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1969 Tour de France

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1969 Tour de France
Route of the 1969 Tour de France
Route of the 1969 Tour de France
Race details
Dates28 June – 20 July 1969
Stages22 + Prologue, including three split stages
Distance4,117 km (2,558 mi)
Winning time116h 16' 02"
Winner  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faema)
  Second  Roger Pingeon (FRA) (Peugeot–BP–Michelin)
  Third  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) (Mercier–BP–Hutchinson)

Points  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faema)
  Mountains  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faema)
Combination  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faema)
  Sprints  Eric Leman (BEL) (Flandria–De Clerck–Krüger)
  Combativity  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Faema)
  Team Faema
← 1968
1970 →

The 1969 Tour de France was the 56th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place between 28 June and 20 July, with 22 stages covering a distance of 4,117 km (2,558 mi). The participant teams were no longer national teams, but were once more commercially sponsored. The race was won by Eddy Merckx who absolutely dominated the rest of the field. As an example in 1967 nine riders finished within 20:00 of the winner, in 1968 nineteen riders were within 20:00 but in 1969 the 10th place rider was +52:56, the 20th place rider was +1:17:36 and only Roger Pingeon finished inside 20:00 of Merckx.

The 1969 race is the only time that a single cyclist has won the general classification, the points classification and the mountains classification as well. Eddy Merckx rode on the winning team, Faema, and also won the combination classification as well as the combativity award.


In 1967 and 1968, the Tour was contested by national teams, but in 1969 the commercially sponsored teams were back.[1] The Tour started with 13 teams, each with 10 cyclists:[2] Eddy Merckx had been removed from the 1969 Giro d'Italia in leading position because of a positive doping result, and was initially not allowed to join the 1969 Tour de France, but his suspension was later lifted.[1]

The teams entering the race were:[2]

Route and stages[edit]

The 1969 Tour de France started on 28 June, and had no rest days.[3] The highest point of elevation in the race was 2,556 m (8,386 ft) at the summit tunnel of the Col du Galibier mountain pass on stage 10.[4][5]

Stage characteristics and winners[1][3][6][7]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 28 June Roubaix 10 km (6.2 mi) Individual time trial  Rudi Altig (FRG)
1a 29 June Roubaix to Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, Belgium) 147 km (91 mi) Plain stage  Marino Basso (ITA)
1b Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (Belgium) 16 km (9.9 mi) Team time trial  Faema
2 30 June Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (Belgium) to Maastricht (Netherlands) 182 km (113 mi) Plain stage  Julien Stevens (BEL)
3 1 July Maastricht (Netherlands) to Charleville-Mézières 213 km (132 mi) Plain stage  Eric Leman (BEL)
4 2 July Charleville-Mézières to Nancy 214 km (133 mi) Plain stage  Rik Van Looy (BEL)
5 3 July Nancy to Mulhouse 194 km (121 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Joaquim Agostinho (POR)
6 4 July Mulhouse to Ballon d'Alsace 133 km (83 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
7 5 July Belfort to Divonne-les-Bains 241 km (150 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Mariano Díaz (ESP)
8a 6 July Divonne-les-Bains 9 km (5.6 mi) Individual time trial  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
8b Divonne-les-Bains to Thonon-les-Bains 137 km (85 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Michele Dancelli (ITA)
9 7 July Thonon-les-Bains to Chamonix 111 km (69 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Roger Pingeon (FRA)
10 8 July Chamonix to Briançon 221 km (137 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Herman Van Springel (BEL)
11 9 July Briançon to Digne 198 km (123 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
12 10 July Digne to Aubagne 161 km (100 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Felice Gimondi (ITA)
13 11 July Aubagne to La Grande-Motte 196 km (122 mi) Plain stage  Guido Reybrouck (BEL)
14 12 July La Grande-Motte to Revel 234 km (145 mi) Plain stage  Joaquim Agostinho (POR)
15 13 July Revel 19 km (12 mi) Individual time trial  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
16 14 July Castelnaudary to Luchon 199 km (124 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Raymond Delisle (FRA)
17 15 July Luchon to Mourenx 214 km (133 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
18 16 July Mourenx to Bordeaux 201 km (125 mi) Plain stage  Barry Hoban (GBR)
19 17 July Bordeaux to Brive 193 km (120 mi) Plain stage  Barry Hoban (GBR)
20 18 July Brive to Puy de Dôme 198 km (123 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Pierre Matignon (FRA)
21 19 July Clermont-Ferrand to Montargis 329 km (204 mi) Plain stage  Herman Van Springel (BEL)
22a 20 July Montargis to Créteil 111 km (69 mi) Plain stage  Jozef Spruyt (BEL)
22b Créteil to Paris 37 km (23 mi) Individual time trial  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
Total 4,117 km (2,558 mi)[8]

