1971 Tour de France

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1971 Tour de France
Race details
Dates 26 June–18 July 1971
Stages 20+Prologue, including three split stages
Distance 4,118 km (2,559 mi)
Winning time 96h 45' 14" (38.084 km/h or 23.664 mph)
Winner  Eddy Merckx (Belgium) (Molteni)
Second  Joop Zoetemelk (Netherlands) (Flandria–Mars)
Third  Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) (Solonor–Lejeune)

Points  Eddy Merckx (Belgium) (Molteni)
Mountains  Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) (Solonor–Lejeune)
Combination  Eddy Merckx (Belgium) (Molteni)
Sprints  Pieter Nassen (Belgium) (Flandria–Mars)
Team Bic

The 1971 Tour de France was the 58th Tour de France, taking place 26 June to 18 July 1971. It consisted of 22 stages over 3,689 km (2,292 mi), ridden at an average speed of 38.084 km/h (24 mph).[1]

The race was won by Eddy Merckx, his third consecutive victory. It was no easy win; after the 11th stage, Merckx was more than eight minutes behind Luis Ocaña in the general classification. In the 14th stage, Ocaña crashed in the descent of the Col de Menté and had to leave the race, what is named the most famous fall in Tour de France history.[2]

Differences from the 1970 Tour de France[edit]

1971 saw the introduction of bonification seconds for sprints in the intermediate sprints classification, which was won by Belgian Pieter Nassen.

The 1970 Tour had five split stages, and cyclists had complained about it. Nevertheless, the 1971 Tour again used split stages; one reason was that the UCI rules did not allow long stages to prevent the use of doping, another reason was that split stages generated more income.[3]

The 1971 Tour had two rest days, and during the first rest day, the cyclists were transferred by airplane, the first time this happened during the Tour.[4]


The Tour started with the following 13 teams, each with 10 cyclists:[4]

  • Peugeot
  • Hoover-De Gribaldy
  • Bic
  • Scic
  • Goudsmit
  • Werner

Eddy Merckx, who had won the 1969 and 1970 Tours, was the big favourite. Pre-race predictions were certain that if he would not become ill or crash, Merckx would be the winner, and were speculating whether he would be able to lead the race from start to end.[3]

With fewer flat stages, fewer time trials and more mountain stages, it was thought that climbers would have an advantage.[3]

Race details[edit]

The race started with a team time trial as prologue, won by Merckx' team, which gave them a 20 seconds bonification for the general classification. After the first part of the first stage, Merckx' team mate Wagtmans briefly took over the leading position in the general classification, only to lose it to Merckx in the second part.

In the second stage, Zoetemelk attacked early in the stage. Some cyclists, including Merckx, followed him, and soon a group of 15 cyclists was away. At the end, the margin to the rest of the field was almost 10 minutes.[5] Merckx beat Roger de Vlaeminck in the sprint, and everybody not in the first group was no longer a threat for Merckx.[6][7]

In the seventh stage, the leader in the points classification, Roger de Vlaeminck, crashed and had to leave the race. Merckx was expecting a dangerous sprint so he chose not to participate.[8] While Merckx took part in intermediate sprints and final sprints, Ocana had been saving his energy on the advice of Jacques Anquetil, and waited for the mountains to come.[7]

The eight stage saw the first attack by Ocana. Merckx was not able to chase him, and Ocana got away. Zoetemelk and Agostinho also got away from Merckx, and gained some time on him. After that stage, Merckx was still leading, but only 36 seconds before Zoetemelk and 37 seconds before Ocana.[7] In the end of the tenth stage, Merckx lost contact after a flat tire, and lost time on Zoetemelk and Ocana. Zoetemelk took over the lead, one second ahead of Ocana.[9] In the eleventh stage, Ocana attacked. At first, Zoetemelk, Van Impe and Agostinho were able to stay with him, but Ocana left them and soloed to the victory, more than six minutes ahead of Van Impe. Merckx and Zoetemelk finished in third and fourth place, almost nine minutes behind.[10] Ocana had set such a pace, that 61 cyclists finished outside the original time limit, leaving only 39 in the race.[7] The time limit was consequently extended such that 58 more were allowed to start the next day.[10] Ocana seemed so strong, that Merckx abandoned the idea to win his third Tour.[11]

