The history of the Tour de France

Year 1923

THE STORY

  • A little-known Italian named Ottavio Bottecchia sprang to the forefront on the race’s second stage, winning the day and grabbing the yellow jersey. The consistent Frenchman Jean Alavoine took over the race lead in the Pyrénées, but Bottecchia’s team leader, the legendary Henri Pélissier, dominated in the Alps, snatched the yellow jersey in Briançon, and finally won the Tour de France--the one race missing from his impressive career-win list.

  • Henri Pélissier may have finally won the Tour de France, but the true revelation of the 1922 race was his Italian teammate, Ottavio Bottecchia. After observing the scrawny Italian in the Tour of Lombardy, Pélissier hired him for the Tour de France. "He may look like a peasant, but can he ever climb," Pélissier said of his new recruit. The legendary French rider knew what he was talking about. Bottecchia won the second stage and the yellow jersey. He rode the rest of the race in deference to Pélissier, and he eventually finished second overall. At the end of the race Pélissier insisted, "Next year Bottecchia will be the winner." He was right.

  • The famous words of Robert Jacquinot, failing and overtaken by Alavoine at Peyresourde: "Jean, I salute you." Last rider: D. Masson (48th) at 48 h 31 min. 7 sec.

  • H. Pelissier is the first Frenchman to win since Garrigou (1911). "Bottecchia will take over from me," Pelissier said. Riders are allowed to receive more technical assistance from their team directors, but riders on the same team still cannot give each other equipment.

  • Mount Etna erupts in Sicily; legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt dies; a coup d'état fails in Germany and Adolf Hitler is arrested.

illustration
© A.S.O. / Amaury Sport Organisation - All rights reserved. aso