René Vietto

At the age of 21, the first French victor is also the youngest champion in the history of the race.

Les six jours de la route

Paris-Nice 1933 © PresseSports Paris-Nice 1933 © PresseSports Paris-Nice 1933 © PresseSports

Albert Lejune, owner of two newspapers Le Petit Journal based in Paris, and Le Petit Niçois based in Nice, created Les Six Jours de la Route in 1933 to establish a link between the two newspapers. For him it was about showing the charm of La Cote d’Azur to his readers with the help of a cycling race on an innovative route. For six days at the end of the winter season, the event went through the Valley of the Rhone; avoiding carefully the Alps and its difficulties, sparingly using the hilly hinterland of Nice, to be finally used as a favourable training ground for the spring Classics. The jersey of the leader was azure and gold in colour, evoking the blue of the Mediterranee and the golden sun in Nice.

Not organised between 1940 and 1946, the event was reborn again in 1946 with the encouragement of the newspaper Ce Soir, which only managed to try the experience once.

Jean Medecin, the mayor of Nice requested that the race was to be organised by the weekly newspaper Route et Piste in which the editer Jean Leulliot was to be named as race director. The event then went under the name of Paris-Côte d’Azur, with the publication of the newspaper L’Aurore, as the main partner, using the white jersey designating the leader. Under the impetus of Jean Leulliot, Paris-Nice slowly lost its status as a training ground to become a real event.

The history of racing reminds us of the famous duel between Anquetil-Poulidor. In 1972 Jacques Anquetil became director of the race and saw with his own eyes the victory of Raymond Poulidor at the age of 36 with the uncompromising Eddy Merckx coming in second. He also witnessed the seven consecutive victories of Laurent Jalabert, the last French winner.

Race winners since 1933

2011 - Tony MARTIN © PresseSports - B.Papon 2010 - Alberto CONTADOR © PresseSports - B.Papon 2009 - Luis Leon SANCHEZ © A.S.O. / Jean-Christophe MOREAU 2008 - Davide REBELLIN © A.S.O. / Jean-Christophe MOREAU 2007 - Alberto CONTADOR © A.S.O. / Jean-Christophe MOREAU 2005 - Bobby JULICH © A.S.O. / Jean-Christophe MOREAU 2004 - Korg JAKSCHE © A.S.O. / Jean-Christophe MOREAU
2012 Bradley WIGGINS 1 155
2011 Tony MARTIN 1 307
2010 Alberto CONTADOR 1 288
2009 Luis Leon SANCHEZ 1 250
2008 Davide REBELLIN 1 229
2007 Alberto CONTADOR 1 229
2006 Floyd LANDIS 1 274
2005 Bobby JULICH 947
2004 Jorg JAKSCHE 1 309
2003 Alexandre VINOKOUROV 1 094
2002 Alexandre VINOKOUROV 1 194
2001 Dario FRIGO 1 212
2000 Andreas KLÖDEN 1 254
1999 Michaël BOOGERD 1 216
1998 Franck VANDENBROUCKE 1 295
1997 Laurent JALABERT 1 135
1996 Laurent JALABERT 1 303
1995 Laurent JALABERT 1 117
1994 Tony ROMINGER 1 407
1993 Alex ZÜLLE 1 407
1992 Jean-François BERNARD 1 110
1991 Tony ROMINGER 957
1990 Miguel INDURAIN 1 110
1989 Miguel INDURAIN 1 111
1988 Sean KELLY 1 018
1987 Sean KELLY 1 173
1986 Sean KELLY 1 216
1985 Sean KELLY 1 187
1984 Sean KELLY 1 123
1983 Sean KELLY 1 167
1982 Sean KELLY 1 186
1981 Stephen ROCHE 1 110
1980 Gilbert DUCLOS-LASSALLE 1 037
1979 Joop ZOETEMELK 1 079
1978 Gerrie KNETEMANN 1 154
1977 Freddy MAERTENS 1 219
1976 Michel LAURENT 1 205
1975 Joop ZOETEMELK 1 318
1974 Joop ZOETEMELK 1 267
1973 Raymond POULIDOR 850
1972 Raymond POULIDOR 1 129
1971 Eddy MERCKX 1 128
1970 Eddy MERCKX 1 459
1969 Eddy MERCKX 1 200
1968 Rolf WOLFSHOHL 1 461
1967 Tom SIMPSON 1 207
1966 Jacques ANQUETIL 1 309
1965 Jacques ANQUETIL 1 295
1964 Jan JANSSEN 1 524
1963 Jacques ANQUETIL 1 407
1962 Joseph PLANCKAERT 1 532
1961 Jacques ANQUETIL 1 262
1960 Raymond IMPANIS 1 264
1959 Jean GRACZYCK 1 955
1958 Fred DE BRUYNE 1 215
1957 Jacques ANQUETIL 1 207
1956 Fred DE BRUYNE 1 074
1955 Jean BOBET 1 140
1954 Raymond IMPANIS 1 048
1953 Jean-Pierre MUNCH 1 124
1952 Louison BOBET 1 234
1951 Roger DECOCK 1 117
1946 Fermo CAMELLINI 1 273
1939 Maurice ARCHAMBAUD 892
1938 Jules LOWIE 1 142
1937 Roger LAPÉBIE 1 265
1936 Maurice ARCHAMBAUD 1 265
1935 René VIETTO 1 222
1934 Gaston REBRY 1 156
1933 Alphonse SCHEPERS 1 257


Jan JANSSEN © PresseSports

An elegant thoroughbred, speaking a polished french, this dutch cyclist Jan Jansssen was the first famous rider to wear delicately framed glasses which underlined his refined features.

The professsional career of this francophile lasted 10 years, from 1962 to 1972. For the first 9 years, he only rode for French teams (Pelforth and Bic) with always the same sporting directer: Maurice de maur.

Aged 24, professional for only 2 years, he dictated the terms of the 1964 Paris-Nice to take the lead in the general classification after only a third of the race was done. Benifiting from the fall and withdrawal of Raymond Poulidor at the time trial stage in Corsica, Janssen improved his position and won at Nice, preceding in particular Jacques Anquetil (6th in the final classification). 1964 was a good year for Janssen, obtainng the world tiitle at the end of the season.

His progression continued in 1966 with a victory in Bordeaux-Paris as well as the Spanish tour, and finally in 1968 thanks to a victory in the time trial of the last stage he won The tour de France.

This victory was aquired in a climate of contestation (The events of social unrest of 68 were still fresh in the memory) which was justly rewarded by Janssen who was often present among the best of The Tour. Winner of the classification on points in 1964. He was rated 9th in 65, 2nd 66 and 5th in 67.


Paris-Nice 1979 - Eddy MERCKX © PresseSports Paris-Nice - Eddy MERCKX © PresseSports

He is undoubtedly the number one in world cycling, and rightly nominated cyclist of the centuary by the I.C.U. (International Cycling Union). He has won once or several times every race on the cycling calender. The only one he missed out on was the autumn classic: Paris-Tour.

His qualities were immeasurable, but added to that was an unshakeable will, not forgetting his inextinguishable thirst for victory. Eddy Merckx never missed or took lightly a trainning session.

He rode his bike whatever the weather; a scorching sunshine which played havoc with breathing, the cold which provoked discomfort or the freeing rain which tightened your muscels.

In competition, right from the beginning, Eddy merckx showed that his ambition lived up to his qualities.

Eddy Merckx started Paris-Nice 9 times. In this particular race he had 15 stage and prologue victories. So, he won at least once at each participation.

In 1967, he was the leader on the second day, when he was surprised by a big break-away which favored the eventual victory of his team mate Tom Simpson.

In 1968, he was the leader on the third day, but the day after he gave up because of a painful knee.

In 1969, he was the leader on the third day, and kept the lead to the end; and even overtook on the last stage (the asension of the Col d’Eze time trial) Jacque Anquetil on his last participation in the Tour.

In 1970, he was the leader on the third day in the snow in Saint-Étienne, but kept his lead to the end.

In 1971, he was the leader from the first day to the last.

In 1973, he was beaten again by Raymond Poulidor and on top of that he was overtaken by Joop Zoetemelk.

In 1974, suffering from bronchitis, he was overtaken by Joop Zoetemelk and Alain Santy.

In 1975, for his last participation, he won the prologue and the stage of Ventoux but was overtaken by Joop Zoetemelk in the Mont Faronand in the Col d’Eze. He finished in second place behind Zoetemelk.


Paris-Nice 1995 - Laurent JALABERT © PresseSports / BOUTROUX Paris-Nice 1997 - Laurent JALABERT © PresseSports / FABLET

Cycling was his passion. From a very young age, he darted around the village square perched in his saddle. He made a name for himself at a cycling school, and he rapidly became one of the best amateurs of his region, which enabled him to do his military service in an elite sporting section at Fontainbleau, before turning professionel in 1989.

At the beginning of his career, he was espically a sprinter. His numerous victories on flat routes as well as his success in the green jersey catagory in the Tour de France in 1992 testify to this. In 1994, he won seven stages of The Spanish Tour, and just after, in the The Tour de France, during a bunched sprint, he had a serious accident in Armentieres. For months on end, he had to undergo a difficult reeducation program, due to a damaged face. He didn’t fully recover until the following year.

Evolving rapidly, sprinting was no longer his single speciallity. In 1995, he won 36 victories incuding Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Le Creterium International, la Fleche Wallone and The Spanish Tour. French cycling had not witnessed such a brilliant represntative since Bernard Hinault. That same year, he was Velo d’Or mondial and number one in the world up to 1997 and again in 1999.

Becoming an all-rounder (world champion in time trial in 1997) Laurent Jalabard really thought he had a chance of winning The Tour de France, but only two firsts in the climbers catagory (2001 and 2002) crowned his efforts in this domaine.

In his career, Laurent Jalabert accomplished his biggest successes abroad (3 years in France, 9 years in spain and 3 years in Denmark). In France, he really didn’t really get the glory that he deserved, but quickly made up for it at the end of his career by becoming from 2003 a well respected consultant on French national TV and the French radio channel RTL.

Laurent Jalabert doesn’t do any more competition to win.Instead, for his pleasure and fitness he does marathons (Paris, New- York, Barcelone) and triathlons including the very hard Ironman event in Hawaii.


Paris-Nice 1977 - Freddy MAERTENS © PresseSports

Although extremely talented, Freddy Maertens couldn't find any advisers to build his cycling career or his private life.

In 1971 he was second just behind Regis Ovion in the world amater chamionships, and immediately after the Munich games he turned professional. He was just 20 years old. For the next two years he was only visible in second zone races (14 victories in 1973 and 34 in 1974). In 1975 he upgraded his performance by winning 7 stages of the Criterium de Dauphine, and one International classic: Tour-Versailles.

Then came two highly successful years, 5 stages of Paris-Nice (4th in final classification), and 7 stages in the Tour de France (8th in the final classification) then offering himself at the end of 1976 the world title. 1997 was a brilliant year with a victory in Paris-Nice (4 stages out of 11), 6 stages in the Tour of Italy and 12 stages in the Spanish Tour.

Later, Freddy Maerten payed dearly for this burst of energy, his prize list running dry in 1979 and 1980. He made a come back in 1981 and became world champion after winning 5 stages in the Tour de France.

His body couldn’t do it any longer, and badly advised he disappeared into anonymity. For 8 years he was able to find a few bike manufacturers who were willing to work with him, but he only rode in much less important races. In 1988 he retired from cycling, and someone found him a job in a cycling museum in Belgium.


Paris-Nice 1966 - Jacques ANQUETIL and Raymond POULIDOR © PresseSports Paris-Nice 1972 - Raymond POULIDOR © PresseSports

He was the French rider whose popularity had no equal. The public never despised him for not winning. The Tour de France or for not wearing the yellow jersey on any of the stages. His longevity was remarkable. His professional career stretched over 18 years, and he was unflaggingly loyal to the same brand name to the end. His principal rivals were respectively, Van Steenbergen, Van Looy, Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault. At the beginning he even rode alongside Bobet and Coppi.

Coming in second in numerous competitions, the press classified him as the ETERNAL SECOND, an appellation which became part of the common language, although it didn’t reflect the diversity of Poulidors achievments: Fench champion, winner of Milan-Sanremo, La Fleche Wallone, Du Grand Prix des Nation, Paris-Nice, The Spanish Tour and The Criterium du Dauphine Libere, just to mention a few.

His legendary rivality with Jacques Anquetil has stayed intact. Two totally opposite champions of exception. Anquetil had a sort of a morbid timidity and therefore was afraid of the public whereas Poulidor loved the contact. Anquetil always wanted to win, while Poulidor didn’t seem to have the will to win as a priority. When they were on the starting line of the same event, and even in the same national team their aims were not to hep each other. Their rapport was tense, inspite of numerous attempts to bring them together by friends. However, at the end of Anquetil’s career they became very close and spent many nights together.

The turning point in his career was in 1972, when against all expectations, at the age of 36, he preceded Eddy Merckx to win Paris-Nice. It was a complete surprise and the press were over the moon. The following year Polidor won again but the medias response were less enthusiastic eventhough the performance was similar. In 1974 aged 36, Polidor surprised everyone again, winning the difficult stage of The Tour at Plat d’Adet. Eddy Merckx was beaten but only had words of admiration for the winner.

After selling bikes of his own brand for a long time, Raymond Poulidor is now race directer of several events and keeps in touch with his public by signing books retracing his career and life style.


1991 - Miguel INDURAIN © PresseSports / CLEMENT 1991 - Miguel INDURAIN © PresseSports / CLEMENT

After a national title as an amateur, Miguel Indurian turned professional at the age of 20. At the beginning things were difficult. Two withdrawals from The Tour de France in 1985 and 1986, the same year that he won The Tour de L’Avenir. Incorporated into the very strong Renolds team, which was later called Banesto, Indurian saw without realy realising at first, that his progress was being held back by the presence of Pedro Delgado, the team leader. However, with the experienced Delgado at his side, Indurian progressed, but not as much as he would have liked. Two other participations in The Tour de France in 1987 and 1988 gave him very little satisfaction, arriving in 97th place and 47th place.

It was only in 1989, at the age of 25 that he became the real champion. His first big victory was in Paris-Nice in 1989. He won this event without winning any of the stages, but came through by being the most consistant of all the riders. 2nd in the Prologue, 2nd in the sommet du Mont Faron, 2nd in Saint-Tropez after the ascent of des Cotes du Pays Varios, 2nd in Nice after going through the hinterland in Nice and finally the last stage (timed ascent of du Col d’Eze).

Pedro Delgado proclaimed that now Indurian was mature enough to take his place.

The following year, in 1990, Indurian was the favourite at the departure of the Paris-Nice. After only the second day of the race, he was already the leader in Lyon. He improved considerably his lead at Mont Faron and went on to win his second consecutive Paris-Nice.

A few weeks later, he won his first of 5 Tour de France and one year later won his first of two Tour de Italy.

So it was Paris-Nice that revealed the multiple talents of Miguel Indurian.

Louison BOBET

Louison BOBET © PresseSports Critérium - Louison BOBET © PresseSports

Coming from a generation in which adolescence was affected by the war and the occupation, Bobet started cycling as a vocation. He started his professional career at 22 winning les Boucles de la Seine. He suddenly came out on nowhere, never to leave the limelight, because Bobet was a man loved by his fans before being warmly supported by some of the most important men in our country, principally because of his social success.

Louison Bobet left a souvenir of a perfectionist rider who gave cycling of his era a rational character. He was the first to use a personnel massager, Raymond Le Bert. His numerous achievements were always acquired by performances of courage. He won his first stage in The Tour de France in 1947 and had to wait until 1953 to win the first of his three consecutive Tour de Trance, obtaining 2 stage victories at Briancon after the ascent of Izoard. Champion of the world in 1954 in Germany, and a former resistant, he made it clear to everyone that he relished the marseillaise played in his honour as German troops stood to attention. He did his last Tour de Francein 1959. Without any fuss, he left the event, not in some flat open open country but at the top of Iseran, the highest peak in Europe. He disappeared into a press car and asked a journalist to lend him a cap so that the public would not see his sadness; because the name of Bobet was the most talked about on the routes of the Tour de France.

He could’t apprehend a participation in a race in stages without a daily success. It was like that, that he competed in 10 Tour de Frances, obtaining 12 stage victories. Winner of Paris-Cote d’Azur (the old name for Paris-Nice) in 1952, he won 4 of the 7 stages.

Once his career ended, he became the number one spa company in France, and was about to start up a firm in Spain when he died.


Paris-Nice - Joop ZOETEMELK © PresseSports Paris-Nice - Joop ZOETEMELK © PresseSports

Joop Zoetemelk has always been considered more French than any other Dutch riders, because he has lived in France for ages,and because he married a French woman.

His progression was rapid. At 22, he was Olympic champion with the Dutch team in Mexico in the 100 klm time trial. The following year, he won The Tour de l’Avenir and turned professional in 1970, the year of his first participation in The Tour de France, coming second behind Eddy Merckx.

Zoetemelk’s prize list was impressive, but it would have been richer, if he had not been the successor of Eddy Merckz. Once Merckz retired, it was Bernard Hinault who took his place at the top.

In 1980 however, taking advantage of the withdrawal of Hinault because of an injured knee, Zoetemelk won the race on his 34th anniversary.

Before, he had won Paris-Nice in 1974 and in 1975.

In 1974, Zoetemelk built his victory in the mountains of Mont Faron then on the Col d’Eze (Merckx in 3rd place and Polidor in 5th place).

In 1975, His victory in the Paris-Nice was a fantastic reward, for someone who had come back from a career threatening injury in The Grand Prix du Midi Libere. In this event he beat Merckx 2nd and Kentemann 3rd.

The career of Zoetemelk was very long - 21 years. At the age of 38 he became world road champion.

Hotel owner for a longtime in the Parisian region, he was sporting director of the Dutch team Rabobank.


Paris-Nice 1986 - Sean KELLY © PresseSports Paris-Nice 1988 - Sean KELLY © PresseSports

Sean Kelly shouldn’t have been a professional rider. He was banned for life by his federation after participating in events in South Africa (this country was boycotted because of racist policies). Sean Kelly didn’t get a proffessional licence until 1977. It was on his Irish farm that he signed up with the indispensable sporting directer of the 70’s and 80’Jean de Gribaldy.

Leading a healthy life style he showed people that he was a generous and hard working rider in the races and in training. His sole passion was cycling.

Sean Kelly was first of all a sprinter, and consequently he was recruited by the Flandria team to prepare sprints for Freddy Maertens. The experience was short lived, because Kelly went too fast and from then on rode for himself. He built up a handsome prize list. His name is listed in the golden book of the big classics: twice Milan-Sanremo, twice Paris-Roubaix, twice Liege-baston-Liege, three times the Tour of Lombardie, once Blois-Chaville.

In time he improved in stage races, and later won seven consecutive times Paris-Nice, obtaining 13 stage victories. His domination in this event was total. Each victory of this race was carried out to perfection.

He made so much progress that in 1985, he was the big favorite for the Tour de France. In the end he finished 4th accumalating a classification by points.

The Tour de France is not on his prize list nor The Spanish Tour, an event in which he won 12 stages.

He retired from cycling in the 1994 season, accepting not to be payed for the last six months because his passion was still in tact. He is now an english commentater for Eurosport on all the big cycling races on the calender.


Paris-Nice 1966 - Jacques ANQUETIL © PresseSports Paris-Nice 1966 - Raymond POULIDOR et Jacques ANQUETIL © PresseSports

He was first of all a young chamion. Winner at 17 of the final du Maillot des As de Paris-Normandie, olympic medallist and French amateur champion at 18. He was hardly 19 when he won the first of his 8 wins in the Grand Prix des Nations, and 23 when he awarded himself the first of his five victories in The Tour de France.

After that, he was a man of challenges. The one that highlighted his career and the history of cycling was the one he did in 1965, when he finished the winner in a very difficult Criterium du Dauphine Libere race and bounced back in less than 24 hours to win a resounding victory in the Bordeaux-Paris.

His encouters with Raymond Poulidor were sincere ones and they split French cycling into two camps: The Anquetitsts and the Poulidorists. It was the wonderful era of cycling, with an omnipresent television coverage, a prolific daily press which was rich and specialised. Le Tour de France of 1964 in particular, won by Anquetil, was the pinnacle of their rivality as well as Paris-Nice in 1966, an event that he won 7 times.

He was finally the rider who obtained the most success, even seeming to mock conventional dietetique norms imposed by the older riders. A big hearty meal the day before the race never bothered him at all. With the arrival of winter, many of his friends came to his house in Normandy to share some of the best wines and fine brandy in his abundant wine cellar.

He stopped his career in 1969, 18 years after his first appearances. He became a consultant for the radio and television, race director in diverse events and especially in Paris-Nice, where he attended, paralysed and happy 2 victories of his old enemy but now one of his best friends Poulidor. He was also technical director of the Fench team and with this responsibility selected Poulidor for the world championships.

Jacques Anquetil died at the end of 1987. The Cathedral of Rouen was much too small to gather all his friends to say a last goodbye.

Figures on Paris-Nice

Paris-Nice 1985 - Sean KELLY © PresseSports Paris-Nice 1991 - Thierry MARIE © PresseSports

7 overall victories for Sean Kelly (1982-1988).

12 riders won Paris-Nice several times.

14 French riders won Paris-Nice.

11 nations are at the palmares of Paris-Nice.

21 years old. It was the age of the youngest rider to win Paris-Nice (Vietto in 1935).

9’39 is the biggest gap between the first and second riders at final overall classification (1939, final victory for Archambaud).

3” is the tiniest gap between the winner and the second at the final overall classification (2008, victory for Rebellin ahead of Nocentini).

1,955 kilometres for the longest edition (1959).

850 kilometres for the shortest edition (1973).

136 is the biggest number of riders to complete Paris-Nice (2001).

19 is the tiniest number of riders to complete Paris-Nice (1939).

57 it is the number of leader jerseys for Eddy Merckx on Paris-Nice.

10, is the number of riders who wore the leader jersey from the first till the last stage.

6 is the highest number of stage victories for one rider of a single edition Paris-Nice (Maertens, 1976.

21 is the number of stages won by Eddy Merckx.

312 kilometres is the distance of the longest stage on Paris-Nice (Paris-Dijon, 1933).

19 kilometres is the distance of the shortest on line stage on Paris-Nice (Tournon-Valence, 1973).

67 is the highest number of riders to retire on one stage (1939).

1””, is the smallest gap between the winner and the second on a Prologue (1991, Thierry Marie won ahead of Tony Rominger).

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