1970 Tour de France

The 1970 Tour de France was the 57th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place between 27 June and 19 July, with 23 stages covering a distance of 4,254 km (2,643 mi). It was the second victory for Belgian Eddy Merckx, who also won the mountains classification, and nearly won every major jersey for a 2nd year in a row but finished second in the points classification behind Walter Godefroot by five points. The previous year only one rider was able to keep him within 20:00 and in 1970 a mere four other riders were within 20:00, with only debutant Joop Zoetemelk finishing inside 15:00 of Merckx.

1970 Tour de France
Route of the 1970 Tour de France
Route of the 1970 Tour de France
Race details
Dates27 June – 19 July
Stages23 + Prologue, including five split stages
Distance4,254 km (2,643 mi)
Winning time119h 31' 49"
Winner  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faemino–Faema)
  Second  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) (Flandria–Mars)
  Third  Gösta Pettersson (SWE) (Ferretti)

Points  Walter Godefroot (BEL) (Salvarani)
  Mountains  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faemino–Faema)
Combination  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faemino–Faema)
  Sprints  Cyrille Guimard (FRA) (Fagor–Mercier–Hutchinson)
  Combativity  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faemino–Faema)
  Team Salvarani
← 1969
1971 →


The Tour de France started with 15 teams, of 10 cyclists each, from five different countries.[1][2] A few days before the Tour started, it became known that Paul Gutty had failed a doping test when he won the French national road championship. Gutty was removed from his Frimatic team,[3] and replaced by Rene Grelin.

The teams entering the race were:[1]

Pre-race favouritesEdit

After his dominating victory in the previous year, Merckx was the major favourite.[4] The main competition was expected from Luis Ocaña and Bernard Thévenet. Early in the race, 86 journalists predicted who would be in the top five of the Tour. 85 of them expected Merckx to be in the top five; Ocana was named by 78, Poulidor by 73.[5] Merckx had already won important races in 1970, including Paris–Roubaix, Paris–Nice, the Giro d'Italia and the Belgian national road championship.[6] Luis Ocaña, who had won the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and the Vuelta a España, suffered from bronchitis, but still started the Tour, unable to seriously challenge Merckx.[6]

Route and stagesEdit

The 1970 Tour de France started on 27 June, and had no rest days.[7] After the financial success of the split stages in the 1969 Tour de France, even more split stages were used in the 1970 Tour.[6] The highest point of elevation in the race was 2,115 m (6,939 ft) at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet mountain pass on stage 19.[8][9]

