How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Cyrille Guimard

While in the company of Greats.

photo @ cyclinghalloffame.com

The year was 1972, the year the Tour would be run entirely within the borders of France. The last time that had happened was 1947. It was also supposed to be the year of the great showdown between Eddy Merckx and Luis Ocana, making up for the previous year when Ocana had crashed out of the race. Instead, after Ocana crashed on Stage Seven and later abandoned, the battle for supremacy resolved to one between Merckx and Guimard.

Even that battle would, however, not go the distance. Guimard, having already won four stages, was forced to abandon early during Stage 18 while seated in second place. Had he been able to survive the final stages he, undoubtedly, would have won the Green Jersey; instead Merckx won both Yellow and Green, yet presented the Green Points Classification Jersey to Guimard out of respect.

Guimard, is probably best known for his managerial successes, and conflicts. Teams under his direction won the Tour de France seven times. Riders he directed are counted among the sports greatest, including Lucien Van Impe, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, and Greg Lemond. Even so, Guimard also had a lengthy run of race success as a rider, across a wide spectrum - road, track, cyclocross. These included seven stage wins in the Tour, the Combativity Award at the 1972 Tour, two stages of the 1971 Vuelta and the Points Classification winner, French National Sprint Champion on the Track (1970), French National Cyclocross Champion (1976). Those may be the brightest spots on his palmares, but he also won nearly one hundred more races over a period of eight years as a pro.

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