___Race Snippets

 

59th Tour de France 1972

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

Merckx’s Record Tying Fourth

CR Timeline 1972

Three time defending champion Eddy “the Cannibal” Merckx returned to the 1972 Tour de France with a purpose.  Eddy Merckx after a 7-stage battle with Frenchman Cyrille Guimand puts any doubts of his fitness to rest by winning the tough climbing stage from Pau to Luchon.  The “Circle of Death” stage win gave Merckx a 2’33” lead on Guimand and a 2’48” lead on his main challenger Luis Ocana.

Into the Alpine climbing stages, Merckx and Ocana renewed their battle with Merckx leading by 2’56”.  Side by side the two rode together on the finishing climb to Orcieres Merlette.  Belgian climber Lucien Van Impe managed to escape and win the stage.  One minute 17 second behind, Ocana tried but was unable to shake the race leader.  Merckx sprinted past him for 3rd place on the stage.

Merckx continued the domination, winning the next stage over the Galibier and placing second on the remaining two stages in the Alps.  As Merckx got stronger, Luis Ocana faded and fell ill in the Alps.  The cold temperatures of the mountain climbs aggravated his bronchitis.  When fever set-in, the dejected Spaniard abandoned the Tour in Aix les Bains.  With only 4 days until the finish in Paris, the race was over. 

The Tour was out of reach to the other contenders, but the Cannibal needed more.  Merckx won the 42 km individual time trial (ITT) in Versailles and rode into Paris with a solid 10’41” lead on Italian Felice Gimondi to claim his record tying 4th straight Tour de France victory. 

SPECIAL NOTE: Cyrille Guimard should be given special recognition for the gallant effort to win the Maillot Vert (Green Jersey).  He was a highly regarded sprinter, but was not expected to compete for the overall classification.  His drive to win was so great that he pushed his body and his knees too far.  In the Alps, his doctor administrated Novocain and soingiers attended to the knees on a nightly basis.  The injections gave him shortsighted hope and a few more days of racing.  He even beat Merckx on the climb of Mont Revard with sore knees.  Shortly after that stage win, the pain got so great that Guimard could no longer walk.  He was carried to his bike for the following stage and continued racing.  Sadly, two days before the finish in Paris, he lost the ability to pedal the bicycle.  The gallant Guimard dismounted and abandoned the Tour.  In Paris, Eddy Merckx embraced him and gave the gallant Guimard his Maillot Vert (Green Jersey).

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Prologue ANGERS-ANGERS, 7.2 km ITT

Eddy Merckx  (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 1 ANGERS-ST BRIEUC, 235 km

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 2 ST BRIEUC-LA BAULE, 207 km

Rik Van Linden (Bel)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 3a PORNICHET-ST JEAN DE MONTS, 161 km

Ercole Gualazzini (Ita)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 3b CIRCUIT DE MERLIN PLAGE, 16 km TTT

MOLTENI

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 4 MERLIN PLAGE-ROYAN, 236 km

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 5a ROYAN-BORDEAUX, 133 km

Walter Godefroot (Bel)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 5b BORDEAUX-CIRCUIT DU LAC, 13 km ITT

Eddy Merckx  (Bel)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 6 BORDEAUX-BAYONNE, 205 km

Leo Duyndam (Hol)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 7 BAYONNE-PAU, 220 km

Yves Hezard (Fra)

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Stage 8 PAU-LUCHON, 163 km

Eddy Merckx  (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 9 LUCHON-COLOMIERS, 179 km

Jozef Huysmans (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 10 CASTRES-LA GRANDE MOTTE, 210 km

Willy Teirlinck (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 11 CARNON PLAGE-MONT VENTOUX, 207 km

Bernard Thevenet (Fra)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 12 CARPENTRAS-ORCIERES MERLETTE, 192 km

Lucien Van Impe (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 13 ORCIERES MERLETTE-BRIANCON, 201 km

Eddy Merckx  (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 14a BRIANCON-VALLOIRE/Galibier, 51 km

Eddy Merckx  (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 14b VALLOIRE-AIX LES BAINS, 151 km

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 15 AIX LES BAINS-LE REVARD, 28 km

Cyrille Guimard (Fra)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 16 AIX LES BAINS-PONTARLIER, 198 km

Willy Teirlinck (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 17 PONTARLIER-BALLON D'ALSACE, 213 km

Bernard Thevenet (Fra)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 18 BELFORT-AUXERRE, 258 km

Marinus Wagtmans (Hol)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 19 AUXERRE-VERSAILLES, 230 km

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 20a VERSAILLES-VERSAILLES, 42 km ITT

Eddy Merckx  (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 20b VERSAILLES-PARIS, 89 km

Willy Teirlinck (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Lucien Van Impe (Bel)

  POINT'S COMPETITION

Eddy Merckx (Bel)



TdF July 1 - July 23, 1972
3,845 Km

1. Eddy MERCKX (Bel) 108h17'18"

2. Felice Gimondi (Ita) +10'41"

3. Raymond Poulidor (Fra) +11'34"

Starters: 132
Finishers: 88
Average Speed: 35.371 km/h

 

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