The history of the Tour de France

Year 1924

THE STORY

  • After his second-place finish in 1923, Italian sensation Ottavio Bottecchia came to the 1924 race as a top favorite. He quickly jumped into the yellow jersey by winning the first stage, and he padded his lead by winning stages six and seven in the Pyrénées. Although Bottecchia faltered in the Alps, the Italian managed to avert a strong challenge by Belgian Nicolas Frantz, and he returned to Paris as the clear winner. He wore the yellow jersey from start to finish.

  • Bottecchia wins four stages: the first and last stages and the stages in the Pyrénées. Henri Pélissier started the 1924 Tour de France as the defending champion. But when he was penalized for removing and discarding one of his jerseys in the middle of stage two, the volatile Frenchman organized a walk-out with his brother Francis. A journalist named Albert Londres found the brothers in a road-side bar after they quit the race, and his account of Pélissier’s frustration, entitled "Slaves of the Road," is one of the great early works of cycling journalism. In it Pélissier claims, "Before being cyclists, we are men, and we are free."

  • The Pelissier brothers and race director H. Desgrange argue through the media. Last rider: Lafosse (60th) at 45 h 12 in. 5 sec.

  • In exceptional conditions, Bottecchia claims the first Italian victory. The Pelissier brothers quit the race at Coutances to protest against the draconian rule which forbid riders to remove any article of clothing with which they started with. The reporter Albert Londres, just back from Cayenne, writes an article in the "Petit Parisien" daily newspaper titled "Les forçats de la route" (Convicts on the road). The time bonus given to the winner of each stage is increased to three minutes.

  • Paris hosts the Olympics; Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin dies; George Gershwin composes Rhapsody in Blue; Greece proclaims itself a republic; the United States prohibits Japanese immigration.

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