Eddy Merckx returned for one final attempt at Tour glory, but he clearly was not the Merckx of old. He would eventually finish sixth. To the general surprise of everybody, young German star Dietrich Thurau won the prologue and grabbed the yellow jersey. After his stunning win on Stage 2, he held onto it for nearly two weeks. He only finally cracked in the Alps. And on the final time trial in Dijon 1975 winner Bernard Thévenet rolled into the yellow jersey, and held it.
The 1977 Tour could have turned out differently for defending champion Lucien Van Impe. The Belgian climber was in the middle of a crucial attack on the Alpe d'Huez when he collided with a car and fell. Shocked, he tried to regroup but his bike also suffered mechanical problems in the accident. He watched Holland's Hennie Kuiper and Bernard Thévenet pass him. Once back on the road, he chased frantically, but nevertheless came up short.
Bernard Quilfen wins the Besançon - Thonon-les-Bains stage after a 222-km solitary breakaway. Lead: 3 min.14.
Last rider: Loysch (53th) at 2 h 24 min. 8 sec.
Thévenets peak and Merckxs decline.
Race enters the Pyrénées after second stage.
Charlie Chaplin dies; Egyptian President Anwar Sadat makes an historic visit to Jerusalem; Elvis Presley dies at 42; Volkswagen halts production of the Bug after 40 years; John Travolta stars in "Saturday Night Fever."