1974 Tour de France
The 1974 Tour de France was the 61st edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place between 27 June and 21 July, with 22 stages covering a distance of 4,098 km (2,546 mi). Eddy Merckx was attempting to win his fifth Tour de France in as many races.
Route of the 1974 Tour de France
|Dates||27 June – 21 July|
|Stages||22 + Prologue, including four split stages|
|Distance||4,098 km (2,546 mi)|
|Winning time||116h 16' 58"|
In 1974 the tour made its first visit to the United Kingdom, with a circuit stage on the Plympton By-pass, near Plymouth, England.
The race was won by favourite Eddy Merckx, who thus at that point had won all five Tours that he had entered, and had equalled Jacques Anquetil in Tour victories. While he won the race by a comfortable margin, he was not as overwhelmingly dominant as he had been in his previous victories with eight riders finishing within 20:00, two riders within 10:00 and his two top competitors in Luis Ocaña and Joop Zoetemelk absent from the race. Despite other riders finishing closer in the overall standings, Merckx still won an astonishing eight stages. He also won the combination classification. Fellow Belgian Patrick Sercu won the points classification, while Spanish Domingo Perurena won the mountains classification.
The 1974 Tour de France had 13 teams, with 10 cyclists each.
The teams entering the race were:
Eddy Merckx, who had been absent in 1973 after winning four Tours in a row, was present again. Merckx had not been as dominant in the spring as in other years; it was his first year as a professional cyclist in which he did not win a spring classic. He did win the 1974 Giro d'Italia and the Tour de Suisse, but after winning the latter he required surgery on the perineum, five days before the 1974 Tour started.
Notable absents were Ocaña and Zoetemelk. Zoetemelk was injured during the Midi Libre and was in hospital with life-threatening meningitis. Between 1970-1986 this would be the only Tour Zoetemelk would not start and finish, and would be the only Tour until 1983 that he was not in the top ten.
Ocaña had crashed in the Tour de l'Aude, gone home and was fired by his team for not communicating.
Route and stagesEdit
The 1974 Tour de France started on 27 June, and had two rest days, in Aix-les-Bains and Colomiers. 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.
|P||27 June||Brest||7 km (4.3 mi)||Individual time trial||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|1||28 June||Brest to Saint-Pol-de-Léon||144 km (89 mi)||Plain stage||Ercole Gualazzini (ITA)|
|2||29 June||Plymouth (United Kingdom)||164 km (102 mi)||Plain stage||Henk Poppe (NED)|
|3||30 June||Morlaix to Saint-Malo||190 km (120 mi)||Plain stage||Patrick Sercu (BEL)|
|4||1 July||Saint-Malo to Caen||184 km (114 mi)||Plain stage||Patrick Sercu (BEL)|
|5||2 July||Caen to Dieppe||165 km (103 mi)||Plain stage||Ronald de Witte (BEL)|
|6a||3 July||Dieppe to Harelbeke (Belgium)||239 km (149 mi)||Plain stage||Jean-Luc Molineris (FRA)|
|6b||Harelbeke (Belgium)||9 km (5.6 mi)||Team time trial||Molteni|
|7||4 July||Mons (Belgium) to Châlons-sur-Marne||221 km (137 mi)||Plain stage||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|8a||5 July||Châlons-sur-Marne to Chaumont||136 km (85 mi)||Plain stage||Cyrille Guimard (FRA)|
|8b||Chaumont to Besançon||152 km (94 mi)||Plain stage||Patrick Sercu (BEL)|
|9||6 July||Besançon to Gaillard||241 km (150 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|10||7 July||Gaillard to Aix-les-Bains||131 km (81 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|11||8 July||Aix-les-Bains to Serre Chevalier||199 km (124 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Vicente Lopez Carril (ESP)|
|9 July||Aix-les-Bains||Rest day|
|12||10 July||Savines-le-Lac to Orange||231 km (144 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Jos Spruyt (BEL)|
|13||11 July||Avignon to Montpellier||126 km (78 mi)||Plain stage||Barry Hoban (GBR)|
|14||12 July||Lodève to Colomiers||249 km (155 mi)||Plain stage||Jean-Pierre Genet (FRA)|
|13 July||Colomiers||Rest day|
|15||14 July||Colomiers to La Seu d'Urgell (Spain)||225 km (140 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|16||15 July||La Seu d'Urgell to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet||209 km (130 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Raymond Poulidor (FRA)|
|17||16 July||Saint-Lary-Soulan to La Mongie||119 km (74 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)|
|18||17 July||Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Pau||141 km (88 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)|
|19a||18 July||Pau to Bordeaux||196 km (122 mi)||Plain stage||Francis Campaner (FRA)|
|19b||Bordeaux||12 km (7.5 mi)||Individual time trial||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|20||19 July||Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie to Nantes||120 km (75 mi)||Plain stage||Gerard Vianen (NED)|
|21a||20 July||Vouvray to Orléans||113 km (70 mi)||Plain stage||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|21b||Orléans||37 km (23 mi)||Individual time trial||Michel Pollentier (BEL)|
|22||21 July||Orléans to Paris||146 km (91 mi)||Plain stage||Eddy Merckx (BEL)|
|Total||4,098 km (2,546 mi)|
The second stage was in Plymouth, the first time that the Tour de France visited England. The riders did not like the experiment, as the British immigration officials made the cyclists wait for a long time when entering the country and again when returning to France.
Merckx collected bonus time in the sprints, and in the fourth stage took back the leading position in the general classification, with Gerben Karstens in second place. Karstens was also doing well in the points classification, and felt Merckx and Patrick Sercu, the leaders in the general and points classification, were helping each other.[a] Karstens was angry and after the finish quickly went away, but forgot that he had to go to the doping control. For this, he was given ten minutes penalty time, and thus he lost his second place in the general classification. Karstens complained to the jury, and other cyclists threatened with a strike, so the jury removed the penalty after the fifth stage. Thanks to bonification seconds in that stage, Karstens took the leading position after that stage.
It was still close in the top of the general classification. Patrick Sercu became the new leader after the first part of the sixth stage, but Karstens regained the lead after the second part of the sixth stage, a team time trial won by Merckx's team, Molteni. Merckx won the seventh stage, and became the next leader.
The Alps were the first serious mountains to be seen, in stage nine. Merckx won the stage, but the surprise of the day was Raymond Poulidor, who at 38 years old was still able to escape during the toughest part of the stage. This also happened in the tenth stage: Poulidor joined the crucial escape, but could not beat Merckx in the final sprint.
In the tenth stage, the hardest Alpine stage, Vicente Lopez Carril from the KAS team stayed away. Merckx was in the next group, together with Francisco Galdós and Gonzalo Aja, also from the KAS team. Aja was in third place in the general classification, so Merckx was unable to chase Lopez Carril without helping his rival Aja.
The next stages did not change the general classification. In the fifteenth stage, the Pyrenées were encountered. There was a crash that took down Galdós, now in sixth place in the general classification, and he had to leave the race. The Tour was in Spain at that point, and Basque separatist placed bombs on press and team cars. Nobody was hurt, but cyclists were scared: Spanish champion Lopez Carril did not wear his national champion's jersey, afraid to become a target because of the Spanish flag on it.
In the seventeenth stage, Poulidor again won time, finishing second after Jean-Pierre Danguillaume, and jumped to the third place in the general classification, behind Merckx and Lopez Carril. Danguillaume also won the eighteenth stage, the last mountain stage. The favourites stayed together with Merckx, and at that point Merckx was more or less certain of the victory, with two time trials remaining, in which he normally would gain time on the others.
Poulidor battled with Lopez-Carril for the second place. After the time trial in the second part of stage 21, Poulidor captured the second place by just one second. Surprisingly, Merckx was in second place in that time trial, beaten by Michel Pollentier. In the last stage, Poulidor increased the margin to Lopez Carril to five seconds due to bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint. At the finish of that last, Sercu finished first in a sprint, but he had blocked the way of Gustaaf Van Roosbroeck, so the jury decided to set him back, and the second rider to finish (Merckx) was declared winner of the stage. Normally, a rider penalized for blocking another rider during a sprint would be set back to the last place of the group that he finished in, but that would have meant that Sercu would have not only lost the stage victory to Merckx, but also the points classification. The jury then declared that only three riders were really sprinting for the stage victory, so Sercu would be set back to the third place; this enabled him to keep his victory in the points classification by 13 points.
Cyrille Guimard, who had won the first part of stage eight, tested positive for piperidine after stage thirteen. Three other cyclists tested positive:Claude Tollet, for amphetamine; Daniel Ducreux, for piperidine; Carlos Melero, for piperidine.
Classification leadership and minor prizesEdit
There were several classifications in the 1974 Tour de France, three of them awarding jerseys to their leaders. 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.
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.
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 1974.
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 1974, this classification had no associated jersey.
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 were identified by yellow caps. There was also a team points classification. Cyclists received points according to their finishing position on each stage, with the first rider receiving one point. The first three finishers of each team had their points combined, and the team with the fewest points led the classification. The riders of the team leading this classification wore green caps.
