The history of the Tour de France

Year 1975

THE STORY

  • Every champion must fall, and Eddy Merckx's turn came in 1975. The rider that finally unraveled Merckx was Frenchman Bernard Thévenet. Thévenet had already won numerous Tour stages, but in 1975 he put it all together and came home with the yellow jersey. Italy's Francesco Moser grabbed the lead in the prologue and held it until Stage 5. Eddy Merckx then took over on the Stage 6 time trial and looked to be on his way to another victory. But he cracked on stage to Pra-Loup in the Alps, while Thévenet raced towards the stage victory and the yellow jersey.

  • When heroes go down, they go down fast. And Eddy Merckx proved to be no exception. For much of Stage 15 from Nice to Pra-Loup the five-time Tour winner rode strongly. He even attacked on the final climb, but suddenly he faltered. Italian veteran Felice Gimondi was the first to react, but Bernard charged from behind and sprinted past all his rivals. In the final 6 kilometers, Merckx lost more than three minutes to Thévenet.

  • Before the Charleroi start, Eddy Merckx receives the “Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur,” while the Belhgium government makes Raymond Poulidor a “Chevalier de l'Ordre de Léopold.” Van Impe is the first to try a carbon and fibre-glass frame. Poulidor, who’s sick (19th, behind by almost an hour), answers his critics, who claim he participated in one too many Tours, says, “I will come back next year and end up on the podium.” Last rider: Boulas (86th), 3 h 31 min. 21 sec. behind.

  • Merckx’s and Gimondi’s execution by Bernard Thevenet in the Pra-Loup stage. First polka-dot jersey awarded to the best climber; first white jersey awarded to best young rider; first Tour finish on the Champs-Elysées;

  • Milos Forman films "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; Vietnam War officially ends; Spanish dictator Franco dies.

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