1977 Tour de France
Route of the 1977 Tour de France
|Dates||30 June – 24 July|
|Stages||22 + Prologue, including five split stages|
|Distance||4,096 km (2,545 mi)|
|Winning time||115h 38' 30"|
The 1977 Tour de France was the 64th edition of the Tour de France, taking place between 30 June and 24 July. The total race distance was 22 stages over 4,096 km (2,545 mi).
Lucien Van Impe, the winner of the previous year, wanted to repeat his victory. The main challenge came from Hennie Kuiper and Bernard Thévenet. Thévenet won with the smallest margin since the 1968 Tour de France.
- 1 Teams
- 2 Pre-race favourites
- 3 Route and stages
- 4 Race overview
- 5 Classification leadership
- 6 Final standings
- 7 References
- 8 External links
To ride the Tour, teams had to pay money. The other Grand Tours, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, paid the teams money to start. For financial reasons, some teams chose to avoid the Tour, and only 100 cyclists started the race, divided in ten teams of ten cyclists each. One of the notable absentees was Michel Pollentier.
The teams entering the race were:
Bernard Thévenet, the winner of 1975, was considered the main favourite, because the course of the race was considered suited to his talents. In March 1977, Thévenet had been penalized for a positive doping test in Paris–Nice.
The winner of the 1976 edition, Lucien Van Impe, was specialized in climbing, so his chances in the 1977 edition with less mountains were slimmer. Two other contenders were team mates Raymond Delisle and Joop Zoetemelk, fourth and second in the 1976 edition. Hennie Kuiper, the reigning world champion, was also a favourite.
Five-time winner Eddy Merckx was also competing, and was still considered an outsider for the victory, but he was no longer as dominant as before.
Route and stages
The 1977 Tour de France started on 30 June, and had two rest days, in Bordeaux and Freiburg. The 1976 Tour had been focused around the mountains, with five hilltop finishes. In 1977, the climbing was de-emphasized, with only two hilltop finishes, and more emphasis on the time trials.
The first stage from Fleurance to Auch was split in two parts: 140 km from Fleurance to Lectoure, directly followed by 97 km from Lectoure to Auch. It was the first time a "flying stage" was used. The stage was split in two parts, but there was no stop in between. After the riders reached the finish line of the first part, they immediately continued for the next part; if a group was ahead of the rest, they kept this advantage. The first riders to reach the finish of the flying stage were given prizes and points for the points classification as if it was a normal stage; the general classification was not changed.
|P||30 June||Fleurance||5 km (3.1 mi)||Individual time trial||Dietrich Thurau (FRG)|
|1||1 July||Fleurance to Auch||237 km (147 mi)||Plain stage||Pierre-Raymond Villemiane (FRA)|
|2||2 July||Auch to Pau||253 km (157 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Dietrich Thurau (FRG)|
|3||3 July||Oloron-Sainte-Marie to Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain)||248 km (154 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||José Nazabal (ESP)|
|4||4 July||Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) to Seignosse le Penon||256 km (159 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Régis Delépine (FRA)|
|5a||5 July||Morcenx to Bordeaux||139 km (86 mi)||Plain stage||Jacques Esclassan (FRA)|
|5b||Bordeaux||30 km (19 mi)||Individual time trial||Dietrich Thurau (FRG)|
|6 July||Bordeaux||Rest day|
|6||7 July||Bordeaux to Limoges||225 km (140 mi)||Plain stage||Jan Raas (NED)|
|7a||8 July||Jaunay-Clan to Angers||140 km (87 mi)||Plain stage||Patrick Sercu (BEL)|
|7b||Angers||4 km (2.5 mi)||Team time trial||Fiat France|
|8||9 July||Angers to Lorient||247 km (153 mi)||Plain stage||Giacinto Santambrogio (ITA)|
|9||10 July||Lorient to Rennes||187 km (116 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Klaus-Peter Thaler (FRG)|
|10||11 July||Bagnoles-de-l'Orne to Rouen||174 km (108 mi)||Plain stage||Fedor den Hertog (NED)|
|11||12 July||Rouen to Roubaix||242 km (150 mi)||Plain stage||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)|
|12||13 July||Roubaix to Charleroi (Belgium)||193 km (120 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Patrick Sercu (BEL)|
|13a||14 July||Freiburg (West Germany)||46 km (29 mi)||Plain stage||Patrick Sercu (BEL)|
|13b||Altkirch to Besançon||160 km (99 mi)||Plain stage||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)|
|15 July||Freiburg||Rest day|
|14||16 July||Besançon to Thonon-les-Bains||230 km (140 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Bernard Quilfen (FRA)|
|15a||17 July||Thonon-les-Bains to Morzine||105 km (65 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Paul Wellens (BEL)|
|15b||Morzine to Avoriaz||14 km (8.7 mi)||Individual time trial||Lucien Van Impe (BEL)|
|16||18 July||Morzine to Chamonix||121 km (75 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Dietrich Thurau (FRG)|
|17||19 July||Chamonix to Alpe d'Huez||185 km (115 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||Hennie Kuiper (NED)|
|18||20 July||Rossignol Voiron to Saint-Étienne||199 km (124 mi)||Stage with mountain(s)||no winner|
|19||21 July||Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans to Dijon||172 km (107 mi)||Plain stage||Gerrie Knetemann (NED)|
|20||22 July||Dijon||50 km (31 mi)||Individual time trial||Bernard Thévenet (FRA)|
|21||23 July||Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Versailles||142 km (88 mi)||Plain stage||Gerrie Knetemann (NED)|
|22a||24 July||Paris||6 km (3.7 mi)||Individual time trial||Dietrich Thurau (FRG)|
|22b||Paris (Champs-Élysées)||91 km (57 mi)||Plain stage||Alain Meslet (FRA)|
|Total||4,096 km (2,545 mi)|
The prologue was won by Dietrich Thurau, who made his debut in the Tour. Thurau wanted to be the leader when the Tour would enter his native Germany in stage 13. In the second stage, big mountains were scheduled, unusually early in the race, and Thurau saw this as the biggest threat to this goal. When Van Impe, Thévenet and Kuiper were away leaving Thurau behind, Thurau worked together with Merckx, and they were able to reach the leaders, and Thurau was able to win the sprint. The second part of the fifth stage was a time trial. Eddy Merckx, at that moment only 8 seconds behind Thurau, was expected to win enough time on Thurau to become the new leader, but surprisingly Thurau won the time trial, and extended his lead.
Thurau was able to keep control of the race for the next stages, and when the Tour entered Germany, he was still leading the race, 51 seconds ahead of Merckx.
Prior to the start of the second part of stage 15, an individual climbing time trial, Thurau was 0:51 ahead of Merckx with Thévenet in third place at 1:22, Kuiper in fourth at 1:40, in fifth was Alain Meslet, Van Impe was in sixth at 2:31 and Zoetemelk clinging to the Top 10 at 3:40. This quick, but difficult hill climb up the Avoriaz would separate the handful of riders with a legitimate chance winning the general classification from the rest of the field as the Tour entered its third, final, and by far most grueling week.
The stage was won by Zoetemelk, with Van Impe being placed second as Thévenet claimed third twenty seconds behind Van Impe. Merckx finished nearly two minutes behind Zoetemelk in tenth place and while Thurau finished outside the Top 10, he, perhaps surprisingly, did not fall out of contention as he now was in second place in the general classification, 0:11 behind the new leader Bernard Thévenet.
With a difficult hilly stage, and then two major mountain stages over the next three days, which would decide the 1977 Tour de France, Merckx was now in third place at 0:25 back, Van Impe was fourth at 0:33, Kuiper was fifth at 0:49 and Zoetemelk moved from 10th place nearly four minutes behind the leader, up to 6th place just over one minute behind Thévenet. With four of the most dominant general classification riders and the two outsiders of Kuiper and Thurau within about a minute, it was clear the Tour was not decided yet and the upcoming mountains were going to be exciting, vicious and attack after attack after attack would be coming.
In stage 16, these attacks blew apart the entire Peloton as the elite contenders separated themselves from everybody else in the field. Initially Didi Thurau was dropped with the domestiques, breakaway hopefuls and sprinters but he was able to fight his way back to the point where he could see the group of elite riders at the base of the final climb. From there he would rejoin the group on the descent, maneuver his way to the front and actually beat everybody in the sprint to gut out an impressive stage win all while keeping himself in contention for the overall lead. Anyone not in this front group of elite riders pretty much lost their chance at winning the Tour, with the exception of Eddy Merckx, as he was dropped, but was still within about three minutes of Thévenet in seventh place overall and while for most any other rider a gap of more than three minutes this late in the race would be all but impossible to overcome with six riders ahead of him, for Merckx nothing was impossible and nobody would have been surprised if he somehow found a way to win this Tour. The new sixth place rider Francisco Galdos was able to stay with the other main contenders and moved ahead of Merckx.
The overall situation between Thévenet, Thurau, Van Impe, Kuiper and Zoetemelk remained the same headed into stage 17, which included a grueling finish atop Alpe d'Huez. Well into stage 17 Lucien Van Impe saw an opportunity to attack and took it separating himself from the general classification contenders building more than a 0:33 gap to the point that he was virtually leading the general classification by the time he reached the bottom of the climb on Alp d’Huez. This put Thévenet in the position where he now had to give chase or lose the lead.
Raymond Martin, Merckx, Thurau, Raymond Delisle, Michel Laurent, Sebastian Pozo and Joaquim Agostinho were among the elite group of riders when the counter attack against Van Impe came. While these riders finished considerably ahead of the rest of the field it was only Kuiper, Galdos and Zoetemelk who were able to go with Thévenet as he rode away from everyone else in pursuit of Van Impe. These riders made Thévenet defend his first position in the general classification, and do all of the work while riding in his slipstream, at no time coming to the front to take a pull of the heavy climbing work.
Thévenet was determined to win his second Tour de France, just as Van Impe showed his determination to repeat as champion when he launched his early attack, although for Van Impe it was out of the ordinary, being as ordinarily he would be racing for the mountains classification points. Fortunately for Thévenet his hard work was paying off as the gap between Van Impe and the first chase group began to close, but as he was reeling in one opponent he was also bringing two other opponents along with him and not just bringing them along but putting them in position to attack his position in the general classification as he was the one doing all the work. Naturally Kuiper and Zoetemelk were both determined to earn their first ever Tour victory so they didn't think twice about forcing Thévenet to lead the way in chasing down Lucien Van Impe.
Before long the gap had become small enough that the television and official cars riding behind Van Impe had to move out of the way as it was beginning to look as though this hard charging chase group would catch the leader before the finish line. One of these cars ended up hitting Van Impe severely damaging his bike in the process and while he tried to continue riding it just wasn't possible. As a result he was stuck waiting and watching for the team car to appear around the corner to repair his wheel or get him a new bike but unfortunately two of the riders closest to him in the standings appeared before his team car did and raced right on by. By the end of the stage Zoetemelk and Francisco Galdos had been dropped when Hennie Kuiper launched an attack as Thévenet was digging deeper and pushing harder than he ever had in his whole life, not so much to take advantage of Van Impe's misfortune, although this certainly worked to his benefit, but to chase down Hennie Kuiper who was up the road by himself headed for the finish line so close to him in the standings that he could take over the first place in the general classification.
Thévenet was enraged with Kuiper for making him to do all the work chasing down Van Impe and then attacking in an attempt to take the first place in the general classification and had to push himself to his absolute breaking point in order to cross the finish line second place to Kuiper 0:41 behind.
Despite being hit by a car, Van Impe ended up 2:06 behind Kuiper while still finishing ahead of everybody else in the race. Galdos crossed at 2:59, Zoetemelk crossed more than four minutes later as the second level of the top tier riders including Laurent, Pozo, Martin and Pedro Torres started filtering across the line more than eight minutes behind Kuiper.
By the end of the day the devastation wrought on the peloton was complete as 30 riders were thrown out of the race for finishing outside the time limit set by Thévenet, Zoetemelk, Kuiper, Galdos and especially Van Impe for forcing the pace. At this point these five riders were the only ones with a realistic chance at victory as Thévenet kept in lead by a miniscule 0:08 over Hennie Kuiper while Lucien Van Impe was still in contention in third place 1:59 behind and then Galdos and Zoetemelk were about four and five minutes behind respectively.
While all the main contenders passed the doping controls following stage 17 it was later learned that Zoetemelk had tested positive following his time trial victory in the second part of stage 15. Doping was appearing to be a bit more commonplace than officials or fans realized, which was contributing to build a bit more of a relaxed rider culture on the subject. After he retired Thévenet would admit that he doped when he won the 1975 Tour de France as well as in other editions just as numerous other riders had.
In stage 18, Joaquim Agostinho initially won the day after launching a breakaway that finished about eight minutes ahead of everyone else in the field except for Antonio Menéndez, who finished 3:17 behind him, and Eddy Merckx who finished 3:20 back. Agostinho and Menendez both failed doping controls while Merckx did not. Agostinho’s penalty would cost him in the end as he would finish outside the top 10 because of it. There were no major changes in the top of the general classification as all attacks and counterattacks were answered by the group and they all finished with the same time
Typically after the final mountain stage there is one last chance to gain time in the overall classification with an individual time trial, but in this year's edition there were two individual time trials to decide the final winner of the general classification. One typical incredibly challenging 50km course around Dijon in stage 20 and one similar to an initial prologue during the split stage 22A which was around the Champs Elysees prior to the circuit finish in 22B.
During the stage 20 time trial only seven riders of the decimated main field were able to finish within three minutes of eventual stage winner Bernard Thévenet. Of these seven only fourth place finisher Gerrie Knetemann and fifth place Joseph Bruyere were not in the top 10 of the general classification. Didi Thurau came in second 0:23 behind and while Hennie Kuiper put in an incredibly strong ride he was not able to outperform Thévenet as he was 0:28 slower in third place, but still firmly in command of second place in the general classification, now 0:36 back. While Agostinho, Merckx and Van Impe each put in a strong time trial by this point in the race Van Impe was in third at 3:22 back so realistically, with only one short time trial and one and a half flat stages remaining, only Kuiper had even the slightest chance of overtaking Thévenet and this didn't seem likely as Thévenet had just defeated Kuiper.
Stage 21 was a flat stage where three riders managed to either survive a breakaway, or launch a late break to stay away from the peloton and finish 0:19 ahead of the main field. Being as Jacques Esclassan had a commanding lead in the points classification over Giacinto Santambrogio, Didi Thurau and sixth place sprinter Barry Hoban the escape made by Joop Zoetemelk, Michel Laurent and stage winner Gerrie Knetemann did nothing to change any of the classifications although it was another strong performance by Knetemann who would win ten Tour stages in his career and also be instrumental in helping Zoetemelk win the 1980 Tour de France along with ten time stage winner Jan Raas.
Stage 22A was the final opportunity to change the overall classification although in a time trial this short making up gaps of even over 0:20 was all but impossible, let alone the 0:37 Kuiper would need to overtake Thévenet. In the end Thévenet would add twelve seconds to his lead officially securing his overall victory in the 1977 Tour de France. Impressively in Stage 22B, Alain Meslet would survive a breakaway and finish nearly a minute ahead of the main field to win on the Champs Elysees.
Due to the relentless pace set by the top tier riders only 53 riders were able to finish the 1977 Tour de France. Never since have so few riders finished a Tour de France and the previous time fewer riders finished was the 1950 Tour de France when 51 riders finished. In years before and after this Tour riders like Merckx, Hinault, Zoetemelk, Van Impe, Thévenet, Luis Ocana and Laurent Fignon set such a high pace during mountain stages that as many as half the riders in the main field would have been expelled from the race, but exemptions were made and the time limit was altered to allow them to continue the Tour. No such exemptions were given in the 1977 edition.
Due to doping infractions by another rider Meslet would go from 11th to 10th place overall, Raymond Delisle finished 9th, Zoetemelk ended up in 8th overall because of the ten minute penalty, which impressively enough would be the worst he would ever finish until his 13th participation in 1983. Michel Laurent moved up into 7th place overall as Merckx would finish his final Grand Tour a career worst 6th, with it also being one of the few Grand Tours he entered that he did not win.
The immediate aftermath of this Tour was that it was the end of the Merckx era and the last time Thévenet and Van Impe would be in legitimate contention of winning the Tour de France while the 1978 Tour de France would be the beginning of three consecutive years where Joop Zoetemelk and Bernard Hinault would basically race against one another while everybody else fought for third place.
Like Meslet this would be the finest Tour Dietrich Thurau would ever race finishing in 5th place overall and he would also be the last German to wear the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification until Jan Ullrich twenty years later.
Spaniard Francisco Galdos earned fourth place overall as he found a way to stay with the elite riders every single time it mattered. Due to a tough break Lucien Van Impe finished third and because he caught some breaks and wanted it more than anyone Hennie Kuiper made it a two-way race between himself and Thévenet by the end of the Tour.
Hennie Kuiper would never win the Tour and the 1977 Tour was the closest he ever came, although he did finish second one additional time in the 1980 Tour. After retiring in 1988 he would go on to complete many more Tours from a team car and would work in public relations. In the early 90's he was worked for Team Motorola and would end up giving a young Lance Armstrong very excited instructions in his formative professional years. After leaving Motorola in 1996 he would be hired by Team Rabobank.
Every day, five cyclists were tested for doping: the leader in the general classification, the winner of the stage, the runner-up of the stage, and two randomly selected cyclists, for a total of 110 tests. Six cyclists tested positive for Pemoline: Joop Zoetemelk (15th stage), Sebastien Pozo (16th stage), Antonio Menendez (17th and 18th stage), Joaquim Agostinho (18th stage), Fernando Mendes (18th stage) and Luis Ocaña (18th stage). Pozo was unable to provide urine within two hours for the doping control after the prologue, which is treated as a positive result. All were fined with 1000 Swiss Francs, received one month of provisional suspension, were set back to the last place in the stage and penalized with 10 minutes in the general classification.
Directly after the Tour, there were rumours about Thévenet and Kuiper having used doping. The Tour officials came together, and made a statement that Thévenet was officially the winner of the Tour. Some months later, when Thévenet was in hospital, he admitted having used cortisone. His popularity plunged after that, and Thévenet was never again able to compete for the general classification. Though he was able to stay near the second tier general classification riders approaching the end of his career as he finished in the top 20 of both the 1980 Tour de France and Vuelta.
There were several classifications in the 1977 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.
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.
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.
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 white jersey.
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 1977, this classification had no associated jersey.
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.
|Denotes the winner of the general classification||Denotes the winner of the points classification|
|Denotes the winner of the mountains classification||Denotes the winner of the young rider classification|
|1||Bernard Thévenet (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||115h 38' 30"|
|2||Hennie Kuiper (NED)||TI–Raleigh||+ 0' 48"|
|3||Lucien Van Impe (BEL)||Lejeune–BP||+ 3' 32"|
|4||Francisco Galdós (ESP)||Kas–Campagnolo||+ 7' 45"|
|5||Dietrich Thurau (GER)||TI–Raleigh||+ 12' 24"|
|6||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Fiat France||+ 12' 38"|
|7||Michel Laurent (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||+ 17' 42"|
|8||Joop Zoetemelk (NED)||Miko–Mercier–Vivagel||+ 19' 22"|
|9||Raymond Delisle (FRA)||Miko–Mercier–Vivagel||+ 21' 32"|
|10||Alain Meslet (FRA)||Gitane–Campagnolo||+ 27' 31"|
|1||Jacques Esclassan (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||236|
|2||Giacinto Santambrogio (ITA)||Bianchi–Campagnolo||140|
|3||Dietrich Thurau (GER)||TI–Raleigh||137|
|4||Pierre-Raymond Villemiane (FRA)||Gitane–Campagnolo||128|
|5||Eddy Merckx (BEL)||Fiat France||93|
|6||Barry Hoban (GBR)||Miko–Mercier–Vivagel||91|
|7||Hennie Kuiper (NED)||TI–Raleigh||76|
|8||Bernard Thévenet (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||65|
|9||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||61|
|10||Lucien Van Impe (BEL)||Lejeune–BP||60|
|1||Lucien Van Impe (BEL)||Lejeune–BP||244|
|2||Hennie Kuiper (NED)||TI–Raleigh||174|
|3||Pedro Torres (ESP)||Teka||143|
|4||Bernard Thévenet (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||114|
|5||Joop Zoetemelk (NED)||Miko–Mercier–Vivagel||80|
|6||Francisco Galdós (ESP)||Kas–Campagnolo||53|
|7||Antonio Menendez (ESP)||Kas–Campagnolo||52|
|8||Joaquim Agostinho (POR)||Teka||42|
|9||Dietrich Thurau (GER)||TI–Raleigh||42|
|10||Raymond Delisle (FRA)||Miko–Mercier–Vivagel||42|
Young rider classification
|1||Dietrich Thurau (GER)||TI–Raleigh||115h +50' 54"|
|2||Alain Meslet (FRA)||Gitane–Campagnolo||+ 15' 07"|
|3||Pierre-Raymond Villemiane (FRA)||Gitane–Campagnolo||+ 24' 18"|
|4||Enrique Martínez Heredia (ESP)||Kas–Campagnolo||+ 47' 30"|
|5||Henk Lubberding (NED)||TI–Raleigh||+ 1h 02' 13"|
Intermediate sprints classification
|1||Pierre-Raymond Villemiane (FRA)||Gitane–Campagnolo||73|
|2||Giacinto Santambrogio (ITA)||Bianchi–Campagnolo||49|
|3||Jacques Esclassan (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||32|
|4||Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||16|
|5||Roland Berland (FRA)||Gitane–Campagnolo||9|
|1||TI–Raleigh||347h 41' 19"|
|2||Miko–Mercier–Vivagel||+ 13' 29"|
|3||Kas–Campagnolo||+ 20' 45"|
|4||Peugeot–Esso–Michelin||+ 25' 02"|
|5||Teka||+ 56' 19"|
|6||Fiat France||+ 1h 08' 05"|
|7||Lejeune–BP||+ 1h 14' 06"|
|8||Gitane–Campagnolo||+ 1h 28' 30"|
|9||Frisol–Thirion–Gazelle||+ 3h 05' 34"|
|10||Bianchi–Campagnolo||+ 3h 54' 06"|
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Media related to 1977 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons