The history of the Tour de France

Year 1968

THE STORY

  • After the death of Tom Simpson in 1967, this year's Tour was billed as the "clean" Tour. When eternal hope Raymond Poulidor was forced to withdraw after a crash, the race was wide open. In the closing stages, a fierce battle erupted between Belgians Ferdinand Bracke, Herman Van Springel and Holland's Jan Janssen. In the final-stage time trial, Van Springel was the heavy favorite. But Janssen rode the race of his life and turned out to be the upset winner of the Tour.

  • Eternal French hope Raymond Poulidor had many qualities. Luck, however, was not always one of them. After numerous near misses in the Tour, Poulidor was again the heavy pre-race favorite. But when he tangled with a press motorcycle on Stage 16 to Albi and crashed, his chance for victory was once again extinguished.

  • Marcel Bidot says goodbye to the Tour de France, 42 years after his debuts, as a rider. Geldermans’ bet: "Janssen will beat Van Springel and be the first Dutch to win the Tour." Last rider: Clarey (63th) at 2 h 43 min. 28 sec.

  • Poulidor’s persistent bad luck. His fall caused by a motorcycle in the Font-Romeu - Albi stage, when victory is finally for him to take, forces him to withdraw in Aurillac. First drug controls; five towns host Tour for the first time.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated; Richard Nixon is elected 37th president of the United States; Soviet army invades Prague; thousands of French students take to the streets in protest of the education system.

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