1974 Tour de France

1974 Tour de France
Map of France with the route of the 1974 Tour de France
Route of the 1974 Tour de France
Race details
Dates 27 June – 21 July
Stages 22 + Prologue, including four split stages
Distance 4,098 km (2,546 mi)
Winning time 116h 16' 58"
Winner  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Molteni)
Second  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) (Gan–Mercier)
Third  Vicente Lopez-Carril (ESP) (Kas–Kaskol)

Points  Patrick Sercu (BEL) (Brooklyn)
Mountains  Domingo Perurena (ESP) (Kas–Kaskol)
Combination  Eddy Merckx (BEL) (Molteni)
Sprints  Barry Hoban (GBR) (Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson)
Team Kas–Kaskol
Team Points Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson

The 1974 Tour de France was the 61st edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place between June 27 and July 21, with 22 stages covering a distance of 4,098 km (2,546 mi). 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.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1974 Tour de France.

The 1974 Tour de France had 13 teams, with 10 cyclists each.[1]

The teams entering the race were:

Pre-race favourites

Eddy Merckx, who had been absent in 1973 after winning four Tours in a row, was present again.[1] 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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2]

Route and stages

The 1974 Tour de France started on 27 June, and had two rest days, in Aix-les-Bains and Colomiers.[3]

Stage characteristics and winners[1][3][4]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 27 June Brest 7 km (4.3 mi) Individual time trial  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
1 28 June Brest to Saint-Pol-de-Léon 144 km (89 mi) Plain stage  Ercole Gualazzini (ITA)
2 29 June Plymouth (United Kingdom) 164 km (102 mi) Plain stage  Henk Poppe (NED)
3 30 June Morlaix to Saint-Malo 190 km (120 mi) Plain stage  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
4 1 July Saint-Malo to Caen 184 km (114 mi) Plain stage  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
5 2 July Caen to Dieppe 165 km (103 mi) Plain stage  Ronald de Witte (BEL)
6a 3 July Dieppe to Harelbeke (Belgium) 239 km (149 mi) Plain stage  Jean-Luc Molineris (FRA)
6b Harelbeke (Belgium) 9 km (5.6 mi) Team time trial  Molteni
7 4 July Mons (Belgium) to Châlons-sur-Marne 221 km (137 mi) Plain stage  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
8a 5 July Châlons-sur-Marne to Chaumont 136 km (85 mi) Plain stage  Cyrille Guimard (FRA)
8b Chaumont to Besançon 152 km (94 mi) Plain stage  Patrick Sercu (BEL)
9 6 July Besançon to Gaillard 241 km (150 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
10 7 July Gaillard to Aix-les-Bains 131 km (81 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
11 8 July Aix-les-Bains to Serre Chevalier 199 km (124 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Vicente Lopez Carril (ESP)
9 July Aix-les-Bains Rest day
12 10 July Savines-le-Lac to Orange 231 km (144 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Jos Spruyt (BEL)
13 11 July Avignon to Montpellier 126 km (78 mi) Plain stage  Barry Hoban (GBR)
14 12 July Lodève to Colomiers 249 km (155 mi) Plain stage  Jean-Pierre Genet (FRA)
13 July Colomiers Rest day
15 14 July Colomiers to La Seu d'Urgell (Spain) 225 km (140 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
16 15 July La Seu d'Urgell to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet 209 km (130 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Raymond Poulidor (FRA)
17 16 July Saint-Lary-Soulan to La Mongie 119 km (74 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)
18 17 July Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Pau 141 km (88 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)
19a 18 July Pau to Bordeaux 196 km (122 mi) Plain stage  Francis Campaner (FRA)
19b Bordeaux 12 km (7.5 mi) Individual time trial  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
20 19 July Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie to Nantes 120 km (75 mi) Plain stage  Gerard Vianen (NED)
21a 20 July Vouvray to Orléans 113 km (70 mi) Plain stage  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
21b Orléans 37 km (23 mi) Individual time trial  Michel Pollentier (BEL)
22 21 July Orléans to Paris 146 km (91 mi) Plain stage  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
Total 4,098 km (2,546 mi)[5]

Race overview

Eddy Merckx (pictured in 1973), winner of the general classification, his fifth

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.[2]

The second stage was in Plymouth, the first time that the Tour de France visited England.[6] 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.[2][6]

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.[n 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.[2][7] 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.[2][8]

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.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2][9]

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2] In the last stage, Poulidor increased the margin to Lopez Carril to five seconds due to bonus seconds.