In addition, there was a combativity award, in which a jury composed of journalists gave points after certain stages to the cyclist they considered most combative. The split stages each had a combined winner. At the conclusion of the Tour, Eddy Merckx won the overall super-combativity award, also decided by journalists. 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 on stage 11. This prize was won by Vicente López Carril.
|Denotes the winner of the general classification||Denotes the winner of the points classification|
|Denotes the winner of the combination classification|
|1||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni||116h 16' 58"|
|2||Raymond Poulidor (FRA)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||+ 8' 04"|
|3||Vicente López Carril (ESP)||Kas–Kaskol||+ 8' 09"|
|4||Wladimiro Panizza (ITA)||Brooklyn||+ 10' 59"|
|5||Gonzalo Aja (ESP)||Kas–Kaskol||+ 11' 24"|
|6||Joaquim Agostinho (POR)||Bic||+ 14' 24"|
|7||Michel Pollentier (BEL)||Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria||+ 16' 34"|
|8||Mariano Martínez (FRA)||Sonolor–Gitane||+ 18' 33"|
|9||Alain Santy (FRA)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||+ 19' 55"|
|10||Herman Van Springel (BEL)||MIC–Ludo–de Gribaldy||+ 24' 11"|
|1||Patrick Sercu (BEL)||Brooklyn||283|
|2||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni||270|
|3||Barry Hoban (GBR)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||170|
|4||Gerben Karstens (NED)||Bic||149|
|5||Jacques Esclassan (FRA)||Peugeot–BP–Michelin||143|
|6||Herman Van Springel (BEL)||MIC–Ludo–de Gribaldy||113|
|7||Michel Pollentier (BEL)||Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria||107|
|8||Piet van Katwijk (NED)||Frisol–Flair Plastics||97|
|9||Gerard Vianen (NED)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||94|
|10||Raymond Poulidor (FRA)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||94|
|1||Domingo Perurena (ESP)||Kas–Kaskol||171|
|2||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni||133|
|3||José Luis Abilleira (ESP)||La Casera–Peña Bahamontes||108|
|4||Gonzalo Aja (ESP)||Kas–Kaskol||104|
|5||Raymond Poulidor (FRA)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||93|
|6||Vicente López Carril (ESP)||Kas–Kaskol||84|
|7||Andrês Oliva (ESP)||La Casera–Peña Bahamontes||80|
|8||Wladimiro Panizza (ITA)||Brooklyn||55|
|9||Juan Santiago Zurano (ESP)||La Casera–Peña Bahamontes||44|
|10||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)||Peugeot–BP–Michelin||44|
|1||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni||8|
|2||Michel Pollentier (BEL)||Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria||31|
|3||Raymond Poulidor (FRA)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||36|
|4||Herman Van Springel (BEL)||MIC–Ludo–de Gribaldy||37|
|5||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)||Peugeot–BP–Michelin||50|
Intermediate sprints classificationEdit
|1||Barry Hoban (GBR)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||132|
|2||Gerben Karstens (NED)||Bic||110|
|3||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni||92|
|4||Michel Coroller (FRA)||Merlin Plage–Shimano–Flandria||39|
|5||Herman Van Springel (BEL)||MIC–Ludo–de Gribaldy||26|
|6||Michel Pollentier (BEL)||Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria||22|
|7||Patrick Sercu (BEL)||Brooklyn||20|
|8||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)||Peugeot–BP–Michelin||18|
|9||Jack Mourioux (FRA)||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||18|
|10||Dirk Baert (BEL)||MIC–Ludo–de Gribaldy||17|
|1||Kas–Kaskol||350h 24' 27"|
|2||Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson||+ 15' 26"|
|3||Molteni||+ 31' 23"|
|4||Sonolor–Gitane||+ 49' 02"|
|5||Bic||+ 49' 50"|
|6||Brooklyn||+ 53' 04"|
|7||Jobo–Lejeune||+ 1h 01' 09"|
|8||Peugeot–BP–Michelin||+ 1h 15' 24"|
|9||La Casera–Peña Bahamontes||+ 1h 34' 47"|
|10||MIC–Ludo–de Gribaldy||+ 1h 36' 35"|
Team points classificationEdit
- Total number of stage victories: 32 (surpassing André Leducq, who had won 25)
- First man to win the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Tour de Suisse in one year.
Merckx had already won the 1974 Giro d'Italia earlier that year, and after winning the 1974 Tour de France also won the world championship, and became the first cyclist to win the Triple Crown of Cycling.
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