FERRAND, 236 km

Raphael Geminiani (Fra)

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Stage 10 CLERMONT FERRAND-BRIVE, 216 km

Bernardo Ruiz (Spa)

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Stage 11 BRIVE-AGEN, 177 km

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Roger Leveque (Fra)

Stage 12 AGEN-DAX, 185 km

Wim Van Est (Ned)

Wim Van Est (Ned)

Stage 13 DAX-TARBES, 201 km

Serafino Biagioni (Ita)

Gilbert Bauvin (Fra)

Stage 14 TARBES-LUCHON, 142 km

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 15 LUCHON-CARCASSONNE, 213 km

Andre Rosseel (Bel)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 16 CARCASSONNE-MONTPELLIER, 192 km

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 17 MONTPELLIER-AVIGNON, 224 km

Louison Bobet (Fra)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 18 AVIGNON-MARSEILLE, 173 km

Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 19 MARSEILLE-GAP, 208 km

Armand Baeyens (Bel)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 20 GAP-BRIANCON, 165 km

Fausto Coppi (Ita)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 21 BRIANCON-AIX LES BAINS, 201 km

Bernardo Ruiz (Spa)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 22 AIX LES BAINS-GENEVA (Sui), 97 km ITT

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 23 GENEVA (Sui)- DIJON , 197 km

Germain Derijcke (Bel)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

Stage 24 DIJON-PARIS, 322 km

Adolphe Deledda (Fra)

Hugo Koblet (Sui)

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Raphael Geminiani (Fra)

 

TdF July 4-July 29, 1951
4,692 Km

1. Hugo KOBLET (Sui) 142h20'14"

2. Raphael Geminiani (Fra) +22'00"

3. Lucien Lazarides (Fra) +24'16"

Starters: 123
Finishers: 66
Average Speed: 32.949 km/h

 

 

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