Stage characteristics and winners[4][7][10][11]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 27 June Limoges 7.4 km (4.6 mi)   Individual time trial   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
1 27 June Limoges to La Rochelle 224.5 km (139.5 mi)   Plain stage   Cyrille Guimard (FRA)
2 28 June La Rochelle to Angers 200 km (120 mi)   Plain stage   Italo Zilioli (ITA)
3a 29 June Angers 10.7 km (6.6 mi)   Team time trial  Faemino–Faema
3b Angers to Rennes 140 km (87 mi)   Plain stage   Marino Basso (ITA)
4 30 June Rennes to Lisieux 229 km (142 mi)   Plain stage   Walter Godefroot (BEL)
5a 1 July Lisieux to Rouen 94.5 km (58.7 mi)   Plain stage   Walter Godefroot (BEL)
5b Rouen to Amiens 223 km (139 mi)   Plain stage   Jozef Spruyt (BEL)
6 2 July Amiens to Valenciennes 135.5 km (84.2 mi)   Plain stage   Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)
7a 3 July Valenciennes to Forest (Belgium) 120 km (75 mi)   Plain stage   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
7b Forest (Belgium) 7.2 km (4.5 mi)   Individual time trial   José Antonio González (ESP)
8 4 July Ciney (Belgium) to Felsberg (Saar) [de] (West Germany) 232.5 km (144.5 mi)   Plain stage   Alain Vasseur (FRA)
9 5 July Saarlouis (West Germany) to Mulhouse 269.5 km (167.5 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Mogens Frey (DEN)
10 6 July Belfort to Divonne-les-Bains 241 km (150 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
11a 7 July Divonne-les-Bains 8.8 km (5.5 mi)   Individual time trial   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
11b Divonne-les-Bains to Thonon-les-Bains 139.5 km (86.7 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Marino Basso (ITA)
12 8 July Thonon-les-Bains to Grenoble 194 km (121 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
13 9 July Grenoble to Gap 194.5 km (120.9 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Primo Mori (ITA)
14 10 July Gap to Mont Ventoux 170 km (110 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
15 11 July Carpentras to Montpellier 140.5 km (87.3 mi)   Plain stage   Rini Wagtmans (NED)
16 12 July Montpellier to Toulouse 160 km (99 mi)   Plain stage   Albert Van Vlierberghe (BEL)
17 13 July Toulouse to Saint-Gaudens 190 km (120 mi)   Plain stage   Luis Ocaña (ESP)
18 14 July Saint-Gaudens to La Mongie 135.5 km (84.2 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Bernard Thévenet (FRA)
19 15 July Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Mourenx 185.5 km (115.3 mi)   Stage with mountain(s)   Christian Raymond (FRA)
20a 16 July Mourenx to Bordeaux 223.5 km (138.9 mi)   Plain stage   Rolf Wolfshohl (FRG)
20b Bordeaux 8.2 km (5.1 mi)   Individual time trial   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
21 17 July Ruffec to Tours 191.5 km (119.0 mi)   Plain stage   Marino Basso (ITA)
22 18 July Tours to Versailles 238.5 km (148.2 mi)   Plain stage   Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)
23 19 July Versailles to Paris 54 km (34 mi)   Individual time trial   Eddy Merckx (BEL)
Total 4,254 km (2,643 mi)[12]

Race overviewEdit

The race director's car and peloton at the start of stage two in La Rochelle

The big favourite Merckx won the opening prologue, but he decided not to try to keep this leading position during the entire race.[13] In the next stage, Merckx' team chased back all the escapees, so the stage ended in a bunch sprint, and Merckx kept the lead. In the second stage, a few cyclists escaped, and two of Merckx' teammates, Italo Zilioli and Georges Vandenberghe, joined the escape. Merckx' teammate Zilioli was ranked highest amongst the escaped cyclists, and none of them were considered competitors for the general classification, so Guillaume Driessens, Merckx's team leader, allowed the breakaway to work, and told Zilioli and Vandenberghe to give their best.[6] Merckx however chased his own teammates.[6] The group stayed away, Zilioli won the sprint and became the new leader, 4 seconds ahead of Merckx.[14][15] After the stage, Merckx was angry at his team leader, because he had allowed Zilioli to "steal" Merckx' yellow jersey, but Driessens explained him that the other teams had spent energy to chase Zilioli, and the argument was over.[16] Merckx team won the team time trial, and controlled the next stages, keeping Zilioli the leader with Merckx in second place.[16]

In the sixth stage, Zilioli had a flat tire. Normally, if the leader in the Tour de France suffers a flat tire, a teammate would offer his wheel, and some teammates would stay with him to help him get back into the peloton. However, this time Merckx was considered more important, and Zilioli was given no help. Zilioli finished the stage one minute behind, and Merckx was the new leader.[17]

The seventh stage was split in two. Merckx won the first stage with a solo break, and finished second in the second part, a time trial. In that time trial, run during the rain, Roger de Vlaeminck, third in the general classification, took too much risk, fell down and left the race in an ambulance. Merckx saw De Vlaeminck lying on the street during his race, and decided to take less risks, allowing José Antonio González Linares to win the stage by three seconds.[18] Because Roger de Vlaeminck had left the race, his team Mars needed a new captain. Debutant Joop Zoetemelk was the highest ranked cyclist, and became the new captain.[19]

