1938 Tour de France

The 1938 Tour de France was the 32nd edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 5 to 31 July. It was composed of 21 stages over 4,694 km (2,917 mi).The race was won by Italian cyclist Gino Bartali, who also won the mountains classification.

1938 Tour de France
Route of the 1938 Tour de France followed counterclockwise, starting in Paris
Route of the 1938 Tour de France followed counterclockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates5–31 July
Stages21, including five split stages
Distance4,694 km (2,917 mi)
Winning time148h 29' 12"
Winner  Gino Bartali (ITA) (Italy)
  Second  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) (Belgium)
  Third  Victor Cosson (FRA) (France)

  Mountains  Gino Bartali (ITA) (Italy)
  Team Belgium
← 1937
1939 →

Innovations and changesEdit

The bonification system was reduced compared to 1937: the winner of a stage now only received one minute bonification time, added by the margin to the second arriving cyclist, with a maximum of 75 seconds. The cyclists who reached a mountain top that counted towards the mountains classification first, now received only one minute bonification time.[1]

The team trial stages, where the teams departed 15 minutes separately, were removed from the race. They would later return in the 1954 Tour de France, in a different form.[1] Instead, the 1938 Tour de France featured two individual time trials.[2]

In previous years, some cyclists were in teams and other rode individually. In 1937, there had been problems with individual cyclists being accused of helping other cyclists, culminating in the Belgian cyclists leaving the Tour. To avoid these problems, the categories for individual cyclists were removed for the 1938 Tour de France,[3] and the race was contested by national teams. But because there were many French cyclists that did not fit into the national team, there were two extra French teams, the Bleuets and Cadets.[1] The Bleuets was a kind of French "B"-team, while the Cadets consisted of young French promises.[4]


The big cycling nations in 1938, Belgium, Italy, Germany and France, each sent a team of 12 cyclists. Other countries, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands, sent smaller teams of six cyclists each. The French had two extra teams of 12 cyclists, the Cadets and Bleuets.[5]

The three most powerful teams were the Belgian, the French and the Italian national team.[2] The Italian team was led by Bartali, who had been close to winning the Tour de France in 1937 until he crashed. The Italian cycling federation had requested him to skip the 1938 Giro d'Italia so he could focus on the Tour de France.[6]

The teams entering the race were:

  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • France
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg
  • France Cadets
  • France Bleuets

Route and stagesEdit

The highest point of elevation in the race was 2,770 m (9,090 ft) at the summit of the Col de l'Iseran mountain pass on stage 15.[7][8]

Stage characteristics and winners[1][9][10][11]
Stage Date Course Distance Type[a] Winner
1 5 July Paris to Caen 215 km (134 mi)   Plain stage   Willi Oberbeck (GER)
2 6 July Caen to Saint-Brieuc 237 km (147 mi)   Plain stage   Jean Majerus (LUX)
3 7 July Saint-Brieuc to Nantes 238 km (148 mi)   Plain stage   Gerrit Schulte (NED)
4a 8 July Nantes to La Roche-sur-Yon 62 km (39 mi)   Plain stage   Éloi Meulenberg (BEL)
4b La Roche-sur-Yon to La Rochelle 83 km (52 mi)   Plain stage   Éloi Meulenberg (BEL)
4c La Rochelle to Royan 83 km (52 mi)   Plain stage   Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
9 July Royan Rest day
5 10 July Royan to Bordeaux 198 km (123 mi)   Plain stage   Éloi Meulenberg (BEL)
6a 11 July Bordeaux to Arcachon 53 km (33 mi)   Plain stage   Jules Rossi (ITA)
6b Arcachon to Bayonne 171 km (106 mi)   Plain stage   Glauco Servadei (ITA)
7 12 July Bayonne to Pau 115 km (71 mi)   Plain stage   Theo Middelkamp (NED)
13 July Pau Rest day
8 14 July Pau to Luchon 193 km (120 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
15 July Luchon Rest day
9 16 July Luchon to Perpignan 260 km (160 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Jean Fréchaut (FRA)
10a 17 July Perpignan to Narbonne 63 km (39 mi)   Plain stage   Antoon van Schendel (NED)
10b Narbonne to Béziers 27 km (17 mi)   Individual time trial   Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
10c Béziers to Montpellier 73 km (45 mi)   Plain stage   Antonin Magne (FRA)
11 18 July Montpellier to Marseille 223 km (139 mi)   Plain stage   Gino Bartali (ITA)
12 19 July Marseille to Cannes 199 km (124 mi)   Plain stage   Jean Fréchaut (FRA)
20 July Cannes Rest day
13 21 July Cannes to Digne 284 km (176 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Dante Gianello (FRA)
14 22 July Digne to Briançon 219 km (136 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Gino Bartali (ITA)
15 23 July Briançon to Aix-les-Bains 311 km (193 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Marcel Kint (BEL)
24 July Aix-les-Bains Rest day
16 25 July Aix-les-Bains to Besançon 284 km (176 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Marcel Kint (BEL)
17a 26 July Besançon to Belfort 89 km (55 mi)   Plain stage   Émile Masson Jr. (BEL)
17b Belfort to Strasbourg 143 km (89 mi)   Plain stage   Jean Fréchaut (FRA)
18 27 July Strasbourg to Metz 186 km (116 mi)   Plain stage   Marcel Kint (BEL)
19 28 July Metz to Reims 196 km (122 mi)   Plain stage   Fabien Galateau (FRA)
28 July Reims Rest day
20a 30 July Reims to Laon 48 km (30 mi)   Plain stage   Glauco Servadei (ITA)
20b Laon to Saint-Quentin 42 km (26 mi)   Individual time trial   Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
20c Saint-Quentin to Lille 107 km (66 mi)   Plain stage   François Neuville (BEL)
21 31 July Lille to Paris 279 km (173 mi)   Plain stage   Antonin Magne (FRA)
  André Leducq (FRA)[b]
Total 4,694 km (2,917 mi)[12]

Race overviewEdit

Cyclists passing a herd of sheep

Before the Pyrenees, all the favourites remained calm. André Leducq did not lose much time in the first stages, and when he got in a breakaway in the second part of the sixth stage, he took over the lead from Jean Majerus.[2] In the eighth stage, Gino Bartali attacked, and dropped everybody. On the descent of the Col d'Aspin, his wheel collapsed, and Félicien Vervaecke and Ward Vissers overtook him. Bartali came back to finish in third place, but Vervaecke took the lead in the general classification.[4] In that stage, former winner Georges Speicher was caught holding on to a car, and was removed from the race.[2]

After that stage, Bartali was in second place in the general classification. He won some time on Vervaecke because of bonifications for reaching the tops of the Portet d'Aspet and the Braus first and winning the 11th stage, but lost some time in the individual time trial in stage 10b.[2]

In the fourteenth stage, Bartali attacked again, and gained 17 minutes on Vervaecke and 20 on Vissers. Bartali was now leader of the race.[4] Before the next stage, Bartali felt poorly. His team director, Costante Girardengo, told him not to force himself. Bartali let the others get away on the first mountains, but during the descent of the Iseran, Bartali went as fast as he could, and reach his concurrents. During that stage, Mathias Clemens, who started the stage in second place, lost a lot of time, so Vervaecke was back in second place, 20 minutes behind Bartali.[2]

In the rest of the race, Bartali defended his lead with ease. Vervaecke won back some time in the last individual time trial, but that was not enough to endanger Bartali's lead.

In the last stage, Antonin Magne (winner of the Tour de France in 1931 and 1934) and André Leducq (winner of the Tour de France in 1930 and 1932) escaped together, and crossed the finish line together. The Tour jury declared them both winner.[1] This was Leducq's 25th and final stage victory.[4] For both cyclists it was also the last stage they ever rode in the Tour de France.[13][14]

Classification leadership and minor prizesEdit

The time that each cyclist required to finish each stage was recorded, and these times were added together for the general classification. If a cyclist had received a time bonus, it was subtracted from this total; all time penalties were added to this total. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey.

For the mountains classification, 12 mountains were selected by the Tour organisation. The Iseran was included for the first time in 1938.[1] On the top of these mountains, ten points were given for the first cyclist to pass, nine points to the second cyclist, and so on, until the tenth cyclist who got one point. The mountains classification in 1938 was won by Gino Bartali. Bartali was the first cyclist to win the general classification and the mountains classification of the Tour de France in the same year.[15]

The team classification was calculated in 1938 by adding up the times of the best three cyclists of a team; the team with the least time was the winner. In 1938, there were eight teams of twelve cyclists. Belgium, Italy, Germany and France had a team, Luxembourg and Switzerland both supplied six cyclists for a combined team, as did Spain and the Netherlands, and there were two extra French teams, the bleuets and the cadets.[1] The bleuets were also described as "France B", and the cadets as "France C".

Classification leadership by stage[16]
Stage Winner General classification
Mountains classification[c] Team classification
1 Willi Oberbeck Willi Oberbeck no award Germany
2 Jean Majerus Jean Majerus France
3 Gerrit Schulte
4a Éloi Meulenberg
4b Éloi Meulenberg
4c Félicien Vervaecke
5 Éloi Meulenberg
6a Jules Rossi
6b Glauco Servadei André Leducq
7 Theo Middelkamp
8 Félicien Vervaecke Félicien Vervaecke Gino Bartali Belgium
9 Jean Fréchaut
10a Antoon van Schendel
10b Félicien Vervaecke
10c Antonin Magne
11 Gino Bartali
12 Jean Fréchaut
13 Dante Gianello
14 Gino Bartali Gino Bartali
15 Marcel Kint
16 Marcel Kint
17a Émile Masson Jr.
17b Jean Fréchaut
18 Marcel Kint
19 Fabien Galateau
20a Glauco Servadei
20b Félicien Vervaecke
20c François Neuville
21 Antonin Magne
André Leducq
Final Gino Bartali Gino Bartali Belgium

