Voiture 101 : une équipe qui roule (II/VI)

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.

 Serre-Chevalier, 14 July 1975

« Beau coup de buis pour quelque chose »

Everyone had feared the Cannibal. After all, it would have been pompous to believe that Eddy Merckx could be beaten. The defending champion had won the Tour five times (1969-70-71-72-74), when he arrived clad in the rainbow jersey after winning the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the Spring. Everything went according to plan for the Belgian rider, who won the Merlin-Plage (stage 6) and Auch (stage 9) time trials and sported the Yellow Jersey across France. But the threat of Bernard Thévenet became perceptible on the Puy-de-Dôme stage. Then it became a possibility when he won the Pra-Loup stage, and stripped King Eddy of his leader's jersey, and became undeniable on the Serre-Chevalier stage. With two consecutive stage wins, the Frenchman took the lead for good, following in the footsteps of Louison Bobet, who also established his legend in the Izoard. It is this change of peloton leader and the perception of this lineage with "Louison" that Blondin described in his report the following day.  

 "The inexplicable failure of Eddy Merckx on the climb to Pra-Loup, when we had just seen him ride a majestic descent of the Col d'Allos. His torment along the Guil river at the idea of doing the work in the valley for the smirking gluttons that hung on his saddle. His incapacity to subdue Bernard Thévenet when the latter pulled away in the Izoard, all these factors pose the problems of renunciation, not the perspective of a deviation of character, but rather a saturation of the system. The cruel law of competition dictates that the emptiness of one generally corresponds to the greed of the other. This was the case yesterday for Thévenet, who was suddenly fully revealed to his rival and himself, invigorated by the yellow emblem that he carried proudly, or perhaps it was the jersey that pushed him, cher Chevalier. It is a long way from the electric transformer, at the foot of which we had to leave him last year, suffering from the after-effects of shingles, to the second of two consecutive stages wins he has sealed on 14 July. One could say that this transformer has transformed him. This man no longer expresses himself; he stutters. I mean that he doubles his exploits, and I am convinced, my word."

Read the entire column by Antoine Blondin and the article by Pierre Chany published in L'Equipe on 15 July 1975:

 Thévenet added consistency and composure to the spectacle of the feat on the six stages that separated him from Paris, where the Tour finished for the first time on the Champs-Elysées. The result was harsh for Eddy Merck, 2nd and 2:47s behind the man who ended his reign.

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