Race overview[edit]

Julien Stevens after his win in Maastricht, Netherlands, on stage two

Rudi Altig won the prologue, where Merckx finished second. In the team time trial in the second part of the first stage, Merckx's team won, and this gave Merckx the lead.

In the second stage, a group escaped, with Merckx's teammate Julien Stevens as highest-ranked cyclist. There were no dangerous competitors in the escape, so Merckx did not chase them. The group stayed away, and Stevens took over the lead, with Merckx in second place.

In the fourth stage, Rik Van Looy escaped, because he wanted to show that even at the age of 35, he should still be selected for the Belgian squad for the 1969 UCI Road World Championships.[9] Van Looy quickly took several minutes, and became the virtual leader of the race. With less than 40 km to go, Stevens tried to defend his lead by attacking. He was followed by a group of cyclists, including René Pijnen, one of Van Looy's teammates. Pijnen was trying to stop the chase, and this angered the other cyclists in the group. The group nonetheless was able to reduce the margin to less than a minute, and Stevens conserved his lead.[9]

In the fifth stage, Stevens was not able to stay in the first group. Désiré Letort, who had joined Stevens in the chase the previous stage, became the new leader, 9 seconds ahead of Merckx.

The first mountains showed up in the sixth stage, with a mountain finish on the Ballon d'Alsace. Merckx won convincingly: Joaquim Galera was second after 55 seconds, Altig after almost two minutes, and the next cyclist came after more than four minutes. Because Letort was more than seven minutes behind, Merckx was now the leader, with Altig in second place, more than two minutes behind. Notably, the 1965, 1967 and 1968 Tour de France winners in Felice Gimondi, Roger Pingeon and Jan Janssen were all distanced into the surviving peloton group which finished some two and a half minutes behind Altig.[10]

Merckx won the short time trial in stage 8, but only gained two seconds on Altig. Stage 8B was a half stage in which Andrés Gandarias and Michele Dancelli got away from the bunch by almost two minutes setting themselves up for a sprint but Dancelli pulled away near the end and won by four seconds.

In the ninth stage, Roger Pingeon and Merckx were away, with Pingeon winning the sprint. Altig lost almost eight minutes, and was out of contention. The second place was now taken by Pingeon, more than five minutes behind. Stage 10 saw the previous year's runner up Herman Van Springel win the stage which included the climbs of the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier. He finished about two minutes ahead of the Merckx group with the GC only changing slightly.[11]

Merckx added some time in the eleventh stage, which he won, and the twelfth stage, where he finished in the first group. After the twelfth stage, Merckx was leading by more than seven minutes. After he won the time trial in stage fifteen, it was more than eight minutes.

By then, his victory was all but assured, he just had to make sure that he stayed with his competitors. In the seventeenth stage however, Merckx did something historic. This stage would see the climbs of the Col de Peyresourde, Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aubisque[12] and the Faema team controlled the pace of the bunch from the very start. Martin Van Den Bossche set a devastating pace while climbing the Tourmalet causing the surviving main field to break apart. Nearing the summit Merckx attacked to claim the points but as he cleared the summit he realized no one else was with him and he attacked again as the descent began. At the bottom of the hill several minutes later he had built a lead of about a minute and it only began to grow from there. Lomme Driessens, the Directeur Sportif for Faema, told Merckx to sit up and wait for the others while taking a few minutes to get some food in him as there was still 105 kilometers to go. Merckx didn't always agree with Driessens on tactics[13] and had second thoughts about sitting up and waiting for everyone else to catch up. When he got his next time check and realized he now had a gap of +3:00 he decided to attack even harder and by the time he reached the summit of the Aubisque he had a gap of about +7:00. He rode consistently with undeniable power as the surviving reduced peloton just could not bring him back, or even cut into the lead he was continuously building over them.[14]

Michele Dancelli crossed the line in 2nd within a group of seven riders just shy of eight minutes behind Merckx. Everyone else including the defending champ was close to or well beyond fifteen minutes behind Merckx. This stage nearly doubled what was already almost certainly an insurmountable lead, and was a defining moment in cycling history when a rider did something that seemed impossible and would likely never be seen again.[15] By winning the final time trial, he increased his winning margin to almost eighteen minutes.

July 20 the race ended with a split stage that arrived in Paris with a 37 km individual time trial. The winner of the Points Classification was Merckx, the winner of the Combination Classification was Merckx, the winner of the King of the Mountains competition was Merckx, the Yellow Jersey was won for the first time by Merckx, Merckx was also named the Most Combative Rider and won six stages. Before or since no other rider has accomplished winning all of these competitions in the same tour.

Eric Leman narrowly won the Sprints Competition ahead of the French speaking, Belgian-British rider Michael Wright.

During the 2019 Tour de France Eddy Merckx and the 50th anniversary of this Tour were honored at the Grand Depart in Belgium.[16]


After the controversial doping-incident with Merckx in the 1969 Giro, the rules for doping offences were changed: riders were no longer removed from the race, but were given a penalty of fifteen minutes in the general classification.[17] After every stage in the 1969 Tour, three cyclists were tested. These were either the first three of the stage, the first three in the general classification, or three randomly selected cyclists.[17] Five riders tested positive: Henk Nijdam, Jozef Timmerman, Rudi Altig, Bernard Guyot and Pierre Matignon.[18][19] Nijdam, Timmerman and Altig requested their B samples to be tested, but they also returned positive. Altig, Guyot and Matignon were given the time penalty of fifteen minutes; Nijdam and Timmerman had already left the race when the results came out.[19]

Classification leadership and minor prizes[edit]

Eddy Merckx and his team celebrating his first victory in the 1969 Tour de France

There were several classifications in the 1969 Tour de France, three of them awarding jerseys to their leaders.[20] 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.[21]

Additionally, there was a points classification, which awarded a green jersey. In the points classification, 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.[22]

There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorised 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-categorised climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, but was not identified with a jersey in 1969.[23]

Another classification was the combination classification. This classification was calculated as a combination of the other classifications, its leader wore the white jersey.[24] Specifically it combined the rankings of the general, points, and mountains classifications.[25]

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 1969, this classification had no associated jersey.[26]

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 led this classification wore yellow caps.[26]

In addition, there was a combativity award given after each stage to the cyclist considered most combative. The split stages each had a combined winner. The decision was made by a jury composed of journalists who gave points. The cyclist with the most points from votes in all stages led the combativity classification.[27] Eddy Merckx won this classification, and was given overall the super-combativity award.[3] The Souvenir Henri Desgrange was given to the first rider to pass the memorial to Tour founder Henri Desgrange near the summit of the Col du Galibier on stage 10. This prize was won by Merckx.[28][29]

Classification leadership by stage[30][31]
Stage Winner General classification
Points classification
Mountains classification[a] Combination classification
Intermediate sprints classification Team classification Combativity
Award Classification
P Rudi Altig Rudi Altig Rudi Altig no award no award no award Salvarani no award no award
1a Marino Basso Marino Basso Roger De Vlaeminck Eddy Merckx Wilfried David Jean-Pierre Genet Jean-Pierre Genet
1b Faema Eddy Merckx Faema
2 Julien Stevens Julien Stevens Rudi Altig Rudi Altig
3 Eric Leman Michael Wright Jozef Timmerman Jozef Timmerman
4 Rik Van Looy Wilfried David Rik Van Looy
5 Joaquim Agostinho Désiré Letort Michael Wright Salvarani Joaquim Agostinho Joaquim Agostinho
6 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Rudi Altig
7 Mariano Díaz Roger De Vlaeminck Joaquim Galera Mariano Díaz
8a Eddy Merckx Michele Dancelli
8b Michele Dancelli
9 Roger Pingeon Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Roger Pingeon
10 Herman Van Springel Faema Roger Pingeon
11 Eddy Merckx Raymond Riotte Fagor Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx
12 Felice Gimondi Kas–Kaskol Felice Gimondi
13 Guido Reybrouck Raymond Riotte
14 Joaquim Agostinho Michael Wright Joaquim Agostinho Joaquim Agostinho
15 Eddy Merckx Faema Raymond Delisle
16 Raymond Delisle Kas–Kaskol Eddy Merckx
17 Eddy Merckx Faema Bernard Guyot Eddy Merckx
18 Barry Hoban Wladimiro Panizza
19 Barry Hoban Eric Leman Pierre Matignon
20 Pierre Matignon Roland Berland
21 Herman Van Springel
22a Jozef Spruyt Roland Berland
22b Eddy Merckx
Final Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Eric Leman Faema Eddy Merckx

Final standings[edit]

A yellow jersey. Denotes the winner of the general classification A green jersey. Denotes the winner of the points classification
A white jersey. Denotes the winner of the combination classification

General classification[edit]

Final general classification (1–10)[32]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A green jersey. A white jersey. Faema 116h 16' 02"
2  Roger Pingeon (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin + 17' 54"
3  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Mercier–BP–Hutchinson + 22' 13"
4  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Salvarani + 29' 24"
5  Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol + 33' 04"
6  Marinus Wagtmans (NED) Willem II–Gazelle + 33' 57"
7  Pierfranco Vianelli (ITA) Molteni + 42' 40"
8  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Frimatic–de Gribaldy–Viva–Wolber + 51' 24"
9  Désiré Letort (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin + 51' 41"
10  Jan Janssen (NED) Bic + 52' 56"

Points classification[edit]

Final points classification (1–10)[1][33]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A green jersey. A white jersey. Faema 244
2  Jan Janssen (NED) Bic 150
3  Marinus Wagtmans (NED) Willem II–Gazelle 136
4  Roger Pingeon (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 131
5  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Salvarani 108
6  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Mercier–BP–Hutchinson 99
7  Michele Dancelli (ITA) Molteni 95
8  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Frimatic–de Gribaldy–Viva–Wolber 91
9  Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 89
10  Harm Ottenbros (NED) Willem II–Gazelle 82

Mountains classification[edit]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[1][33][25]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A green jersey. A white jersey. Faema 155
2  Roger Pingeon (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 94
3  Joaquim Galera (ESP) Fagor 80
4  Paul Gutty (FRA) Frimatic–de Gribaldy–Viva–Wolber 68
5  Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 54
6  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Salvarani 51
7  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Mercier–BP–Hutchinson 48
8  Martin Vandenbossche (BEL) Faema 36
9  Raymond Delisle (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 29
10  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) Salvarani 28

Combination classification[edit]

Final combination classification (1–5)[25][34][35]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A green jersey. A white jersey. Faema 3
2  Roger Pingeon (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 8
3  Felice Gimondi (ITA) Salvarani 15
4  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Mercier–BP–Hutchinson 16
5  Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 19

Intermediate sprints classification[edit]

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–10)[35][25][36]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Eric Leman (BEL) Flandria–De Clerck–Krüger 53
2  Michael Wright (GBR) Bic 46
3  Raymond Riotte (FRA) Mercier–BP–Hutchinson 43
4  Domingo Perurena (ESP) Fagor 20
5  Stéphan Abrahamian (FRA) Sonolor–Lejeune 17
6  Wilfried David (BEL) Flandria–De Clerck–Krüger 16
7  José Manuel López Rodríguez (ESP) Fagor 11
8  Michele Dancelli (ITA) Molteni 10
9  Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 8
10  Barry Hoban (GBR) Mercier–BP–Hutchinson 8

Team classification[edit]

Final team classification (1–10)[25][33]
Rank Team Time
1 Faema 351h 50' 56"
2 Peugeot–BP–Michelin + 14' 53"
3 Kas–Kaskol + 1h 01' 42"
4 Fagor + 1h 17' 46"
5 Frimatic–de Gribaldy–Viva–Wolber + 1h 28' 20"
6 Salvarani + 1h 32' 30"
7 Mercier–BP–Hutchinson + 1h 38' 03"
8 Molteni + 1h 41' 38"
9 Sonolor–Lejeune + 1h 41' 41"
10 Bic + 3h 07' 22"

Combativity classification[edit]

Final combativity classification (1–10)[37]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A green jersey. A white jersey. Faema 419
2  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Frimatic–de Gribaldy–Viva–Wolber 320
3  Michele Dancelli (ITA) Molteni 178
 Felice Gimondi (ITA) Salvarani
5  Andrés Gandarias (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 159
6  Raymond Delisle (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 146
7  Roger Pingeon (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 138
8  Pierre Matignon (FRA) Frimatic–de Gribaldy–Viva–Wolber 98
9  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) Salvarani 89
10  Roland Berland (FRA) Bic 88


  1. ^ No jersey was awarded to the leader of the mountains classification until a white jersey with red polka dots was introduced in 1975.[23]


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  14. ^ Malcolm, Philip (5 July 2020). "Eddy Merckx, the 1969 Tour de France and the day a Belgian legend was born". The Independent.
  15. ^ Malcolm, Philip (5 July 2020). "Eddy Merckx, the 1969 Tour de France and the day a Belgian legend was born". The Independent.
  16. ^ "Brussels Grand Depart". Tour de France. 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Kwartier straf in Tour voor doping". Het vrije volk (in Dutch). Koninklijke Bibliotheek. 28 June 1969. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Cyclists guilty of doping". Eugine Register-Guard. 13 July 1969. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
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  23. ^ a b Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 454.
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  27. ^ van den Akker 2018, pp. 211–216.
  28. ^ "Veeel geld in Tour te verdienen" [Earn lots of money in Tour]. De Stem (in Dutch). 14 July 1969. p. 4 – via Krantenbank Zeeland.
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  30. ^ "Dag na dag en rit na rit in de Tour" [Day after day and stage after stage in the Tour]. Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 22 July 1969. p. 32. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019.
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  32. ^ a b "The history of the Tour de France – Year 1969 – Stage 22.02 Créteil > Paris". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 2 April 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  33. ^ a b c "Clasificaciones" (PDF). Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 21 July 1969. p. 17. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2019.
  34. ^ Planas, Narciso (22 July 1969). "Eddy Merckx se impuso en todos los frentes: General, montaño, regularidad. combinada. combatividad y equipos". Los Sitios de Gerona (in Spanish). Ajuntament de Girona. Retrieved 22 November 2010.[dead link]
  35. ^ a b "Otras clasificaciones" (PDF). Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 21 July 1969. p. 22. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2019.
  36. ^ van den Akker, Pieter. "Sprintdoorkomsten in de Tour de France 1969" [Sprint results in the Tour de France 1969]. TourDeFranceStatistieken.nl (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
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External links[edit]

Media related to 1969 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons