1976 Tour de France

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1976 Tour de France
Route of the 1976 Tour de France
Route of the 1976 Tour de France
Race details
Dates24 June – 18 July
Stages22 + Prologue, including three split stages
Distance4,017 km (2,496 mi)
Winning time116h 22' 23"
Winner  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) (Gitane–Campagnolo)
  Second  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) (Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson)
  Third  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) (Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson)

Points  Freddy Maertens (BEL) (Flandria–Velda–West Vlaams Vleesbedrijf)
Mountains  Giancarlo Bellini (ITA) (Brooklyn)
Youth  Enrique Martínez Heredia (ESP) (Kas–Campagnolo)
  Sprints  Robert Mintkiewicz (FRA) (Gitane–Campagnolo)
  Combativity  Raymond Delisle (FRA) (Peugeot–Esso–Michelin)
  Team Kas–Campagnolo
  Team points Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson
← 1975
1977 →

The 1976 Tour de France was the 63rd edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took between 24 June and 18 July, with 22 stages covering a distance of 4,017 km (2,496 mi).

It was won by mountain specialist Lucien Van Impe. The revelation of the Tour however was Freddy Maertens, who in his first Tour won eight stages and the points classification, and led the general classification for ten days.

Five-time winner Eddy Merckx did not join in the 1976 Tour de France because he was injured. 1975 winner Bernard Thévenet left the race in the 19th stage, but at that point it was already clear that Van Impe would win the race.

The mountains classification was won by Giancarlo Bellini with 170 points, only one point ahead of Lucien Van Impe. The young rider classification was won by Enrique Martínez Heredia. Heredia had already won the Tour de l'Avenir in 1974, but never broke through after this win.[1]


The 1976 Tour started with 13 teams, each sent 10 cyclists, a total of 130.[2][3]

The teams entering the race were:

Pre-race favourites[edit]

Eddy Merckx, who already had won the Tour de France five times, had troubles to find his form in 1976, and suffered from saddle sores. He decided not to enter the 1976 Tour de France. The main favourite for the victory was now Joop Zoetemelk, who had never finished worse than fifth place in the Tour de France. The winner of the previous Tour, Bernard Thévenet, had a good spring season, winning the Dauphiné Libéré. The other former winner that was still racing, Luis Ocaña, had come second in the 1976 Vuelta a España, and was hoping to win again.[4] Also reigning world champion Hennie Kuiper was considered a pre-race favourite.[5]

Route and stages[edit]

The 1976 Tour de France started on 24 June, and had two rest days, the first in Divonne-les-Bains the second at Le Barcarès.[6] The 1976 Tour de France was divided into 22 stages and one prologue. Of the 22 stages, three were split stages: stages 5 and 22 were split into two half stages, and stage 18 was split into three smaller stages.

Stage 18a was originally scheduled to be 47 km longer, but after the 17th stage, the Tour direction saw that cyclists were exhausted, and shortened the stage.[7]

