1953 Tour de France

The 1953 Tour de France was the 40th edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 3 to 26 July. It consisted of 22 stages over 4,476 km (2,781 mi).

1953 Tour de France
Route of the 1953 Tour de France followed counterclockwise, starting in Strasbourg and finishing in Paris
Route of the 1953 Tour de France followed counterclockwise, starting in Strasbourg and finishing in Paris
Race details
Dates3–26 July
Distance4,476 km (2,781 mi)
Winning time129h 23' 25"
Winner  Louison Bobet (FRA) (France)
  Second  Jean Malléjac (FRA) (West)
  Third  Giancarlo Astrua (ITA) (Italy)

Points  Fritz Schär (SUI) (Switzerland)
  Mountains  Jesús Loroño (ESP) (Spain)
  Combativity  Wout Wagtmans (NED) (Netherlands)
  Team Netherlands
← 1952
1954 →

The race was won by Louison Bobet, the first of his three consecutive wins. At first, internal struggles in the French national team seemed to work against Bobet, but when the team joined forces, he beat regional rider Jean Malléjac in the mountains.

The 1953 Tour de France saw the introduction of the points classification, which gives the green jersey to its leader. In 1953 this was won by Fritz Schär.

Innovations and changesEdit

Changes in the Tour formula were made: Only one time trial was used, instead of two the previous year; the time bonus for the first cyclist to cross a mountain top was removed; there were fewer mountain stages; the number of cyclists per team was increased from 8 to 10. Since all these changes were bad for 1952's winner Fausto Coppi, who had gained significant time in 1952 in the time trials and mountain stages, the Tour organisation was accused of favoring French riders.[1]


As was the custom since the 1930 Tour de France, the 1953 Tour de France was contested by national and regional teams. Seven national teams were sent, with 10 cyclists each from Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France. France additionally sent five regional teams from 10 cyclists each, divided into Île-de-France, Center-North East France, South-East, West and South West. One Luxembourgian cyclist did not start, so 119 cyclists started the race.[2]

The teams entering the race were:[2]

  • Italy
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Île-de-France
  • North-East/Centre
  • South-East
  • West
  • South-West

Pre-race favouritesEdit

The winner of the previous edition, Coppi, did not defend his title. The reasons were not clear: it could have been injury,[3] but it was also possible that Coppi did not want to ride in the same team as his rival Gino Bartali, or that the Tour direction urged the Italian team not to select Coppi because he had dominated the 1952 Tour, or that Coppi chose to prepare for the 1953 UCI Road World Championships.[4] The big favourites became Hugo Koblet and Louison Bobet.[5]

The last five editions had been won by Italian and Swiss cyclists, so the French cycling fans were anxious for a French win. When team manager Marcel Bidot had selected Bobet as the French team captain, controversy arose. Bobet had shown his potential strength, but had already tried to win the Tour de France five times without succeeding. His team-mate Raphaël Géminiani thought that Bobet was not strong enough, after he did not finish the 1953 Giro d'Italia earlier that year.[6]

Route and stagesEdit

The 1953 Tour de France started on 3 July, and had two rest days, in Bordeaux and Monaco.[7] The highest point of elevation in the race was 2,360 m (7,740 ft) at the summit of the Col d'Izoard mountain pass on stage 18.[8][9]

Stage characteristics and winners[10][7][11][12]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
1 3 July Strasbourg to Metz 195 km (121 mi)   Plain stage   Fritz Schär (SUI)
2 4 July Metz to Liège (Belgium) 227 km (141 mi)   Plain stage   Fritz Schär (SUI)
3 5 July Liège (Belgium) to Lille 221 km (137 mi)   Plain stage   Stanislas Bober (FRA)
4 6 July Lille to Dieppe 188 km (117 mi)   Plain stage   Gerrit Voorting (NED)
5 7 July Dieppe to Caen 200 km (124 mi)   Plain stage   Jean Malléjac (FRA)
6 8 July Caen to Le Mans 206 km (128 mi)   Plain stage   Martin Van Geneugden (BEL)
7 9 July Le Mans to Nantes 181 km (112 mi)   Plain stage   Livio Isotti (ITA)
8 10 July Nantes to Bordeaux 345 km (214 mi)   Plain stage   Jan Nolten (NED)
11 July Bordeaux Rest day
9 12 July Bordeaux to Pau 197 km (122 mi)   Plain stage   Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
10 13 July Pau to Cauterets 103 km (64 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Jesús Loroño (ESP)
11 14 July Cauterets to Luchon 115 km (71 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Jean Robic (FRA)
12 15 July Luchon to Albi 228 km (142 mi)   Plain stage   André Darrigade (FRA)
13 16 July Albi to Béziers 189 km (117 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Nello Lauredi (FRA)
14 17 July Béziers to Nîmes 214 km (133 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Bernard Quennehen (FRA)
15 18 July Nîmes to Marseille 173 km (107 mi)   Plain stage   Maurice Quentin (FRA)
16 19 July Marseille to Monaco 236 km (147 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Wim van Est (NED)
20 July Monaco Rest day
17 21 July Monaco to Gap 261 km (162 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Wout Wagtmans (NED)
18 22 July Gap to Briançon 165 km (103 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Louison Bobet (FRA)
19 23 July Briançon to Lyon 227 km (141 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Georges Meunier (FRA)
20 24 July Lyon to St. Etienne 70 km (43 mi)   Individual time trial   Louison Bobet (FRA)
21 25 July St. Etienne to Montluçon 210 km (130 mi)   Plain stage   Wout Wagtmans (NED)
22 26 July Montluçon to Paris 328 km (204 mi)   Plain stage   Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
Total 4,476 km (2,781 mi)[13]

Race overviewEdit

Fritz Schär taking his second win of the race on stage two in Liège, Belgium

In the first two stages Fritz Schär won the sprint. The favourites remained calm. After the fourth stage, French Roger Hassenforder took the lead, but he soon lost it when the mountains appeared.[5]

Hassenforder was ill, and could not follow in the mountains,[4] so Schär took the lead back in the ninth stage. In the next stage, Hugo Koblet, the leader of the Swiss team, fell and had to give up, making Schär the undisputed leader of the Swiss team.[5]

Jean Robic, the winner of the 1947 Tour de France, rode for the regional team from West. He was in great shape, and won the 11th stage, and even took the leading position in the general classification.[3] In the next stage, Robic rode in the yellow jersey for the first and only time in his career. Robic had won the 1947 Tour de France, but only captured the lead in the ultimate stage, so he never wore the yellow jersey during that race.[10] Robic was a good climber, but he was not heavy enough to be a good descender. It is said that the manager of his team had arranged bidons filled with lead, that would be given to Robic on the top of the mountains. This helped Robic to keep his lead on the descent.[4]

Robic lost the yellow jersey in the next stage, after he crashed and the French national team attacked.[3] A large group of twenty five cyclists, without any of the favourites, had escaped and stayed away.[5] Robic's team did not lose the jersey however, as first François Mahé took over the lead.[14]

In the next stage, the favourites attacked again. Mahé could not keep up, and lost his leading position to his team-mate Jean Malléjac.[14] The sprint was won by Nello Lauredi from the French national team, before his team-mate Bobet. Bobet was angry that Lauredi had won the sprint, because it made Bobet miss the one-minute time bonus for the winner of the stage. Bobet accused Lauredi and Géminiani of working against him, and during dinner it came to a fight. The French team captain intervened, and they found a solution: Bobet agreed to give his prize money to his team-mates, if they helped him win the Tour.[4]

Louison Bobet (pictured in 1951), winner of the general classification

In that stage, Robic had fallen down, and lost many minutes, so he was no longer considered able to win the Tour.[5] He did not start the fourteenth stage.[10] At that point, Bobet was 3 minutes 13 seconds behind Malléjac.[6]

In the eighteenth stage in the alps, Bobet followed Jesus Lorono who attacked on the Col de Vars. Bobet dropped him on the descend, and went alone to the Col d'Izoard. There was a group of early attackers ahead, including Bobet's team-mate Deledda. Deledda waited for Bobet, and helped him to reach the Izoard. Bobet could save his energy, and when they reached the Izoard, he left Deledda behind. The tactics had worked, and Bobet won more than 12 minutes on Malléjac and took the yellow jersey.[6] He extended his lead by winning the time trial in stage 20, thereby showing that he was not only a good climber but also a fine time trialist.[6] At that point, the Dutch team was leading the team classification, and the Dutch and French team started to work together to keep their leading positions in the general and team classification.[5]

For the finish in Paris, eleven former Tour de France winners were present: Maurice Garin (who won the 1903 edition), Gustave Garrigou (1911), Philippe Thys (1913, 1914 and 1920), Lucien Buysse (1926), André Leducq (1930 and 1932), Antonin Magne (1931 and 1934), Georges Speicher (1933), Romain Maes (1935), Sylvère Maes (1936 and 1939), Roger Lapébie (1937) and Ferdinand Kübler (1950).[3]

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.[15] Of the 119 cyclists that started the 1953 Tour de France, 76 finished the race. The results showed that the pre-war greats were no longer dominant: all cyclists in the top ten had turned professional after the Second World War.[16] The prize for best regional cyclist was won by second-placed Malléjac.[14]

Fifty years after the first Tour de France, the 1953 Tour featured the introduction of the green jersey, for the leader in the points classification (usually seen as the "best sprinter's" jersey), at that time called the Grand Prix Cinquentennaire.[4] The classification was based on the points system as it had been used from the 1905 Tour de France to the 1912 Tour de France. The points classification was not only added to celebrate the 50 years since the first race, but also to have the sprinters race hard for the entire race.[6] The calculation method came from the Tours de France from 1905 to 1912. Points were given according to the ranking of the stage: the winner received one points, the next cyclist two points, and so on. These points were added, and the cyclist with the fewest points was the leader of the points classification. In 1953, this was won by Fritz Schär.[10]

Points for the mountains classification were earned by reaching the mountain tops first.[17] The system was almost the same as in 1952: there were two types of mountain tops: the hardest ones, in category 1, gave 10 points to the first cyclist, the easier ones, in category 2, gave 6 points to the first cyclist, and the easiest ones, in category 3, gave 3 points. Jesus Lorono won this classification.[10]

The calculation of the team classification was changed from the calculation in 1952. In 1953, it was calculated as the sum of the daily team classifications, and the daily team classification was calculated by adding the times in the stage result of the best three cyclists per team.[18] It was won by the Dutch team, with a small margin over the French team. South West did not finish with three cyclists so was not eligible for the team classification.

The 1952 Tour had seen the introduction of combativity awards, in which a jury composed of journalists gave points after most stages to the cyclist they considered most combative. In 1953, this system was kept, with the addition of a classification that was led by the rider with the most points from votes in all stages, and an overall super-combativity award.[19] This was won by Wout Wagtmans.[7] The Souvenir Henri Desgrange was given in honour of Tour founder Henri Desgrange to the first rider to pass a point by his final residence, the "Villa Mia" in Beauvallon, Grimaud, on the French Riviera on stage 16. This prize was won by Claude Colette.[20][21]

Classification leadership by stage[22][23]
Stage Winner General classification
Points classification
Mountains classification[a] Team classification Combativity Bad luck award
Award Classification
1 Fritz Schär Fritz Schär Fritz Schär no award Netherlands Wout Wagtmans Wout Wagtmans Antonin Rolland
2 Fritz Schär Wout Wagtmans Wout Wagtmans François Mahé
3 Stanislas Bober Stanislas Bober Bernard Gauthier
4 Gerrit Voorting Gerrit Voorting Jean Forestier
5 Jean Malléjac Roger Hassenforder North-East/Centre Roger Hassenforder Claude Rouer
6 Martin Van Geneugden Louis Caput André Darrigade
7 Livio Isotti François Mahé Emile Guerinel
8 Jan Nolten Jan Nolten Antonin Rolland
9 Fiorenzo Magni Fritz Schär André Darrigade Pierre Molinéris
10 Jesús Loroño Jean Robic Jesús Loroño Jesús Loroño Guy Buchaille
11 Jean Robic Jean Robic Jean Robic Jean Robic Marcel Huber
12 André Darrigade François Mahé Maurice Quentin Jacques Dupont
13 Nello Lauredi Jean Malléjac Fritz Schär Joseph Mirando Jean Robic
14 Bernard Quennehen Jan Nolten Jan Nolten Roger Pontet
15 Maurice Quentin Jesús Loroño Maurice Quentin Maurice Diot
16 Wim van Est Joseph Mirando Jesús Loroño
17 Wout Wagtmans Stanislas Bober Wout Wagtmans François Mahé
18 Louison Bobet Louison Bobet Netherlands Louison Bobet Gino Bartali
19 Georges Meunier Jean Forestier Hilaire Couvreur
20 Louison Bobet no award Alfred Tonello
21 Wout Wagtmans Gilbert Bauvin Jean Le Guilly
22 Fiorenzo Magni Wout Wagtmans Maurice Diot
Final Louison Bobet Fritz Schär Jesús Loroño Netherlands Wout Wagtmans Guy Buchaille

Final standingsEdit

General classificationEdit

Final general classification (1–10)[24]
Rank Rider Team Time
1   Louison Bobet (FRA) France 129h 23' 25"
2   Jean Malléjac (FRA) West + 14' 18"
3   Giancarlo Astrua (ITA) Italy + 15' 02"
4   Alex Close (BEL) Belgium + 17' 35"
5   Wout Wagtmans (NED) Netherlands + 18' 05"
6   Fritz Schär (SUI) Switzerland + 18' 44"
7   Antonin Rolland (FRA) France + 23' 03"
8   Nello Lauredi (FRA) France + 26' 03"
9   Raphaël Géminiani (FRA) France + 27' 18"
10   François Mahé (FRA) West + 28' 26"

Points classificationEdit

Final points classification (1–10)[25]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Fritz Schär (SUI) Switzerland 271
2   Fiorenzo Magni (ITA) Italy 307
3   Raphaël Géminiani (FRA) France 406
4   Antonin Rolland (FRA) France 413
5   Wim van Est (NED) Netherlands 440
6   Gerrit Voorting (NED) Netherlands 490
7   Giancarlo Astrua (ITA) Italy 536
8   Louison Bobet (FRA) France 541
9   Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 549
10   Raymond Impanis (BEL) Belgium 620

Mountains classificationEdit

Final mountains classification (1–10)[26]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Jesús Loroño (ESP) Spain 54
2   Louison Bobet (FRA) France 36
3   Joseph Mirando (FRA) South-East 30
4   Gilbert Bauvin (FRA) North-East/Centre 25
5   Jean Le Guilly (FRA) France 24
6   Fritz Schär (SUI) Switzerland 22
7   Giancarlo Astrua (ITA) Italy 20
8   José Serra (ESP) Spain 19
9   Jan Nolten (NED) Netherlands 14
  Marcel Huber (SUI) Switzerland 14

Team classificationEdit

Final team classification[27][28]
Rank Team Time
1 Netherlands 387h 42' 54"
2 France + 11' 07"
3 North-East/Centre + 23' 22"
4 Belgium + 54' 57"
5 West + 1h 07' 51"
6 Italy + 1h 19' 45"
7 Spain + 2h 00' 13"
8 South-East + 2h 28' 45"
9 Île-de-France + 2h 38' 25"
10 Switzerland + 2h 42' 22"
11 Luxembourg + 4h 34' 52"


The 1953 Tour de France had two young rider making their debuts, Charly Gaul and André Darrigade.[10] Gaul would later win the 1958 Tour de France, and Darrigade would win 22 stages in total, and win the points classification twice.

It was the last Tour that Gino Bartali rode. Bartali started eight Tours, and won two of them.[4]

The winner of the 1953 Tour, Bobet, would also win the next two editions, and became the first rider to win three consecutive Tours.


  1. ^ 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. ^ "Nieuwe formule Tour de France overtuigend bewijs van chauvinisme". De Tijd (in Dutch). Delpher. 13 December 1952. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1953 – The starters". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Tour: Year 1953". Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 16 July 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f McGann & McGann 2006, pp. 198–206.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Amels 1984, pp. 68–70.
  6. ^ a b c d e Barry Boyce (2004). "Bobet is Brilliant, as French Team Squabbles". Cycling revealed. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Augendre 2016, p. 44.
  8. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 178.
  9. ^ "De 40e Ronde van Frankrijk 1953" [The 40th Tour de France 1953]. De Tijd (in Dutch). 2 July 1953. p. 5 – via Delpher.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "40ème Tour de France 1953" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  11. ^ Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC top ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  12. ^ "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1953 – The stage winners". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  13. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 109.
  14. ^ a b c "L'Historique du Tour: Année 1953" (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 20 July 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  15. ^ Nauright & Parrish 2012, pp. 452–453.
  16. ^ McGann & McGann 2006, pp. 190–194.
  17. ^ a b Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 454.
  18. ^ Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 455.
  19. ^ van den Akker 2018, pp. 211–216.
  20. ^ "Opwindend eine van een rustige etappe" [Exciting end of a quiet stage]. De Tijd (in Dutch). 20 July 1953. p. 5 – via Delpher.
  21. ^ Seray & Lablaine 2006, p. 84.
  22. ^ "Tour - digest". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 27 July 1953. p. 10. Archived from the original on 16 February 2019.
  23. ^ van den Akker, Pieter. "Informatie over de Tour de France van 1953" [Information about the Tour de France from 1953]. TourDeFranceStatistieken.nl (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  24. ^ a b "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1953 – Stage 22 Montluçon > Paris". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  25. ^ "Puntenrangschikking – Schaer eindoverwinnaar" [Points ranking – Schaer overall winner]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 27 July 1953. p. 11. Archived from the original on 23 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Lorono wint de bergprijs" [Lorono wins the mountain prize]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 27 July 1953. p. 11. Archived from the original on 23 September 2019.
  27. ^ "Paris dedicó una llegada apeteótica a los "tours"" (PDF). Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 27 July 1953. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2019.
  28. ^ "Holland wint" [Holland wins]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 27 July 1953. p. 9. Archived from the original on 23 September 2019.


External linksEdit

  Media related to 1953 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons