___Race Snippets

 

65th Tour de France 1978

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

Top 25 TdF

 

The Cannibal Retires, the Badger Shines

CR Timeline 1978

The celebrated 75th Anniversary Edition of the Tour de France saw a substantial changing of the guard.  Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocana and Raymond Poulidor had all retired.  The 1978 TdF was wide open for the debut of new stars.  Renault team director Cyrille Guimard introduced his newest star Bernard “the Badger” Hinault to the TdF.  Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk was the main obstacle to Hinault’s hopes.  Can the climber beat the time trialer?

The contenders began to take control of the overall classification on the 59 km individual time trial (ITT) on stage 8.  The time trialer Bernard Hinault excelled at his specialty and dominated the “race against the clock.”  Round one of the Hinault/Zoetemelk battle went to the Badger

The Tour entered the “Circle of Death” (the hardest day in the Pyrenees) on stage 11.  The stage from Pau to St. Lary Soulan finished on the climb of the formidable Pla d’Adet.  The leaders were together over the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aspin.  At the base of the Pla d’Adet, Michel Pollentier and Zoetemelk broke away from the peloton.  Mariano Martinez and Hinault joined the breakaway quickly.  Near the top, Martinez increased the tempo and moves ahead.  The increase caused the Dutch climber Zoetemelk to fade, but Hinault and Pollentier held the pace.  Martinez surged again to win the stage by 5 second on Hinault and Pollentier.  Zoetemelk rode in solo, 19 seconds behind.  The group of the Maillot Jaune finished 2’31” behind the stage winner. 

SPECIAL NOTE: In Tarbes for stage 12a, the riders considered the early morning start to be unreasonable.  At the start line of the stage, the peloton revolted.  The entire group leisurely rode over the first 157 kilometers of the stage at 20 km/h (12.5 miles/hour).  Upon reaching the final kilometer in Valence d’Agen, the riders dismounted and walker to the finish line.  Tour officials were forced to cancel the stage.

The Mayor of Valence d’Agen, who invested a large amount of money to host the Tour stage finish, was irate.  The protesting riders came into his city so far behind schedule that the planned festival for the riders was wasted because the next section of the stage was ready to start.  The sympathetic riders did make amends by promising to hold a post-Tour criterium in Valence d’Agen.

The second section of stage 12 was run as normal and was raced hard.  Sprinter Jacques Esclassan beat Jan Raas and Freddy Maertens for the stage win. 

The Tour scheduled an individual time trial (ITT) on stage 14 that finished at the top of the fabled climb of the Puy de Dome (14 km, ave. 7.5%, max. 12.5%).  Joop Zoetemelk still trailed the surprising race leader Joseph Bruyere by 1’58”, and second placed Bernard Hinault by 50 seconds.  The Dutchman needed a huge effort on this ITT climb to gain time in the overall classification.  On the slope of the climb, the Dutch star hammered the pace and significantly gained the stage win.  He beat overall race leader Bruyere by 55 seconds and beat main challenger Hinault by 1’40”.  Zoetemelk, with the time gain, jumped over Hinault into second place in the overall classification.  He seemed poised to move into the race lead in the Alps. 

Drama in the Alps occurred on the stage 16, mountaintop finish at Alpe d’Huez.  Talented climber Michel Pollentier (Bel) attacked the race leader on the climb to Chamrousse.  A tired Bruyere was feeling the effects of the ITT up the Puy de Dome two stages earlier and could not match the pace of the Belgian.  Pollentier’s escape continued and at the foot of Alpe d’Huez he had a 2-minute lead on the chase pack.  An elite chase group of Zoetemelk, Hinault, and Kuiper had closed the time gap to 50 seconds at 4 km to go.  Zoetemelk fell off the aggressive pace and lost time.  Pollentier won the stage by 37 seconds over Kuiper.  Hinault finished third 45 seconds behind.  Zoetemelk was a further 1’18” behind the stage winner.  Jubilantly, Pollentier puts on the Maillot Jaune at the awards ceremony, but following the great action of the day’s stage the post race drama started a doping control (drug testing).

SPECIAL NOTE: Pollentier was supposed to report directly to doping control after the awards ceremony.  He did not present himself immediately, preferring to quickly go to his hotel for a rigged fake urine sample.  With a small rubber bladder under his arm, Pollentier arrived at doping control.  When the device malfunctioned, the race doctor administering the urine-test discovered the fraud.  Michel Pollentier was immediately dismissed from the Tour and handed a two-month suspension.  A surprised Joop Zoetemelk was awarded the race lead.

For the next three stages, Zoetemelk and Hinault matched each other pedal stroke for pedal stroke.  The final selection of the year’s Tour champion would happen during the 72 km individual time trial (ITT) from Metz to Nancy.  The Badger, trailing Zoetemelk by 14 seconds, stepped to starting line ready for the challenge.  He set a pace no one could follow.  Hinault beat the race leader, Zoetemelk by 4’10”.  He put on the Maillot Jaune for the first time and cruised into Paris for a 3’56” Tour de France victory. 

Bernard Hinault’s victory captured the interest of all France.  French supporters on the Champs Elysees celebrated the birth of a new grand TdF champion.

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Prologue LEIDEN, 5.2 km ITT

Jan Raas (Hol)

Jan Raas (Hol)

Stage 1a LEIDEN-ST WILLEBRORD, 135 km

Jan Raas (Hol)

Jan Raas (Hol)

Stage 1b ST WILLEBRORD-BRUXELLES (Bel), 100 km

Walter Planckaert (Bel)

Jan Raas (Hol)

Stage 2 BRUXELLES (Bel)-ST AMAND LES EAUX, 199 km

Jacques Esclassan (Fra)

Jan Raas (Hol)

Stage 3 ST AMAND LES EAUX-ST GERMAIN EN LAYE, 243 km

Klaus-Peter Thaler (Ger)

Jacques Bossis (Fra)

Stage 5 CAEN-MAZE MONTGEOFFROY, 244 km

Freddy Maertens (Bel)

Klaus-Peter Thaler (Ger)

Stage 6  MAZE MONTGEOFFROY-POITIERS, 166 km

Sean Kelly (Ire)

Gerrie Knetemann (Hol)

Stage 7 POITIERS-BORDEAUX, 242 km

Freddy Maertens (Bel)

Gerrie Knetemann (Hol)

Stage 8  ST EMILION-STE FOYE LA GRANDE, 59 km ITT

Bernard Hinault (Fra)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 9 BORDEAUX-BIARRITZ, 233 km

Lasa Miguel-Maria (Spa)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 10 BIARRITZ-PAU, 192 km

Henk Lubberding (Hol)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 11 PAU-ST LARY SOULAN, 161 km

Mariano Martinez (Fra)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 12b VALENCE D'AGEN-TOULOUSE, 96 km

Jacques Esclassan (Fra)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 13 FIGEAC-SUPER BESSE, 221 km

Paul Wellens (Bel)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 14 BESSE EN CHANDESSE-PUY DE DOME, 52 km ITT

Joop Zoetemelk (Hol)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 15 ST DIER D'AUVERGNE-ST ETIENNE, 196 km

Bernard Hinault (Fra)

Joseph Bruyere (Bel)

Stage 16 ST ETIENNE-L'ALPE D'HUEZ, 240 km

Hennie Kuiper (Hol)

Joop Zoetemelk (Hol)

Stage 17 GRENOBLE-MORZINE, 225 km

Christian Seznec (Fra)

Joop Zoetemelk (Hol)

Stage 18 MORZINE-LAUSANNE (Sui), 138 km

Gerrie Knetemann (Hol)

Joop Zoetemelk (Hol)

Stage 19 LAUSANNE (Sui)-BELFORT, 181 km

Marc Demeyer (Bel)

Joop Zoetemelk (Hol)

Stage 20 METZ-NANCY, 72 km ITT

Bernard Hinault (Fra)

Bernard Hinault (Fra)

Stage 21 EPERNAY-SENLIS, 207 km

Jan Raas (Hol)

Bernard Hinault (Fra)

Stage 22 ST GERMAIN EN LAYE-PARIS/Champs Elysees, 161 km

Gerrie Knetemann (Hol)

YJ Bernard Hinault (Fra)

POLKA DOT JERSEY

PDJ Mariano Martinez (Fra)

  GREEN POINTS JERSEY

GJ Freddy Maertens (Bel)



TdF June 29 - July 23, 1978
3,921 Km

1. Bernard HINAULT (Fra) 112h03'02"

2. Joop Zoetemelk (Hol) +3'56"

3. Joaquim Agostinho (Por) +6'54"

Starters: 110
Finishers: 78
Average Speed: 34.929 km/h

 

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