|Region||Chevreuse to Loire, France|
|Competition||UCI Europe Tour|
|Editions||107 (as of 2013)|
|First winner||Eugène Prévost (FRA)|
|Most recent||John Degenkolb (GER)|
Paris–Tours is a French single-day classic cycling race held every October from the outskirts of Paris to the cathedral city of Tours. It is a fairly flat course through the Chevreuse and Loire valleys; the highest point is 200m, at Le Gault-du-Perche. It is known as the “Sprinters' Classic” because it frequently ends in a bunch sprint on the 2.7 km long Avenue du Grammont, in Tours. The 2010 edition of Paris–Tours was the last one to finish on the Avenue de Grammont as a new tram line is to be built in Tours and the race will finish at an alternative location.
Paris–Tours was first run for amateurs in 1896, making it one of the oldest cycling races in the world. It was organised by the magazine Paris-Vélo, which described that edition won by Eugène Prévost as, “A crazy, unheard of, unhoped for success”. It was five years before the race was run again and a further five years (1906) before it became an annual event for professionals, with L'Auto as organiser. L’Auto ran the Tour de France (TDF) and Paris–Tours is still run by the Tour organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation.
Paris–Tours has had many route changes although the distance has remained about 250 km. The start was moved out of Paris in the early days, first to Versailles, then to at Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines. Since 2009, the has started in the Department of Eure-et-Loir. A loop through Chinon was added between 1919 and 1926 to make the approach to Tours hilly lanes on the south bank of the Loire and the total distance 342 km. Sprinters continued to dominate and in 1959 the organisers added three ascents of the Alouette Hill. It made little difference.
In 1965 dérailleurs were banned and riders were limited to two gears. The race was won by Dutch first-year professional Gerben Karstens who chose 53x16 and 53x15, covering 246 km at a record 45.029kmh. The experiment was judged a failure when the 1966 race ended the same way as 1964.
The course was reversed and the route constantly changed between 1974 and 1987. It was sometimes known as the Grand Prix d'Automne and sometimes by the names of the start and finish towns. For many the event lost character as the race was run between Tours and Versailles (1974–75) Blois and Chaville (1976–77 and 1979–84), Blois to Autodrome de Montlhéry (1978) and Créteil to Chaville (1985–87). In 1988 the race reverted to its original Paris–Tours route.
The wind can often be hostile; in 1988 Peter Pieters averaged just 34kmh, slowest for 57 years. However,Paris–Tours becomes the fastest classic when the wind is behind the riders, Óscar Freire winning in 2010 at 47.730kmh. It gave him the Ruban Jaune or "Yellow Riband" for the fastest speed in a classic, in fact the Ruban Jaune has been awarded seven times to riders winning Paris–Tours and posting the fastest time in a professional race.
Classic races and riders
The 1921 edition had blizzards. Half the field abandoned in Chartres. The winner, Francis Pélissier, punctured late in the race; his hands frozen, he tore the tyre off the rim with his teeth. Riding on the rim, he caught Eugène Christophe and soloed to the finish. Rik van Looy won the 1959 race, the first to feature the Alouette Hill. One of the best sprinters of his day, van Looy dropped two others on the second ascent and won alone.
The record for the most victories is three, held by Gustaf Daneels (1934, 1936, 1937), Paul Mayé (1941, 1942, 1945), Guido Reybroeck (1964, 1966, 1968) and Erik Zabel (1994, 2003, 2005).
Eddy Merckx never won Paris–Tours; he should have triumphed in 1968 but handed victory to team mate Guido Reybrouck, pulling out of the sprint, to thank him for help earlier in the season. Erik Zabel took his first big victory at Paris–Tours in 1994. Zabel won the Tour de France green jersey six times. He won Paris–Tours again in 2003 and 2005. Jacky Durand, Andrea Tafi, Marc Wauters, Richard Virenque, Erik Dekker and Philippe Gilbert (two times) have all won solo or from a small group, denying sprinters a chance. Virenque had just returned from a drugs ban. He broke away with Durand shortly after the start and stayed away despite Durand's dropping back outside Tours.
The Autumn Double
The Autumn Double refers to Paris–Tours and the Giro di Lombardia, run within a week of each other. The races are different - Lombardia is for climbers - making the double difficult. Only four have achieved it: Philippe Thys (Belgium) in 1917, van Looy in 1959, Dutchman Jo de Roo twice (1962–1963) and Belgian Philippe Gilbert in 2009.
Winners by Nationality
|# of Victories||Country|
In 1917 and 1918 a race was held from Tours–Paris as well as Paris–Tours.
The winners of Tours–Paris were:
|1917||Deruyter, CharlesCharles Deruyter (BEL)|
|1918||Thys, PhilippePhilippe Thys (BEL)|
- "Paris-Tours' last showdown on the Avenue de Grammont". Cyclingnews.com. October 10, 2010.
- The Spring Classics: Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races
- European Cycling (The Twenty Greatest Races) - Noel Henderson. ISBN 0-941950-20-4
- A Century of Cycling - William Fotheringham. ISBN 1-84000-654-4