The history of the Tour de France

Year 1947

THE STORY

  • At the start of the first post-World War II Tour in 1947, René Vietto was one of the few remaining members of the race’s old-guard. Vietto jumped into the yellow jersey on the second stage, and many thought he could go all the way. But Vietto was less optimistic, and sure enough, he lost his yellow shirt on the 139-kilometer time trial from Vanes to St. Brieuc. Italy's Pierre Brambilla took the race’s helm after Vietto's demise, but on the last stage he was surprised by an unexpected attack from a little-known French rider named Jean Robic, who stole the overall race without ever wearing the yellow jersey.

  • Although René Vietto wasn’t able to capture the overall title in 1947, he was the race’s indisputable king of the mountains. Whenever the roads got steep and the air thin, Vietto was unstoppable. Time trials had always been his undoing, and never was this more the case than in 1947. With the yellow jersey on his shoulders, Vietto began the 139-kilometer time trial from Vannes to St. Brieuc. All of France thought the extra motivation of wearing the yellow jersey would pull him through, but Vietto collapsed miserably. Some believe he had been traumatized by the motorcycle accident of his friend Jean Leulliot (the race director of Paris-Nice), and others insisted that his legs cramped after drinking a water bottle of cider during the time trial. Whatever the cause, the effect was the same: Vietto lost out on his last chance to win the Tour.

  • Robic promises his young bride before the start he will get her the Tour's first prize because he doesn't have dowry. Louison Bobet (22), debuts in the French National team, gives up in the Alps. Last rider: Tarchini (53th) at 7 h 28 min. 29 sec.

  • Robic, from Brittany, wins on the very last day, ahead of the French National team's leader, Fachleitner. Stages to Brussels and Luxembourg; introduction of the Glandon and Croix de Fer climbs.

  • "A Streetcar Named Desire" makes its performance debut; India wins independence from England; The Marshall Plan is put into operation; Elizabeth Windsor weds Philip Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh.

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