1908 Tour de France
|Route of the 1908 Tour de France
Followed clockwise, starting in Paris
|Dates||13 July–9 August 1908|
|Distance||4,488 km (2,789 mi)|
|Winning time||36 points (28.74 km/h or 17.86 mph)|
|Winner||Lucien Petit-Breton (France)|
|Second||François Faber (Luxembourg)|
|Third||Georges Passerieu (France)|
The 1908 Tour de France was the sixth Tour de France. Taking place between 13 July and 9 August 1908, the total race distance was 4,497 kilometres (2,794 mi). After his 1907 victory, Lucien Petit-Breton was considered main favourite. Winning 5 of the 14 stages and the overall classification, he showed that his 1907 victory was no surprise. Like its predecessors, the entrants and leader board were dominated by the French, however, there were two Italians and one Luxembourger in the final top 10.
Changes from the 1907 Tour de France
The 1908 Tour de France followed nearly the same route as the 1907 Tour de France. The rules were also the same; the point system was still used. Before the start, the Tour de France made statements that all necessary measures had been taken to prevent the regrettable incidents as in 1905, and that the 'Apaches' had 90% chance of being caught and spending time in jail. Dismountable tyres were used for the first time; this meant that cyclists could repair their bicycles easier, and a flat tire cost them less time. Because tour organiser Henri Desgrange wanted to keep the Tour de France a race between individual athletes, all cyclists had to ride on frames provided by the Tour organisation.
Before the race started, 162 cyclists had subscribed for the Tour de France, and received starting numbers. 48 cyclists did not start, so the first stage started with 114 cyclists. Because the cyclists were not allowed to change bicycles, the separation in two different classes in the years before had disappeared, and all cyclists started in the same category.
The favourite for the victory was Lucien Petit-Breton, the winner of the previous edition. He was supported by his Peugeot-team, which included the best cyclists; in the five previous editions of the Tour de France, they had won 20 stages. In addition, Petit-Breton was a skilled bicycle mechanic, which was important because the rules said that cyclists had to repair their bicycle without help. The strongest opposition was expected from the Alcyon team, led by Georges Passerieu and Gustave Garrigou.
French athlete Marie Marvingt had tried to participate in the 1908 Tour de France, but was refused permission because the race was only open to men. She rode the route after the race, and managed to finish it.
The Labor team started the race in yellow jerseys; in 1908 the yellow jersey for the race leader was not used yet. In the first stage, from Paris to Roubaix, the cobbles caused many crashes and flat tyres. It was won by Georges Passerieu, while Petit-Breton finished second. The second stage, from Roubaix to Metz, passed the Alsace-Lorraine, then part of Germany. As in previous years, nails had been thrown on the road. This stage was won by Petit-Breton with Passerieu in second place. Having both won a stage and finished second in the other, Petit-Breton and Passerieu both had 3 points. Some sources show them joint leaders after that stage, while other sources show Passerieu as single leader. In the third stage, started by Count Zeppelin, the Labor boss sent a telegram to the manager of the team after another crash by a Labor team member (Jean Novo): "After Novo's crash and the mediocre results of the other riders, I have decided to abandon the race. You can all ease up and come back by train." The rest of the Tour would be dominated by the Peugeot team, who won all the stages. At the third stage, Passerieu finished in 30th place; because Petit-Breton finished second, he was now leading the race by a big margin. The stage was won by Faber. Faber had finished at 49th place in the second stage, so he was no direct threat for the general classification.
The fourth stage to Lyon was during a snow storm. Faber won his second stage, and although he was still behind in the general classification, his two consecutive stage wins made him a dangerous competitor.
In the sixth stage, the Côte de Laffrey and the Col Bayard were climbed, and André Pottier, the younger brother of 1906 Champion René Pottier, reached the tops first. He could not keep his lead, as the stage was won by Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq.
The seventh stage passed through Crau, through desert-like conditions. Petit-Breton was best suited to this type of weather, and easily won. In the ninth stage, won by Petit-Breton, Faber jumped to the second position in the overall classification, with 57 points, while Petit-Breton was still leading with 18 points. Petit-Breton was at that moment almost guaranteed of the victory, because the remaining stages were all flat, which suited him well.
Petit-Breton crushed the other cyclists in the eleventh stage, dropping all other cyclists one by one. In the remaining stages the other cyclists tried to beat Petit-Breton by escaping on turns, but Petit-Breton realed them in each time. In the 13th stage, 415 km from Brest to Caen, the winner Passerieu took more than 16 hours to finish the stage. The last cyclist to finish that stage, Louis Di Maria, would need a record extra 23 hours to complete the stage. Faber could pose no threat to Petit-Breton, and Petit-Breton won the Tour de France easily. His worst placement had been the 10th stage where he finished 10th at one second from the winner; all other stages he was in the top four, winning five of the stages.
|Stage||Date||Route||Terrain[Notes 1]||Length||Winner||Race leader|
|1||13 July||Paris–Roubaix||Plain stage||272 km (169 mi)||Georges Passerieu (FRA)||Georges Passerieu (FRA)|
|2||15 July||Roubaix–Metz||Plain stage||398 km (247 mi)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|| Georges Passerieu (FRA)
Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)[Notes 2]
|3||17 July||Metz–Belfort||Stage with mountain||259 km (161 mi)||François Faber (LUX)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|4||19 July||Belfort–Lyon||Stage with mountain||309 km (192 mi)||François Faber (LUX)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|5||21 July||Lyon–Grenoble||Stage with mountain||311 km (193 mi)||Georges Passerieu (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|6||23 July||Grenoble–Nice||Stage with mountain||345 km (214 mi)||Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|7||25 July||Nice–Nîmes||Plain stage||354 km (220 mi)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|8||27 July||Nîmes–Toulouse||Plain stage||303 km (188 mi)||François Faber (LUX)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|9||29 July||Toulouse–Bayonne||Plain stage||299 km (186 mi)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|10||31 July||Bayonne–Bordeaux||Plain stage||269 km (167 mi)||Georges Paulmier (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|11||2 August||Bordeaux–Nantes||Plain stage||391 km (243 mi)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|12||4 August||Nantes–Brest||Plain stage||321 km (199 mi)||François Faber (LUX)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|13||6 August||Brest–Caen||Plain stage||415 km (258 mi)||Georges Passerieu (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
|14||9 August||Caen–Paris||Plain stage||251 km (156 mi)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)|
After the last stage, there was a timed lap of 666 m at the Parc des Princes velodrome in Paris, won by Henri Cornet in 51.2 s. This was not counted as an official stage and had no influence on the overall classification.
The general classification was calculated by points: at every stage, the winner was given one point, the next cyclist two points, etc. After the eighth stage, when only 39 cyclists were still in the race, the points given in the first eight stages were redistributed among the remaining cyclists, in accordance with their positions in those stages. Of the 114 starting cyclists, 36 finished. The Peugeot team had dominated the race; not only did their cyclists win all 14 stages, but they also had the top four places in the general classification. Even though cyclists entered the race as individuals, officially not connected to sponsors, most cyclists had a sponsor.
|1||Lucien Petit-Breton (FRA)||Peugeot–Wolber||36|
|2||François Faber (LUX)||Peugeot–Wolber||68|
|3||Georges Passerieu (FRA)||Peugeot–Wolber||75|
|4||Gustave Garrigou (FRA)||Peugeot–Wolber||91|
|5||Luigi Ganna (ITA)||Alcyon–Dunlop||120|
|6||Georges Paulmier (FRA)||Peugeot–Wolber||125|
|7||Georges Fleury (FRA)||Peugeot–Wolber||134|
|8||Henri Cornet (FRA)||Peugeot–Wolber||142|
|9||Marcel Godivier (FRA)||Alcyon–Dunlop||153|
|10||Giovanni Rossignoli (ITA)||Bianchi||160|
Second-placed François Faber became the winner of the "pneus démontables" category. The organising newspaper l'Auto named Gustave Garrigou the meilleur grimpeur. This unofficial title is the precursor to the mountains classification.
Lucien Petit-Breton became the first cyclist to win two Tours de France. He wrote a book about his life, "Comment je cours sur route". This became a success, and he started to write cycling columns for newspapers. In the next Tour in 1909, Petit-Breton did not participate as a cyclist, but followed the race as a columnist.
- In 1908, there was no distinction in the rules between plain stages and mountain stages; the icons shown here indicate whether the stage included mountains.
- Passerieu and Petit-Breton both had 3 points after the second stage. Some sources indicate that they were joint leader, other sources indicate that Passerieu was the only leader, see article.
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