Check your Tour knowledge

Last month, le grimpeur presented the Tour de France quiz from the 1978 paperback edition of The Great Bike Race by Geoffrey Nicholson. The prizes from Magnum Publishers were three Raleigh bikes of various models, the top prize “based on the model used by the TI-Raleigh Team” for the Tour in 1976.

The team, which had its origins in the track racing success of Raleigh riders, made its debut in 1973 with all British riders. The parent company, Tube Investments (hence the ‘TI’), was a large steel products manufacturer, which most notably in the cycling world made Reynolds tubing (“Reynolds 531,” ran an advertisement at the time, “gives you lightness where you need it most.”). The company also owned a number of bicycle brands, including Raleigh.

TI-Raleigh really got underway as a continental team with the appointment of Peter Post as manager in 1974, although the team shifted from a largely British amateur squad to a Dutch professional team. The team, which wore its distinctive jerseys through until 1983, enjoyed numerous victories, perhaps most notably the win by Gerrie Knetemann in the World Championship in 1978 (he also won the final stage of the Tour that year).

Gerrie 1
Ride magazine’s spread on Knetemann’s bike.

The year 1976 was in fact the team’s Tour debut and Gerben Karstens took last-minute glory for the team when he beat Freddie Maertens – who had already won an incredible eight stages – on the Champs Elysées.

Quiz answers:

1. 1974 was the year that the Tour crossed the channel to Britain for a stage in Plymouth.

2. Jacques Anquetil had already before Merckx won the Tour five times, in 1957 then 1961-1964. Anquetil was also the first rider to win all three Grand Tours.

3. Peter Post was the manager of the TI-Raleigh team.

4. The first English rider to win a Tour stage was Brian Robinson (1957, stage 7, Saint-Brieuc to Brest, as a member of the Luxembourg-Mixed team as it was still national teams at that time); he would win another stage in 1959. Tom Simpson was the first to wear the yellow jersey in 1962, for one stage, and finished the Tour in 6th – his best finish; despite his fantastic career, he would never win a Tour stage before his death during the race in 1967 and 1962 was his highest place finish.

5. The yellow jersey was introduced in 1919 – with all the details here.

6. The Eagle of Toledo, and possibly the greatest climber in the Tour’s history, was Federico Bahamontes. He won the Tour in 1959, as well as the KOM prize so he actually won that competition six times – the other years being 1954, 58, 62, 63, and 64.

7. The 1975 Tour started in Charleroi, Belgium.

8. Riders and their nicknames included: a) Bernard Thévenet (Nanard); b) Raymond Poulidor (Poupou); and c) Eugene Christophe (Cri-Cri).

9. Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, since 1968 now starts in Compiègne and finishes in the velodrome at Roubaix.

10. The only Dutch rider to have won the Tour at the time was Jan Janssen in 1968. Since the publication of Nicholson’s book, only one other has repeated this achievement: Joop Zoetemelk in 1980.

11. The 1978 Tour was the 65th edition of the race.

12. The Lanterne Rouge is the last placed rider.

Thanks to the readers who posted their answers! The Raleigh bikes are an object of envy today, so one can only hope that the original winner is still enjoying their classic ride.

Cover 1
A different era of racing and writing.

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