Re: [CR]c. 1929/30 FONTAN BICYCLE OF PAU (TOUR DE FRANCE).

(Example: Racing:Beryl Burton)

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Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 08:20:51 -0800
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: "Jan Heine" <heine94@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: [CR]c. 1929/30 FONTAN BICYCLE OF PAU (TOUR DE FRANCE).


>"This was the last straw that persuaded Henri Desgrange to get rid of
>trade teams, and use national teams starting in 1930. The idea was
>that while a bunch of French racers would give the Alcyon guys some
>slack, you could count on the Italians to use the opportunity if it
>presented itself."
>
>This theory does not stand up to logic, as Alcyon had always been an
>international team. In every year of its existence there were always at
>least three countries represented on the team (including Italians).

So then why did Desgrange change to national teams? It was a huge undertaking, because he had to supply not just bikes, but also mechanics, support cars, etc., since the trade teams were out of the picture. To pay for all that, he introduced the advertising caravan (often mistranslated as "Publicity Caravan" - the French word "publicite" means advertising).

Throughout the 1920s, Desgrange experimented with various formats, including team time trials in 1927 and 1928. The racers hated it, and the public found it confusing that the first guys on the road were not the leaders in the stage. But it was attempt to speed up things... In 1929, Desgrange threatened to go back to team time trial format if the average speed on the flat stages wasn't at least 30 km/h. The Tour wasn't working, and he was trying to come up with new ideas to make it exciting again.
>
>What qualifies as exciting? In the 1929 tour, there were more individual
>stage winners than in 1930. There were also many more changes in the
>yellow jersey holder in 1929 than 1930. In fact in 1930, there were only
>three riders to hold the yellow jersey: PĂ©lissier after the first
>stage, then Guerra after stages 2 through 9 and then Leducq until the
>end. In 1929, a total of 8 riders who wore the yellow jersey. In 1929,
>the final winner took one stage whereas in 1930, the eventual winner
>took two stages. Given the means of communication of the time, I doubt
>that your average 'spectator' would have said that the 1930 edition was
>more exciting.
>From all the accounts I have read, the 1929 Tour was not considered to have produced a worthy winner.

The 1930 Tour saw a popular French rider wear the yellow jersey, then crash on a downhill, break his bike, then - by sheer luck - reassemble the entire French national team around him chase for hours, to take the stage and regain the jersey. The jersey was threatened until the end, with a great attack by Learco Guerra on the very last stage. I think that mountain stage alone makes for one of the most exciting Tours.

Desgrange dropped the time trial format after only two years (1927 and 1928), but he kept the National team formula for decades. Something must have been working.

If you find something in Bicycle Quarterly that you believe is incorrect, please submit a correction. We have a specific corrections/additions column. Fortunately, there haven't been too many entries, and usually those come from new evidence that has emerged since an article was written. -- Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.bikequarterly.com