Tour Heroes: "Poupou, The Eternal Second"
Raymond Poulidor will be honored Tuesday when the Tour departs from his hometown.
In the history of French cycling, four riders occupy a place above and beyond the others: Louison Bobet, Jacques Anquetil, Raymond Poulidor and Bernard Hinault.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
These four are the true heroes of the sport in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
This is Raymond Poulidor, who will be honoured Tuesday when the Tour departs from Poulidor?s hometown of Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat for Stage 9.
Unlike the others who all were multiple winners, Poulidor never won the Tour de France; nor did he ever pull on the yellow leader?s jersey.
It wasn?t for lack of trying. Poulidor had a long career ? he raced from the early 60?s until 1976. He was a Tour regular and managed to place second three times and third four times. He also finished in lesser top-10 positions on several occasions.
It was Poulidor?s bad luck to have been born at such a time that his tour career coincided with that of Jacques Anquetil on the front end and with that of Eddy Merckx on the back end.
In fact, Poulidor was known as ? l?eternel second? -- but more often, and more fondly, as ?Poupou.? Commentators in the 60?s often referred to a phenomenon known as ?poupoularite? ? Poulidor?s ability to be the most popular French bike racer of his time in spite of never managing to win the Tour.
In this respect, Poulidor?s competition with Jacques Anquetil, winner of the Tour five times, was most intriguing.
Poulidor and Anquetil were opposites in almost every respect.
Anquetil came from the north of
On the bike and in motion, Anquetil was elegance and technique personified.
Poulidor was a man of the
Poulidor?s peasant origins were first underlined in 1961 after he won the Milan-San Remo race. He was the subject of a TV interview that took place at his parents? home in rural
In 1972, French TV polled roadside fans at the Tour about why Poulidor was so popular. An elderly French woman replied, ?He?s a provincial?He [speaks with]