Stage characteristics and winners[2][6]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 24 June Saint-Jean-de-Monts 8 km (5 mi) Individual time trial  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
1 25 June Saint-Jean-de-Monts to Angers 173 km (107 mi) Flat Stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
2 26 June Angers to Caen 237 km (147 mi) Flat Stage  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA)
3 27 June Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Le Touquet-Paris-Plage 37 km (23 mi) Individual time trial  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
4 28 June Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Bornem 258 km (160 mi) Flat Stage  Hennie Kuiper (NED)
5a 29 June Leuven to Leuven 4 km (2 mi) Team time trial  TI–Raleigh–Campagnolo
5b Leuven to Verviers 144 km (89 mi) Half Stage  Miguel María Lasa (ESP)
6 30 June Bastogne to Nancy 209 km (130 mi) Flat Stage  Aldo Parecchini (ITA)
7 1 July Nancy to Mulhouse 206 km (128 mi) Flat Stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
8 2 July Valentigney to Divonne-les-Bains 220 km (137 mi) Flat Stage  Jacques Esclassan (FRA)
3 July Divonne-les-Bains Rest day
9 4 July Divonne-les-Bains to Alpe d'Huez 258 km (160 mi) Mountain Stage  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
10 5 July Le Bourg-d'Oisans to Montgenèvre 166 km (103 mi) Mountain Stage  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
11 6 July Montgenèvre to Manosque 224 km (139 mi) Mountain Stage  José Viejo (ESP)
7 July Le Barcarès Rest day
12 8 July Le Barcarès to Pyrénées 2000 205 km (127 mi) Mountain Stage  Raymond Delisle (FRA)
13 9 July Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via to Saint-Gaudens 188 km (117 mi) Mountain Stage  Willy Teirlinck (BEL)[8]
14 10 July Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan 139 km (86 mi) Mountain Stage  Lucien Van Impe (BEL)
15 11 July Saint-Lary-Soulan to Pau 195 km (121 mi) Mountain Stage  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA)
16 12 July Pau to Fleurance 152 km (94 mi) Flat Stage  Michel Pollentier (BEL)
17 13 July Fleurance to Auch 39 km (24 mi) Individual time trial  Ferdinand Bracke (BEL)
18a 14 July Auch to Langon 86 km (53 mi) Half Stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
18b Langon to Lacanau 123 km (76 mi) Half Stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
18c Lacanau to Bordeaux 70 km (43 mi) Half Stage  Gerben Karstens (NED)
19 15 July Sainte-Foy-la-Grande to Tulle 220 km (137 mi) Flat Stage  Hubert Mathis (FRA)
20 16 July Tulle to Puy de Dôme 220 km (137 mi) Mountain Stage  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
21 17 July Montargis to Versailles 145 km (90 mi) Flat Stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
22a 18 July Paris 6 km (4 mi) Individual time trial  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
22b Paris to Paris (Champs-Élysées) 91 km (57 mi) Half Stage  Gerben Karstens (NED)
Total 4,017 km (2,496 mi)[9]

Race overview[edit]

Lucien Van Impe (pictured at the 1975 Acht van Chaam), winner of the general classification

The prologue was won by Maertens. He won three more stages in the first week, and after stage 8 was firmly leading the race with a gap of just over two minutes on 2nd place Michel Pollentier and more than a three minute margin the GC contenders.

The contenders for the overall victory, thought to be Bernard Thévenet, Joop Zoetemelk and Lucien Van Impe, were waiting for the mountains to start their battle.

The first mountain stage was stage 9, and there a group of 40 cyclists broke loose. For the finish atop Alpe d'Huez Zoetemelk and Van Impe broke away from the rest of the field and Zoetemelk won the stage by :03 over Van Impe, but Van Impe took the lead in the general classification. Zoetemelk however, was only eight seconds behind and Maertens dropped into third place nearly a full minute back.[10] In the next stage, Zoetemelk won the stage, but Thévenet and Van Impe were only one second behind him.[11] The 11th stage did not see major changes in the top of the general classification, but it was remarkable as the stage with the biggest winning margin in post-World War II history. José Viejo won the stage, 22 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of the next cyclist.[12] Then the Peugeot–Esso–Michelin team from Thévenet took control. Raymond Delisle sped away in the 12th stage, took a five-minute lead and won the stage, thereby taking the lead in the general classification.

After the 13th stage, won by Régis Ovion, Ovion failed the doping test. He was taken out of the results, and Teirlinck and Panizza, who originally were second and third, gained one place. In the official classification, the other cyclists were not upgraded, so the third place remains unoccupied.[13] In the 14th stage, there was a group of attackers away, including Luis Ocaña. Van Impe was told by his team leader, Cyrille Guimard, that he should attack, but was reluctant to do so. Only after Guimard threatened to run Van Impe off the road by his car, Van Impe attacked.[4] Zoetemelk waited for the Peugeot team to defend their position of leader in the general classification, but they were not able to. After a few kilometers, Zoetemelk noticed that his tactics did not work, and started chasing Van Impe by himself. Zoetemelk decreased the gap to 50 seconds, but then Van Impe reached the group of early attackers, and started to work together, especially with Ocaña. Ocaña and Zoetemelk had battled in the early 1970s against Merckx, and Ocaña remembered that Zoetemelk never helped him back then, so decided to work against Zoetemelk now.[4] Zoetemelk could not follow them on his own, and lost three minutes in that stage. Van Impe and Zoetemelk had been going so fast, that 45 of the 93 cyclists finished outside the time limit, but the tour organisation decided to waive the elimination rule for that stage.[4]

Van Impe won some more time in the time trial of stage 17, and Zoetemelk won a few seconds back in the 20th stage and in the time trial of the 22nd stage, but the Tour had been decided in the 14th stage at the moment when Zoetemelk decided to wait for the Peugeot team.[14] The battle for the third place was between Raymond Delisle, Raymond Poulidor and Walter Riccomi. Poulidor, 40 years old, was racing his final Tour de France. After the 20th stage, they had exactly the same time in the general classification, and Riccomi was only 12 seconds behind them.[15] In the time trial of stage 22a, Poulidor won a few seconds on Delisle and Riccomi, and was on the podium in Paris.[6] At the end of the Tour de France, the combativity award was given to Raymond Delisle.[6]


During the Tour de France, 110 doping tests were taken. Three cyclists tested positive.[16] After the third stage, Jesús Manzaneque tested positive for doping.[17] Manzaneque received a 10-minute penalty in the general classification and was suspended for one month.[18] After the 13th stage, winner Régis Ovion failed the doping test. He was taken out of the results, and Teirlinck and Panizza, who originally were second and third, gained one place. In the official classification, the other cyclists were not upgraded, so the third place remains unoccupied.[13] Bernard Labourdette was caught during the doping test, when he tried to cheat.[16]

Classification leadership[edit]

There were several classifications in the 1976 Tour de France, four 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.[19] The prize for the winner of the Tour de France was not only money, but also an apartment in Merlin-Plage.[6]

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.[19] The calculation was changed, to make the competition more accessible for the non-sprinters.[20] There were five types of stages, with respect to how many points could be earned:

  • Normal stages: stages 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 16, 19, 21
  • Mountain stages: stages 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20
  • Long time trials: stages 3 and 17
  • Team time trials: stage 5a
  • Short time trials: prologue and stage 22a
  • Half stages: stages 5b, 18a, 18b, 18c and 22b

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, and was identified with a polkadot jersey.[19]

Another classification was the young rider classification. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but only neo-professionals were eligible, and the leader wore a 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 1976, 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] There was also a team points classification. After each stage, the stage rankings of the best three cyclists per team were added, and the team with the least total lead this classification, and were identified by green caps.[24][25]

Classification leadership by stage[26][27]
Stage Stage winner General classification
Points classification
Mountains classification
Young rider classification
Intermediate sprints classification Team classifications
Team classification Team points classification
P Freddy Maertens Freddy Maertens Freddy Maertens no award Bert Pronk no award Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson
1 Freddy Maertens Hennie Kuiper
Roger Legeay
Freddy Maertens TI–Raleigh–Campagnolo
2 Giovanni Battaglin Arnaldo Caverzasi
3 Freddy Maertens Flandria–Velda–West Vlaams Vleesbedrijf
4 Hennie Kuiper Hennie Kuiper
Arnaldo Caverzasi
5a TI–Raleigh–Campagnolo
5b Miguel María Lasa Robert Mintkiewicz
6 Aldo Parecchini Brooklyn Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson
7 Freddy Maertens Hennie Kuiper Freddy Maertens Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson
8 Jacques Esclassan Giancarlo Bellini Robert Mintkiewicz
9 Joop Zoetemelk Lucien Van Impe Patrick Perret
10 Joop Zoetemelk Lucien Van Impe Alain Meslet
11 José Viejo
12 Raymond Delisle Raymond Delisle Freddy Maertens Peugeot–Esso–Michelin
13 Willy Teirlinck Giancarlo Bellini Freddy Maertens
Robert Mintkiewicz
14 Lucien Van Impe Lucien Van Impe Lucien Van Impe Kas–Campagnolo
15 Wladimiro Panizza
16 Michel Pollentier Robert Mintkiewicz
17 Ferdinand Bracke Bert Pronk
18a Freddy Maertens
18b Freddy Maertens
18c Gerben Karstens Giancarlo Bellini
19 Hubert Mathis
20 Joop Zoetemelk Lucien Van Impe Enrique Martínez Heredia
21 Freddy Maertens Giancarlo Bellini
22a Freddy Maertens
22b Gerben Karstens
Final Lucien Van Impe Freddy Maertens Giancarlo Bellini Enrique Martínez Heredia Robert Mintkiewicz Kas–Campagnolo Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson

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 with red polka dots. Denotes the winner of the mountains classification A white jersey. Denotes the winner of the young rider classification

General classification[edit]

Final general classification (1–10)[2]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) A yellow jersey. Gitane–Campagnolo 116h 22' 23"
2  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson + 4' 14"
3  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson + 12' 08"
4  Raymond Delisle (FRA) Peugeot–Esso–Michelin + 12' 17"
5  Walter Riccomi (ITA) Scic–Fiat + 12' 39"
6  Francisco Galdós (ESP) Kas–Campagnolo + 14' 50"
7  Michel Pollentier (BEL) Flandria–Velda–West Vlaams Vleesbedrijf + 14' 59"
8  Freddy Maertens (BEL) A green jersey. Flandria–Velda–West Vlaams Vleesbedrijf + 16' 09"
9  Fausto Bertoglio (ITA) Jollj Ceramica–Decor + 16' 36"
10  Vicente López Carril (ESP) Kas–Campagnolo + 19' 28"

Mountains classification[edit]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[28]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Giancarlo Bellini (ITA) A white jersey with red polka dots. Brooklyn 170
2  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) A yellow jersey. Gitane–Campagnolo 169
3  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 119
4  Francisco Galdós (ESP) Kas–Compagnolo 85
5  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 81
6  Pedro Torres (ESP) Super Ser 65
7  Raymond Delisle (FRA) Peugeot–Esso–Michelin 63
8  Antonio Menendez (ESP) Kas–Compagnolo 59
9  Luciano Conati (ITA) Scic–Fiat 56
10  Walter Riccomi (ITA) Scic–Fiat 49

Young rider classification[edit]

Final young rider classification (1–3)[28]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Enrique Martínez Heredia (ESP) A white jersey. Kas–Compagnolo 117h 07' 13"
2  Alain Meslet (FRA) Gitane–Campagnolo + 1′ 30″
3  Bert Pronk (NED) TI–Raleigh–Campagnolo + 3′ 49″

Intermediate sprints classification[edit]

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–3)[28]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Robert Mintkiewicz (FRA) Gitane–Campagnolo 54
2  Freddy Maertens (BEL) A green jersey. Flandria–Velda–West Vlaams Vleesbedrijf 37
3  Marcello Osler (ITA) Brooklyn 24

Team classification[edit]

Final team classification (1–5)[28]
Rank Team Time
1 Kas–Compagnolo 350h 05' 39"
2 Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson + 9' 20"
3 Scic–Fiat + 28' 02"
4 Peugeot–Esso–Michelin + 30' 49"
5 Gitane–Campagnolo + 40' 03"

Team points classification[edit]

Final team points classification (1–5)[28]
Rank Team Points
1 Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 884
2 Scic–Fiat 1329
3 Peugeot–Esso–Michelin 1401
4 Flandria–Velda–West Vlaams Vleesbedrijf 1624
5 Jollj Ceramica–Decor 1626


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  7. ^ "Protest van Tour-renners". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch). Delpher. 14 July 1976. p. 6. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  8. ^ Stage 13 was initially won by Régis Ovion, but he failed the doping test. The stage victory was then given to Teirlinck, who initially was second in that stage.
  9. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 109.
  10. ^ "63ème Tour de France - 9ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
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  12. ^ Augendre 2016, p. 128.
  13. ^ a b "63ème Tour de France - 13ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
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  15. ^ "63ème Tour de France - 20ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
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  17. ^ "Manzaneque: positief op dopingonderzoek". Leeuwarder Courant. 3 July 1976. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  18. ^ "Manzaneque, sancionado por "doping"" (in Spanish). El Mundo Deportive. 3 July 1976. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  19. ^ a b c Christian, Sarah (2 July 2009). "Tour de France demystified - Evaluating success". RoadCycling.co.nz Ltd. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Appartement voor winnaar Tour" (in Dutch). Leeuwarder Courant. 18 June 1976. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  21. ^ "TDF guides: jersey". TeamSky.com. BSkyB. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  22. ^ van der Mark, Eddy. "Intermediate sprints classification". Tour Xtra. Archived from the original on 16 September 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2019 – via Chippewa Valley Cycling Club.
  23. ^ Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard. ISBN 0-679-72936-4. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  24. ^ Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Other Classifications & Awards". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  25. ^ Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill (2011). Historical Dictionary of Cycling. Historical Dictionaries of Sports. Scarecrow Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-8108-7175-5.
  26. ^ "Tour panorama". Gazet van Antwerpen (in Dutch). 19 July 1976. p. 12. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019.
  27. ^ van den Akker, Pieter. "Informatie over de Tour de France van 1976" [Information about the Tour de France from 1976]. TourDeFranceStatistieken.nl (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  28. ^ a b c d e f "Laatste uitslagen van de Tour de France '76" (in Dutch). Leeuwarder Courant. 19 July 1976. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.


External links[edit]

Media related to 1976 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons