1939 Tour de France

1939 Tour de France
Route of the 1939 Tour de France
Followed counterclockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates 10–30 July
Stages 18, including eight split stages
Distance 4,224 km (2,625 mi)
Winning time 132h 03' 17"
Winner  Sylvère Maes (BEL) (Belgium)
Second  René Vietto (FRA) (France)
Third  Lucien Vlaemynck (BEL) (Belgium B)

Mountains  Sylvère Maes (BEL) (Belgium)
Team Belgium B

The 1939 Tour de France was the 33rd edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 10 to 30 July. The total distance was 4,224 km (2,625 mi).

Taking place on the eve of World War II, there was already much animosity in Europe. Italy, Germany and Spain all declined to send teams to the race, so the 1938 Italian champion Gino Bartali would not be defending his title.[1] To fill out the ranks, Belgium sent two teams, and France had five teams. This would be the final Tour for eight years, until 1947.

Between the second and the seventh stage, the last rider in the general classification was eliminated.[2]

The race was won by Belgian Sylvère Maes who also won the mountains classification.

Changes from the previous Tour

For the first time, a mountain time trial was scheduled: stage 16b.[3] A rule was added to make it more difficult to finish the race: from the second stage to the seventh stage, the last rider in the classification was to be removed from the race.[2]

The nutrition of the cyclists became more professional: cyclists were reporting that the use of vitamins increased their performance.[4]


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1939 Tour de France.

Because Italy, Germany and Spain did not send teams,[5] the Tour organisation were short on participating cyclists. To solve this, they allowed Belgium to send two teams, and France to send four additional regional teams.[6]

The French cyclists had been successful in the 1930s, but their Tour winners were absent in 1939: 1930 and 1932 winner André Leducq had retired in 1938, as had 1931 and 1934 winner Antonin Magne; 1933 winner Georges Speicher did not ride, and 1937 winner Roger Lapébie was injured. This all made the Belgian team favourite.[3]

The teams entering the race were:

  • Belgium
  • Switzerland
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Belgium B
  • France North-East/Île de France
  • France West
  • France South-West
  • France South-East

Route and stages

Stage characteristics and winners[2][7][8]
Stage Date Course Distance Type[n 1] Winner
1 10 July Paris to Caen 215 km (134 mi) Plain stage  Amédée Fournier (FRA)
2a 11 July Caen to Vire 64 km (40 mi) Individual time trial  Romain Maes (BEL)
2b Vire to Rennes 119 km (74 mi) Plain stage  Éloi Tassin (FRA)
3 12 July Rennes to Brest 244 km (152 mi) Plain stage  Pierre Cloarec (FRA)
4 13 July Brest to Lorient 174 km (108 mi) Plain stage  Raymond Louviot (FRA)
5 14 July Lorient to Nantes 207 km (129 mi) Plain stage  Amédée Fournier (FRA)
6a 15 July Nantes to La Rochelle 144 km (89 mi) Plain stage  Lucien Storme (BEL)
6b La Rochelle to Royan 107 km (66 mi) Plain stage  Edmond Pagès (FRA)
7 17 July Royan to Bordeaux 198 km (123 mi) Plain stage  Raymond Passat (FRA)
8a 18 July Bordeaux to Salies-de-Béarn 210 km (130 mi) Plain stage  Marcel Kint (BEL)
8b Salies-de-Béarn to Pau 69 km (43 mi) Individual time trial  Karl Litschi (SUI)
9 19 July Pau to Toulouse 311 km (193 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Edward Vissers (BEL)
10a 21 July Toulouse to Narbonne 149 km (93 mi) Plain stage  Pierre Jaminet (FRA)
10b Narbonne to Béziers 27 km (17 mi) Individual time trial  Maurice Archambaud (FRA)
10c Béziers to Montpellier 70 km (43 mi) Plain stage  Maurice Archambaud (FRA)
11 22 July Montpellier to Marseille 212 km (132 mi) Plain stage  Fabien Galateau (FRA)
12a 23 July Marseille to Saint-Raphaël 157 km (98 mi) Plain stage  François Neuens (LUX)
12b Saint-Raphaël to Monaco 122 km (76 mi) Plain stage  Maurice Archambaud (FRA)
13 24 July Monaco to Monaco 101 km (63 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Pierre Gallien (FRA)
14 25 July Monaco to Digne 175 km (109 mi) Plain stage  Pierre Cloarec (FRA)
15 26 July Digne to Briançon 219 km (136 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Sylvère Maes (BEL)
16a 27 July Briançon to Briançon 126 km (78 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Pierre Jaminet (FRA)
16b Bonneval to Bourg-Saint-Maurice 64 km (40 mi) Mountain time trial  Sylvère Maes (BEL)
16c Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Annecy 104 km (65 mi) Plain stage  Antoon van Schendel (NED)
17a 29 July Annecy to Dôle 226 km (140 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  François Neuens (LUX)
17b Dôle to Dijon 59 km (37 mi) Individual time trial  Maurice Archambaud (FRA)
18a 30 July Dijon to Troyes 151 km (94 mi) Plain stage  René Le Grevès (FRA)
18b Troyes to Paris 201 km (125 mi) Plain stage  Marcel Kint (BEL)
Total 4,224 km (2,625 mi)[9]

Race overview

Sylvère Maes (pictured at the Tour 1936), winner of the general classification

In the first stage, regional Amedée Fournier won the sprint of a group of nine cyclists, and was the first cyclist in 1939 to wear the yellow jersey. In the next stage, Romain Maes, who had finished in the same group as Fournier, won the time trial, and captured the lead. He lost it in the second part of that stage, when a group got away.[3] Three regional riders were now on top of the general classification, led by Jean Fontenay.

René Vietto, leader of the regional South-East team, was in second place. In the fourth stage, Vietto got into the winning break, and took over the lead, closesly followed by Mathias Clemens on six seconds.[3]

In the ninth stage, the single Pyrénées stage of 1939, Edward Vissers attacked instead of helping his team leader Sylvère Maes. Vissers won the stage, but Vietto was able to stay with Maes. Maes climbed to the second place in the general classification, three minutes behind Vietto.[3]

Maes was able to win back a little time, and just before the Alps were climbed from stage 15 on, Vietto was still leading, with Maes still in second place, two minutes behind. Sylvère Maes attacked on that stage, and Vietto was not able to follow. Vietto finished 17 minutes behind Maes, and lost the lead. The next stage was split in three split stages. In the first part, Vietto was able to stay close to Maes, but in the second part, the individual mountain time trial, Maes won ten minutes on Vietto. Maes was now leading with a margin of 27 minutes, and the victory seemed secure.[3]

In the last stages, Maes was able to extend his lead with a few more minutes. Maes became the winner, with a margin of more than half an hour.

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. Of the 79 cyclists that started the race, 49 finished.

For the mountains classification, 10 mountains were selected by the Tour organisation.[2] The mountains classification in 1939 was won by Sylvère Maes. The first cyclist to reach the top received 10 points, the second cyclist 9 points, and so on until the tenth cyclist who received 1 point.

The team classification was calculated in 1939 by adding up the times of the best three cyclists of a team; the team with the least time was the winner. In 1939, there were ten teams of eight cyclists. There were the national teams of Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and France. Belgium also sent a second team, "Belgium B". Finally, there were four regional French teams: North-East, West, South-West and South-East.[2] The South-West team was registered with eight cyclist, but only seven cyclists started the race. Only two of the South-West cyclists finished the race, so they were not in the team classification.

Classification leadership by stage
Stage Winner General classification
Mountains classification Team classification
1 Romain Maes Amédée Fournier no award Belgium A
2a Éloi Tassin Romain Maes
2b Pierre Cloarec Jean Fontenay France-West
3 Raymond Louviot
4 Amédée Fournier René Vietto
5 Lucien Storme
6a Edmond Pagès
6b Raymond Passat
7 Marcel Kint Belgium B
8a Karl Litschi
8b Edward Vissers
9 Pierre Jaminet Edward Vissers
10a Pierre Jaminet
10b Maurice Archambaud
10c Maurice Archambaud
11 Fabien Galateau
12a François Neuens
12b Maurice Archambaud
13 Pierre Gallien
14 Pierre Cloarec
15 Sylvère Maes Sylvère Maes
16a Pierre Jaminet
16b Sylvère Maes Sylvère Maes
16c Antoon van Schendel
17a François Neuens
17b Maurice Archambaud
18a René Le Grevès
18b Marcel Kint
Final Sylvère Maes Sylvère Maes Belgium B

Final standings

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[2][6][10]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Sylvère Maes (BEL) Belgium 132h 03' 17"
2  René Vietto (FRA) South-East + 30' 38"
3  Lucien Vlaemynck (BEL) Belgium B + 32' 08"
4  Mathias Clemens (LUX) Luxembourg + 36' 09"
5  Edward Vissers (BEL) Belgium + 38' 05"
6  Sylvain Marcaillou (FRA) France + 45' 16"
7  Albertin Disseaux (BEL) Belgium B + 46' 54"
8  Jan Lambrichs (NED) Netherlands + 48' 01"
9  Albert Ritserveldt (BEL) Belgium B + 48' 27"
10  Cyriel Vanoverberghe (BEL) Belgium B + 49' 44"

Mountains classification

Mountains in the mountains classification[2][11]
Stage RiderHeightMountain range Winner
9Aubisque1,709 metres (5,607 ft)PyrénéesEdward Vissers
9Tourmalet2,115 metres (6,939 ft)PyrénéesEdward Vissers
9Aspin1,489 metres (4,885 ft)PyrénéesEdward Vissers
13Braus1,002 metres (3,287 ft)Alps-MaritimesSylvère Maes
15Allos2,250 metres (7,380 ft)AlpsEdward Vissers
15Vars2,110 metres (6,920 ft)AlpsEdward Vissers
15Izoard2,361 metres (7,746 ft)AlpsSylvère Maes
16aGalibier2,556 metres (8,386 ft)AlpsDante Gianello
16bIseran2,770 metres (9,090 ft)AlpsSylvère Maes
17aFaucille1,320 metres (4,330 ft)AlpsSylvère Maes
Final mountains classification (1–5)[2][12]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Sylvère Maes (BEL)Belgium 86
2  Edward Vissers (BEL)Belgium 84
3  Albert Ritseveldt (BEL)Belgium B 71
4  Dante Gianello (FRA)France 61
5  René Vietto (FRA) South-East 22

Team classification

Final team classification (1–9)[6][10]
Rank Team Time
1 Belgium B 398h 17' 20"
2 France + 35' 47"
3 Belgium + 36' 18"
4 Luxembourg + 1h 12' 35"
5 France North-East + 1h 23' 20"
6 France South-East + 1h 38' 09"
7 Netherlands + 2h 06' 07"
8 France West + 5h 50' 37"
9 Switzerland + 6h 45' 27"


Although he did not win the race, René Vietto became a popular cyclist. He was the most popular runner-up in France until Raymond Poulidor.[6]

The sales of the organising newspaper l'Auto had dropped to 164000, and the newspaper was sold to Raymond Patenôtre.[13] A few months after Germany had conquered France in the Second World War, Patenôtre sold l'Auto to the Germans.[14]

Directly after the Tour, the organisation announced the 1940 Tour de France would be run in 20 stages and five rest days.[15] But the Second World War made it impossible to hold a Tour de France in the next years, although some replacing races were held. Only in 1947 would the Tour be held again, and Vietto would again play an important role then, holding the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification for 15 of the 21 stages.[16]

The victory of Maes would be the last Belgian Tour victory for 30 years, until Eddy Merckx won the 1969 Tour de France.[17]

Notes and references


  1. 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. Stage 16b was a time trial that included a mountain.


  1. Evanno, Yves-Marie (2013). "Du cliquetis des pédales au bruit des bottes : un été cycliste perturbé en Bretagne (juillet-septembre 1939)" (PDF) (in French). En Envor, revue d'histoire contemporaine en Bretagne. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "33ème Tour de France 1939" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. dog ear publishing. pp. 144–147. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  4. Applegate, Elizabeth A.; Grivetti, Louis E. (1997). "Search for the Competitive Edge: A History of Dietary Fads and Supplements". The Journal of Nutrition. 127 (5): 869S–873S. PMID 9164254.
  5. Bowen, Wayne H (2006). Spain during World War II. University of Missouri Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-8262-1658-7.
  6. 1 2 3 4 James, Tom (15 August 2003). "1939: "Le Roi René" and the regionals". VeloArchive. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  7. Historical guide 2016, p. 37.
  8. Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  9. Historical guide 2016, p. 108.
  10. 1 2 "De Ronde van Frankrijk – Sylver Maes winnaar" (in Dutch). Leeuwarder Courant. 31 July 1939. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  11. Historical guide 2016, pp. 175–192.
  12. Van Lonkhuyzen, Michiel. "Tour-Giro-Vuelta". Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  13. Thompson, Christopher S. (2008). The Tour de France: A Cultural History (2 ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-25630-1.
  14. Thompson, Christopher S. (2006). The Tour de France: A Cultural History (1 ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-24760-4.
  15. "Novita per l'edizione 1940". Il littoriale (in Italian). Biblioteca digitale. 31 July 1939. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  16. James, Tom (15 August 2003). "1947: Robic snatches it at the death". VeloArchive. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  17. "21 juli 1969. Eddy Merckx wint zijn eerste Tour" (in Dutch). De Standaard. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010.


External links

Media related to 1939 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons

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