1922 was an exceptional year for sports literature. Antoine Blondin, born in Paris a few months before Pierre Chany in Langeac, first cultivated the differences before delighting the readers of L'Equipe. The Auvergne native got his start in the communist press, covering his first editions of the Tour de France for Ce Soir, while the Parisian was still filling the pages of the monarchist weekly Ici France. The talented journalists were brought together in the 101 car, which followed the Tour peloton so that the L'Equipe reporters could cover the race as closely as possible to the champions. Pierre Chany from 1953 to 1987, joined by Antoine Blondin between 1954 and 1982, were road brothers in conveying the challenges and drama of the Tour. To celebrate the 100th anniversaries of their birth, the letour.fr website offers a few samples taken from their immense archives. These are a selection of articles written about places that will be visited by the 2022 Tour de France.
Roubaix, 3 July 1967
"Jimenez on an equal footing with Gimondi
” For its 54th edition, the Tour revived the national team format. The French team of Raymond Poulidor and title holder Lucien Aimar faced Dutch rider Jan Janssen and the formidable Italian rider and winner of the Giro, Felice Gimondi. This exceptionally mountainous course led the peloton to the Puy-de-Dôme, Mont Ventoux, the Alps and the Pyrenees. Spanish climber Julio Jimenez was another credible contender. At that time, the encounter with the cobbles of the Hell of the North in the first week caused panic in the peloton. At the finish in the Roubaix velodrome, it was the relief of the "watchmaker from Avila" that is depicted in Pierre Chany's article:
"If we grant Julio Jimenez a preferential place in this journalistic precedence, it's because his performance on the roads of Hell and his classification in Roubaix are the essential facts of the day. Of all the riders who were apprehensive about this strategic stage, Julio Jimenez was by far the most anxious. He was carrying the weight of all the Spanish miseries in his jersey pockets and his mind the memory of the spectacular and definitive failures of his predecessor Federico Bahamontes. Reading the newspapers, he realised that Jacques Anquetil, an expert, feared that he would leave all his chances of winning the Tour in the section of Mons-en-Pévèle. During his recent stay in Clermont-Ferrand, Raphaël Géminiani had told him, God knows how many times: "Julio, watch out for this stage: either you get through and win the Tour, or you lose five minutes and say farewell to the gold watch".
Une fois rendu à Paris, la prophétie de Geminiani n’est pas totalement respectée, puisque Julio Jimenez termine 2e à 3’40’’ de Roger Pingeon, et en remportant pour la troisième fois le classement des grimpeurs. Le coureur espagnol, qui a remporté au total 12 étapes sur les grands tours cyclistes, est décédé à l’âge de 87 ans le 8 juin dernier.