Charles Terront

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Charles Terront
Terront on the front page of "Le Petit Journal"
Born(1857-04-25)25 April 1857
Died31 October 1932(1932-10-31) (aged 75)
Charles Terront in 1922 riding an 1870s Michaudine velocipede at a velodrome.

Charles Terront (9 April 1857 – 31 October 1932) was the first major French cycling star. He won sprint, middle distance and endurance events in Europe and the United States. In September 1891 he won the first Paris–Brest–Paris cycle race, which at 1,196 kilometres (743 mi) was more than double the length of any previous event. He rode a Humber bicycle fitted with prototype removable pneumatic tyres made by Michelin.[1][2][3][4][5]

He won 54 major events over his 15-year career, was 'Champion of France' twice and 'Champion of Great Britain' twice.

Early life and career[edit]

Terront was born in Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis. He took up cycle racing in 1876 along with his brother Jules. Charles excelled at both endurance and speed events, and also won many events on a tandem with his brother Jules.[2] He won 54 major solo events over his 15-year career, including being Champion of France twice and Champion of Great Britain twice.[4]

In 1879 he covered 546.327 kilometres (339 mi) in 24 hours.[2][6][dubious ]

On 27 September 1893 he left Saint Petersburg in Russia to cycle 3,000 kilometres (1,864 mi) across Poland and Germany, arriving at the Vélodrome Buffalo in Paris after 14 days and 7 hours.[2]

In 1894 he completed a ride from Rome, Italy, to Paris.[2]

Paris–Brest–Paris cycle race[edit]

Pierre Giffard of Le Petit Journal created the Paris-Brest et retour cycle race in September 1891, describing it as an "épreuve", a test of the bicycle's reliability and the rider's endurance. Riders were fully self-sufficient, carrying their own food and clothing and riding the same bicycle for the duration. The response was so phenomenal that they had to charge 5 francs entrance as 300 riders signed up. Each bicycle was given an 'official seal' at a 2-day ceremony, the 280 sealed machines included 10 tricycles, 2 Tandem bicycles, and 1 Penny-farthing. Participation was restricted to French men (7 women were refused entrance) and 99 of the 207 (or 280[5]) participants finished.

Charles Terront won the event, covering the 1,196 kilometres (743 mi) in 71 hours 22 minutes, riding a Humber bicycle from the Beeston works in England, which weighed 21.5 kilograms and was equipped with Michelin's prototype pneumatic tyres (which were patented in 1891), front brake, curved handlebars, and a chain guard.[2] He passed his main rival Jiel-Laval from Adolphe Clément's Dunlop Clément team, after his manager, H.O. Duncan, advised him to take a detour around the town where his rival was sleeping during the third night. Both had suffered punctures in their pneumatic tyres, but still enjoyed an advantage over riders on solid tires. Terront's arrival in Paris was watched by a crowd of 10,000 people, many of whom had waited throughout the night.[2][7]


Terront's fame meant that he was the first athlete to have his memoires published during his lifetime. In 1893 he explained his life, races and training methods to French journalist Louis Baudry de Saunier. Also in 1893 En suivant Terront by Herbert Duncan and Pierre Lafitte used 100 drawings to follow his ride to Paris from Saint Petersburg.[2]

A plaque in Brest commemorates his 1891 victory in the Paris–Brest–Paris.[2]

The Rue Charles Terront in Nantes is named in his honour.

Major results by year[edit]


1st - Paris-Pontoise-Paris
1st - Adamville
1st - Neuilly sur Seine
1st - Créteil
1st - Rouen
1st - Parc de Saint-Maur
1st - Saint-Germain
1st - Angers
1st - Montauban
1st - Angers
1st - Saint-Ouen
1st - La Garenne-Colombes
1st - Charenton-le-Pont
1st - Saint-Denis
1st - ex-aequeo de Paris-Conflans-Sainte-Honorine
1st - Boulogne-Versailles
1st - Argenteuil
1st - Adamville
1st - Maison-Blanche
1st - Rueil
1st - Saint-Denis
1st - Carrousel (Paris)
1st - Pré Catalan
1st - Courbevoie
1st - Versailles
1st - Point du Jour
1st - La Garenne-Colombes
1st - Fougères
1st - Angers-Le Mans-Angers
1st - Angers
1st - Versailles
1st - Chaville
1st - Boulogne-Billancourt-Versailles-Boulogne Billancourt
1st - Carrousel (Paris)
1st - 6 days of Boston
1st - 6 days of Chicago
1st - 6 days of London
1st - 6 days of Edinburgh
1st - 6 days of Kingston upon Hull
1st - Fougères
1st - Saint Denis
1st - Paris
1st - Tours
1st - Paramé
1st - Agen
1st - 6 hours of Angers
3rd Speed Championships of France
1st - Fougères
2nd - Speed Championships of France
1st - Fougères
3rd - Speed Championships of France
2nd - Speed Championships of France
3rd Middle distance Championships of France
1st - 100 mile Championship of Great Britain
2nd Middle distance Championships of France
1st - Middle distance Championships of France
1st - 10 mile Championship of Great Britain
1st - Middle distance Championships of France
1st - Paris–Brest–Paris

See also[edit]



  • Duncan, Herbert Osbaldo & Lafitte, Pierre, En suivant Terront de St-Petersbourg à Paris, 1894
  • Terront, Charles, Les mémoires de Terront: sa vie, ses performances, son mode d'entraînement (Collection Les Introuvables), 1980

External links[edit]