Cyrille Guimard, who had won the first part of stage eight, tested positive for piperidine[10] after stage thirteen.[11] Three other cyclists tested positive:[10]

Classification leadership

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.[12]

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.[12]

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.[12]

Another classification was the combination classification. This classification was calculated as a combination of the other classifications, its leader wore the white jersey.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

The combativity award was given to Eddy Merckx.[3]

Final standings

A yellow jersey. Denotes the winner of the general classification A green jersey. Denotes the winner of the points classification
A white jersey. Denotes the winner of the combination classification

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[1]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A white jersey. Molteni 116h 16' 58"
2  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson + 8' 04"
3  Vicente López Carril (ESP) Kas–Kaskol + 8' 09"
4  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) Brooklyn + 10' 59"
5  Gonzalo Aja (ESP) Kas–Kaskol + 11' 24"
6  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Bic + 14' 24"
7  Michel Pollentier (BEL) Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria + 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"

Points classification

Final points classification (1–10)[1][16]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Patrick Sercu (BEL) A green jersey. Brooklyn 283
2  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A white jersey. Molteni 270
3  Barry Hoban (GBR) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 170
4  Gerben Karstens (NED) Bic 149
5  Jacques Esclassan (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 143
6  Herman Van Springel (BEL) Mic–De Gribaldy–Ludo 113
7  Michel Pollentier (BEL) Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria 107
8  Piet van Katwijk (NED) Frisol–Flair Plastics 97
9  Gerard Vianen (NED) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 94
10  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 94

Mountains classification

Final mountains classification (1–10)[1][16]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Domingo Perurena (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 171
2  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A white jersey. Molteni 133
3  José Luis Abilleira (ESP) La Casera–Bahamontes 108
4  Gonzalo Aja (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 104
5  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 93
6  Vicente López Carril (ESP) Kas–Kaskol 84
7  Andrês Oliva (ESP) La Casera–Bahamontes 80
8  Wladimiro Panizza (ITA) Brooklyn 55
9  Juan Santiago Zurano (ESP) La Casera–Bahamontes 44
10  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 44

Combination classification

Final combination classification (1–5)[16]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A white jersey. Molteni 8
2  Michel Pollentier (BEL) Carpenter–Confortluxe–Flandria 31
3  Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 36
4  Herman Van Springel (BEL) Mic–De Gribaldy–Ludo 37
5  Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot–BP–Michelin 50

Intermediate sprints classification

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–5)[16]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Barry Hoban (GBR) Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson 132
2  Gerben Karstens (NED) Bic 110
3  Eddy Merckx (BEL) A yellow jersey. A white jersey. Molteni 92
4  Michel Coroller (FRA) Merlin Plage–Shimano–Flandria 39
5  Herman Van Springel (BEL) Mic–De Gribaldy–Ludo 28

Team classification

Final team classification (1–10)[16]
Rank Team Time
1Kas–Kaskol 350h 24' 27"
2Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson + 15' 26"
3Molteni + 31' 23"
4Sonolor–Gitane + 49' 02"
5Bic + 49' 50"
6Brooklyn + 53' 04"
7Lejeune–Jobo + 1h 01' 09"
8Peugeot–BP–Michelin + 1h 15' 24"
9La Casera–Bahamontes + 1h 34' 47"
10Mic–De Gribaldy–Ludo + 1h 36' 35"


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:[2]

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.

Notes and references


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


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "61ème Tour de France 1974" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 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.
  3. 1 2 3 Historical guide 2016, p. 65.
  4. Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  5. Historical guide 2016, p. 109.
  6. 1 2 "Tour de France: The disastrous 1974 Plymouth stage". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  7. "61ème Tour de France 1974 - 4ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  8. "61ème Tour de France 1974 - 5ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  9. "61ème Tour de France 1974 - 16ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  10. 1 2 "Tombés au champs d'honneur". Magazine Sport & Vie (in French). Dopage.com. July 2003. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  11. "Guimard positief". Leidsche courant. Regionaal archief leiden. 18 July 1974. p. 13. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  12. 1 2 3 Christian, Sarah (2 July 2009). "Tour de France demystified - Evaluating success". RoadCycling.co.nz Ltd. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  13. Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Other Classifications & Awards". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  14. Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Intermediate Sprints Classification". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  15. Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard. ISBN 0-679-72936-4. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 "Clasificaciones oficiales". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 22 July 1974. p. 19. Retrieved 20 August 2011.


External links

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