After a one-year sabbatical from the Tour, Eddy Merckx was back and looking for his fifth victory in as many attempts. His toughest challenge this year came from the surprising Raymond Poulidor, who at the age of 38, managed to drop Merckx in on the Chat Pass in the Alps, and again on the toughest stage in the Pyrénées. Merckx, however, did not break. And he still managed to win eight stages including the Prologue.
One of cycling's proverbs could be, "Old cyclists never die, they just keep on fighting." And the author could well be Raymond Poulidor. He may never have won the Tour, but at age of 38, he perhaps never rode better. Sure he finished over eight minutes down in the overall ranking. But second place to Merckx was the same as victory for many. His greatest ride in the '74 race came on the stage to Saint Lary Soulan where he rode away from the Belgian yellow jersey for a stage win. Not bad for an old timer.
Poulidor, who was 216" behind Lopez-Carril, beats him by 2 minutes and 17 seconds over the Orleans time trials 37 kilometers and takes the second place overall away from him the next-to-last day.
Last time the race finishes in the la Cipale velodrome (1st: Merckx).
Last rider: Alaimo (105th), 3 h 55 min. 46 sec. behind.
Poulidor comes back at 38.
Merckxs relative weakening. He still wins eight stages (including the preliminary stage).
Tours visits England for the first time; 10 towns host Tour for the first time.
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