1952 Tour de France

1952 Tour de France
Route of the 1952 Tour de France
Followed clockwise, starting in Brest and finishing in Paris
Race details
Dates 25 June – 19 July
Stages 23
Distance 4,898 km (3,043 mi)
Winning time 151h 57' 20"
Winner  Fausto Coppi (ITA) (Italy)
Second  Stan Ockers (BEL) (Belgium)
Third  Bernardo Ruiz (ESP) (Spain)

Mountains  Fausto Coppi (ITA) (Italy)
Team Italy

The 1952 Tour de France was the 39th edition of the Tour de France, taking place from 25 June to 19 July. It was composed of 23 stages over 4,898 km (3,043 mi). 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.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1952 Tour de France.

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.[1] 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.[2]

The teams entering the race were:

  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg/Australia (combined)
  • France Paris
  • France North-East/Center
  • France South-East
  • France West/South-West
  • North Africa

Pre-race favourites

The winners of the last two editions, Swiss cyclists Hugo Koblet and Ferdinand Kübler, were injured and did not enter the race, nor did French cyclist Louison Bobet.[1] 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.[3]

Route and stages

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 from Vichy to Paris 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.[4] An innovation was the stage arrivals on mountain peaks. This happened three times in 1952, on stages 10, 11 and 21.[5]

Stage characteristics and winners[1][5][6]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
1 25 June Brest to Rennes 246 km (153 mi) Plain stage  Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL)
2 26 June Rennes to Le Mans 181 km (112 mi) Plain stage  André Rosseel (BEL)
3 27 June Le Mans to Rouen 189 km (117 mi) Plain stage  Nello Lauredi (FRA)
4 28 June Rouen to Roubaix 232 km (144 mi) Plain stage  Pierre Molinéris (FRA)
5 29 June Roubaix to Namur (Belgium) 197 km (122 mi) Plain stage  Jean Diederich (LUX)
6 30 June Namur (Belgium) to Metz 228 km (142 mi) Plain stage  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
7 1 July Metz to Nancy 60 km (37 mi) Individual time trial  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
8 2 July Nancy to Mulhouse 252 km (157 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
9 3 July Mulhouse to Lausanne 238 km (148 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Walter Diggelmann (SUI)
10 4 July Lausanne to L'Alpe d'Huez 266 km (165 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
11 6 July Le Bourg d'Oisans to Sestrières 182 km (113 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
12 7 July Sestrières to Monaco 251 km (156 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Jan Nolten (NED)
13 8 July Monaco to Aix-en-Provence 214 km (133 mi) Plain stage  Raoul Rémy (FRA)
14 9 July Aix-en-Provence to Avignon 178 km (111 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Jean Robic (FRA)
15 10 July Avignon to Perpignan 275 km (171 mi) Plain stage  Georges Decaux (FRA)
16 11 July Perpignan to Toulouse 200 km (124 mi) Plain stage  André Rosseel (BEL)
17 13 July Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre 204 km (127 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
18 14 July Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Pau 149 km (93 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
19 15 July Pau to Bordeaux 195 km (121 mi) Plain stage  Hans Dekkers (NED)
20 16 July Bordeaux to Limoges 228 km (142 mi) Plain stage  Jacques Vivier (FRA)
21 17 July Limoges to Puy de Dôme 245 km (152 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
22 18 July Clermont-Ferrand to Vichy 63 km (39 mi) Individual time trial  Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
23 19 July Vichy to Paris 354 km (220 mi) Plain stage  Antonin Rolland (FRA)
Total 4,898 km (3,043 mi)[7]

Race overview

General classification winner Fausto Coppi taking his victory lap at the end of the Tour in the Parc des Princes in Paris

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.[8] 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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[8]

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.[8]

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 that stage, the cyclist directly behind him in the general classification, Alex Close, lost another four minutes, and Coppi was now 24 minutes ahead.[8]

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.[8]

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.[10]

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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[8]

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 123 cyclists that started the 1951 Tour de France, 66 finished the race.

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.[1]

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.[1] It was won by the Italian team. The Luxembourgian team finished with only two cyclists, and therefore were not eligible for the team classification.

The 1952 Tour de France saw the introduction of the combativity award, a daily award for the most combative rider of the stage.[11] The winner of that award received 100,000 French francs.[5] (The supercombativity award, the award for the most combative rider of the entire Tour de France, would first be given in 1953.) The special award for the best regional rider was won by eighteenth-placed Marcel Zelasco.[5]

Classification leadership by stage
Stage Winner General classification
Mountains classification Team classification
1 Rik Van Steenbergen Rik Van Steenbergen no award Belgium
2 André Rosseel
3 Nello Lauredi Nello Lauredi France
4 Pierre Molinéris
5 Jean Diederich
6 Fiorenzo Magni Fiorenzo Magni
7 Fausto Coppi Nello Lauredi
8 Raphaël Géminiani Fiorenzo Magni Raphaël Géminiani
9 Walter Diggelmann Andrea Carrea
10 Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi Antonio Gelabert
11 Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi
12 Jan Nolten
13 Raoul Rémy
14 Jean Robic
15 Georges Decaux Italy
16 André Rosseel
17 Raphaël Géminiani
18 Fausto Coppi
19 Hans Dekkers
20 Jacques Vivier
21 Fausto Coppi
22 Fiorenzo Magni
23 Antonin Rolland
Final Fausto Coppi Fausto Coppi Italy

Final standings

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[1]
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

Final mountains classification (1–10)[2][11][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

Final team classification[11][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 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 Road World Championships. To avoid these problems in the future, Géminiani switched teams at the end of the season.[8]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "38ème Tour de France 1952" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Tour-Giro-Vuelta". www.tour-giro-vuelta.net. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  3. "Wagtmans bij favorieten". Dagblad voor Amersfoort (in Dutch). Archief Eemland. 23 June 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  4. Thompson, pp. 85–94
  5. 1 2 3 4 Historical guide 2016, p. 43.
  6. Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  7. Historical guide 2016, p. 109.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. Dog ear publishing. pp. 183–188. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5.
  9. Amaury Sport Organisation. "The Tour - Year 1952". letour.fr. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  10. Thompson, p.217
  11. 1 2 3 James, Tom (14 August 2003). "1952: "The lamb transformed into a lion"". Veloarchive. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  12. 1 2 "1952: 39e editie" (in Dutch). Tourdefrance.nl. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 4 December 2009.


External links

Media related to 1952 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons

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