1952 Tour de France

The 1952 Tour de France was the 39th edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 25 June to 19 July. It was composed of 23 stages over 4,898 km (3,043 mi). Newly introduced were the arrivals on mountain peaks.

1952 Tour de France
Route of the 1952 Tour de France followed clockwise, starting in Brest and finishing in Paris
Route of the 1952 Tour de France followed clockwise, starting in Brest and finishing in Paris
Race details
Dates25 June – 19 July
Distance4,898 km (3,043 mi)
Winning time151h 57' 20"
Winner  Fausto Coppi (ITA) (Italy)
  Second  Stan Ockers (BEL) (Belgium)
  Third  Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) (Spain)

  Mountains  Fausto Coppi (ITA) (Italy)
  Team Italy
← 1951
1953 →

The race was won by Italian Fausto Coppi. Coppi dominated the race, winning five stages and the mountains classification, and was a member of the winning Italian team. His dominance was so large that the Tour organisation had to double the prize money for second place to make the race interesting. At the end, Coppi had a margin of almost half an hour over the second-ranked cyclist; such a margin has never been achieved again. Although more than 25 years later during the 1979 edition, the 1st and 2nd place finishers Bernard Hinault and Joop Zoetemelk were both nearly a half hour ahead of the 3rd place finisher.


As was the custom since the 1930 Tour de France, the 1952 Tour de France was contested by national and regional teams. The three major cycling countries in 1952, Italy, Belgium and France, each sent a team of 12 cyclists. Other countries sent teams of 8 cyclists: Switzerland, Luxembourg (together with Australia), Netherlands and Spain. The French regional cyclists were divided into four teams of 12 cyclists: Paris, North-East/Centre, South-East and West/South-West. The last team of eight cyclists was made up out of cyclists from the French North African colonies. In the end, Luxembourg only sent 6 cyclists, so altogether this made 122 cyclists. There were 57 French (of which 6 were Algerian), 13 Italian, 12 Belgian, 8 Dutch, 8 Spanish, 8 Swiss, 5 Luxembourgian and 1 Australian cyclists.[1]

The teams entering the race were:[1]

  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg/Australia
  • Paris
  • North-East/Centre
  • South-East
  • West/South-West
  • North Africa

Pre-race favouritesEdit

The winners of the last two editions, Swiss cyclists Hugo Koblet and Ferdinand Kübler, were injured and did not enter the race, nor did French cyclist Louison Bobet.[2] On the last press conference before the race, Jacques Goddet conducted a poll amongst journalists to see who they considered the favourite. Coppi received 29 votes in that poll, followed by Géminiani and Bartali, both with 26 votes.[3]

Route and stagesEdit

The final stage was from Vichy, the capital of Vichy France in the Second World War, to Paris. Vichy had never before been visited, and the distance from Vichy to Paris was significantly longer than the other stages. A newspaper described it as linking the two cities together. The stop in Vichy was successful, with a new record of 150.000 live spectators.[4] An innovation was the stage arrivals on mountain peaks. This happened three times in 1952, on stages 10, 11 and 21. There were two rest days, in Alpe d'Huez and Toulouse.[5] The highest point of elevation in the race was 2,556 m (8,386 ft) at the summit tunnel of the Col du Galibier mountain pass on stage 11.[6][7]

Stage characteristics and winners[2][5][8][9]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
1 25 June Brest to Rennes 246 km (153 mi)   Plain stage   Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL)
2 26 June Rennes to Le Mans 181 km (112 mi)   Plain stage   André Rosseel (BEL)
3 27 June Le Mans to Rouen 189 km (117 mi)   Plain stage   Nello Lauredi (FRA)
4 28 June Rouen to Roubaix 232 km (144 mi)   Plain stage   Pierre Molinéris (FRA)
5 29 June Roubaix to Namur (Belgium) 197 km (122 mi)   Plain stage   Jean Diederich (LUX)
6 30 June Namur (Belgium) to Metz 228 km (142 mi)   Plain stage   Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
7 1 July Metz to Nancy 60 km (37 mi)   Individual time trial   Fausto Coppi (ITA)
8 2 July Nancy to Mulhouse 252 km (157 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
9 3 July Mulhouse to Lausanne 238 km (148 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Walter Diggelmann (SUI)
10 4 July Lausanne to Alpe d'Huez 266 km (165 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Fausto Coppi (ITA)
5 July Alpe d'Huez Rest day
11 6 July Le Bourg-d'Oisans to Sestriere (Italy) 182 km (113 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Fausto Coppi (ITA)
12 7 July Sestriere (Italy) to Monaco 251 km (156 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Jan Nolten (NED)
13 8 July Monaco to Aix-en-Provence 214 km (133 mi)   Plain stage   Raoul Rémy (FRA)
14 9 July Aix-en-Provence to Avignon 178 km (111 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Jean Robic (FRA)
15 10 July Avignon to Perpignan 275 km (171 mi)   Plain stage   Georges Decaux (FRA)
16 11 July Perpignan to Toulouse 200 km (124 mi)   Plain stage   André Rosseel (BEL)
12 July Toulouse Rest day
17 13 July Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre 204 km (127 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
18 14 July Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Pau 149 km (93 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Fausto Coppi (ITA)
19 15 July Pau to Bordeaux 195 km (121 mi)   Plain stage   Hans Dekkers (NED)
20 16 July Bordeaux to Limoges 228 km (142 mi)   Plain stage   Jacques Vivier (FRA)
21 17 July Limoges to Puy de Dôme 245 km (152 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Fausto Coppi (ITA)
22 18 July Clermont-Ferrand to Vichy 63 km (39 mi)   Individual time trial   Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
23 19 July Vichy to Paris 354 km (220 mi)   Plain stage   Antonin Rolland (FRA)
Total 4,898 km (3,043 mi)[10]

Race overviewEdit

General classification winner Fausto Coppi taking his victory lap at the end of the Tour in the Parc des Princes in Paris

In the fourth stage, Jean Robic, the winner of the 1947 Tour de France was in a group with his teammate Raphaël Géminiani, and Robic let Géminiani do all the work. After the stage, Robic told reporters that he had been smart, because he had saved energy and was in a better position to win the Tour. Géminiani then became angry and held Robic's head in a hotel room sink. It was the last year that Robic rode on the national team.[11] At that moment, Nello Lauredi was the leader in the race.

In the sixth stage, Fiorenzo Magni escaped, and became the leader of the general classification by twelve seconds. In the 1950 Tour de France, Magni had already become the leader, but left the race without riding in the yellow jersey.[11] In the time trial in stage seven, won by Fausto Coppi, Magni lost his lead, and Lauredi became leader again.

The first high mountains appeared in stage eight. Magni and Lauredi stayed together, but because Magni took a twenty-second bonification for finishing second, they swapped positions again, and Magni became leader again.[11]

In the ninth stage, a group of eight cyclists got away, including Coppi's teammate Andrea Carrea. At the end of the stage, the group had a margin of more than nine minutes. Carrea went to the hotel after the finish, but was picked up by the police. Carrea asked what he had done wrong, but he was told that he was the new leader of the race, and had to go to the ceremony to receive the yellow jersey. Carrea apologised to his team leader Coppi, in fear that his team leader would be angry because a helper occupied the highest rank, but Coppi was not angry.[11]

In the tenth stage, Robic attacked, and only Coppi was able to follow him. Later, Robic had a flat tire. Because his team director was far away, he lost several minutes, and lost so much time that he dropped from second place to fifth place.[12] Coppi rode away and won the stage, taking over the lead in the general classification from his teammate. The top three riders were all Italian at that moment.[11]

After the rest day, the eleventh stage was again a mountain stage. The cyclists from the French national team, especially Géminiani, attacked on the Galibier, but Coppi counterattacked and escaped easily. At the end of the stage, Coppi won by a large margin. His lead in the general classification was now almost 20 minutes.[11]

The margin was so large that Coppi didn't need to attack in the twelfth stage. When Coppi had a flat tire, his teammate Gino Bartali gave him his own wheel, which was a sign that the rivalry between the two cyclists was over. Even though Coppi rode conservatively in that stage, the cyclist directly behind him in the general classification, Alex Close, lost another four minutes, and Coppi was now 24 minutes ahead.[11]

The Tour organisation feared that the race would become dull, now that Coppi's lead was so large. Therefore, they doubled the prize money for second and third place, hoping to keep the other cyclists aggressive.[11]

In the sixteenth stage, the riders were apparently not motivated by the double prize money, as they were slow that day. The organisation then responded by canceling the prize money; there was still a rule from before 1947, that said that stage winners had to go at least 30 km/h to win prize money. The winner, André Rosseel, had only reached 29 km/h.[13]

In the seventeenth stage, Géminiani, who was already in fourteenth place, 52 minutes behind in the general classification, escaped. Coppi did not chase him, and allowed Géminiani to win the stage.[11] In the eighteenth stage, Coppi reached the top of the mountains first, but took it easy on the descent, and allowed other cyclists to get back to him. He still won the sprint at the end of the stage.[11]

Coppi also won the last mountain stage, stage 21, and increased his lead to more than 31 minutes. In the time trial on the next day, Coppi apparently took it easy. Previously he was an expert in such time trials, but on that day he allowed other cyclists to win back some time, and finished on the fourteenth place.[11]

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.[14] Of the 123 cyclists that started the 1951 Tour de France, 66 finished the race.

Points for the mountains classification were earned by reaching the mountain tops first.[15] The system was the same as in 1951: there were two types of mountain tops: the hardest ones, in category 1, gave 10 points to the winner, the easier ones in category 2 gave 6 points to the winner. Fausto Coppi won this classification.[2]

The team classification had been awarded and calculated since 1930, but in 1952 the daily team classification was also calculated: for each stage, the best team (calculated as the team of which the best three cyclists had the lowest accumulated team in that stage) received a prize.[2][16] The riders in the team that led this classification wore yellow caps for the first time in 1952.[17] It was won by the Italian team. The Luxembourgian team finished with only two cyclists, and therefore were not eligible for the team classification.

The 1952 Tour de France saw the introduction of the combativity award, a daily award for the most combative rider of the stage.[18] The winner of that award received 100,000 French francs.[5] The super-combativity award, the award for the most combative rider of the entire Tour de France, was first given in 1953.[5] The Souvenir Henri Desgrange was given to the first rider to pass the memorial to Tour founder Henri Desgrange near the summit of the Col du Galibier stage 11. This prize was won by Fausto Coppi.[19][20] The special award for the best regional rider was won by eighteenth-placed Marcel Zelasco.[5]

Classification leadership by stage[21]
Stage Winner General classification
Mountains classification[a] Team classification Combativity award
1 Rik Van Steenbergen Rik Van Steenbergen no award Belgium Pierre Pardoën
2 André Rosseel Jean Malléjac
3 Nello Lauredi Nello Lauredi France Nello Lauredi
4 Pierre Molinéris Nello Lauredi
5 Jean Diederich Bim Diederich
6 Fiorenzo Magni Fiorenzo Magni Fiorenzo Magni
7 Fausto Coppi Nello Lauredi Armand Papazian
8 Raphaël Géminiani Fiorenzo Magni Raphaël Géminiani Raphaël Géminiani
9 Walter Diggelmann Andrea Carrea Jan Nolten
10 Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi Antonio Gelabert Fausto Coppi
11 Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi Jean Le Guilly
12 Jan Nolten Jan Nolten
13 Raoul Rémy Jean Dotto
14 Jean Robic Jean Robic
15 Georges Decaux Italy Georges Decaux
16 André Rosseel Wim van Est
17 Raphaël Géminiani Raphaël Géminiani
18 Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi
19 Hans Dekkers Hans Dekkers
20 Jacques Vivier Georges Decaux
21 Fausto Coppi no award
22 Fiorenzo Magni no award
23 Antonin Rolland Jean Robic
Final Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi Italy no award

Final standingsEdit

General classificationEdit

Final general classification (1–10)[22]
Rank Rider Team Time
1   Fausto Coppi (ITA) Italy 151h 57' 20"
2   Stan Ockers (BEL) Belgium + 28' 17"
3   Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) Spain + 34' 38"
4   Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy + 35' 25"
5   Jean Robic (FRA) France + 35' 36"
6   Fiorenzo Magni (ITA) Italy + 38' 25"
7   Alex Close (BEL) Belgium + 38' 32"
8   Jean Dotto (FRA) France + 48' 01"
9   Andrea Carrea (ITA) Italy + 50' 20"
10   Antonio Gelabert (ESP) Spain + 58' 16"

Mountains classificationEdit

Final mountains classification (1–10)[23]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Fausto Coppi (ITA) Italy 92
2   Antonio Gelabert (ESP) Spain 69
3   Jean Robic (FRA) France 60
4   Stan Ockers (BEL) Belgium 53
5   Raphaël Géminiani (FRA) France 51
6   Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 42
7   Jean Dotto (FRA) France 35
8   Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) Spain 28
9   Andrea Carrea (ITA) Italy 23
10   Jan Nolten (NED) Netherlands 22

Team classificationEdit

Final team classification[24]
Rank Team Time
1 Italy 455h 56' 40"
2 France + 25' 16"
3 Belgium + 54' 56"
4 Spain + 2h 53' 44"
5 Netherlands + 2h 59' 52"
6 North-East/Centre + 4h 26' 06"
7 South-East + 4h 46' 06"
8 West/South-West + 5h 58' 00"
9 Paris + 6h 27' 14"
10 Switzerland + 7h 00' 41"
11 North Africa + 7h 56' 49"


The daily combativity award was a success, and has been awarded ever since. The mountain finishes also were spectacular enough to have been included in every Tour de France since.

Fausto Coppi would never start the Tour de France again.

The team selecters for the French national team felt that Raphaël Géminiani had held back when chasing Fausto Coppi, because they rode for the same sponsor. For that reason, Géminiani was left out the national team for the 1952 UCI Road World Championships. To avoid these problems in the future, Géminiani switched teams at the end of the season.[11]


  1. ^ No jersey was awarded to the leader of the mountains classification until a white jersey with red polka dots was introduced in 1975.[15]


  1. ^ a b "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1952 – The starters". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "39ème Tour de France 1952" [39th Tour de France 1952]. Mémoire du cyclisme (in French). Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Wagtmans bij favorieten". Dagblad voor Amersfoort (in Dutch). Archief Eemland. 23 June 1952. p. 4. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  4. ^ Thompson, pp. 85–94
  5. ^ a b c d e Augendre 2016, p. 43.
  6. ^ Augendre 2016, pp. 177–178.
  7. ^ "Tour de France met een gewijzigd karakter" [Tour de France with a changed character]. Het Vrije Volk (in Dutch). 23 June 1952. p. 3 – via Delpher.
  8. ^ Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC top ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  9. ^ "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1952 – The stage winners". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  10. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 109.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McGann & McGann 2006, pp. 183–188.
  12. ^ Amaury Sport Organisation. "The Tour - Year 1952". letour.fr. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  13. ^ Thompson, p.217
  14. ^ Nauright & Parrish 2012, pp. 452–453.
  15. ^ a b Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 454.
  16. ^ Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 455.
  17. ^ van den Akker 2018, p. 148.
  18. ^ Woodland 2007, p. 96.
  19. ^ "Coppi le plus fort" [Coppi the strongest] (PDF). L'Impartial (in French). 7 July 1952. p. 3 – via RERO.
  20. ^ "Ronde-Klok" [Tour bell]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 8 July 1952. p. 9.
  21. ^ van den Akker, Pieter. "Informatie over de Tour de France van 1952" [Information about the Tour de France from 1952]. TourDeFranceStatistieken.nl (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1952 – Stage 23 Vichy > Paris". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  23. ^ "Nueva victoria de Coppi" [Coppi's new victory] (PDF). Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 18 July 1952. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 October 2019.
  24. ^ "Italië won het Landenklassement" [Italy won the country ranking]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 21 July 1952. p. 6. Archived from the original on 3 October 2019.


External linksEdit

  Media related to 1952 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons