Eddy Merckx opted not to start and defending champion Bernard Thévenet was not at his best, thus the 1976 race was an open affair. Belgian star sprinter Freddy Maertens grabbed the yellow jersey in the first day of his Tour de France debut by winning Stage 1. He would go on to win eight stages in all and the green points jersey. Dutch veteran Joop Zoetemelk rode strongly in the Alps. But the final decision was made in the Pyrénées, where Belgian climber Lucien Van Impe dominated, grabbing the yellow jersey for good.
Fourty-year old Raymond Poulidor bid farewell to the Tour in 1976. But he wanted to go out in style. Only one year earlier he struggled to finish. Critics insisted he was over the hill. But Poulidor promised he would return to finish on the podium. And with his third-place finish, he kept his word.
After a 160-km solitary breakaway, Viejo wins the Montgenevre - Manosque stage with a 22'50" lead.
Daniel Mangeas becomes the official "speaker" of the Tour.
Last rider: Van der Hoek (87th), 3 h 12 min. 54 sec. behind.
Cyrille Guimard takes his leader, who had up to then been limited to the best climbers trophy, to victory.
Seven towns host the Tour for the first time.
Viking I lands on Mars; Jimmy Carter is elected President; The Concorde flies from Paris to Washington D.C. in less than four hours; Romanian gymnast Nadya Comaneci wins three gold medals in the Montreal Olympics.