THE CLOWN OF THE CYCLING WORLD

01 July 2021 By Elien Kaes History

Last Saturday, the Tour de France started again. And of course, many memories about this beautiful Tour emerge. And Gerben Karstens is a name that quickly comes to mind. He won six Tour stages in the 60s and 70s and wore the yellow jersey for two days. Karstens was a striking figure because of the funny pranks he pulled throughout his career... no wonder he had the nickname 'The Clown'!🤡 

THE STUNT WITH PEELMAN

Karstens performed his most famous stunt during the Tour of 1975: he jumped on the back of Eddy Peelman during the race. He quickly gave his bike to another rider in the peloton. In this position, the two cyclists rode on for about half an hour! A comical stunt that has gone down in history. However, the board of the Tour de France thought otherwise, because Peelman and Karstens were almost expelled from the Tour. Fortunately, Eddy Merckx was able to put a stop to this in time and the two riders were allowed to stay. 

Gerben Karstens en Eddy Peelman op de Tour de France van 1975
Karstens on the shoulders of Peelman during the Tour de France 1975

"LOOTED" PUBS 

This was of course not his first comical stunt. Karstens once told about the hot summer of 1973 when he rode for the German team Rokado. At that time, team leaders did not deliver drinks to the riders during the stage, so he decided to dive into the cafes himself. The local pub owners were happy to help the rider and thus during the Tour it occasionally happened that he already started drinking champagne during the stage.

THE ESCAPE OF KARSTENS

Over the years Karstens has been responsible for many other funny moments. One silly joke was when he once "escaped" from the peloton and then hid in the bushes to rejoin the peloton later on. And this while the peloton was looking for Karstens, the one who had slipped away. It seems like he was always up for a joke and we are only happy to hear so!

Gerben Karstens, ook bekend als de Clown, op de Tour van de Champs-Élysées in 1976

The Clown on the Champs-Élysées in 1976

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