In the twelfth stage, Merckx organised an attack, and won back two minutes. This could have been more, had it not been for a mistake of an assistant team leader of Molteni, Merckx' team: when Bruyere had a flat tire in the chasing peloton, the assistant team leader called for the remaining members of Merckx' team to help Bruyere to get back to the peloton. The rival teams in the peloton were now without Molteni cyclists, and could organise the chase. The group with Bruyere was unable to get back into the peloton. Because of the high pace of Merckx in the first group, the group with Bruyere almost did not make the time cut, in which case they would have been eliminated.[12] The average velocity of the winner was a new record, and the cyclists arrived one hour ahead of the earliest time schedule, and the preparations at the finish line had not been completed yet. The mayor of Marseille, where the stage ended, was so upset that he refused to let the race visit Marseille again.[7]

In the thirteenth stage, a time trial, Merckx was the strongest and won back more seconds.[12]

In the fourteenth stage, there was heavy rain. On the way up to the Col de Mente, Merckx attacked several times, but each time Ocana was coming back. During the descent, Ocana fell. Zoetemelk punctured and was unable to avoid him, and hit him at high speed.[13] Ocana was hit, injured his shoulder and had to give up.[4]

Merckx became the new leader, but out of respect for Ocana, he refused to go to the ceremony at the end of the stage, and refused wear the yellow jersey the next stage.[13] Merckx considered to leave the race, because he did not want to win because of Ocana's bad luck. Tour directors Levitan and Goddet convinced him to continue the race.[13] The fifteenth stage was the shortest mass-start stage in the history in the Tour, at only 19.6 kilometres (12.2 mi).[14]

The decision was expected to fall in the first part of the sixteenth stage, when four mountains were scheduled. Van Impe, in second place, was expected to challenge the leader Merckx, and third-placed Zoetemelk could profit from their struggle. But although Van Impe tried to attack, Merckx was able to stay with him, and the three cyclists stayed together.[15]

In the seventeenth stage, Merckx surprised Van Impe and Zoetemelk with attack, won the stage and increased his margin with more than two minutes.[16] By winning the stage, Merckx solified his lead in the points classification.[7]

The time trial that closed the race was an easy win for Merckx. The battle for the second place was won by Zoetemelk.[17]


The 1971 Tour de France started on 26 June, and had two rest days, in Le Touquet and Orcières.[18]

Stage results[4][19]
Stage Date Route Terrain Length Winner
P 26 June Mulhouse Team time trial 11 km (6.8 mi) Molteni
1a 27 June Mulhouse – Basel Stage with mountain(s) 59.5 km (37.0 mi)  Eric Leman (BEL)
1b Basel – Freiburg Plain stage 90 km (56 mi)  Gerben Karstens (NED)
1c Freiburg – Mulhouse Plain stage 74 km (46 mi)  Albert Van Vlierberghe (NED)
2 28 June Mulhouse – Strasbourg Stage with mountain(s) 144 km (89 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
3 29 June Strasbourg – Nancy Stage with mountain(s) 165.5 km (102.8 mi)  Rini Wagtmans (NED)
4 30 June Nancy – Marche-en-Famenne Plain stage 242 km (150 mi)  Jean-Pierre Genet (FRA)
5 1 July DinantRoubaix Stage with mountain(s) 208.5 km (129.6 mi)  Pietro Guerra (ITA)
6a 2 July Roubaix – Amiens Plain stage 127.5 km (79.2 mi)  Eric Leman (BEL)
6b Amiens – Le Touquet Plain stage 133.5 km (83.0 mi)  Mauro Simonetti (ITA)
7 4 July RungisNevers Plain stage 257.5 km (160.0 mi)  Eric Leman (BEL)
8 5 July Nevers – Puy de Dôme Stage with mountain(s) 221 km (137 mi)  Luis Ocaña (ESP)
9 6 July Clermont-FerrandSaint-Étienne Stage with mountain(s) 153 km (95 mi)  Walter Godefroot (BEL)
10 7 July Saint-Étienne – Grenoble Stage with mountain(s) 188.5 km (117.1 mi)  Bernard Thévenet (FRA)
11 8 July Grenoble – Orcières Stage with mountain(s) 134 km (83 mi)  Luis Ocaña (ESP)
12 10 July Orcières – Marseille Plain stage 251 km (156 mi)  Luciano Armani (ITA)
13 11 July Albi Individual time trial 16.3 km (10.1 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
14 12 July RevelLuchon Stage with mountain(s) 214.5 km (133.3 mi)  José Manuel Fuente (ESP)
15 13 July Luchon – Superbagnères Stage with mountain(s) 19.6 km (12.2 mi)  José Manuel Fuente (ESP)
16a 14 July Luchon – Gourette Stage with mountain(s) 145 km (90 mi)  Bernard Labourdette (FRA)
16b Gourette – Pau Plain stage 57.5 km (35.7 mi)  Herman van Springel (BEL)
17 15 July Mont-de-MarsanBordeaux Plain stage 188 km (117 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
18 16 July Bordeaux – Poitiers Plain stage 244 km (152 mi)  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)
19 17 July BloisVersailles Plain stage 185 km (115 mi)  Jan Krekels (NED)
20 18 July Versailles – Paris Individual time trial 53.8 km (33.4 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)

Classification leadership[edit]

Stage General classification
Points classification
Mountains classification Team classification
P  Eddy Merckx (BEL) no award no award Molteni
1a  Eric Leman (BEL)
1b  Rini Wagtmans (NED)  Walter Godefroot (BEL)  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
1c  Eddy Merckx (BEL)  Gerben Karstens (NED)
2  Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL) Flandria
7  Gerben Karstens (NED)
9  Walter Godefroot (BEL) Peugeot
10  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)  Cyrille Guimard (FRA)
11  Luis Ocaña (ESP) Bic
14  Eddy Merckx (BEL)  Lucien Van Impe (BEL)
15  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
Final  Eddy Merckx (BEL)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Bic


There were several classifications in the 1971 Tour de France, three of them awarding jerseys to their leaders. The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.[20]

Additionally, there was a points classification, where cyclists got points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.[20]

There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorized some climbs as either first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorized climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, but was not identified with a jersey in 1971.[20]

Another classification was the combination classification. This classification was calculated as a combination of the other classifications, its leader wore the white jersey.[21]

The fifth individual classification was the intermediate sprints classification. This classification had similar rules as the points classification, but only points were awarded on intermediate sprints. In 1971, this classification had no associated jersey.[22]

For the team classification, the times of the best three cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time. The riders in the team that lead this classification wore yellow caps.[23]

General classification[edit]

Final general classification (1–10)[4]
Rank Name Team Time
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni 96h 45' 14"
2  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria +9' 51"
3  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor +11' 06"
4  Bernard Thévenet (FRA) Peugeot +14' 50"
5  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Hoover +21' 00"
6  Leif Mortensen (DEN) Bic +21' 38"
7  Cyrille Guimard (FRA) Fagor +22' 58"
8  Bernard Labourdette (FRA) Bic +30' 07"
9  Lucien Aimar (FRA) Sonolor +32' 45"
10  Vicente Lopez-Carril (ESP) Kas +36' 00"

Points classification[edit]

Final points classification (1–10)[4][24]
Rank Name Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni 202
2  Cyrille Guimard (FRA) Fagor 186
3  Gerben Karstens (NED) Goudsmit 107
4  Marinus Wagtmans (NED) Molteni 97
5  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria 93
6  Eric Leman (BEL) Flandria 82
7  Jan Krekels (NED) Goudsmit 81
8  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot 71
9  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor 64
10  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Hoover 64

Mountains classification[edit]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[4][24]
Rank Name Team Points
1  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor 228
2  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria 180
3  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni 137
4  José-Manuel Fuente (ESP) Kas 89
5  Cyrille Guimard (FRA) Fagor 74
6  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Hoover 68
7  Bernard Thévenet (FRA) Peugeot 48
8  Vicente Lopez-Carril (ESP) Kas 47
9  Désiré Letort (FRA) Bic 38
10  Lucien Aimar (FRA) Sonolor 37

Team classification[edit]

Final team classification[24]
Rank Team Time
1 Bic 292 01' 40"
2 Molteni +20' 20"
3 Peugeot-BP +31' 39"
4 Sonolor-Lejeune +56' 32"
5 Ferretti +1h 22' 31"
6 Kas +1h 35' 39"
7 Werner +1h 51' 43"
8 Fagor-Mercier +1h 56' 08"
9 Mars-Flandria +2h 10' 32"
10 Hoover-De Gribaldy +2h 13' 11"
11 Salvarani +2h 36' 36"
12 Goudsmit +3h 28' 45"
13 Scic +3h 40' 51"

Combination classification[edit]

Final combination classification (1–8)[24]
Rank Name Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni 5
2  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria 9
3  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor 13
4  Cyrille Guimard (FRA) Fagor 14
5  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Hoover 21
6  Bernard Thévenet (FRA) Peugeot 22
7  Marinus Wagtmans (NED) Molteni 34
8  Bernard Labourdette (FRA) Bic 42

Intermediate sprints classification[edit]

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–10)[24]
Rank Name Team Points
1  Pieter Nassen (BEL) Flandria 52
2  Jos van der Vleuten (NED) Goudsmit 35
3  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni 34
4  Barry Hoban (GBR) Sonolor 26
5  Robert Mintkiewicz (FRA) Sonolor 21
6  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Flandria 20
7  Gerben Karstens (NED) Goudsmit 17
8  Raymond Riotte (FRA) Sonolor 16
9  Roberto Ballini (ITA) Ferretti 14
10  Wilmo Francioni (ITA) Ferretti 14

Other classifications[edit]

The combativity award was given to Luis Ocana.[1] The new rider classification was won by Zoetemelk.[24]

Doping cases[edit]

In total, 100 doping tests were done during the 1971 Tour de France, from which 2 returned positive:

Both received the customary punishment: a fine of 1200 Francs; being set back to the last place in the stage's results and getting ten minutes penalty time in the general classification.[25]


This Tour de France was considered the most exciting in recent years.[26] Ocana fully recovered from his injuries, and would win the 1973 Tour de France.

Further reading[edit]

  • J.B. Wadley (1971). Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocana and the 1971 Tour de France. Kennedy Brothers. OCLC 483164. 


  1. ^ a b Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Christopher S. (2008). TheThe Tour de France: A Cultural History. University of California Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-520-25630-9. Retrieved 2 March 2011. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Klimmers in het voordeel in de Tour de France 1971". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 24 June 1971. p. 21. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "58ème Tour de France 1971" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "58ème Tour de France 1971 - 2ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Groten veroorzaken ravage: Merckx kan opnieuw juichen". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 29 June 1971. p. 14. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965-2007. Dog Ear Publishing. pp. 53–66. ISBN 978-1-59858-608-4. Retrieved 2 March 2011. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Val ontneemt De Vlaeminck groene trui". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 5 July 1971. p. 16. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "Historische dag in de Tour". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 8 July 1971. p. 17. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Luis Ocana geeft Tour sensationele wending". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 9 July 1971. p. 13. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Merckx berust in nederlaag". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 10 July 1971. p. 23. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Eddy Merckx slaat toch terug". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 12 July 1971. p. 13. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c "Merckx wil Ocana's trui niet dragen". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 12 July 1971. p. 16. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "58ème Tour de France 1971 - 15ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "Merckx nu wel zeker van derde Tourzege". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 15 July 1971. p. 11. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "Merckx gaat toch in de Tour nog heersen". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 16 July 1971. p. 9. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "Merckx benadrukt overmacht in tijdrit". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 19 July 1971. p. 15. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  18. ^ Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, Part 4" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  19. ^ Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c Christian, Sarah (2 July 2009). "Tour de France demystified - Evaluating success". RoadCycling.co.nz Ltd. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  21. ^ Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Other Classifications & Awards". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  22. ^ Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Intermediate Sprints Classification". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  23. ^ Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard. ISBN 978-0-679-72936-5. Archived from the original on 2014-04-04. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Clasificaciones oficiales". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 19 July 1971. p. 19. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "Twee Fransen "positief"". Limburgsch Dagblad (in Dutch) (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). 19 July 1971. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  26. ^ "Een mythe is voorbij". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 12 July 1971. p. 13. Retrieved 2 March 2011.