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  Raymond Poulidor    

Picture courtesy of www.corvos.nl
Born on April 15, 1936, France’s Raymond Poulidor France burst on the professional scene in 1961. As a rider, he had plenty of class, taking victory in a Grand Tour and two major classics.

Poulidor won the 1964 Vuelta a Espana in front of Luis Otano and Jose Perez Frances of Spain. Poulidor was also 2nd in 1965 Vuelta a Espana behind Rolf Wolfshohl of Germany.

Poulidor won the Milan-San Remo Classic in 1961 and the Fleche Wallone Classic in 1963.

His story, however, is much greater than this. Nicknamed “Pou Pou” by French fans, he was loved by the French not because he won the big races, but maybe because he didn’t.

Early in his career, he was the arch rival of Jacques Anquetil. Poulidor finished behind Anquetil in the Tour de France for a few years. When it was apparent that Anquetil could no longer win the Tour, Anquetil did what he could to prevent Poulidor from winning. In 1966, Anquetil’s team-mate, Lucien Aimar won.

In 1967, an ill-timed puncture prevented Poulidor from winning, and in 1968, Poulidor crashed in a tour he could have won. Later in his career, Poulidor had to deal with Merckx. Poulidor put up a good fight, but Merckx was the better rider.


Poulidor’s other nickname was the “Eternal Second”. He entered the Tour de France 14 times and finished 12 times. He placed second on three occasions and third on five occasions.

In the 1962 Tour de France, Poulidor was 3rd behind Jacques Anquetil of France and Joseph Planckaert of Belgium.

In the 1964 Tour de France, Poulidor was 2nd behind Jacques Anquetil of France.

In the 1965 Tour de France, Poulidor was 2nd behind Felice Gimondi of Italy.

In the 1966 Tour de France, Poulidor was 3rd behind Lucien Aimar of France and Jan Janssen of Holland.

In the 1969 Tour de France, Poulidor was 3rd behind Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Roger Pingeon of France.

In the 1972 Tour de France, Poulidor was 3rd behind Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Felice Gimondi of Italy.

In the 1974 Tour de France, Poulidor was 2nd behind Eddy Merckx.


Picture courtesy of www.corvos.nl


Picture courtesy of www.vueltaciclistaespana.com
In the 1976 Tour de France, Poulidor was 3rd behind Lucien Van Impe of Belgium and Joop Zoetemelk of Holland.

Not bad, but he never once wore the yellow jersey as leader of the race.

In the World Championship Road Race, he placed second once, third three times and fifth twice.

Poulidor did have class. He was the French cycling flame for years, carrying the torch as the highest placed French rider even as he advanced in years, as he did placing third in the 1976 Tour de France at age 40.

Poulidor, however, may have been too much of a gentleman to win the big one.

Anquetil and Poulidor did become friends at last. As Poulidor was visiting an ailing Anquetil, Anquetil told Poulidor that he would again come in second. Anquetil died the next day.


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