André Boucher

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André Boucher (5 May 1910, Bernay, Eure [1] – 27 January 1993, Rouen) [1][2] was a French moderate professional racing cyclist and a talented coach who trained the Tour de France winner, Jacques Anquetil, and the world champion, Jean Jourden. He is remembered by a memorial in Rouen.

Racing career[edit]

André Boucher began racing seriously in 1930, when he won the Prix Delecta-Couronne at Petite Couronne. He had two further wins that year, two in 1931, five in 1933, three in 1935, two in 1936, the year in which he became a professional, one in 1937, two in 1938. His racing was then interrupted by France's declaration of war in 1939 and the German invasion of France in 1940. He raced again in 1943, winning his club's own race, but there are no records beyond 1945.

Coach[edit]

Boucher opened a cycle shop in the Place Trianon in Sotteville, the docks suburb of Rouen.[3] He was already a member of Auto Cycle Sotteville, which had been founded in 1898 and of which he had been director since 1946.[2] He used a Derny pacing motorcycle to accompany club riders in training sessions. The journalist, Pierre Joly, called him "one of the best coaches in French cycling."[4] Among the riders Boucher trained were Claude Le Ber (national pursuit champion 1955), Jean Jourden (world amateur champion 1961) and Francis Bazire (silver medallist, world amateur championship 1963). He led Sotteville riders to win the national team time-trial championship in 1953, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1977 and 1978.[3]

It was with Jacques Anquetil, however, that he had his greatest success. Anquetil, who referred to him as Papa Boucher,[5] worked with him throughout his career[5]

Anquetil lived 10 km outside Rouen, at Quincampoix, where his father worked as a strawberry farmer. He learned metal-turning at a college at Sotteville and ran in cross-country races at the weekend. A friend at the college, Maurice Dieulois, was a member of Boucher's club and impressed Anquetil by more than just his riding. Anquetil said: "[I] was impressed by the way girls were attracted to Dieulois because he had become a coureur cycliste ... so I gave up my first choice - running - and joined the club as well."[6]

Dieulois took Anquetil to Boucher's shop in 1950. Boucher quickly saw the new member's talent and began taking him to races in his old Lancia. He loaned Anquetil his first racing bike. Anquetil stayed with his club at Sotteville throughout his life and returned regularly to Boucher for advice and to train behind his Derny.[7] He called Boucher a methodical man who "turned the ACS into a severe club with no end of things we were forbidden to do."[8][9] The British journalist Jock Wadley, who knew Anquetil and had met Boucher, said Anquetil regularly insisted Boucher take him out behind his Derny and never to relax the speed "regardless of the protests of the rider."[10] Pierre Joly, who worked with Anquetil on his biography, suggested it was the other way round, that Anquetil would shout in protest but that Boucher would tap his helmet and ear-muffles to suggest he hadn't heard.

Boucher produced his last champion in 1982, when Philippe Bouvatier won the national junior road race in 1982. After that the AC Sottevillais declined. In 1990, three years before Boucher's death, the club was taken over by its present president, Joël Hacquet. He restarted from zero by recruiting riders of around 11 and 12 years old, running what in France is known as an école de cyclisme and encouraging riders of 17 and 18 to maintain their studies as they trained and raced. The club now has 80 members, who have won regional championships on the road and track.

Death and memorial[edit]

Boucher died when he was 82, in 1993. Jacky Hardy, a Sotteville rider who became a professional and then worked with the Canadian national team in Europe, said: "He was a great man. He was perhaps more of an administrator than a technician but with what we know now about preparation, we can see that what he did wasn't so far from what we do now."[7][11]

Boucher is remembered by a memorial at the Antenne roundabout, near the Paradis bend on the old Circuit des Essarts at Rouen. It stands not far from the rue Jacques Anquetil. Inaugurated in June 2006, the plaque reads: "Hommage to André Boucher, 1910-1993, emblematic official and trainer of the Auto-Cycle Sottevillais. He trained numerous champions and gave the club one of the most glorious record of successes of French amateur cycling." The memorial is a stylised face talking or shouting to a passing cyclist.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b André Boucher profile at Cycling Archives
  2. ^ a b L'Humanité, France, 29 January 1993
  3. ^ a b L'Auto Cycle Sottevillais, Vélo, France, November 2007
  4. ^ Anquetil, Jacques (1966) (preface), En Brulant les Étapes, Calmann-Levy, France, ISBN not given, p21
  5. ^ a b http://www.michel1948pierre27.blogspot.com/2006/01/figures-du-sicle-jacques-anquetil.html
  6. ^ Anquetil, Jacques (1966): En brûlant les étapes, Calmann-Levy, France
  7. ^ a b http://www.cyclismag.com/article.php?sid=549
  8. ^ M. Boucher avait fait de l'ACS un club sevère où fleurissaient les interdictions.
  9. ^ Anquetil, Jacques (1966), En brûlant les étapes, Calmann-Levy, France, p66
  10. ^ Sporting Cyclist, UK, undated cutting
  11. ^ Un grand Monsieur. Il était peut être plus dirigeant que technicien mais avec ce qu'on sait maintenant en préparation, on se rend compte qu'on n'était pas si loin de ce qui se fait aujourd'hui."