THE CYCLING LEGEND JACQUES ANQUETIL

27 May 2020 By Wijtze De Groot History

Monsieur Chrono, or Jacques Anquetil (8 January 1934 - Rouen, 18 November 1987), was a legend in the world of cycling. He got his nickname because he had won many prizes. He was especially known for being the first to win the Tour de France five times, four of them in a row. He was first in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964.

WINS

Besides the Tour de France, he also won other cycling races. He won the Giro d'Italia twice and the Vuelta, the Tour of Spain, once. This made him the first cyclist who became first in three grand tours and added this to his list of honours. He also won the GP des Nations (also called the Great Nations Prize) nine times and set a world time record in Milan on the Vigorelli track. He rode 46.159 km in one hour. With thirteen podium finishes in three Grand Tours, he is the absolute record holder.

TEAMS

Jacques Anquetil rode for many teams. The most important ones are Bianchi-Pirelli, Helyett, Saint Raphaël and Bic. In the Helyett team he rode for five years, which is the longest time of all the teams, in the others he rode for two years at most.

You would think that the French would love Anquetil, but they thought that Raymond Poulidor was the better rider. Anquetil and Poulidor spent a lot of time together during their careers. No matter what Anquetil did, no matter how many times he won the Tour, he was always less popular with the fans than Raymond Poulidor. They often hissed and whistled, even after five Tour wins, while Poulidor was adored and ultimately won nothing. The strange thing was that the positions were reversed in the peloton, where Anquetil was the favourite with everyone. Although he never really had the effort or energy to please his fans, he got the nickname: Maître Jacques. A name rarely used in France, only by lawyers and the like.

Poulidor really did not like to be portrayed as 'bad'. As Anquetil always said to reporters: "other riders are just not ready yet". Only after he stopped cycling did the two rivals make up. And that only because Poulidor wanted an autograph of Anquetil for his son.

Raymond Poulidor (left), Jacques Anquetil (middle) en Federico Bahamontes (right) on the podium at the 1964 Tour de France

DOPING

Anquetil's private life was stormy and messy. He was very honest about his use of doping, he lived in the time that drugs were considered normal and even sensible. The 'drugs' were just a means to stimulate the talent that was already there. According to him, every cyclist had to use drugs to get ahead in a race. If a journalist asked what he took before a race, he would answer honestly and just tell them. Most cyclists didn't have that and hid behind the facts.

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