With defending champion Fausto Coppi forfeiting due to injury, the 1953 Tour was a decidedly French affair. Little-known Roger Hassenforder carried the yellow jersey from Caen to Bordeaux. 1947-winner Jean Robic grabbed the stage to Luchon and the yellow jersey, and French sprinter André Darrigade won his first Tour stage. But final honors went to long-time favorite Louison Bobet, who took the yellow jersey on the stage over the Izoard climb and kept it. Finally, after six tries, Bobet was the winner.
1947 winner Jean Robic was again having a great Tour. The little climbing giant, won the stage to Luchon in the Pyrénées and grabbed the yellow jersey from the favored Bobet. A crash and an all-out attack by the French national team cost him his shirt, but in the Alpes "Old Leather Head" still hoped for a stage win. In an effort to catch Bobet on the descent of the Izoard Pass, Robic grabbed a lead-filled water bottle that added 10 kilograms to his bike. But alas, even with this aid, he couldn't catch Bobet.
At the top of the Tourmalet, Robic grabs a container of lead (10 kilograms) for the descent.
For the Tours 50th anniversary, 15 past winners reunite at the Parc des Princes finish: Maurice Garin, Garrigou, L. Buysse, Ph. Thys, R. and S. Maës, A. Leducq, A. Magne, G. Speicher, R. Lapébie, and Kubler, as well as the Tours first yellow jersey, E. Christophe.
The French postal service issues a commemorative stamp (12 Francs).
Last rider: Rouer (76th) at 4 h 9min.10 sec.
The Béziers scandal: After having eliminated Robic, Bobet and Geminiani fight over the bonuses, Louison having missed his sprint. Reconciliation, achieved the following day thanks to team coach Marcel Bidots and Raymond Le Berts diplomacy, brings unity to the French national team. Bobet wins the Tour on his sixth try, 30 years after Henri Pélissier, to whom he was compared. Introduction of green points jersey.
Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated as President; Joseph Stalin dies; Elisabeth II is crowned Queen of England; Korean War ends; James Baldwin writes "Go Tell It On The Mountain."