André Darrigade

André Darrigade (born 24 April 1929 in Narrosse[1]) is a retired French professional road bicycle racer between 1951 and 1966.[1] Darrigade, a road sprinter won the 1959 World Championship and 22 stages of the Tour de France. Five of those Tour victories were on opening days,[2] a record.[3]

André Darrigade
André Darrigade, Stage 1, Tour de France 1956 (4) (cropped).jpg
Darrigade at the 1956 Tour de France
Personal information
Full nameAndré Darrigade
NicknameLe Lévrier des Landes
Le Landais bondissant
Born (1929-04-24) 24 April 1929 (age 92)
Narrosse, France
Team information
Current teamRetired
Rider typeSprinter
Professional teams
1951-1955La Perle–Hutchinson
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
Points classification (1959, 1961)
Combativity classification (1956)
22 individual stages
Giro d'Italia
1 individual stage

One-day races and Classics

World Road Race Championship (1959)
National Road Race Championships (1955)
Giro di Lombardia (1956)
Critérium International (1959)
Medal record
Representing  France
Men's road bicycle racing
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1957 Waregem Professional road race
Bronze medal – third place 1958 Reims Professional road race
Gold medal – first place 1959 Zandvoort Professional road race
Silver medal – second place 1960 Karl-Marx-Stadt Professional road race

Early life and amateur careerEdit

André Darrigade was born at Narosse, near Dax in the forested Landes region. He came to attention at the other end of the country and on the track by beating the future world sprint champion, Antonio Maspes[4] in a meeting at the Vélodrome d'Hiver the night before the Six Days of Paris race there.

His name immediately appealed to northern crowds. René de Latour said: "It is a very 'musical' name to [northern] French ears, especially when pronounced by a southerner who rolls his Rs like a Scotsman to make it sound like Darrrrrigade.[5] De Latour said:

André Darrigade is heavily built and would have made a good football centre forward. He has blond hair, clear eyes, rosy cheeks, and is a bit on the shy side. When we first saw him in Paris soon after the war finished he was a novice, not a roadman at all. He had come to the big city to ride in the final of the famous Médaille race at the Vélodrome d'Hiver. When he arrived at the Vélodrome d'Hiver, he had no soigneur, no dressing gown,[6] nobody to hold him up at the start, pump his tyres or adjust his position to suit the high, frightening bankings. He was lonely — but courageous. And guess who was his principal victim — Antonio Maspes![5]

Darrigade stayed in Paris and joined one of its leading clubs, the Vélo-Club d'Asnières-Courbevoie, at the invitation of Francis Pélissier, the former professional who was one of its officials. Darrigade rode again on the track at the Vél' d'Hiv, winning madisons and sprints, and won four races on the road. He turned professional in 1951 for a salary that barely covered his rent.

Professional careerEdit

Darrigade wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey at the 1960 Tour de France

Raphaël Géminiani said: "Darrigade was the greatest French sprinter of all time and he'll stay that way for a long time. The mould has been broken. But he wasn't just a sprinter. He was an animateur who could start decisive breaks; he destroyed the image of sprinters who just sit on wheels."[7] He began his sprints from a long distance from the line, challenging others to pass him. It endeared him to the French public, said de Latour.

Darrigade wore 19 yellow jerseys and won 22 stages. He won the opening stage of the Tour de France in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1961. Darrigade lost time in the mountains and his best final positions were 16th in 1956, 1959 and 1960.

In single-day races, he won the national championship in 1955 on the famous Boucles de l'Aulne in Châteaulin, beating a Louison Bobet at the top of his career (reigning world champion and winner of the Tour de France 1953, 1954 and 1955). He won the 1956 Giro di Lombardia, beating the Campionissimo Fausto Coppi in front of his home crowd at the Milan velodrome. A fortnight later he beat Coppi again to win the Trofeo Baracchi with Rolf Graf. He won the world championship in Zandvoort on 16 August 1959, dominating a breakaway of eight riders, ahead of the Italian Michele Gismondi and the Belgian Noël Foré.

Darrigade was at his best in the middle of the season and the spring races were too early and those in autumn too late. He did, however, come fourth in the 1957 Paris–Roubaix, third in the 1958 Milan–San Remo and second in Paris–Brussels in 1960.

He said: "I was always considered a team man. I never had any pretensions to be anything else. In the days when the Tour had national teams, Marcel Bidot [the manager] always saw me as just that. Those wins never became dull or routine. Each one was an immense pleasure. What's more, I had the chance to race alongside such great champions as Louison Bobet and Jacques Anquetil." He was close to Anquetil, whom he called "bizarrely calm." He said: "Quite often, I had to say to him, 'If you don't get going, you'll lose the Tour."[3]

On 19 July 1958 the Tour finished at the Parc des Princes in western Paris. The 70-year-old sécrétaire-général[8] of the stadium, Constant Wouters[9] ran across the grass in the centre of the ground to prevent photographers encroaching on the track.[10] The journalists hid the riders and Wouters from each other and Darrigade rode into Wouters as he stepped onto the track. Darrigade was lifted from his bike and turned round and Wouters thrown into the air.[11] Both fell heavily and were taken to hospital. Wouters was treated at the nearby Boucicaut medical centre but died on 31 July.[12] Darrigade cracked his skull and broke ribs.[3] He was able to return before the end of the meeting to take a lap of honour.[13][14][15]

