1912 Tour de France

1912 Tour de France
Map of France with the route of the 1912 Tour de France on it, showing that the race started in Paris, went clockwise through France and ended in Paris after fifteen stages.
Route of the 1912 Tour de France
Followed clockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates 30 June – 28 July
Stages 15
Distance 5,289 km (3,286 mi)
Winning time 49 points
Winner  Odile Defraye (BEL) (Alcyon)
Second  Eugène Christophe (FRA) (Armor)
Third  Gustave Garrigou (FRA) (Alcyon)

The 1912 Tour de France was the tenth running of the Tour de France. It consisted of 15 stages for a total of 5,289 kilometres (3,286 mi). The Tour took place from 30 June to 28 July.[1] The riders rode at an average speed of 27.763 km/h (17.251 mph). After 4 stage wins during the Tour of Belgium, the Alcyon team hired Odile Defraye to help Gustave Garrigou repeat his win of the 1911 Tour de France. However, as the race progressed, it was clear that Defraye was the stronger rider, and he was made team leader. Defraye won the 1912 Tour de France, while Garrigou came in third place.[2]

Changes from the previous Tour

The point system from the 1911 Tour de France was still in use, including the cleaning up of the classification after stages 8 and 14.[3] It was changed in one aspect: if one or more cyclists, excluding the first seven, finished in the same time, they split their points. In stage 8, the first thirteen cyclists finished at the same time. The first seven to cross the line got the normal number of points, but the eighth to thirteenth cyclists all got 10.5 points.[3]

Technically, the bicycles were similar to the 1911 bicycles, only Stéphanois Panel experimented with a derailleur system.[3] This was quickly forbidden afterwards by Tour organiser Henri Desgrange, and only allowed again in 1937.[4]


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1912 Tour de France.

The 1912 Tour started with 131 cyclists; there were 10 teams of 5 cyclists each; these 50 cyclists included all favourites for the overall victory. The remaining 81 cyclists started in the isolés category.[3] The Alcyon team had the pre-race favourite, Gustave Garrigou, the winner of the previous Tour de France. To help him, they hired Odile Defraye, who had performed well at the 1912 Tour of Belgium.[5] At first, the Alcyon team did not want to select Defraye, but the Belgian representative of Alcyon posed commercial threats, and Defraye was selected.[6]

Race overview

A group of cyclists, with spectators on the left and on the right.
The peloton during the 1912 Tour de France.

In the first stage, the favourites remained calm.[6] This first stage was won by Charles Crupelandt. Defraye finished 14th, while Garrigou finished in 21st place.[7] In the second stage, Defraye and Garrigou were ahead of the rest, and Defraye won the stage. At that point, Defraye was second in the general classification, only one point behind Vincenzo Borgarello,[8] the first Italian leader of the general classification ever. When Garrigou punctured because of nails spread by vandals, Defraye waited for him. During the long chase for the rest, it was clear that Defraye was stronger than Garrigou, who encouraged Defraye to continue alone.[6] Defraye became a favourite for the overall victory, and his team mates gave him their support. He was the first Belgian who had a serious chance to win the Tour de France, so all Belgians in the race, regardless of their team, were helping him.[5]

One remaining competitor was Octave Lapize. In the fifth stage, Defraye had problems with his knees, and was more than fifteen minutes behind Lapize. Defraye came back, and kept Lapize one point behind him in the general classification.[6] In the sixth stage, Defraye attacked and only Lapize could follow, as they climbed the major Alp mountains together. Then Defraye punctured,[6] and Lapize won the stage,[9] so Lapize shared the lead with Defraye.[10] In the seventh stage, Defraye punctured again, but he came back and won the stage.[6] The eighth stage was a flat stage, and the fight was expected to continue in the ninth stage. Before the ninth stage, Lapize was only 2 points behind.[11] During that stage in the Pyrénées, Defraye broke away on the Col de Portet d'Aspet, and Lapize could not follow.[6] Later, Lapize stopped in protest because all the Belgians were riding for Defraye. Lapize said: "How can you expect me to challenge in such conditions?"[5] The rest of his team La Française, the two remaining Charles Crupelandt and Marcel Godivier did not start the next stage, also in protest.[3]

A man on a bicycle, riding on a mountain road.
Eugène Christophe, climbing the Galibier on the way to his third consecutive stage victory.

