Tour de France Centenary Prints
2013 is the year of the 100th Tour de France. Over the course of its history, the Tour has witnessed legends in the making. However, the likes of Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault may come and go they are not the only form of the race that has become famous over the years. Just as important to the history of the event are the numerous towns and cities, mountains, climbs and descents that change each year.
To help celebrate the centenary I have created a selection of 12 stages from each decade of the Tour. From it's humble but grueling beginning in 1903, up to the Bradley Wiggins victory of 2012. Each print also has a colour motif that hints at the graphics and colours found on the tour.
This was the year that it all began. Born out of a competitive spirit of Henri Desgrange, the editor of L'Auto, who wanted to win a circulation war with rival publication Le Vélo, the race was originally suggested as a sales promotion. This year the race was six days long with some stages taking over 17 hours to complete.
This print celebrates the year with Stage 1, won by Maurice Garin, on the long and winding road from Paris to Lyon in 17hours 45 minutes and 13 seconds.
It was the year that had the shortest finishing field in Tour history. 67 riders started and only 10 finished this grueling year, with Firmin Lambot winning overall. The total distance was 5,560 kms. There were four major ascents on Stage 7, Ares, Portet d'Aspet, Port and Puymorens. The eventual winner on the day was Jean Alavoine, spending over 13 hours in the saddle.
A year significant in Tour history as Phillipe Thys became the first triple winner of the event. Not to be equaled until over 35 years later. They made them tough back then as Honoré Barthélemy, the highest placed Frenchman, completed the race with a broken collarbone. The Belgians dominated this Tour and on this particular day, Stage 10, it was Hector Heusghem who crossed the line first in 14hours 47minutes and 39 seconds in Grenoble.
André Leducq took the lead on this third stage of the Tour and held it all the way to the end. Due to a number of time bonuses, four minutes if you won a stage, the skilled sprinter and climber managed to clock up a healthy lead throughout the Tour. Stage 3 was a grueling 387 kms and Leducq managed to complete the day in just less than 13 hours in the twilight in Bordeaux.
The first post Second World War race was in 1947 and another significant milestone in that Jean Robic won this Tour without ever having worn the yellow jersey at any stage of the race. This particular print is of Stage 13, which ended in the historic town of Carcassonne, a number of beautiful spots across France that are now synonymous with the Tour.
With Jean Robic and Hugo Koblet crashing out of the Tour this year and the self-imposed ban on Italian riders, the stage was set for Louison Bobet of France to claim overall victory. This particular stage had the major ascent of the Aubisque on the route and on this very day the honours went to Stan Ockers, who crossed the line in Pau in first place.
This year was all about Eddy Merckx. The race began in Roubaix with a 10.4 km prologue. Although only second on the day of this print the dominance of Merckx throughout the 1969 Tour was awe-inspiring. On one particular day, Stage 17, his 130 km solo breakaway is now part of Tour legend.
This was a special year in cycling history. It was in 1974 that Eddy Merckx won his fifth Tour de France. In the same year he won the Giro d'Italia, Tour of Switzerland and became World Champion. His record five Tour victories finally equaled Jacques Anquetil's five victories. And by winning 8 stages of this year's race, including Stage 10 in this print, he now had 32 stage wins, the highest in Tour history.
'That looks like Roche...That looks like Stephen Roche!' And so Tour legend was once again made. With the help of Phil Liggett's now famous commentary, the moment of the 1987 Tour was from this very stage. On the final climb of the day in La Plagne, Roche clawed back enough time to set himself up to become Tour champion with a gap he could now overcome with a time-trial still to follow. Roche won the Giro and became World Champion in this year, and only Eddy Merckx had achieved this and no one else since.
The 1990's were all about Spain. And 1995 was the year of Miguel Indurain's fifth Tour victory. Along with Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault, he was now part of Tour legend. His dominance and consistency in the mountains was second to none. Added to this he was one of the best time-trialists in world at the time. Unlike the other riders who won five Tours, Indurain completed them all in a row.
This particular print celebrates the legendary climb of L'Alpe d'Huez. It was this day that Carlos Sastre won the 2008 Tour. A grueling day saw the riders take in the Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer and of course L'Alpe d'Huez. Sastre crossed the line in 6 hours, 7 minutes and 58 seconds and over 2 minutes ahead of his Samuel Sanchez in second.
Allez Wiggo! A fantastic day for British cycling. The road to Paris from Rambouillet saw the completion of a perfectly executed race and Tour from Team Sky. With a victory on the day for Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins crossed the line to become the first ever British rider to win the Tour. He was always in the top two of the General Classification and crucially winning both time-trials. This print, a perfect memento of this historic day in the summer of 2012.