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The Tour 2012 yellow jersey for Brad Wiggins, did you know the first to wear it was Eugène Christophe?

Added: tuesday 31 July 2012 at 09:06:00
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    The Tour 2012 yellow jersey for Brad Wiggins, did you know the first to wear it was Eugène Christophe?A little bit over a week now, the British rider Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) won the Tour de France 2012, with a 3'21" gap on his team mate and fellow countryman Christopher Froome (and 6'19" on the Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali of the Liquigas-Cannondale team). But did you known that the first rider to wear the yellow jersey was Eugène Christophe, on 19 July 1919 at the stage start in Grenoble?

    Bradley Wiggins' victory

    Starting as the biggest favourite of the Tour de France 2012, especially after his victories in the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour of Romandy and Paris-Nice this year, Bradley Wiggins realised the expectations his team put on him by winning, almost easily, the 99th edition of the Tour de France.

    Right from the start, with the prologue in the streets of Liège, Wiggins took the second place behind Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) who wore the yellow jersey until the finish of the 7th stage at La Planche des Belles Filles.
    Bradley WigginsTaking some precious time on his main competitors right from the prologue, his 3rd place at the finish of this new mountain top for the Tour de France allowed him to take over the yellow jersey from the Swiss rider who left the race a few days later in order to assist his wife giving birth to their baby.

    By winning the time trial between Arc-et-Senans and Besançon, the 9th stage, the day before the first rest day of the Tour de France 2012, Wiggins confirmed his leading position in the general classification by taking 35 seconds on his team mate Christopher Froome, 1'43" on Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and 2'07" on Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) for example.

    Mainly thanks to the help of this same Christopher Froome, Bradley Wiggins managed to finish the different stages which followed in the same group as his main competitors, especially by neutralising the attacks coming from Vincenzo Nibali and he than reconfirmed his dominance in the time trials of this Tour de France 2012 between Bonneval and Chartres.

    And the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France? It was worn by Eugène Christophe!

    In 2012, the battle for the yellow jersey of the Tour de France was thus rapidly decided (we probably best remember the image of Vincenzo Nibali in the 17th stage between Bagnères-de-Luchon and Peyragudes when he shakes hands with Alejandro Valverde [Movistar Team] to confirm an agreement according which the Italian rider gave up his efforts in the leading group which had no chance to succeed because of his presence ... Alejandro Valverde won this stage but from a sports point of view, it's a bit disappointing to see that one can simply accept the 3rd place in the general classification in this way!). This was not the case in 1919 ... At that time, there was no battle for the yellow jersey but only for the overall victory.

    Indeed, the distinctive jersey worn by the leader of the general classification in the race didn't exist yet. In order to more easily distinguish the leader of this classification among all riders of the Tour, Henri Desgrange -creator of the Tour and at that time still director of the Grande Boucle- decides to let him wear a different jersey, in yellow like the colour of the paper of the L'Auto newspaper. Indeed, the Tour de France was created by this newspaper in 1903 to boost its sales. Up until today, we can find his initials, HD, on the yellow jersey of the Tour de France.

    This jersey didn't exist however at the start of the race because it was awarded for the first time to Eugène Christophe at the start of the 11th stage in Grenoble (stage towards Genève), on 19 July 1919. While Eugène Christophe took the first place in the general classification right after the 4th stage, he thus didn't get to wear the now famous yellow garment before the start of the 11th stage, 2 weeks later.

    The bad luck of Eugène Christophe

    Eugène Christophe broke his fork during one of the stages of the Tour in 1913, but in the forelast stage of this Tour the bad luck fell on him once again. Indeed, his fork broke again and at that time the riders were obliged to do any reparations themselves, without any external help. Before the start of that stage, he had a 28 minutes gap in the general classification, but this reparation took him 1h10' and that's thus how the rider, listening to the nickname Vieux Gaulois, lost this 17th edition of the Tour de France. The Belgian rider Firmin Lambot is the lucky rider in this operation because he takes over the yellow jersey which he doesn't lose anymore the next day ...

    Eugène Christophe was born in Malakoff, small city south of Paris and in this city, which since became the city where I live as well, close to the subway station Malakoff-Plateau de Vanves, a commemorative plaque exists for this rider who was the first to wear the yellow jersey!
    Eugène Christophe - © velowire.com Eugène Christophe - © velowire.com
    The commemorative plaque for Eugène Christophe, first rider to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France at the Malakoff-Plateau de Vanves subway station

    Some comments from Eugène Christophe in video

    And finally, the best way to complete this article about this rider is probably to let him speak himself. In the item about him on French television France 2 he mainly talks about his bad luck in the Tour ...

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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    this article appears in the following categories: Tour de France| Tour de France 2012 | share on Facebook | delicious | twitter | Google | technorati


Currently 2 comments!
  1. Salut Thomas , oui belle année pour Bradley avec en plus une medaille d or mais Frome va devenir un sacré client pour un prochain Tour qui vu de l exterieur ( ce ne sera peut etre pas ton avis toi qui l a vécu de l interieur ) ne restera pas dans les annales !Un bravo a Voekler .....
    Bonne vacances ( si tu en prends ? ) Nous ce sera pour bientot a Sète dans le sud de la France . A+ LISEROIS .

    | liserois | wednesday 01 August 2012 at 20:58:21

  2. Bonjour Thomas,
    Quand les rumeurs sur le tdf 2013 seront-elles misent en ligne stp ?
    Bonnes vacances!

    | martin | sunday 05 August 2012 at 11:02:27

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