1937 Tour de France

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1937 Tour de France
Tour de France 1937.png
Route of the 1937 Tour de France
Followed clockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates 30 June–25 July 1937
Stages 20 (31 including split stages)
Distance 4,415 km (2,743 mi)
Winning time 138h 58' 31"
Winner  Roger Lapébie (France) (France)
Second  Mario Vicini (Italy) (Individual[1])
Third  Léo Amberg (Switzerland) (Switzerland)

Mountains  Félicien Vervaecke (Belgium) (Belgium)
Team France

The 1937 Tour de France was the 31st Tour de France, taking place June 30 to July 25, 1937. It consisted of 20 stages with a total length of 4415 km, ridden at an average speed of 31.768 km/h.[2]

Charles Holland and Bill Burl became the first British cyclists to ride the Tour. Burl lasted only two stages, but Holland rode well until he was eliminated on stage 14C after mechanical problems.[3] The British Empire was also represented by the only non-European in the Tour: Canadian Pierre Gachon, who never completed the first stage. The complete Belgian team (including 1936 and 1939 winner Sylvère Maes) withdraw from the race because of "French chauvinism". Complaints from the Belgian team included of French spectators throwing stones at the Belgian team, closing train crossings, and throwing pepper in the eyes, and being punished unreasonable strictly (adding extra time in the standing) while French riders were hardly punished at all while being helped.

The race was won by French cyclist Roger Lapébie.

Changes from the 1936 Tour de France[edit]

The Tours from 1903 to 1936 had all been organised by Henri Desgrange, but during the 1936 Tour de France he had to stop due to health reasons, and Jacques Goddet took over. The Tour in 1937 was the first Tour where Goddet was in charge, and one of the first rules that he changed was to allow gear changes.[4][5] Each team had its own car with extra material to help with mechanical problems.[4]


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1937 Tour de France.

The Italian team, that had been absent from the 1936 Tour de France, returned in 1937, after Benito Mussolini removed their boycott of the Tour, and selected new star Gino Bartali, who had won the 1936 and 1937 Giro d'Italia, as the Italian team leader.[3][6] The Italian team had 10 cyclists, just as the Belgian, German and French teams. There were also small teams of six cyclists: the Spanish, Dutch, Luxembourgian and Swiss teams. The last national team was the Great Britain-Canada team, consisting of two British cyclists and one Canadian.[4]

The French team included Roger Lapébie. Lapébie had had a difficult relation with Desgrange. This had caused Lapébie to be out of the national team in 1935, and completely absent from the Tour in 1936. In 1937, Desgrange had retired, and Lapébie was back. In the month before the Tour started, Lapébie had undergone surgery for a lumbur hernia, and there were doubts about his form.[5]

There were also 31 cyclists riding as individuals.[4] These individuals were responsible for their own food and accommodation.[5]

Route and stages[edit]

Stage characteristics and winners[4][7]
Stage Date[8] Course Type[Notes 1] Distance Winner
1 30 June Paris to Lille Plain stage 263 km (163 mi)  Jean Majerus (LUX)
2 1 July Lille to Charleville Plain stage 192 km (119 mi)  Maurice Archambaud (FRA)
3 2 July Charleville to Metz Plain stage 161 km (100 mi)  Walter Generati (ITA)
4 3 July Metz to Belfort Stage with mountain(s) 220 km (140 mi)  Erich Bautz (GER)
5A 4 July Belfort to Lons-le-Saunier Plain stage 175 km (109 mi)  Henri Puppo (FRA)
5B Lons-le-Saunier to Champagnole Time Trial.svg Team time trial 34 km (21 mi)  Sylvère Maes (BEL)
5C Champagnole to Geneva Plain stage 93 km (58 mi)  Leo Amberg (SUI)
6 6 July Geneva to Aix-les-Bains Stage with mountain(s) 180 km (110 mi)  Gustaaf Deloor (BEL)
7 7 July Aix-les-Bains to Grenoble Stage with mountain(s) 228 km (142 mi)  Gino Bartali (ITA)
8 8 July Grenoble to Briançon Stage with mountain(s) 194 km (121 mi)  Otto Weckerling (GER)
9 9 July Briançon to Digne Stage with mountain(s) 220 km (140 mi)  Roger Lapébie (FRA)
10 11 July Digne to Nice Stage with mountain(s) 251 km (156 mi)  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
11A 13 July Nice to Toulon Plain stage 169 km (105 mi)  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
11B Toulon to Marseille Time Trial.svg Team time trial 65 km (40 mi)  Gustaaf Danneels (BEL)
12A 14 July Marseille to Nîmes Plain stage 112 km (70 mi)  Alphonse Antoine (FRA)
12B Nîmes to Montpellier Plain stage 51 km (32 mi)  René Pedroli (SUI)
13A 15 July Montpellier to Narbonne Plain stage 103 km (64 mi)  Francesco Camusso (ITA)
13B Narbonne to Perpignan Plain stage 63 km (39 mi)  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
14A 17 July Perpignan to Bourg-Madame Plain stage 99 km (62 mi)  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
14B Bourg-Madame to Ax-les-Thermes Stage with mountain(s) 59 km (37 mi)  Mariano Canardo (ESP)
14C Ax-les-Thermes to Luchon Stage with mountain(s) 167 km (104 mi)  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
15 19 July Luchon to Pau Stage with mountain(s) 194 km (121 mi)  Julian Berrendero (ESP)
16 21 July Pau to Bordeaux Plain stage 235 km (146 mi)  Paul Chocque (FRA)
17A 22 July Bordeaux to Royan Plain stage 123 km (76 mi)  Erich Bautz (GER)
17B Royan to Saintes Plain stage 37 km (23 mi)  Adolph Braeckeveldt (BEL)
 Heinz Wengler (GER)[Notes 2]
17C Saintes to La Rochelle Plain stage 67 km (42 mi)  Roger Lapébie (FRA)
18A 23 July La Rochelle to La Roche-sur-Yon Time Trial.svg Team time trial 82 km (51 mi)  Roger Lapébie (FRA)
18B La Roche-sur-Yon to Rennes Plain stage 172 km (107 mi)  Paul Chocque (FRA)
19A 24 July Rennes to Vire Plain stage 114 km (71 mi)  Raymond Passat (FRA)
19B Vire to Caen Time Trial.svg Individual time trial 59 km (37 mi)  Leo Amberg (SUI)
20 25 July Caen to Paris Plain stage 234 km (145 mi)  Edward Vissers (BEL)

Stage 19B was an individual time trial, stages 5B, 11B and 18A were team time trials, although the victory was still given the cyclist who crossed the line first. At the start of the Tour, it was also the intention to run stages 12B, 13B, 14B and 17B as time trials,[9] but during the Tour the organisation changed the format.

Race overview[edit]

A man holding a prize cup
Frenchman Roger Lapébie, being honoured for his victory in the 1937 Tour de France in Paris.

German Erich Bautz took the lead after the fourth stage, thanks to the bonification system that could give the winner of a stage some minutes bonification time.[3] In the seventh stage, Bartali took the stage victory, and with that the lead in the general classification. He was nine minutes ahead of Ward Vissers, and that could just be enough for the Tour victory.[3] On the eighth stage, Bartali could not avoid his team mate Jules Rossi who crashed right in front of him, and Bartali fell into a river.[5][6] He got up and was able to finish the stage. He lost 10 minutes and kept the lead, but in the next stage he lost more than twenty minutes, and in the twelfth stage he gave up.[3]

In the ninth stage, Sylvère Maes took over the lead, closely followed by Mario Vicini and Roger Lapébie. At that point, the French team was already down to six cyclists. These six cyclists had a meeting, and decided that Lapébie would be the team leader, as the rest of the team was already to far behind to have any chance for the final victory.[5]

Before the start of the fifteenth stage, Lapébie found out that the frame of his bicycle had been sabotaged,[10] causing his handlebars to break off.[6] Lapébie made quick repairs and just made it to the start of the stage, but his newly constructed bicycle did not have a water holder, and he had to start the stage without water.[5] This demotivated him, and Lapébie began losing time early in the stage. That stage included four mountains, and on top of the second mountain Lapébie was already five minutes behind, and wanted to give up. A team mate inspired him to go on, and Lapébie started to win back time. When Maes punctured, Lapébie was able to reach him, and at the end of the stage only Julián Berrendero was in front of them, and Lapébie won the sprint for the second place.[11] This rewarded him with 45 seconds bonification time. When the tour directors gave him 90 seconds penalty time for having been pushed, the margin with Maes grew to more than three minutes, but Lapébie had sensed weakness in the Belgian team, and planned to attack in the next stage.[6] The Belgian team complained that the penalty was far too little, because Lapébie's advantage had been much more. The French team threatened to abandon the race if the penalty would be increased, and the Tour direction did not change the penalty.[5]

In the sixteenth stage Lapébie finished ahead of Maes, and cut the margin down to only 25 seconds, but with only flat stage that could be enough for Maes.[3] During that sixteenth stage, Maes had punctured, and had been help by two Belgian cyclists, Gustaaf Deloor and Adolf Braeckeveldt.[12] However, these Belgian cyclists rode as "individuals", and were not part of the Belgian team. The Tour jury then fined Maes with 15 seconds penalty time in the general classification. During the race, a train crossing had been closed just after Lapébie had passed, and just before Maes was about to pass.[5] Maes was offended by all this, and quit the race, together with the rest of the Belgian team.[3] From that point on, it was easy for Lapébie to secure his victory.

Classification leadership[edit]

The time that each cyclist required to finish each stage was recorded, and these times were added together for the general classification. If a cyclist had received a time bonus, it was subtracted from this total; all time penalties were added to this total. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey. Leo Amberg became the first Swiss cyclist to reach the podium of the general classification in the Tour de France.[4]

For the mountains classification, 17 mountains were selected by the Tour organisation. After the last mountain in the fifteenth stage, the classification was won by Félicien Vervaecke. Vervaecke did not finish the Tour, but in 1937 that was not needed to win the mountains classification.

The team classification was calculated in 1937 by adding up the times of the best three cyclists of a team; the team with the least time was the winner. The time for the Spanish team, which finished with only two cyclists, was calculated by adding the time of the final rider in the general classification, plus one hour penalty time. The Belgian, Dutch, and British-Canadian teams did not finish with two or more cyclists, so they were not eligible for the team classification.

Classification leadership by stage
Stage General classification
Jersey yellow.svg
Mountains classification Classification for individuals Team classification
1 Jean Majerus no award Adolphe Braeckeveldt Luxembourg
2 France
3 Marcel Kint Belgium
4 Erich Bautz Erich Bautz Germany
5a Luxembourg
6 Gino Bartali Belgium
7 Gino Bartali France
9 Sylvère Maes Félicien Vervaecke Mario Vicini Belgium
17a Roger Lapébie France
Final Roger Lapébie Félicien Vervaecke Mario Vicini France

Final standings[edit]

General classification[edit]

Final general classification (1–10)[4][13]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Roger Lapébie (FRA) France 138h 58' 31"
2  Mario Vicini (ITA) Individual[1] +7' 17"
3  Leo Amberg (SUI) Switzerland +26' 13"
4  Francesco Camusso (ITA) Italy +26' 53"
5  Sylvain Marcaillou (FRA) France +35' 36"
6  Edouard Vissers (BEL) Individual +38' 13"
7  Paul Chocque (FRA) France +1h 05' 19"
8  Pierre Gallien (FRA) Individual +1h 06' 33"
9  Erich Bautz (GER) Germany +1h 06' 41"
10  Jean Frechaut (FRA) Individual +1h 24' 34"

Team classification[edit]

Team classification (1–6)[3][13]
Rank Team Time
1 France 418h 36' 28"
2 Italy +2h 54' 18"
3 Germany +3h 12' 22"
4 Switzerland +3h 57' 35"
5  Spain +10h 04' 07"
6 Luxembourg +10h 42' 01"

Mountains classification[edit]

Mountains in the 1937 mountains classification[4]
Stage Name Height Mountain range[14] Winner
4 Ballon d'Alsace 1,178 metres (3,865 ft) Vosges Erich Bautz
6 Aravis 1,498 metres (4,915 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
6 Tamié 920 metres (3,020 ft) Alps Félicien Vervaecke
7 Galibier 2,556 metres (8,386 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
8 Laffrey 900 metres (3,000 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
9 Izoard 2,361 metres (7,746 ft) Alps Julián Berrendero
9 Vars 2,110 metres (6,920 ft) Alps Edward Vissers
9 Allos 2,250 metres (7,380 ft) Alps Mario Vicini
10 Braus 1,002 metres (3,287 ft) Alps-Maritimes Félicien Vervaecke
10 La Turbie 555 metres (1,821 ft) Alps-Maritimes Henri Puppo
14B Puymorens 1,920 metres (6,300 ft) Pyrénées Julián Berrendero
14C Port 1,249 metres (4,098 ft) Pyrénées Julián Berrendero
14C Portet d'Aspet 1,069 metres (3,507 ft) Pyrénées Julián Berrendero
15 Peyresourde 1,569 metres (5,148 ft) Pyrénées Julián Berrendero
15 Aspin 1,489 metres (4,885 ft) Pyrénées Yvon Marie
15 Tourmalet 2,115 metres (6,939 ft) Pyrénées Sylvère Maes
15 Aubisque 1,709 metres (5,607 ft) Pyrénées Sylvère Maes
Mountains classification (1–5)[4][15]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium 114
2  Mario Vicini (ITA) Individual[1] 96
3  Sylvère Maes (BEL) Belgium 90
4  Julián Berrendero (ESP) Spain 75
5  Ward Vissers (BEL) Individual 66


The riders in the individual category had performed very well in the 1937 Tour de France; the second-placed cyclist in the general classification had started in the individuals category, as were in total twelve cyclists in the top twenty.[5] Still, the category was removed after 1937.


  1. ^ The icons shown here indicate whether the stage was run as a time trial, the stage was flat or the stage included mountains for the mountains classification.
  2. ^ Braeckeveldt and Wengler were both declared winner of stage 17B, and split the bonification time.


  1. ^ a b c Vicini had started as an individual, but was added to the Italian team after stage 18A.
  2. ^ Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Tom James (15 August 2003). "1937: Lapébie wins after the Belgians withdraw". Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "31ème Tour de France 1937" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 2009-10-08. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. dog ear publishing. pp. 132–139. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d Barry Boyce (2004). "1937- Tour Provides Great Racing Drama". Top 25 All Time Tours. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  8. ^ Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, part 3" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 15 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "La grande aventure commence... En selle pour 4.410 kilometres!". Le Petit Parisien (in French). Gallica. 30 June 1937. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Tour - Year 1937". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "31ème Tour de France 1937 - 15ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "31ème Tour de France 1937 - 16ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Roger Lapebie y Francia inscriben sus nombres en el palmarés" (in Spanish). El mundo deportivo. 26 July 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  14. ^ Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, part 8" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  15. ^ Michiel van Lonkhuyzen. "Tour-giro-vuelta". Retrieved 14 January 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to 1937 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons