The history of the Tour de France

Year 1929

THE STORY

  • The individual-team start format ran out of steam in 1929. All of its inherent weaknesses were revealed: its intention was to equalize the balance of power among the various teams, but all it did was make the strong teams stronger and the weak teams weaker. Case in point, Belgium's Maurice De Waele, who was not the race’s dominant force, but rode to victory on the wings of his Alcyon team. In the Pyrénées especially, De Waele was not the strongest rider. That honor went to local favorite Victor Fontan. But when Fontan broke his bike, De Waele was all alone in the lead. With the support of his teammates, De Waele became the clear favorite. In the final week of racing De Waele fell ill. He struggled desperately, but his Alcyon teammates neutralized all of his challengers, and on a few climbs they even pushed De Waele to victory--literally.

  • Five stage victories for Leducq. At the finish of the stage to Bordeaux, three riders--Nicolas Frantz, Victor Fontan and André Leducq--were all tied for the lead. Each was awarded the yellow jersey and each rode with it on their backs the following day.

  • Three riders are tied for the overall lead in Bordeaux. Frantz, Fontan and Leducq each wear a yellow jersey lost by Marcel Bidot because of a fall. Last rider: Leger (60th) at 31 h 37 min. 54 sec.

  • Controversy over Maurice De Waele's victory, the "victory of a moribund," according to Henri Desgrange, who denounces the Alcyon team's hegemony, affirming that the final standings are not true to reality. This is the last year that race organizers experimented with the individual-team start format.

  • The dirigible Graf Zeppelin circles the world in 21 days, 7 hours, 21 minutes; “Black Thursday” on Wall Street signals the crash of the stock market; German novelist Thomas Mann wins the Nobel Prize for literature.

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