The 1921 Tour de France was the 15th edition of the Tour de France, taking place 26 June to 24 July. The total distance was 5,485 km (3,408 mi) and the average speed of the riders was 24.720 km/h.[1] The race was won by Belgian Leon Scieur. The Belgians dominated the entire race, partly due to the absence of the French Pélissier brothers, who were on bad terms with the Tour organisation. Scieur's victory was largely uncontested; Hector Heusghem came close after the sixth stage, but lost time later. The organisation tried to get the cyclists to attack more by several means, but this failed.

1921 Tour de France
Map of France with 15 cities marked with black dots, connected by red lines.
Route of the 1921 Tour de France followed counterclockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates26 June – 24 July 1921
Distance5,485 km (3,408 mi)
Winning time221h 50' 26"
Winner  Léon Scieur (BEL) (1st class)
  Second  Hector Heusghem (BEL) (1st class)
  Third  Honoré Barthélemy (FRA) (1st class)
← 1920
1922 →

Innovations and changes edit

The 1920 Tour de France had been dominated by Belgian cyclists, who won twelve of the fifteen stages, and the top seven of the overall classification. The French cyclists Henri and Francis Pélissier had left the 1920 Tour de France after Henri received a penalty from the Tour organisation for throwing away a tire, and they were still fighting. Therefore, the Pélissier brothers did not join the 1921 Tour de France.[2] Two veteran cyclists who did join the race were Ernest Paul and Lucien Pothier, both forty years old.[3] Paul rode his first Tour de France in 1908,[4] while Pothier had started in the first Tour de France in 1903, and finished second.[5]

The winner of 1920, Philippe Thys, was the dominant stage racer of the time, but he was recovering from an illness and could not compete for the victory.[6]

The economic impact of World War I was still not over, so as in the previous years there were not sponsored teams, but the cycling companies had bundled their forces under the nick La Sportive.[7] The cyclists were divided in two categories, this time named 1ère class (first class), the professionals, and 2ème classe (second class), the amateurs.[8] This year, some of the second class cyclists would finish higher than some of the first class cyclists.

The 1921 Tour de France saw the introduction of foreign press. They followed the race in their own cars.[9] For the first time, an inhabitant from Monaco joined the Tour de France. Laurent Devalle needed more than twenty-seven hours for the fifth stage,[10] and would finally give up in the eleventh stage.[9]

Participants edit

Race overview edit

Léon Scieur during the 1921 Tour de France, which he won

Overall, the Tour did not have any major events. This troubled the Tour organiser and newspaper owner Henri Desgrange, who sanctioned cyclists that were not combative enough in his view.[3]

In the first stage, Honoré Barthélemy had to fix a flat tire eleven times.[3] Despite this, he still finished in second place behind Louis Mottiat, with Léon Scieur in third place.[11] In the second stage, won by Romain Bellenger, Scieur finished in second place, almost one hour before Mottiat and Barthélemy, so Scieur was leading the race.[12] Scieur improved his lead by winning the third stage, and was already leading by 12'38" over his closest opponent, Hector Heusghem. In the fourth and fifth stage, both won by Mottiat, Scieur managed to increase his lead to almost half an hour.

In the sixth stage, the first real mountains were to be climbed. Hector Heusghem took off on the Tourmalet, reached the top there first, rode solo over the Aspin and the Peyresourde and finished with a 24-minute margin. This brought the difference between Scieur and Heusghem back to slightly over four minutes.[9] The press predicted a new duel between Scieur and Heusghem.[2]

The seventh and eighth stage did not change this difference. In the ninth stage the race was decided, as Heusghem lost ten minutes to Scieur. From that moment it was easy for Scieur to control the race, and the other cyclists could only ride for stage victories.[2] In the tenth stage, Scieur punctured on the climb to Allos. It was an unwritten rule that cyclists would not attack when opponents were repairing their bicycle, but Heusghem was desperate and broke this rule.[6] Scieur was angry, and after he completed his repair he caught back Heusghem. He then told Heusghem that this was not the way professional cyclists behaved, dropped Heusghem, and crossed the finish line first, and even added another six minutes to his lead.[6]

The French crowd was pleased by the stage victory of Félix Goethals in stage eleven.[2] In the twelfth stage Heusghem won, albeit in the same time as Scieur. Henri Desgrange was angry at the cyclists for not attempting to beat Scieur, so he had the cyclists leave separately in the thirteenth stage.[9] The "second class" cyclists started two hours earlier than the sponsored "first class" cyclists.[6][13] Although the stage was won by an unsponsored cyclist from the second class, Félix Sellier, this did not help for the general classification, as Scieur and Heusghem still finished together. The Tour organisers wanted the second class cyclists to start two hours later in the fourteenth stage, but they threatened with a strike, and the cyclists could start together.[13] The fourteenth stage had a remarkable incident: Scieur's wheel broke, and 11 spokes were broken. According to the rules, a broken item could only be replaced when repair was not possible. Because there was no Tour official close to Scieur who could verify that the wheel was broken beyond repair, Scieur strapped the broken wheel to his back and rode with it for more than 300 kilometres (190 mi), which left scars on his back that remained there for years.[6] In the last stage, Scieur finished a few minutes behind Heusghem, but his victory was never in danger.

Results edit

In each stage, all cyclists started together. The cyclist who reached the finish first, was the winner of the stage. The time that each cyclist required to finish the stage was recorded. For the general classification, these times were added up; the cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey.

Stage winners edit

Stage characteristics and winners[9][14][15][16][17]
Stage Date Course Distance Type[a] Winner Race leader
1 26 June Paris to Le Havre 388 km (241 mi)   Plain stage   Louis Mottiat (BEL)   Louis Mottiat (BEL)
2 28 June Le Havre to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin 364 km (226 mi)   Plain stage   Romain Bellenger (FRA)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
3 30 June Cherbourg to Brest 405 km (252 mi)   Plain stage   Leon Scieur (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
4 2 July Brest to Les Sables-d'Olonne 412 km (256 mi)   Plain stage   Louis Mottiat (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
5 4 July Les Sables-d'Olonne to Bayonne 482 km (300 mi)   Plain stage   Louis Mottiat (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
6 6 July Bayonne to Luchon 326 km (203 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Hector Heusghem (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
7 8 July Luchon to Perpignan 323 km (201 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Louis Mottiat (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
8 10 July Perpignan to Toulon 411 km (255 mi)   Plain stage   Luigi Lucotti (ITA)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
9 12 July Toulon to Nice 272 km (169 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Firmin Lambot (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
10 14 July Nice to Grenoble 333 km (207 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Leon Scieur (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
11 16 July Grenoble to Geneva 325 km (202 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Félix Goethals (FRA)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
12 18 July Geneva to Strasbourg 371 km (231 mi)   Plain stage   Honoré Barthélemy (FRA)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
13 20 July Strasbourg to Metz 300 km (190 mi)   Plain stage   Félix Sellier (BEL)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
14 22 July Metz to Dunkerque 433 km (269 mi)   Plain stage   Félix Goethals (FRA)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
15 24 July Dunkerque to Paris 340 km (210 mi)   Plain stage   Félix Goethals (FRA)   Leon Scieur (BEL)
Total 5,485 km (3,408 mi)[1]

General classification edit

The final general classification, calculated by adding the stages times, was won by Léon Scieur, who received 15.000 Francs.[3] Originally, the two results of the two classes were separated, and the winner of the second class, Victor Lenaers, reportedly won 20.000 Francs in total during this race.[13] Modern sources combine the results for the two groups.

Léon Scieur, the overall winner of the 1921 Tour de France.
Henri Colle and Charles Parel drinking a beer in a tavern in Dalstein in 1921.
Final general classification (1–10)[18]
Rank Rider Class Time
1   Leon Scieur (BEL) 1 221h 50' 26"
2   Hector Heusghem (BEL) 1 + 18' 36"
3   Honore Barthelemy (FRA) 1 + 2h 01' 00"
4   Luigi Lucotti (ITA) 1 + 2h 39' 18"
5   Hector Tiberghien (BEL) 1 + 4h 33' 19"
6   Victor Lenaers (BEL) 2 + 4h 53' 23"
7   Leon Despontin (BEL) 2 + 5h 01' 54"
8   Camile Leroy (BEL) 2 + 7h 56' 27"
9   Firmin Lambot (BEL) 1 + 8h 26' 25"
10   Félix Goethals (FRA) 1 + 8h 42' 26"

Aftermath edit

As in the years before, the Belgian cyclists had dominated the entire race. The French press and audience did not like this, and wanted the brothers Pélissier, who did not join because of a fight with the Tour organisers, to enter the race again.[2] They would ultimately do this in 1923, when Henri won the race as the first French cyclist in eleven years. The winner in 1921, Scieur, would start the Tour three more times, but would never win a stage again and never complete the race.[19]

Notes edit

  1. ^ In 1921, there was no distinction in the rules between plain stages and mountain stages; the icons shown here indicate which stages included mountains.

References edit

  1. ^ a b Augendre 2016, p. 108.
  2. ^ a b c d e "1921: Waal Léon Scieur zet Belgische overheersing onverminderd voort" (in Dutch). 19 March 2003. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d "1921 - 15th Tour de France". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 15 July 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  4. ^ "Past results for Ernest, dit Faber Ernest Paul (FRA)". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 24 June 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  5. ^ "Past results for Lucien Pothier (FRA)". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e McGann & McGann 2006, pp. 59–62.
  7. ^ McGann & McGann 2006, pp. 51–56.
  8. ^ Thompson 2008, p. 36.
  9. ^ a b c d e "15ème Tour de France 1921" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  10. ^ Tom James (15 August 2003). "1921: Scieur continues the Belgian domination". VeloArchive. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  11. ^ "15ème Tour de France 1921 - 1ère étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  12. ^ "15ème Tour de France 1921 - 2ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  13. ^ a b c Henk Leenaers (2003). "Vergeten Tour-winnaar uit Tongeren" (in Dutch). Fiets. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  14. ^ "Le Tour de France cycliste". Le Matin (in French). Gallica Bibliothèque Numérique. 26 June 1921. p. 4. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  15. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 19.
  16. ^ Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC top ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  17. ^ "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1921 – The stage winners". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  18. ^ a b "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1921 – Stage 15 Dunkerque > Paris". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Past results for Léon Scieur (BEL)". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 16 July 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2009.

Bibliography edit

External links edit

  Media related to Tour de France 1921 at Wikimedia Commons