1937 Tour de France

1937 Tour de France
Route of the 1937 Tour de France
Followed clockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates 30 June – 25 July
Stages 20, including eight split stages
Distance 4,415 km (2,743 mi)
Winning time 138h 58' 31"
Winner  Roger Lapébie (FRA) (France)
Second  Mario Vicini (ITA) (Individual[n 1])
Third  Léo Amberg (SUI) (Switzerland)

Mountains  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) (Belgium)
Team France

The 1937 Tour de France was the 31st edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 30 June to 25 July. It consisted of 20 stages with a total length of 4,415 km (2,743 mi).

Charles Holland and Bill Burl became the first British cyclists to ride the Tour. Burl lasted only two stages, but Holland rode well until he was eliminated on stage 14c after mechanical problems.[1] The British Empire was also represented by the only non-European in the Tour: Canadian Pierre Gachon, who never completed the first stage. The complete Belgian team (including 1936 and 1939 winner Sylvère Maes) withdraw from the race because of "French chauvinism". Complaints from the Belgian team included of French spectators throwing stones at the Belgian team, closing train crossings, and throwing pepper in the eyes, and being punished unreasonable strictly (adding extra time in the standing) while French riders were hardly punished at all while being helped.

The race was won by French cyclist Roger Lapébie.

Changes from the previous Tour

The Tours from 1903 to 1936 had all been organised by Henri Desgrange, but during the 1936 Tour de France he had to stop due to health reasons, and Jacques Goddet took over. The Tour in 1937 was the first Tour where Goddet was in charge, and one of the first rules that he changed was to allow gear changes.[2][3] Each team had its own car with extra material to help with mechanical problems.[2]


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1937 Tour de France.

The Italian team, that had been absent from the 1936 Tour de France, returned in 1937, after Benito Mussolini removed their boycott of the Tour, and selected new star Gino Bartali, who had won the 1936 and 1937 Giro d'Italia, as the Italian team leader.[1][4] The Italian team had 10 cyclists, just as the Belgian, German and French teams. There were also small teams of six cyclists: the Spanish, Dutch, Luxembourgian and Swiss teams. The last national team was the Great Britain-Canada team, consisting of two British cyclists and one Canadian.[2]

The French team included Roger Lapébie. Lapébie had had a difficult relation with Desgrange. This had caused Lapébie to be out of the national team in 1935, and completely absent from the Tour in 1936. In 1937, Desgrange had retired, and Lapébie was back. In the month before the Tour started, Lapébie had undergone surgery for a lumbur hernia, and there were doubts about his form.[3]

There were also 31 cyclists riding as individuals.[2] These individuals were responsible for their own food and accommodation.[3]

The teams entering the race were:

  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • France
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland
  • Great Britain/Canada (combined)

Route and stages

Stage 19b was an individual time trial, stages 5b, 11b and 18a were team time trials, although the victory was still given the cyclist who crossed the line first. At the start of the Tour, it was also the intention to run stages 12b, 13b, 14b and 17b as time trials,[5] but during the Tour the organisation changed the format.

Stage characteristics and winners[2][6][7]
Stage Date Course Distance Type[n 2] Winner
1 30 June Paris to Lille 263 km (163 mi) Plain stage  Jean Majerus (LUX)
2 1 July Lille to Charleville 192 km (119 mi) Plain stage  Maurice Archambaud (FRA)
3 2 July Charleville to Metz 161 km (100 mi) Plain stage  Walter Generati (ITA)
4 3 July Metz to Belfort 220 km (140 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Erich Bautz (GER)
5a 4 July Belfort to Lons-le-Saunier 175 km (109 mi) Plain stage  Henri Puppo (FRA)
5b Lons-le-Saunier to Champagnole 34 km (21 mi) Team time trial  Sylvère Maes (BEL)
5c Champagnole to Geneva 93 km (58 mi) Plain stage  Leo Amberg (SUI)
6 6 July Geneva to Aix-les-Bains 180 km (110 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Gustaaf Deloor (BEL)
7 7 July Aix-les-Bains to Grenoble 228 km (142 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Gino Bartali (ITA)
8 8 July Grenoble to Briançon 194 km (121 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Otto Weckerling (GER)
9 9 July Briançon to Digne 220 km (140 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Roger Lapébie (FRA)
10 11 July Digne to Nice 251 km (156 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
11a 13 July Nice to Toulon 169 km (105 mi) Plain stage  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
11b Toulon to Marseille 65 km (40 mi) Team time trial  Gustaaf Danneels (BEL)
12a 14 July Marseille to Nîmes 112 km (70 mi) Plain stage  Alphonse Antoine (FRA)
12b Nîmes to Montpellier 51 km (32 mi) Plain stage  René Pedroli (SUI)
13a 15 July Montpellier to Narbonne 103 km (64 mi) Plain stage  Francesco Camusso (ITA)
13b Narbonne to Perpignan 63 km (39 mi) Plain stage  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
14a 17 July Perpignan to Bourg-Madame 99 km (62 mi) Plain stage  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
14b Bourg-Madame to Ax-les-Thermes 59 km (37 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Mariano Canardo (ESP)
14c Ax-les-Thermes to Luchon 167 km (104 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eloi Meulenberg (BEL)
15 19 July Luchon to Pau 194 km (121 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Julian Berrendero (ESP)
16 21 July Pau to Bordeaux 235 km (146 mi) Plain stage  Paul Chocque (FRA)
17a 22 July Bordeaux to Royan 123 km (76 mi) Plain stage  Erich Bautz (GER)
17b Royan to Saintes 37 km (23 mi) Plain stage  Adolph Braeckeveldt (BEL)
 Heinz Wengler (GER)[n 3]
17c Saintes to La Rochelle 67 km (42 mi) Plain stage  Roger Lapébie (FRA)
18a 23 July La Rochelle to La Roche-sur-Yon 82 km (51 mi) Team time trial  Roger Lapébie (FRA)
18b La Roche-sur-Yon to Rennes 172 km (107 mi) Plain stage  Paul Chocque (FRA)
19a 24 July Rennes to Vire 114 km (71 mi) Plain stage  Raymond Passat (FRA)
19b Vire to Caen 59 km (37 mi) Individual time trial  Leo Amberg (SUI)
20 25 July Caen to Paris 234 km (145 mi) Plain stage  Edward Vissers (BEL)
Total 4,415 km (2,743 mi)[8]

Race overview

A man holding a prize cup
Roger Lapébie being honoured for his general classification win in the 1937 Tour in Paris

German Erich Bautz took the lead after the fourth stage, thanks to the bonification system that could give the winner of a stage some minutes bonification time.[1] In the seventh stage, Bartali took the stage victory, and with that the lead in the general classification. He was nine minutes ahead of Ward Vissers, and that could just be enough for the Tour victory.[1] On the eighth stage, Bartali could not avoid his team mate Jules Rossi who crashed right in front of him, and Bartali fell into a river.[3][4] He got up and was able to finish the stage. He lost 10 minutes and kept the lead, but in the next stage he lost more than twenty minutes, and in the twelfth stage he gave up.[1]

In the ninth stage, Sylvère Maes took over the lead, closely followed by Mario Vicini and Roger Lapébie. At that point, the French team was already down to six cyclists. These six cyclists had a meeting, and decided that Lapébie would be the team leader, as the rest of the team was already to far behind to have any chance for the final victory.[3]

Before the start of the fifteenth stage, Lapébie found out that the frame of his bicycle had been sabotaged,[9] causing his handlebars to break off.[4] Lapébie made quick repairs and just made it to the start of the stage, but his newly constructed bicycle did not have a water holder, and he had to start the stage without water.[3] This demotivated him, and Lapébie began losing time early in the stage. That stage included four mountains, and on top of the second mountain Lapébie was already five minutes behind, and wanted to give up. A team mate inspired him to go on, and Lapébie started to win back time. When Maes punctured, Lapébie was able to reach him, and at the end of the stage only Julián Berrendero was in front of them, and Lapébie won the sprint for the second place.[10] This rewarded him with 45 seconds bonification time. When the tour directors gave him 90 seconds penalty time for having been pushed, the margin with Maes grew to more than three minutes, but Lapébie had sensed weakness in the Belgian team, and planned to attack in the next stage.[4] The Belgian team complained that the penalty was far too little, because Lapébie's advantage had been much more. The French team threatened to abandon the race if the penalty would be increased, and the Tour direction did not change the penalty.[3]

In the sixteenth stage Lapébie finished ahead of Maes, and cut the margin down to only 25 seconds, but with only flat stage that could be enough for Maes.[1] During that sixteenth stage, Maes had punctured, and had been help by two Belgian cyclists, Gustaaf Deloor and Adolf Braeckeveldt.[11] However, these Belgian cyclists rode as "individuals", and were not part of the Belgian team. The Tour jury then fined Maes with 15 seconds penalty time in the general classification. During the race, a train crossing had been closed just after Lapébie had passed, and just before Maes was about to pass.[3] Maes was offended by all this, and quit the race, together with the rest of the Belgian team.[1] From that point on, it was easy for Lapébie to secure his victory.

Classification leadership

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. Leo Amberg became the first Swiss cyclist to reach the podium of the general classification in the Tour de France.[2]

For the mountains classification, 17 mountains were selected by the Tour organisation. After the last mountain in the fifteenth stage, the classification was won by Félicien Vervaecke. Vervaecke did not finish the Tour, but in 1937 that was not needed to win the mountains classification.

The team classification was calculated in 1937 by adding up the times of the best three cyclists of a team; the team with the least time was the winner. The time for the Spanish team, which finished with only two cyclists, was calculated by adding the time of the final rider in the general classification, plus one hour penalty time. The Belgian, Dutch, and British-Canadian teams did not finish with two or more cyclists, so they were not eligible for the team classification.

Classification leadership by stage
Stage Winner General classification
Mountains classification Classification for individuals Team classification
1 Jean Majerus Jean Majerus no award Adolphe Braeckeveldt Luxembourg
2 Maurice Archambaud France
3 Walter Generati Marcel Kint Belgium
4 Erich Bautz Erich Bautz Erich Bautz Germany
5a Henri Puppo Luxembourg
5b Sylvère Maes
5c Leo Amberg
6 Gustaaf Deloor Gino Bartali Belgium
7 Gino Bartali Gino Bartali France
8 Otto Weckerling
9 Roger Lapébie Sylvère Maes Félicien Vervaecke Mario Vicini Belgium
10 Félicien Vervaecke
11a Eloi Meulenberg
11b Gustaaf Danneels
12a Alphonse Antoine
12b René Pedroli
13a Francesco Camusso
13b Eloi Meulenberg
14a Eloi Meulenberg
14b Mariano Canardo
14c Eloi Meulenberg
15 Julian Berrendero
16 Paul Chocque
17a Erich Bautz Roger Lapébie France
17b Adolph Braeckeveldt
Heinz Wengler[n 3]
17c Roger Lapébie
18a Roger Lapébie
18b Paul Chocque
19a Raymond Passat
19b Leo Amberg
20 Edward Vissers
Final Roger Lapébie Félicien Vervaecke Mario Vicini France

Final standings

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[2][12]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Roger Lapébie (FRA) France 138h 58' 31"
2  Mario Vicini (ITA)Individual[n 1] + 7' 17"
3  Leo Amberg (SUI) Switzerland + 26' 13"
4  Francesco Camusso (ITA)Italy + 26' 53"
5  Sylvain Marcaillou (FRA)France + 35' 36"
6  Edouard Vissers (BEL)Individual + 38' 13"
7  Paul Chocque (FRA)France + 1h 05' 19"
8  Pierre Gallien (FRA) Individual + 1h 06' 33"
9  Erich Bautz (GER)Germany + 1h 06' 41"
10  Jean Frechaut (FRA)Individual + 1h 24' 34"

Mountains classification

Mountains in the mountains classification[2][13]
Stage RiderHeightMountain range Winner
4Ballon d'Alsace1,178 metres (3,865 ft)VosgesErich Bautz
6Aravis1,498 metres (4,915 ft)AlpsGino Bartali
6Tamié920 metres (3,020 ft)AlpsFélicien Vervaecke
7Galibier2,556 metres (8,386 ft)AlpsGino Bartali
8Laffrey900 metres (3,000 ft)AlpsGino Bartali
9Izoard2,361 metres (7,746 ft)AlpsJulián Berrendero
9Vars2,110 metres (6,920 ft)AlpsEdward Vissers
9Allos2,250 metres (7,380 ft)AlpsMario Vicini
10Braus1,002 metres (3,287 ft)Alps-MaritimesFélicien Vervaecke
10La Turbie555 metres (1,821 ft)Alps-MaritimesHenri Puppo
14bPuymorens1,920 metres (6,300 ft)PyrénéesJulián Berrendero
14cPort1,249 metres (4,098 ft)PyrénéesJulián Berrendero
14cPortet d'Aspet1,069 metres (3,507 ft)PyrénéesJulián Berrendero
15Peyresourde1,569 metres (5,148 ft)PyrénéesJulián Berrendero
15Aspin1,489 metres (4,885 ft)PyrénéesYvon Marie
15Tourmalet2,115 metres (6,939 ft)PyrénéesSylvère Maes
15Aubisque1,709 metres (5,607 ft)PyrénéesSylvère Maes
Final mountains classification (1–5)[2][14]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)Belgium 114
2  Mario Vicini (ITA)Individual[n 1] 96
3  Sylvère Maes (BEL)Belgium 90
4  Julián Berrendero (ESP)Spain 75
5  Ward Vissers (BEL)Individual 66

Team classification

Final team classification (1–6)[1][12]
Rank Team Time
1 France 418h 36' 28"
2 Italy + 2h 54' 18"
3 Germany + 3h 12' 22"
4 Switzerland + 3h 57' 35"
5 Spain + 10h 04' 07"
6 Luxembourg + 10h 42' 01"


The riders in the individual category had performed very well in the 1937 Tour de France; the second-placed cyclist in the general classification had started in the individuals category, as were in total twelve cyclists in the top twenty.[3] Still, the category was removed after 1937.

Notes and references


  1. 1 2 3 Vicini had started as an individual, but was added to the Italian team after stage 18a.
  2. The icons shown here indicate whether the stage was run as a time trial, the stage was flat or the stage included mountains for the mountains classification.
  3. 1 2 Braeckeveldt and Wengler were both declared winner of stage 17b, and split the bonification time.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tom James (15 August 2003). "1937: Lapébie wins after the Belgians withdraw". Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "31ème Tour de France 1937" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. dog ear publishing. pp. 132–139. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Barry Boyce (2004). "1937- Tour Provides Great Racing Drama". Top 25 All Time Tours. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  5. "La grande aventure commence... En selle pour 4.410 kilometres!". Le Petit Parisien (in French). Gallica. 30 June 1937. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  6. Historical guide 2016, p. 35.
  7. Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-20.
  8. Historical guide 2016, p. 108.
  9. "The Tour - Year 1937". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
  10. "31ème Tour de France 1937 - 15ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  11. "31ème Tour de France 1937 - 16ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  12. 1 2 "Roger Lapebie y Francia inscriben sus nombres en el palmarés" (in Spanish). El mundo deportivo. 26 July 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  13. Historical guide 2016, pp. 175–192.
  14. Michiel van Lonkhuyzen. "Tour-giro-vuelta". Retrieved 14 January 2010.


External links

Media related to 1937 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons

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