Final standingsEdit

General classificationEdit

Final general classification (1–10)[1][18]
Rank Rider Team Time
1   Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 148h 29' 12"
2   Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium + 18' 27"
3   Victor Cosson (FRA) France + 29' 26"
4   Ward Vissers (BEL) Belgium + 35' 08"
5   Matt Clemens (LUX) Luxembourg + 42' 08"
6   Mario Vicini (ITA) Italy + 44' 59"
7   Jules Lowie (BEL) Belgium + 48' 56"
8   Antonin Magne (FRA) France + 49' 00"
9   Marcel Kint (BEL) Belgium + 59' 49"
10   Dante Gianello (FRA) Bleuets + 1h 06' 47"

Mountains classificationEdit

Mountains in the mountains classification[1][19]
Stage Rider Height Mountain range Winner
8 Aubisque 1,709 metres (5,607 ft) Pyrenees Gino Bartali
8 Tourmalet 2,115 metres (6,939 ft) Pyrenees Gino Bartali
8 Aspin 1,489 metres (4,885 ft) Pyrenees Gino Bartali
8 Peyresourde 1,569 metres (5,148 ft) Pyrenees Félicien Vervaecke
9 Portet d'Aspet 1,069 metres (3,507 ft) Pyrenees Gino Bartali
13 Braus 1,002 metres (3,287 ft) Alps-Maritimes Gino Bartali
14 Allos 2,250 metres (7,380 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
14 Vars 2,110 metres (6,920 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
14 Izoard 2,361 metres (7,746 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
15 Galibier 2,556 metres (8,386 ft) Alps Mario Vicini
15 Iseran 2,770 metres (9,090 ft) Alps Félicien Vervaecke
16 Faucille 1,320 metres (4,330 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
Final mountains classification (1–5)[1][20]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 107
2   Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium 79
3   Edward Vissers (BEL) Belgium 76
4   Dante Gianello (FRA) Bleuets 57
5   Victor Cosson (FRA) France 55

Team classificationEdit

Final team classification (1–8)[4][21]
Rank Team Time
1 Belgium 447h 10' 07"
2 France + 43' 29"
3 Italy + 44' 06"
4 Luxembourg/Switzerland + 3h 02' 29"
5 Cadets + 3h 11' 31"
6 Spain/Netherlands + 3h 15' 29"
7 Bleuets + 4h 04' 49"
8 Germany + 7h 05' 57"


Because of the political tensions in Europe before the Second World War, Italy did not send a team to the 1939 Tour de France, so Bartali was unable to defend his title.[22] After the war, the Tour de France resumed in 1947. In 1948, Bartali won his second Tour, becoming the first and so far only cyclist to win editions of the Tour de France ten years apart.[23]


  1. ^ The icons shown here indicate whether the stage was run as a time trial, the stage was flat or the stage included mountains for the mountains classification.
  2. ^ Magne and Leducq were both declared winners of stage 21.
  3. ^ No jersey was awarded to the leader of the mountains classification until a white jersey with red polka dots was introduced in 1975.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "32ème Tour de France 1938" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f McGann & McGann 2006, pp. 139–144.
  3. ^ "De Ronde van Frankrijk". De Halle (in Dutch). 2 January 1938. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Tom James (15 August 2003). "1938: A final fling for les Bleus". VeloArchive. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  5. ^ "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1938 – The starters". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Gino "the Pious" Climbs to Victory". Cycling revealed. 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  7. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 178.
  8. ^ "Vandaag begint de "Tour de France"" [Today the "Tour de France" starts]. Het Volksdagblad (in Dutch). 5 July 1938. p. 4 – via Delpher.
  9. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 36.
  10. ^ Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC top ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  11. ^ "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1938 – The stage winners". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  12. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 108.
  13. ^ "The Tour - André Leducq". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  14. ^ "The Tour - Antonin Magne". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  15. ^ Moliterno 2000, p. 73.
  16. ^ van den Akker, Pieter. "Informatie over de Tour de France van 1938" [Information about the Tour de France from 1938]. TourDeFranceStatistieken.nl (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  17. ^ Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 454.
  18. ^ "La clasificacion international" (PDF). Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 1 August 1938. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2019.
  19. ^ Augendre 2016, pp. 175–192.
  20. ^ "Tour-Giro-Vuelta". Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  21. ^ "De Ronde van Frankrijk door Bartali gewonnen" (in Dutch). Leeuwarder Courant. 1 August 1938. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  22. ^ "33ème Tour de France 1939" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  23. ^ Augendre 2016, pp. 108–109.


External linksEdit

  Media related to 1938 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons