Raymond Poulidor

From Academic Kids

Raymond Poulidor, often nick-named Pou Pou (born April 15, 1936, Masbaraud-Merignat, France), was a professional bicycle racer. He was known as the 'eternal second', as he finished the Tour de France in second place three times, and in third place five times. Despite his consistency, he never once wore the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France.

His tragedy was that as a great cyclist, he worked the roads of France in the eras of two of the greatest, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx. This underdog position, however, may also have been the reason why he was the darling of the public.


The Anquetil Years

Poulidor's rivalry with Anquetil is the stuff of legends in cycling. While a great climber, Poulidor had a hard time matching Anquetil's prowess in the discipline of individual time trial, often having victory snatched from him by losing time in the time trial stages of the Tour de France.

Poulidor's riding style was more aggressive and attacking, in contrast to Anquetil's negative riding style by which Anquetil prefers to control the race in the climbing stages and win time in the time-trial stages. He became the darling of the French public, much to the ire of Anquetil. Poulidor's midi-France upbringing in the south also contrasted with Anquetil's northern upbringing.

His best chance of defeating Anquetil was in the 1964 Tour de France, where in the penultimate stage finish in Puy de Dôme the ailing Anquetil managed to bluff his way riding side-by-side with Poulidor. Normally the better climber of the two, Poulidor did not realize Anquetil's duress until the very last section, where he put in nearly enough time off Anquetil to snatch the yellow leader's jersey from him. The last stage was a time-trial, which Anquetil won comfortably.

It was often said that Anquetil preferred to see Poulidor lose than himself winning a race. In the 1965 Grand Prix des Nations, which is a two-man team time trial race, he was mated with Jacques Anquetil as a partner. Instead of riding for victory, Anquetil feigned exhaustion and cost both of them the victory, which he admitted later.

Despite the rivalry, Anquetil's later sickness prompted the two to finally become friends. Poulidor recalls Anquetil's last words to him on his deathbed: 'He said to me that the cancer was so agonisingly painful it was like racing up the Puy de Dôme all day, every hour of the day. He then said, I will never forget it, "My friend, you will come second to me once again".'

The Merckx Years

The end of the Anquetil era presented opportunities for Poulidor to finally win the Tour de France. Unfortunately this was not to be due to injuries in 1967 and 1968, and the arrival of Eddy Merckx in 1969. Despite Poulidor's longevity, he was no match for Merckx's prowess although he offered much resistance.

Other Races

Raymond Poulidor was an accomplished rider outside of the Tour de France. His first year as a professional was marked by victory in the 1961 Milan-San Remo Classic and the French Road Race Championship. He also won La Flèche Wallonne and the Grand Prix des Nations individual time trial in 1963, the Vuelta a Espana, Criterium International and the Super Prestige Pernod in 1964. He then won the Critérium de Dauphiné Libéré, and again the Criterium International in 1966. He had good showings in the Criterium International, winning it yet again in 1968, 1971 and 1972, and also in Paris-Nice.


When asked about the secret to his longevity compared to his fellow cyclists, Poulidor admitted that he took things in moderation and didn't overstretch himself.de:Raymond Poulidor es:Raymond Poulidor fr:Raymond Poulidor nl:Raymond Poulidor pl:Raymond Poulidor


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