1974 Tour de France

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1974 Tour de France
Route of the 1974 Tour de France
Route of the 1974 Tour de France
Race details
Dates June 27–July 21, 1974
Stages 22+Prologue, including four split stages
Distance 4,104.2 km (2,550 mi)
Winning time 116h 16' 58"
Winner  Eddy Merckx (Belgium) (Molteni)
Second  Raymond Poulidor (France) (Gan–Mercier)
Third  Vicente Lopez-Carril (Spain) (Kas)

Points  Patrick Sercu (Belgium) (Brooklyn)
Mountains  Domingo Perurena (Spain) (Kas)
Combination  Eddy Merckx (Belgium) (Molteni)
Sprints  Barry Hoban (Great Britain) (Gan–Mercier)
Team Kas
Team Points Gan–Mercier

The 1974 Tour de France was the 61st Tour de France, taking place June 27 to July 21, 1974. It consisted of 22 stages over 4098 km, ridden at an average speed of 35.241 km/h.[1] Eddy Merckx was attempting to win his fifth Tour de France in as many races, while Luis Ocaña and Joop Zoetemelk were notable absentees from the 1974 Tour.

In 1974 the tour made its first visit to the United Kingdom, with a circuit stage on the Plympton By-pass, near Plymouth, England.

The race was won by favourite Eddy Merckx, who thus at that point had won all five Tours that he had entered, and had equalled Jacques Anquetil in Tour victories. Merckx also won the combination classification. Fellow Belgian Patrick Sercu won the points classification, while Spanish Domingo Perurena won the mountains classification.


The 1974 Tour de France had 13 teams, with 10 cyclists each:[2]

Merckx, who had been absent in 1973 after winning four Tours in a row, was present again.[2] Merckx had not been as dominant in the spring as in other years; it was his first year as a professional cyclist in which he did not win a spring classic.[3] He did win the 1974 Giro d'Italia and the Tour de Suisse, but after winning the latter he required surgery on the perineum, five days before the 1974 Tour started.[3]

Notable absents were Ocana and Zoetemelk. Zoetemelk was injured during the Midi Libre and was in hospital with life-threatening meningitis. Ocana had crashed in the Tour de l'Aude, gone home and was fired by his team for not communicating. Bernard Thevenet, who was considered a potential winner, had crashed several times in the 1974 Vuelta a España. He did start in the Tour, but was not yet back at his former level.[3]

Race details

Merckx won the prologue, with his team mate Joseph Bruyere in third place. In the first stage, Bruyere was part of a breakaway, and became the new leader.[3]

The second stage was in Plymouth, the first time that the Tour de France visited England.[4] The riders did not like the experiment, as the British immigration officials made the cyclists wait for a long time when entering the country and again when returning to France.[3][4]

Merckx collected bonus time in the sprints, and in the fourth stage took back the leading position in the general classification, with Gerben Karstens in second place. Karstens was also doing well in the points classification, and felt Merckx and Patrick Sercu, the leaders in the general and points classification, were helping each other.[notes 1] Karstens was angry and after the finish quickly went away, but forgot that he had to go to the doping control. For this, he was given ten minutes penalty time, and thus he lost his second place in the general classification.[3][5] Karstens complained to the jury, and other cyclists threatened with a strike, so the jury removed the penalty after the fifth stage. Thanks to bonification seconds in that stage, Karstens took the leading position after that stage.[3][6]

It was still close in the top of the general classification. Patrick Sercu became the new leader after the first part of the sixth stage, but Karstens regained the lead after the second part of the sixth stage, a team time trial won by Merckx's team, Molteni. Merckx won the seventh stage, and became the next leader.

The Alps were the first serious mountains to be seen, in stage nine. Merckx won the stage, but the surprise of the day was Raymond Poulidor, who at 38 years old was still able to escape during the toughest part of the stage. This also happened in the tenth stage: Poulidor joined the crucial escape, but could not beat Merckx in the final sprint.[3]

In the tenth stage, the hardest Alpine stage, Vicente Lopez Carril from the KAS team stayed away. Merckx was in the next group, together with Francisco Galdos and Gonzalo Aja, also from the KAS team. Aja was in third place in the general classification, so Merckx was unable to chase Lopez Carril without helping his rival Aja.[3]

The next stages did not change the general classification. In the fifteenth stage, the Pyrenées were encountered. There was a crash that took down Galdos, now in sixth place in the general classification, and he had to leave the race.[3] The Tour was in Spain at that point, and Basque separatist placed bombs on press and team cars. Nobody was hurt, but cyclists were scared: Spanish champion Lopez Carril did not wear his national champion's jersey, afraid to become a target because of the Spanish flag on it.[3]

In the sixteenth stage, with an uphill finish, Poulidor won, his first Tour stage victory since 1965. Merckx finished in fourth place, losing time to Poulidor, Lopez Carril and Pollentier.[3][7]

In the seventeenth stage, Poulidor again won time, finishing second after Jean-Pierre Danguillaume, and jumped to the third place in the general classification, behind Merckx and Lopez Carril.[3] Danguillaume also won the eighteenth stage, the last mountain stage. The favourites stayed together with Merckx, and at that point Merckx was more or less certain of the victory, with two time trials remaining, in which he normally would gain time on the others.[3]

Poulidor battled with Lopez-Carril for the second place. After the time trial in the second part of stage 21, Poulidor captured the second place by just one second. Surprisingly, Merckx was in second place in that time trial, beaten by Michel Pollentier.[3] In the last stage, Poulidor increased the margin to Lopez Carril to five seconds due to bonus seconds.


The 1974 Tour de France started on 27 June, and had two rest days, in Aix-les-Bains and Colomiers.[8]

Stage results[2][9]
Stage Route Terrain Length Winner
P Brest Individual time trial 7 km (4.3 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
1 Brest – Saint-Pol-de-Léon Plain stage 144 km (89 mi)  Ercole Gualazzini (ITA)
2 PlymouthPlymouth Plain stage 164 km (102 mi)  Henk Poppe (NED)
3 Morlaix – Saint-Malo Plain stage 190 km (120 mi)  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
4 Saint-Malo – Caen Plain stage 184 km (114 mi)  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
5 Caen – Dieppe Plain stage 165 km (103 mi)  Ronald de Witte (BEL)
6A Dieppe – Harelbeke Plain stage 239 km (149 mi)  Jean-Luc Molineris (FRA)
6B Harelbeke Team time trial 9 km (5.6 mi) Molteni
7 MonsChâlons-sur-Marne Plain stage 221 km (137 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
8A Châlons-sur-Marne – Chaumont Plain stage 136 km (85 mi)  Cyrille Guimard (FRA)
8B Chaumont – Besançon Plain stage 152 km (94 mi)  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
9 Besançon – Gaillard Stage with mountain(s) 241 km (150 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
10 Gaillard – Aix-les-Bains Stage with mountain(s) 131 km (81 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
11 Aix-les-Bains – Serre Chevalier Stage with mountain(s) 199 km (124 mi)  Vicente Lopez Carril (ESP)
12 Savines-le-LacOrange Stage with mountain(s) 231 km (144 mi)  Jos Spruyt (BEL)
13 AvignonMontpellier Plain stage 126 km (78 mi)  Barry Hoban (GBR)
14 LodèveColomiers Plain stage 249 km (155 mi)  Jean-Pierre Genet (FRA)
15 Colomiers – La Seu d'Urgell Stage with mountain(s) 225 km (140 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
16 La Seu d'Urgell – Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet Stage with mountain(s) 209 km (130 mi)  Raymond Poulidor (FRA)
17 Saint-Lary-SoulanLa Mongie Stage with mountain(s) 119 km (74 mi)  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)
18 Bagnères-de-Bigorre – Pau Stage with mountain(s) 141 km (88 mi)  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)
19A Pau – Bordeaux Plain stage 196 km (122 mi)  Francis Campaner (FRA)
19B Bordeaux – Bordeaux Individual time trial 12 km (7.5 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
20 Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-VieNantes Plain stage 120 km (75 mi)  Gerard Vianen (NED)
21A VouvrayOrléans Plain stage 113 km (70 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
21B Orléans – Orléans Individual time trial 37 km (23 mi)  Michel Pollentier (BEL)
22 Orléans – Paris Plain stage 146 km (91 mi)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)


There were several classifications in the 1974 Tour de France, three of them awarding jerseys to their leaders. The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.[10]

Additionally, there was a points classification, where cyclists got points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.[10]

There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorized some climbs as either first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorized climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, but was not identified with a jersey in 1974.[10]

Another classification was the combination classification. This classification was calculated as a combination of the other classifications, its leader wore the white jersey.[11]

The fifth individual classification was the intermediate sprints classification. This classification had similar rules as the points classification, but only points were awarded on intermediate sprints. In 1974, this classification had no associated jersey.[12]

For the team classification, the times of the best three cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time. The riders in the team that lead this classification wore yellow caps.[13]

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[2]
Rank Name Team Time
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni 116h 16' 58"
2  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan-Mercier-Hutchinson +8' 04"
3  Vicente López Carril (ESP) KAS +8' 09"
4  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) Brooklyn +10' 59"
5  Gonzalo Aja (ESP) KAS +11' 24"
6  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Bic +14' 24"
7  Michel Pollentier (BEL) Carpenter-Confortluxe +16' 34"
8  Mariano Martínez (FRA) Sonolor-Gitane +18' 33"
9  Alain Santy (FRA) Gan-Mercier-Hutchinson +19' 55"
10  Herman Van Springel (BEL) Mic-De Gribaldy-Ludo +24' 11"

Other classifications

The combativity award was given to Eddy Merckx.[1]


With his fifth Tour victory, Merckx equalled Jacques Anquetil. Moreover, Merckx had won the first five Tours that he entered. Merckx set a few new records after winning the 1974 Tour:[3]

  • Total number of stage victories: 32 (surpassing André Leducq, who had won 25)
  • First man to win the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Tour de Suisse in one year.

Merckx had already won the 1974 Giro d'Italia earlier that year, and after winning the 1974 Tour de France also won the world championship, and became the first cyclist to win the Triple Crown of Cycling.

Doping cases

Cyrille Guimard, who had won the first part of stage eight, tested positive for piperidine[15] after stage thirteen.[16] Three other cyclists tested positive:[15]

  • Claude Tollet, for amphetamine;
  • Daniel Ducreux, for piperidine;
  • Carlos Melero, for piperidine.


  1. Merckx and Sercu were in different teams, but were good friend, and in winters rode together in six-day racing.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-09. Retrieved 30 September 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "61ème Tour de France 1974" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 14 May 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965-2007. Dog Ear Publishing. pp. 81–88. ISBN 1-59858-608-4. Retrieved 30 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Tour de France: The disastrous 1974 Plymouth stage". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "61ème Tour de France 1974 - 4ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 14 May 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "61ème Tour de France 1974 - 5ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 14 May 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "61ème Tour de France 1974 - 16ème étape" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 30 March 2011. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, Part 4" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. Retrieved 17 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Christian, Sarah (2 July 2009). "Tour de France demystified - Evaluating success". RoadCycling.co.nz Ltd. Retrieved 27 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Other Classifications & Awards". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 25 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Intermediate Sprints Classification". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 28 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard. ISBN 0-679-72936-4. Retrieved 28 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 "Clasificaciones oficiales". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 22 July 1974. p. 19. Retrieved 20 August 2011. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Tombés au champs d'honneur". Magazine Sport & Vie (in French). Dopage.com. July 2003. Retrieved 30 March 2011. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Guimard positief". Leidsche courant. Regionaal archief leiden. 18 July 1974. p. 13. Retrieved 30 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>