Eugene Christophe, who dominated in the Alps with three consecutive stage victories,[5] including the longest solo breakaway ever of 315 kilometres (196 mi)[12] and had shared the lead after his third stage victory,[10] became the second-placed cyclist after Lapize's retreat. Christophe was not a good sprinter, so he had to break away from Defraye to win back points. With all the Belgians helping Defraye, he could not do this anymore.[12] He could pose no real threat, and Defraye won the overall victory unchallenged.[5] If the Tour de France was decided on time instead of points, Christophe would have led the race until the final stage, where he accepted his loss and allowed a group including Defraye to ride away.[12]


Stage winners

Stage characteristics and winners[3][13][10]
Stage Date Course Distance Type[n 1] Winner Race leader
1 30 June Paris to Dunkerque 351 km (218 mi) Plain stage  Charles Crupelandt (FRA)  Charles Crupelandt (FRA)
2 2 July Dunkerque to Longwy 388 km (241 mi) Plain stage  Odile Defraye (BEL)  Vicenzo Borgarello (ITA)
3 4 July Longwy to Belfort 331 km (206 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eugène Christophe (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
4 6 July Belfort to Chamonix 344 km (214 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eugène Christophe (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
5 8 July Chamonix to Grenoble 366 km (227 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eugène Christophe (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
 Eugène Christophe (FRA)[n 2]
6 10 July Grenoble to Nice 323 km (201 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Octave Lapize (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
 Octave Lapize (FRA)[n 3]
7 12 July Nice to Marseille 334 km (208 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Odile Defraye (BEL)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
8 14 July Marseille to Perpignan 335 km (208 mi) Plain stage  Vicenzo Borgarello (ITA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
9 16 July Perpignan to Luchon 289 km (180 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Odile Defraye (BEL)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
10 18 July Luchon to Bayonne 326 km (203 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Louis Mottiat (BEL)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
11 20 July Bayonne to La Rochelle 379 km (235 mi) Plain stage  Jean Alavoine (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
12 21 July La Rochelle to Brest 470 km (290 mi) Plain stage  Louis Heusghem (BEL)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
13 24 July Brest to Cherbourg 405 km (252 mi) Plain stage  Jean Alavoine (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
14 26 July Cherbourg to Le Havre 361 km (224 mi) Plain stage  Vicenzo Borgarello (ITA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
15 28 July Le Havre to Paris 317 km (197 mi) Plain stage  Jean Alavoine (FRA)  Odile Defraye (BEL)
Total 5,289 km (3,286 mi)[1]

General classification

Of the 131 starting cyclists, 41 finished. The winner received 5000 francs for his victory.[14]

Final general classification (1–10)[3]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Odile Defraye (BEL) Alcyon 49
2  Eugène Christophe (FRA) Armor 108
3  Gustave Garrigou (FRA) Alcyon 140
4  Marcel Buysse (BEL) Peugeot 147
5  Jean Alavoine (FRA) Armor 148
6  Philippe Thys (BEL) Peugeot 148
7  Hector Tiberghien (BEL) Griffon 149
8  Henri Devroye (BEL) Le Globe 163
9  Félicien Salmon (BEL) Peugeot 166
10  Alfons Spiessens (BEL) J.B. Louvet 167

Other classifications

Jules Deloffre, ranked 21 in the general classification, became the winner of the "isolés" category.[15] The "isolés" classification was calculated in the same way as the general classification, but only with the stage results for the cyclists riding as isolated riders. Therefore, it was possible that Deloffre beat Pratesi with 41 points to 42 points in the isolés category, whereas Pratesi ranked higher in the general classification.[16] The organising newspaper l'Auto named Odile Defraye the meilleur grimpeur. This unofficial title is the precursor to the mountains classification.[17]

Notes and references


  1. In 1912, there was no distinction in the rules between plain stages and mountain stages; the icons shown here indicate which stages included mountains.[3]
  2. After the fifth stage, Defraye and Christophe had the same number of points.
  3. After the sixth stage, Defraye and Lapize had the same number of points.


  1. 1 2 Historical guide 2016, p. 108.
  2. "The Tour - year 1912". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "10ème Tour de France 1912" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  4. "L'origine du vélo" (in French). Cycloclub Varangeville. 6 January 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "1912 - 10th Tour de France". ASO. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Amels, Wim (1984). De geschiedenis van de Tour de France 1903–1984 (in Dutch). Sport-Express. pp. 18–19. ISBN 90-70763-05-2.
  7. "10ème Tour de France - 1ère étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  8. "10ème Tour de France - 2ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  9. "6ème Tour de France - 8ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  10. 1 2 3 Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  11. "10ème Tour de France - 8ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  12. 1 2 3 Tom James (14 August 2003). "1912: Belgian victory foreshadows problems to come". VeloArchive. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  13. Historical guide 2016, p. 14.
  14. "1923 - 10e editie" (in Dutch). Tourdefrance.nl. 29 December 2003. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  15. "l'Historique du Tour - Année 1912" (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  16. "Categoría aislados" (in Spanish). El mundo deportivo. 1 August 1912. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  17. Cleijne, Jan. Legends of the Tour. Head of Zeus. ISBN 9781781859995. Retrieved 3 December 2015.


External links

Media related to 1912 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons

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