Raymond Poulidor: a career of legend

On July 12, 1964, the 20th stage of the 51st Tour de France, one of the most legendary and dramatic in history, starts from Brives (Corrèze) to conquer the puy de Dôme. If the Spaniard Jiménez prevailed, his victory was totally overshadowed by the Homeric duel of those who forged the legend of the Tour, duel that Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil engaged on the overpopulated slopes of the Auvergne volcano. Despite a bad choice of gear, “Poupou” loose Anquetil one kilometer from the finish, taking him 42 seconds. In Paris, however, Anquetil will precede Poulidor by less than a minute, taking away the last of his five Grandes Boucles. Poulidor will go up for the first time on the second step of the podium.

Raymond Poulidor was born on April 15, 1936 in Masbaraud-Mérignat, in the Creuse, fourth of a sibship. His parents, sharecroppers, then settle near Champnétery, in Haute-Vienne, near Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, where the young Raymond began cycling at age 16 in secret from his mother. He pocketed his first victory at the Grand Prix Quasimodo in Saint-Léonard in March 1954, as an amateur, at the Club de la Pedale Marchoise. In 1960, he became a professional on the Mercier team, then led by Antonin Magne, a team he never left until 1977. There followed 18 seasons of an exceptional career, first against Anquetil , then facing Merckx. Nearly 189 victories punctuate his record. Only the Tour will be, between mistakes and bad luck, always refused to him, with not even a single day in yellow. His immense popularity will never be denied.

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