1952 Tour de France

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1952 Tour de France
File:Tour de France 1952.png
Route of the 1952 Tour de France
Followed clockwise, starting in Brest and finishing in Paris
Race details
Dates 25 June–19 July 1952
Stages 23
Distance 4,807 km (2,987 mi)
Winning time 151h 57' 20"
Winner  Fausto Coppi (Italy) (Italy)
Second  Stan Ockers (Belgium) (Belgium)
Third  Bernardo Ruiz (Spain) (Spain)

Mountains  Fausto Coppi (Italy) (Italy)
Team Italy

The 1952 Tour de France was the 39th Tour de France, taking place June 25 to July 19, 1952. It was composed of 23 stages over 4807 km, ridden at an average speed of 31.739 km/h.[1] Newly introduced were the arrivals on mountain peaks.

The race was won by Italian Fausto Coppi. Coppi dominated the race, winning five stages and the mountains classification, and was a member of the winning Italian team. His dominance was so large that the Tour organisation had to double the prize money for second place to make the race interesting. At the end, Coppi had a margin of almost half an hour over the second-ranked cyclist, such a margin has never been achieved again.

Changes from the 1951 Tour de France

The 1952 Tour de France saw the introduction of the combativity award, a daily award for the most combative rider of the stage.[2] The winner of that award received 100,000 French francs.[3] (The supercombativity award, the award for the most combative rider of the entire Tour de France, would first be given in 1953.)

The team classification had been awarded and calculated since 1930, but in 1952 the daily team classification was also calculated: for each stage, the best team (calculated as the team of which the best three cyclists had the lowest accumulated team in that stage) received a prize.[4]

Another innovation was the stage arrivals on mountain peaks. This happened three times in 1952, on stages 10, 11 and 21.[3]


As was the custom since the 1930 Tour de France, the 1952 Tour de France was contested by national and regional teams. The three major cycling countries in 1952, Italy, Belgium and France, each sent a team of 12 cyclists. Other countries sent teams of 8 cyclists: Switzerland, Luxembourg (together with Australia), Netherlands and Spain. The French regional cyclists were divided into four teams of 12 cyclists: Paris, North East–Center, South East and West–South West. The last team of eight cyclists was made up out of cyclists from the French North African colonies. In the end, Luxembourg only sent 6 cyclists, so altogether this made 122 cyclists.[4]

There were 57 French (of which 6 were Algerian), 13 Italian, 12 Belgian, 8 Dutch, 8 Spanish, 8 Swiss, 5 Luxembourgian and 1 Australian cyclists.[5]

The winners of the last two editions, Swiss cyclists Hugo Koblet and Ferdi Kübler, were injured and did not enter the race, nor did French cyclist Louison Bobet.[4]

On the last press conference before the race, Jacques Goddet conducted a poll amongst journalists to see who they considered the favourite. Coppi received 29 votes in that poll, followed by Géminiani and Bartali, both with 26 votes.[6]

Race overview

A black and white photo of a man in front of a crowd of people
Fausto Coppi, the winner of the 1952 Tour de France.

In the fourth stage, Jean Robic, the winner of the 1947 Tour de France was in a group with his team mate Raphaël Géminiani, and Robic let Géminiani do all the work. After the stage, Robic told reporters that he had been smart, because he had saved energy and was in a better position to win the Tour. Géminiani then became angry and held Robic's head in a hotel room sink. It was the last year that Robic rode on the national team.[7] At that moment, Nello Lauredi was the leader in the race.

In the sixth stage, Fiorenzo Magni escaped, and became the leader of the general classification by twelve seconds. In the 1950 Tour de France, Magni had already become the leader, but left the race without riding in the yellow jersey.[7] In the time trial in stage seven, won by Fausto Coppi, Magni lost his lead, and Lauredi became leader again.

The first high mountains appeared in stage eight. Magni and Lauredi stayed together, but because Magni took a twenty-second bonification for finishing second, they swapped positions again, and Magni became leader again.[7]

In the ninth stage, a group of eight cyclists got away, including Coppi's team mate Andrea Carrea. At the end of the stage, the group had a margin of more than nine minutes. Carrea went to the hotel after the finish, but was picked up by the police. Carrea asked what he had done wrong, but he was told that he was the new leader of the race, and had to go to the ceremony to receive the yellow jersey. Carrea apologized to his team leader Coppi, in fear that his team leader would be angry because a helper occupied the highest rank, but Coppi was not angry.[7]

In the tenth stage, Robic attacked, and only Coppi was able to follow him. Later, Robic had a flat tire. Because his team director was far away, he lost several minutes, and lost so much time that he dropped from second place to fifth place.[8] Coppi rode away and won the stage, taking over the lead in the general classification from his team mate. The top three riders were all Italian at that moment.[7]

After the rest day, the eleventh stage was again a mountain stage. The cyclists from the French national team, especially Géminiani, attacked on the Galibier, but Coppi counterattacked and escaped easily. At the end of the stage, Coppi won by a large margin. His lead in the general classification was now almost 20 minutes.[7]

The margin was so large that Coppi didn't need to attack in the twelfth stage. When Coppi had a flat tire, his team mate Gino Bartali gave him his own wheel, which was a sign that the rivalry between the two cyclists was over. Even though Coppi rode conservatively in the that stage, the cyclist directly behind him in the general classification, Alex Close, lost another four minutes, and Coppi was now 24 minutes ahead.[7]

The Tour organisation feared that the race would become dull, now that Coppi's lead was so large. Therefore, they doubled the prize money for second and third place, hoping to keep the other cyclists aggressive.[7]

In the sixteenth stage, the riders were apparently not motivated by the double prize money, as they were slow that day. The organisation then responded by canceling the prize money; there was still a rule from before 1947, that said that stage winners had to go at least 30 km/h to win prize money. The winner, André Rosseel, had only reached 29 km/h.[9]

In the seventeenth stage, Géminiani, who was already in fourteenth place, 52 minutes behind in the general classification, escaped. Coppi did not chase him, and allowed Géminiani to win the stage.[7] In the eighteenth stage, Coppi reached the top of the mountains first, but took it easy on the descent, and allowed other cyclists to get back to him. He still won the sprint at the end of the stage.[7]

Coppi also won the last mountain stage, stage 21, and increased his lead to more than 31 minutes. In the time trial on the next day, Coppi apparently took it easy. Previously he was an expert in such time trials, but on that day he allowed other cyclists to win back some time, and finished on the fourteenth place.[7]


The final stage was from Vichy, the capital of Vichy France in the Second World War, to Paris. Vichy had never before been visited, and the distance Vichy–France was significantly longer than the other stages. A newspaper described it as linking the two cities together. The stop in Vichy was successful, with a new record of 150.000 live spectators.[10]

Stage results[4][11]
Stage Date Route Terrain Length Winner
1 25 June BrestRennes Plain stage 246 km (153 mi)  Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL)
2 26 June Rennes – Le Mans Plain stage 181 km (112 mi)  André Rosseel (BEL)
3 27 June Le Mans – Rouen Plain stage 189 km (117 mi)  Nello Lauredi (FRA)
4 28 June Rouen – Roubaix Plain stage 232 km (144 mi)  Pierre Molinéris (FRA)
5 29 June Roubaix – Namur Plain stage 197 km (122 mi)  Jean Diederich (LUX)
6 30 June Namur – Metz Plain stage 228 km (142 mi)  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
7 1 July Metz – Nancy Individual time trial 60 km (37 mi)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
8 2 July Nancy – Mulhouse Stage with mountain(s) 252 km (157 mi)  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
9 3 July Mulhouse – Lausanne Stage with mountain(s) 238 km (148 mi)  Walter Diggelmann (SUI)
10 4 July Lausanne – L'Alpe d'Huez Stage with mountain(s) 266 km (165 mi)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
11 6 July Le Bourg d'Oisans – Sestrières Stage with mountain(s) 182 km (113 mi)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
12 7 July Sestrières – Monaco Stage with mountain(s) 251 km (156 mi)  Jan Nolten (NED)
13 8 July Monaco – Aix-en-Provence Plain stage 214 km (133 mi)  Raoul Rémy (FRA)
14 9 July Aix-en-Provence – Avignon Stage with mountain(s) 178 km (111 mi)  Jean Robic (FRA)
15 10 July Avignon – Perpignan Plain stage 275 km (171 mi)  Georges Decaux (FRA)
16 11 July Perpignan – Toulouse Plain stage 200 km (124 mi)  André Rosseel (BEL)
17 13 July Toulouse – Bagnères-de-Bigorre Stage with mountain(s) 204 km (127 mi)  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
18 14 July Bagnères-de-Bigorre – Pau Stage with mountain(s) 149 km (93 mi)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
19 15 July Pau – Bordeaux Plain stage 195 km (121 mi)  Hans Dekkers (NED)
20 16 July Bordeaux – Limoges Plain stage 228 km (142 mi)  Jacques Vivier (FRA)
21 17 July Limoges – Puy de Dôme Stage with mountain(s) 245 km (152 mi)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
22 18 July Clermont-Ferrand – Vichy Individual time trial 63 km (39 mi)  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
23 19 July Vichy – Paris Plain stage 354 km (220 mi)  Antonin Rolland (FRA)

Classification leadership

Stage General classification
Mountains classification Team classification
1  Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL) no award  Belgium
3  Nello Lauredi (FRA)  France
6  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
7  Nello Lauredi (FRA)
8  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
9  Andrea Carrea (ITA)
10  Fausto Coppi (ITA)  Antonio Gelabert (ESP)
11  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
15  Italy
Final  Fausto Coppi (ITA)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)  Italy


General classification

The time that each cyclist required to finish each stage was recorded, and these times were added together for the general classification. If a cyclist had received a time bonus, it was subtracted from this total; all time penalties were added to this total. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey. Of the 123 cyclists that started the 1951 Tour de France, 66 finished the race.

Final general classification (1–10)[4]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Fausto Coppi (ITA) Italy 151h 57' 20"
2  Stan Ockers (BEL) Belgium +28' 17"
3  Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) Spain +34' 38"
4  Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy +35' 25"
5  Jean Robic (FRA) France +35' 36"
6  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA) Italy +38' 25"
7  Alex Close (BEL) Belgium +38' 32"
8  Jean Dotto (FRA) France +48' 01"
9  Andrea Carrea (ITA) Italy +50' 20"
10  Antonio Gelabert (ESP) Spain +58' 16"

Mountains classification

Points for the mountains classification were earned by reaching the mountain tops first. The system was the same as in 1951: there were two types of mountain tops: the hardest ones, in category 1, gave 10 points to the winner, the easier ones in category 2 gave 6 points to the winner. Fausto Coppi won this classification.[4]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[2][5][12]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Fausto Coppi (ITA) Italy 92
2  Antonio Gelabert (ESP) Spain 69
3  Jean Robic (FRA) France 60
4  Stan Ockers (BEL) Belgium 53
5  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA) France 51
6  Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 42
7  Jean Dotto (FRA) France 35
8  Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) Spain 28
9  Andrea Carrea (ITA) Italy 23
10  Jan Nolten (NED) Netherlands 22

Team classification

The team classification was calculated by adding the times in the general classification of the best three cyclists per team. It was won by the Italian team.

Final team classification[2][12]
Rank Team Time
1 Italy 455h 56' 40"
2 France +25' 16"
3 Belgium +54' 56"
4 Spain +2h 53' 44"
5 Netherlands +2h 59' 52"
6 North East–Center +4h 26' 06"
7 East–South East +4h 46' 06"
8 West–South West +5h 58' 00"
9 Paris +6h 27' 14"
10 Switzerland +7h 00' 41"
11 North Africa +7h 56' 49"

The Luxembourgian team finished with only two cyclists, and therefore were not eligible for the team classification.

Other awards

The special award for the best regional rider was won by eighteenth-placed Marcel Zelasco.[3]


The daily combativity award was a success, and has been awarded ever since. The mountain finishes also were spectacular enough to have been included in every Tour de France since.

Fausto Coppi would never start the Tour de France again.

The team selecters for the French national team felt that Raphaël Géminiani had held back when chasing Fausto Coppi, because they rode for the same sponsor. For that reason, Géminiani was left out the national team for the 1952 UCI World Championships. To avoid these problems in the future, Géminiani switched teams at the end of the season.[7]


  1. Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-03. Retrieved 4 December 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 James, Tom (14 August 2003). "1952: "The lamb transformed into a lion"". Veloarchive. Retrieved 4 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 4 December 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "38ème Tour de France 1952" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 4 December 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Tour-Giro-Vuelta". www.tour-giro-vuelta.net. Retrieved 4 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Wagtmans bij favorieten". Dagblad voor Amersfoort (in Dutch). Archief Eemland. 23 June 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 13 September 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. Dog ear publishing. pp. 183–188. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Amaury Sport Organisation. "The Tour - Year 1952". letour.fr. Retrieved 10 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Thompson, p.217
  10. Thompson, pp. 85–94
  11. Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. Retrieved 4 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "1952: 39e editie" (in Dutch). Tourdefrance.nl. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 4 December 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Media related to 1952 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons