The history of the Tour de France

Year 1952

THE STORY

  • With Louison Bobet, Ferdi Kubler and Hugo Koblet all out with injuries, the 1952 race was wide open. Rik Van Steenbergen, usually a specialist of one-day races, grabbed the early headlines by winning the first stage and taking the yellow jersey. As soon as the race hit the mountains, however, Italy's Fausto Coppi took over. He won every stage in the Alps and continued his dominance on the stage up the Puy de Dôme. There was little question as to who was the strongest overall, and Coppi returned to Paris with his second Tour de France title.

  • As Fausto Coppi cruised to the overall victory in 1952, Jean Robic (the 1947 winner) was having a renaissance of his own. Bad luck, however, kept him from making more of an impact. On the stage to Sestrières, Coppi was charging to victory with Robic in hot pursuit. Suddenly Robic slowed to a halt, the victim of a flat tire. Unfortunately, Robic’s team director was far behind, and in the final kilometers of the stage he had to stop five times to pump up his front tire. As a result, he lost all chances of catching Coppi, and faded from second to fifth in the overall standings.

  • TV is used on the Tour for the first time. Last rider: Paret (78th) at 7 h 15 min. 6 sec.

  • The mythic Alpe d'Huez is tackled in the Tour; there’s a mountain-top finish in Sestrières and on the Puy de Dôme for the first time; first television coverage.

  • Vincente Minelli directs Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in "An American in Paris;" Eva Peron, or Evita, dies in Argentina; Prince Hussein becomes King of Jordan; the U.S. explodes the first hydrogen bomb in the Marshall Islands; Hemingway publishes "The Old Man and the Sea."

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