Honours and personal lifeEdit

When Darrigade retired from cycle racing he ran a newspaper shop in Biarritz. On retiring for good, André became an ardent fan of Biarritz Olympique, the town's rugby team, with his friend Albaladejo. A stadium (Stade Omnisports André Darrigade) in Dax is named after Darrigade .[16]

On 12 July 2017, a 6 metre tall statue, designed by "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" Guy Pendanx, was unveiled in Darrigade's honour in Narrosse .
Darrigade's brother, Roger, six years younger, also rode as a professional. In 1955, both brothers were French national champions, André as a professional and Roger as an amateur. André Darrigade has two sons and two grandson and is an officer of the Légion d'Honneur.

Career achievementsEdit

Major resultsEdit


  • Winner of La Médaille
  • Champion of Paris of Military Speed
  • 1st Grand Prix d'automne de vitesse
  • 2nd French Military Championship


  • 1st Grand Prix de Boulogne
  • 1st Grand Prix de Paris-Beauvais
  • 1st Prix des oeuvres sociales à Daumesnil
  • 1st Critérium des vainqueurs
  • 3rd Paris-Dolhain




1st stage 12
  • 6th stage du Tour du Sud-Est
  • 1st Prix d'Arras
  • 1st La Rochelle-Angoulême
  • 1st Circuit de la Chalosse
  • 2nd Paris-Bourges


  • 1st Overall Tour de Picardie
1st stage 2
  • 1st Grand Prix du Pneumatique
  • 1st Grand Prix de la Marseillaise
  • 1st Grand Prix du Tour
  • 1st Critérium de Bordeaux
  • 1st Critérium de Monthléry
  • 3rd Roue d'Or à Daumesnil


1st stage 6
  • 1st Grand Prix de l'Écho d'Alger
  • 3rd stage Trois jours d'Anvers
  • 1st Critérium de Bordeaux
  • 1st Critérium de Monthléry
  • 1st Critérium de Napoli
  • 1st Grand Prix de Mont-de-Marsan
  • 1st Grand Prix de Charlieu
  • 1st Grand Prix d'Issoire
  • 2nd Second Time Trial Team Barcelona Mediterranean Games
  • 2nd Trofeo Baracchi (with Jacques Anquetil)


1st stage 1
  Combativity award Overall
Held Maillot Jaune   during 6 stages


1st stages 1, 3a, 21 & 22
Held Maillot Jaune   during 1 stage


1st stages 1, 9, 15, 17 & 22
Held Maillot Jaune   during 5 stages


1st   Points classification
1st stages 1 & 11
Held Maillot Jaune   during 2 stages


1st stage 5


1st   Points classification
1st stages 1a, 2, 13 & 20
Held Maillot Jaune   during 1 stage


1st stage 2a
Held Maillot Jaune   during 4 stages


1st stage 12


1st stages 2 & 18



  • 1st Ronde de Monaco
  • 1st Grand Prix de Maurs
  • 1st Grand Prix de Brioude

Major championships timelineEdit

Event 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966
  World Championships 17 DNF 13 3 3 1 2 DNF 16 4 DNF
  National Championships 36 15 1 21 10 DNF 7 3 14 13 11 29 22

Grand Tour general classification results timelineEdit

Grand Tour 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966
  Giro d'Italia 42 64
  Tour de France 37 49 49 16 27 21 16 16 32 21 DNF 66 93 62
  Vuelta a España Has not contested during his career

Classics results timelineEdit

Monument 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966
Milan–San Remo 13 9 3 25 8 45 50 40
Tour of Flanders 25 16
Paris–Roubaix 93 28 50 4 41 19 46 51 16 18 40 41
Liège–Bastogne–Liège 5 22
Giro di Lombardia 1 6 20 6 44
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Le Palmarès de André Darrigade". 1929-04-24. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Vélo, France, undated cutting
  4. ^ Chany, Pierre (1988), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, p493
  5. ^ a b Sporting Cyclist, UK, undated cutting
  6. ^ In that era riders wore dressing gowns (Am: robes), to keep warm between races
  7. ^ Raphaël Raconte... Deleted personal web site retrieved 2003
  8. ^ "Wouters is sometimes described as a gardener. His title was 'secretary-general' but he was more the track's caretaker and day-to-day manager". London: Guardian. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  9. ^ Born Deurne, Belgium, 26 October 1889. He lived in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.
  10. ^ "Palmarès d'André Darrigade (Fra)". 2010-11-21. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  11. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  12. ^ He was buried in the suburb of Bagneux on 8 August.
  13. ^ Chany, Pierre (1988), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, p491
  14. ^ "Actu people, monde, Photos, Monaco". 2013-01-31. Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  15. ^ Picture of Darrigade in bandages: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-04-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2008-12-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit