Incredible fervor, Poulidor, Merckx… Dieppe and the Tour de France: 95 years of history

Dieppe has hosted the Tour de France eight times as a stage city.

48 years old. Since 1974, Dieppe (Seine Maritime) lived 48 long years without feeling the fervor of welcoming a scene of Large bow.

Before then, the city had fallen in love with an event that loved him immensely in return.

Created in 1903 by the magazine l’Auto, the Tour de France made the almost perfect tour of France until 1951. This quickly gave Dieppe, a coastal town, a central place in several editions.

The 1920s, a moment of fervor.

The late 1920s was a golden age in the relationship between Dieppe and the Tour de France.

The city often makes headlines in the regional press when it hosts the runners.

Between 1927 and 1929, the city of four ports hosted the competition three times.
Almost a century ago, the big loop was already terribly popular.

The roads are full of enthusiasts who dream of seeing the cyclists they know pass. And Dieppe is far from an exception.

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First detour in 1928, when the city hosted the 22nd and final stage. On that day, the race director chose to postpone the runners’ start until

Obviously the previous five o’clock schedule didn’t suit him, too late for sure… Nothing to stop the boardwalk from being filled with curious people.

The journalist from Vigie de Dieppe summarizes the situation in the edition of 17. July 1928.

How would it have been if, like last year, the departure had taken place at nine o’clock, or even if it had been given at the announced time?

Dieppe Lookout July 17, 1928

The crowd is such that an important police device must be put in place through a detachment of the 39th Infantry Division.

At the time, the competition had two types of runners. On one side are the best, the riders who aim for the final victory and crush the lap every year.

On the other hand, road tourists, less professional, come more slowly, but so much more unifying.

Example of the Tour in 1929, when madness again took over the city. The arrival of the stage rooms Marcel Masson and Paul Denniswhich, however, are not the best for the pedal, create the general crush.

They finish the stage carried in triumph throughout the city by their followers. “It was a delirium… He (Marcel Masson) was led in the middle of hundreds of people to the Café des Tribunaux, where the signing took place” exclaims the journalist at the time.

The latter will also end his article with these words “see you next year”. A bad omen, as Dieppe will have to wait almost 25 years before seeing his idols again.

1955, Dieppe goes on TV.

Let’s jump back in time. We meet again in 1955.

TV has become more popular, Everest has been climbed for the first time and Dieppe once again feels the joy of hosting the big loop.

André Lavenu is responsible for the Dieppois cycling club.

André Lavenu, Dieppe cyclist, perfectly remembers the passage of the Tour de France in Dieppe (Seine-Maritime).
André Lavenu, Dieppe cyclist, perfectly remembers the passage of the Tour de France in Dieppe (Seine-Maritime). (© Les Informations Dieppoises/M.CL.)

He recalls countless memories of this golden era. P

For him, the trip is first and foremost the 2nd stage from Dieppe. He was there, on branch road 925, zigzagging between Quiberville and Avremesnil.

André was 7 years old and, like many children from Dieppe, he fell in love with cycling when he saw the riders go by.

People were all shouting go Bobet, go Robic, I felt it.

André LavenuDieppois bicycle tourist

It’s the same thing, by the way Louisen Bobet who will claim the final victory three weeks later at the Parc des Princes.

1966 disappoints the runners. Eleven years later, in 1966, Dieppe once again hosted the race in a stage starting in Dunkirk.

That year, the very quick return of the runners to their hotel after the finish line caused general disappointment among the thousands of Dieppe residents who gathered on the roads to admire the runners, who will only do “a lap of honor of 100 meters”.

But it is an even more special event that shakes the inhabitants. Singing stars Franck Fernandel and Annie Cordy create a crowd when they enter the podium after the race.

André Lavenu worked that year at the Renault workshop in Luneray. He recounts with mischief that day:

My boss had chartered a bus so we could see the tour. I stayed after the race to see Annie Cordy. The problem is that the bus had left. I had to go back to Avresmesnil, the trip is 20 kilometers, while I was working at

André LavenuDieppois bicycle tourist

1974, Poupou angers the cannibal.

It is a lively scene that reaches the city of Ango.

If the Belgian Ronald De Witte winner, the Norman supporters only have eyes for two riders. On one side Eddy Merckxa true icon of cycling, on the other hand, Raymond Poulidor.

Merckx decides to break away completely for the end of the stage, allowing the audience gathered on the promenade to watch his idol pass by for a while.

He will still lose his yellow jersey that day, which will allow him to pass incognito in front of the podium at the finish before being recognized by a few spectators.

Eddy Merckx must not have fond memories of his time in Dieppe.  Not only did he lose his yellow jersey, but he was also promoted by Raymond Poulidor.
Eddy Merckx must not have fond memories of his time in Dieppe. Not only did he lose his yellow jersey, but he was also promoted by Raymond Poulidor. (© Les Informations Dieppoises)

A few days later he will win his 5th and final Tour de France in Paris.

But according to the journalist from the Infos of the time, “The Cannibal”, his nickname would have been a bit grumpy that day. The reason ? He was not the most expected.

And the fervor was much greater for the other star of the time, the eternal second, Raymond Poulidor. “Poupou” was “smiling and relaxed” according to the press on July 5, 1974.

He will not win this stage but will actually be the winner on the applause meter and in hearts.

An expected return.

Between 1953 and 1974 Dieppe will therefore have hosted the Tour de France five times.

Since then it has been dead quiet. Neither departure nor arrival will have let the city light up again.

The tour has nevertheless passed through the city several times. IN 2012 Dieppe Information had also followed the race in the car of Europcar, the team of Thomas Voecklerduring the 4th stage.

In 2012, Thomas Voeckler and the Tour de France crossed Dieppe, the last passage of the big loop in the city.
In 2012, Thomas Voeckler and the Tour de France crossed Dieppe, the last passage of the big loop in the city. (© Les Informations Dieppoises/PB)

All the little stories of these towns and villages have made the big loop one of the biggest popular events in the world.

Dieppe is no exception, and if she said goodbye to the Tour de France almost 50 years ago, the reunion is likely to live up to expectations, gigantic.

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