In the ninth stage, Mogens Frey and Joaquim Agostinho, teammates, broke away together. They worked together to stay away, but near the end of the stage Frey stopped working and had Agostinho do all the work, even after his team manager told him to help. In the sprint, Agostinho expected his teammate to give him the victory because he had done all the work, but to his surprise Frey started to come around him. Agostinho then grabbed Frey's handlebars, and crossed the finish line first. The race jury did not allow this, and gave the victory to Frey, putting Agostinho in second place.[6]

In the tenth stage, when the first medium mountains showed up, Merckx won the stage, and only three cyclists were able to stay with him, including Zoetemelk. Zoetemelk then rose to the second place, and he became the most important rival for Merckx.[20]

Zoetemelk, along with Luis Ocana and Bernard Thevenet would be the only serious rivals for the remainder of Merckx's career.

Zoetemelk said that he would focus on defending his second place, because he thought Merckx was better than the rest of the world.[21]

After the thirteenth stage, Merckx heard that Vicenze Giacotto, who started the Faema team around Merckx, had died of a heart attack.[22]

Merckx increased his lead steadily in the mountain stages in the Alps. After he won the stage to the Mont Ventoux, Merckx briefly lost consciousness.[4][6]

In the two Pyrenéan stages, Merckx did not win. He was suffering from stomach problems, and changed bicycles several times. The young Bernard Thévenet won the first, showing his potential as a future Tour winner.[4][6]

Merckx was the third cyclist to win the Tour-Giro double in one year; Fausto Coppi and Jacques Anquetil had done it before. Coppi and Anquetil were over thirty years old at their doubles, Merckx was only 25.[23] The margin with the second placed cyclist was less than the year before; according to J.B. Wadley, the difference was that Merckx stopped attacking in 1970 after the Mont Ventoux; had he been inclined to win more time, he probably would have been able to.[6]

Classification leadership and minor prizesEdit

There were several classifications in the 1970 Tour de France, three of them awarding jerseys to their leaders.[24] The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.[25]

Additionally, there was a points classification, where cyclists got points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.[26]

There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorised some climbs as either first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorised climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, but was not identified with a jersey in 1970.[27]

Another classification was the combination classification. This classification was calculated as a combination of the other classifications, its leader wore the white jersey.[28]

The fifth individual classification was the intermediate sprints classification. This classification had similar rules as the points classification, but only points were awarded on intermediate sprints. In 1970, this classification had no associated jersey.[29]

For the team classification, the times of the best three cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time. The riders in the team that led this classification wore yellow caps.[29]

The intermediate sprints classification, sponsored by Miko, was also named "hot spot". In addition, there was a combativity award given after each mass-start stage to the cyclist considered most combative. The split stages each had a combined winner. The decision was made by a jury composed of journalists who gave points. The cyclist with the most points from votes in all stages led the combativity classification.[30] Roger Pingeon won this classification, and was given overall the super-combativity award.[7] The new rider classification was first calculated in 1970. It is not the same as the young rider classification, introduced in 1975.[4] The Souvenir Henri Desgrange was given in honour of Tour founder Henri Desgrange to the first rider to pass the summit of the Col d'Aubisque on stage 19. This prize was won by Raymond Delisle.[31][32]

Classification leadership by stage[33][34][35]
Stage Winner General classification
Points classification
Mountains classification[a] Combination classification
Intermediate sprints classification Team classification Combativity
Award Classification
P Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx no award no award no award Bic no award no award
1 Cyrille Guimard Cyrille Guimard Pierre Ghisellini Cyrille Guimard Cyrille Guimard Pierre Ghisellini Pierre Ghisellini
2 Italo Zilioli Italo Zilioli Jan Janssen Italo Zilioli Régis Delépine Italo Zilioli Italo Zilioli
3a Faemino–Faema Faemino–Faema Joaquim Agostinho
3b Marino Basso Cyrille Guimard Luis Zubero Cyrille Guimard
4 Walter Godefroot Walter Godefroot José Catieau Joaquim Agostinho
5a Walter Godefroot Eddy Merckx
5b Jozef Spruyt
6 Roger De Vlaeminck Eddy Merckx Roger De Vlaeminck Jaak De Boever Leo Duyndam
7a Eddy Merckx Walter Godefroot Lucien Van Impe
7b José Antonio González Joaquim Agostinho
8 Alain Vasseur Alain Vasseur
9 Mogens Frey Joaquim Agostinho
10 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx
11a Eddy Merckx
11b Marino Basso
12 Eddy Merckx Dr. Mann–Grundig Andrés Gandarias Eddy Merckx
13 Primo Mori Faemino–Faema Primo Mori
14 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Kas–Kaskol Eddy Merckx
15 Rini Wagtmans Eddy Merckx
16 Albert Van Vlierberghe Walter Godefroot Attilio Benfatto
17 Luis Ocaña Luis Ocaña
18 Bernard Thévenet Eddy Merckx Raymond Delisle
19 Christian Raymond Walter Godefroot Raymond Delisle
20a Rolf Wolfshohl Gilbert Bellone
20b Eddy Merckx
21 Marino Basso Jean-Pierre Danguillaume
22 Jean-Pierre Danguillaume Jean-Pierre Danguillaume
23 Eddy Merckx Salvarani
Final Eddy Merckx Walter Godefroot Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Cyrille Guimard Salvarani Eddy Merckx
  • During the stages when Merckx was leading the general classification and the points classification, Merckx wore the yellow jersey and the number two of the points classification was wearing a black/green jersey. When Merckx was leading the general classification and the combination classification, the number two of the combination classification wore a black/white jersey.[36]

Final standingsEdit

  Denotes the winner of the general classification   Denotes the winner of the points classification
  Denotes the winner of the combination classification

General classificationEdit

Final general classification (1–10)[37]
Rank Rider Team Time
1   Eddy Merckx (BEL)     Faemino–Faema 119h 31' 49"
2   Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria–Mars + 12' 41"
3   Gösta Pettersson (SWE) Ferretti + 15' 54"
4   Martin Vandenbossche (BEL) Molteni + 18' 53"
5   Rini Wagtmans (NED) Willem II–Gazelle + 19' 54"
6   Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor–Lejeune + 20' 34"
7   Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Fagor–Mercier–Hutchinson + 20' 35"
8   Antoon Houbrechts (BEL) Salvarani + 21' 34"
9   Francisco Galdós (ESP) Kas–Kaskol + 21' 45"
10   Georges Pintens (BEL) Dr. Mann–Grundig + 23' 23"

Points classificationEdit

Final points classification (1–10)[38][39]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Walter Godefroot (BEL)   Salvarani 212
2   Eddy Merckx (BEL)     Faemino–Faema 207
3   Marino Basso (ITA) Molteni 161
4   Jan Janssen (NED) Bic 151
5   Cyrille Guimard (FRA) Fagor–Mercier–Hutchinson 138
6   Rini Wagtmans (NED) Willem II–Gazelle 116
7   Daniel Van Rijckeghem (BEL) Dr. Mann–Grundig 100
8   Harry Steevens (NED) Caballero–Laurens 77.5
9   Luis Ocaña (ESP) Bic 75
10   Mogens Frey (DEN) Frimatic–de Gribaldy 73

Mountains classificationEdit

Final mountains classification (1–10)[38][39]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Eddy Merckx (BEL)     Faemino–Faema 128
2   Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 94
3   Martin Vandenbossche (BEL) Molteni 85
4   Silvano Schiavon (ITA)[b] Salvarani 68
5   Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor–Lejeune 65
6   Primo Mori (ITA) Salvarani 64
7   Gösta Pettersson (SWE) Ferretti 59
8   Raymond Delisle (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 57
9   Luis Zubero (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 52
10   Guerrino Tosello (ITA) Molteni 32

Combination classificationEdit

Final combination classification (1–5)[40][39]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Eddy Merckx (BEL)     Faemino–Faema 4
2   Martin Vandenbossche (BEL) Molteni 21.5
3   Rini Wagtmans (NED) Willem II–Gazelle 23
4   Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor–Lejeune 25.5
5   Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria–Mars 32.5

Intermediate sprints classificationEdit

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–10)[40][41]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Cyrille Guimard (FRA) Fagor–Mercier–Hutchinson 67
2   Giancarlo Polidori (ITA) Scic 48
3   Jaak De Boever (BEL) Flandria–Mars 22
4   Pieter Nassen (BEL) Flandria–Mars 20
5   Rolf Wolfshohl (FRG) Fagor–Mercier–Hutchinson 18
6   Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 12
7   Raymond Riotte (FRA) Sonolor–Lejeune 10
8   José Catieau (FRA) Sonolor–Lejeune 9
9   Jozef Spruyt (BEL) Faemino–Faema 8
10   Evert Dolman (NED) Willem II–Gazelle 8

Team classificationEdit

Final team classification (1–10)[38]
Rank Team Time
1 Salvarani 354h 22' 56"
2 Kas–Kaskol + 1' 14"
3 Faemino–Faema + 9' 45"
4 Sonolor–Lejeune + 29' 21"
5 Dr. Mann–Grundig + 34' 23"
6 Peugeot–BP–Michelin + 35' 35"
7 Molteni + 45' 35"
8 Bic + 51' 17"
9 Fagor–Mercier–Hutchinson + 59' 39"
10 Frimatic–de Gribaldy + 1h 04' 11"

Combativity classificationEdit

Final combativity classification (1–10)[42][43]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Eddy Merckx (BEL)     Faemino–Faema 366
2   Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Frimatic–de Gribaldy 340
3   Raymond Delisle (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 273
4   Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 252
5   Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 176
6   Primo Mori (ITA) Salvarani 172
7   Gilbert Bellone  (ESP) Sonolor–Lejeune 164
8   Raymond Riotte (FRA) Sonolor–Lejeune 148
9   Attilio Benfatto (ITA) Scic 125
10   Pierre Ghisellini (FRA) Frimatic–de Gribaldy 122

New rider classificationEdit

Final new rider classification (1–10)[42][44]
Rank Rider Team Points
1   Mogens Frey (DEN) Frimatic–de Gribaldy 77
2   Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria–Mars 67
3   Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor–Lejeune 36
4   Nemesio Jiménez (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 34
5   José Antonio González (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 33
6   Tomas Pettersson (SWE) Ferretti 31
7   Luis Zubero (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 27
8   Gösta Pettersson (SWE) Ferretti 22
9   Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 21
10   Jan Van Katwijk (NED) Willem II–Gazelle 18


Merckx had been so dominant during the entire Tour, that the organisation was afraid the race would become dull. The director Félix Lévitan announced that rule changes were considered to break the power of Merckx's team, that he was considering to return to national teams, and to reduce the number of time trials in the Tour.[45] The 1971 Tour did not see major changes in rules, but the number of individual time trials decreased from five to two.


  1. ^ No jersey was awarded to the leader of the mountains classification until a white jersey with red polka dots was introduced in 1975.[27]
  2. ^ Schiavon did not finish the race, but left the race after the last mountain stage. In 1970, the rules were such that Schiavon was still listed in the mountains classification.


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  43. ^ "Classements" [Standings] (PDF). Feuille d'Avis de Neuchâtel (in French). 20 July 1970. p. 10. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 September 2019 – via RERO.
  44. ^ "Jongerenprijs: Frey eindoverwinnaar". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 20 July 1970. p. 15. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  45. ^ Nelissen, Jean (20 July 1970). "Merckx is dodelijk voor Tour". Leidse Courant (in Dutch). Leiden.courant.nu. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2011.


External linksEdit

  Media related to 1970 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons