1978 Tour de France

1978 Tour de France
Route of the 1978 Tour de France
Race details
Dates 29 June – 23 July
Stages 22 + Prologue, including two split stages
Distance 3,908 km (2,428 mi)
Winning time 112h 03' 02"
Winner  Bernard Hinault (FRA) (Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo)
Second  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) (Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson)
Third  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) (Velda–Lono–Flandria)

Points  Freddy Maertens (BEL) (Velda–Lono–Flandria)
Mountains  Mariano Martínez (FRA) (Jobo–Superia–Lano)
Youth  Henk Lubberding (NED) (TI–Raleigh)
Sprints  Jacques Bossis (FRA) (Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo)
Team Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson
Team Points TI–Raleigh

The 1978 Tour de France was the 65th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling's Grand Tours. It took place between June 29 and July 23, with 22 stages covering a distance of 3,908 km (2,428 mi).

The 1978 Tour had a high-profile doping case when Michel Pollentier was caught in an attempt to cheat the doping test, after he had won the 16th stage to Alpe d'Huez, and had taken the lead in the general classification. Pollentier left the race, and the overall victory became a battle between Joop Zoetemelk and Bernard Hinault. In the end, it was won by debutant Bernard Hinault, for the first of his five victories. The points classification was won by Freddy Maertens, and the mountains classification by Mariano Martínez.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of teams and cyclists in the 1978 Tour de France.

The 1978 Tour started with 11 teams, each sent 10 cyclists, a total of 110.[1][2]

The teams entering the race were:

Pre-race favourites

Since the 1977 Tour de France, dominant riders as Eddy Merckx, Felice Gimondi, Raymond Poulidor and Luis Ocaña had retired.[3] Lucien Van Impe, the winner of 1976, had broken his collarbone and was still recovering.[4]

The main contenders were debutant Hinault, who had won the 1978 Vuelta a España, and Joop Zoetemelk, who had already finished in second place for three times. Pre-race analysis judged Hinault better in the time trials, and Zoetemelk better in the mountains.[4] Bernard Thévenet, the winner of the 1977 Tour de France, was out of form, and not considered a favourite.[1]

Route and stages

The 1978 Tour de France started on 29 June, and had two rest days, in Biarritz and Alpe d'Huez.[5]

The twenty-first stage from Epernay to Senlis was split in three parts: 78.5 km from Epernay to Soissons, directly followed by 59 km from Soissons to Compiègne, directly followed by 70.5 km from Compiègne to Senlis; the sprints in Soissons and Compiegne counted as flying stages, which were won by Freddy Maertens and Wilfried Wesemael.[6] Although they technically had the same status as all other stages, these flying stages are not shown in most overviews.

Stage characteristics and winners[1][5][7]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 29 June Leiden (Netherlands) 5 km (3.1 mi) Individual time trial  Jan Raas (NED)
1a 30 June Leiden to Sint Willebrord (Netherlands) 135 km (84 mi) Plain stage  Jan Raas (NED)
1b Sint Willebrord (Netherlands) to Brussels (Belgium) 100 km (62 mi) Plain stage  Walter Planckaert (BEL)
2 1 July Brussels (Belgium) to Saint-Amand-les-Eaux 199 km (124 mi) Plain stage  Jacques Esclassan (FRA)
3 2 July Saint-Amand-les-Eaux to Saint-Germain-en-Laye 244 km (152 mi) Plain stage  Klaus-Peter Thaler (GER)
4 3 July Evreux to Caen 153 km (95 mi) Team time trial  TI–Raleigh
5 4 July Caen to Mazé-Montgeoffroy 244 km (152 mi) Plain stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
6 5 July Mazé-Montgeoffroy to Poitiers 162 km (101 mi) Plain stage  Sean Kelly (IRE)
7 6 July Poitiers to Bordeaux 242 km (150 mi) Plain stage  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
8 7 July Saint Emilion to Sainte-Foy-la-Grande 59 km (37 mi) Individual time trial  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
9 8 July Bordeaux to Biarritz 233 km (145 mi) Plain stage  Miguel Maria Lasa (ESP)
9 July Biarritz Rest day
10 10 July Biarritz to Pau 192 km (119 mi) Hilly stage  Henk Lubberding (NED)
11 11 July Pau to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet 161 km (100 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Mariano Martínez (FRA)
12a 12 July Tarbes to Valence d'Agen 158 km (98 mi) Plain stage  Cancelled
12b Valence d'Agen to Toulouse 96 km (60 mi) Plain stage  Jacques Esclassan (FRA)
13 13 July Figeac to Super Besse 221 km (137 mi) Hilly stage  Paul Wellens (BEL)
14 14 July Besse-en-Chandesse to Puy de Dôme 52 km (32 mi) Individual time trial  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
15 15 July Saint-Dier-d'Auvergne to St Etienne 196 km (122 mi) Hilly stage  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
16 16 July St Etienne to Alpe d'Huez 241 km (150 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Hennie Kuiper (NED)
17 July Alpe d'Huez Rest day
17 18 July Grenoble to Morzine 225 km (140 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Christian Seznec (FRA)
18 19 July Morzine to Lausanne 137 km (85 mi) Plain stage  Gerrie Knetemann (NED)
19 20 July Lausanne to Belfort 182 km (113 mi) Plain stage  Marc Demeyer (BEL)
20 21 July Metz to Nancy 72 km (45 mi) Individual time trial  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
21 22 July Epernay to Senlis 207 km (129 mi) Plain stage  Jan Raas (NED)
22 23 July Saint Germain en Laye to Paris (Champs-Élysées) 162 km (101 mi) Plain stage  Gerrie Knetemann (NED)
Total 3,908 km (2,428 mi)[8]

Race overview

The start of stage 1b in Sint Willebrord, Netherlands

During the prologue, held in the Netherlands, the weather was bad. The four top places were taken by Dutch cyclists, with Jan Raas the winner. The team directors then had a meeting, and all but the manager of Raas' team voted to request the Tour direction to not count the results from the prologue for the overall classification. The direction agreed, so the prologue results did not count.[9] Jan Raas was still given the stage win, but he was not recognized as race leader, so he was not allowed to wear the yellow jersey during the first stage. The winner of the previous year, Bernard Thévenet, was allowed to wear the yellow jersey, but he refused.[9] In that first stage, Raas and his team were full of anger. Raas escaped close to the finish, and beat everybody by a second, thus becoming the race's leader after all.[9]

Raas lost the lead in the third stage. The fourth stage was run as a time trial. The TI-Raleigh team was specialized in this, and they won the stage. Klaus-Peter Thaler of the TI-Raleigh team became the new leader, thanks to the bonification seconds.[9] Hinault beat Zoetemelk in the time trial in stage eight.[4] Joseph Bruyere, former second man of Eddy Merckx, finished in second place and became the new race leader.[9]

The eleventh stage included the toughest mountains in the Pyrenées. On the last mountain, the Pla d'Adet, Pollentier and Zoetemelk attacked, and Martinez and Hinault soon followed. Martinez rode away to win the stage, and Hinault won some seconds on Zoetemelk. Bruyere stayed the leader, with Hinault in second place and Zoetemelk in third place.[4] During that stage, Thevenet retired.[9] The next day, the twelfth stage was scheduled, split into two sections. This meant that after the transfer from the previous stage, the riders were not in bed before 12:00 pm, and had to wake up at 5:00 am.[9] In the early stage to Valence-d'Agen, the riders held a strike against the early start. They rode at a slow pace of 20 kilometres per hour (12 mph),[4] arrived at the finish well behind schedule, and crossed the finish line walking.[10] The Tour officials canceled the stage.[4] The fourteenth stage was an individual mountain time trial. Zoetemelk won the stage, beating Bruyere by 55 seconds and Hinault by 100 seconds.[4] Hinault had lost some time because his lightweight bike, that he intended to use for the steepest part, broke when he hit a spectator while changing bikes.[9]

Bernard Hinault celebrating winning the general classification at the end of the Tour

In the sixteenth stage, that ended on top of Alpe d'Huez, Pollentier attacked. At the foot of the Alpe d'Huez, Pollentier had a margin of two minutes. He was chased by Hinault, Zoetemelk and Kuiper, who at 4 km before the finish had closed the gap to 50 seconds. Hinault then attacked, and Kuiper could follow but Zoetemelk had to let them go. Pollentier stayed away, won the stage and became the new leader of the general classification.[4] As stage winner and general classification leader, Pollentier had to go to the doping control. Pollentier first went to his hotel, and was only found two hours later.[9] Another cyclist at the doping control, Antoine Guttierrez, was found with a fake urine sample, trying to use it to fake the doping control. This device did not work, and the race doctor discovered the fraud. He then checked the other cyclists, and Pollentier was using the same fraud.[9] Pollentier was removed from the race, and Zoetemelk became the new leader.[4] Pollentier later explained that he tried to evade the controls because he had taken amphetamines for breathing, and he did not know if it would give back a positive test.[9]

In the seventeenth stage, Kuiper, third in the general classification, crashed, broke a clavicle, and had to leave the race.[9] Hinault was only 14 seconds behind Zoetemelk at the start of the time trial in stage 20. Hinault won that time trial by more than four minutes over Zoetemelk, and became the race leader.[4]


In total, 110 doping tests were done. Three cyclists were penalized for doping offences, all tested after the sixteenth stage;[11] Antoine Guttierrez, for attempt of fraud; Michel Pollentier, for attempt of fraud; and José Nazabal. Nazabal had already anticipated the positive result, and had left the race before the eighteenth stage. Guttierrez and Pollentier were removed from the race and banned for two months; Nazabal was set back to the last place of the stage, received ten minutes penalty time in the general classification, a fine of 1000 Swiss Francs and one month provisional suspension.

Classification leadership

There were several classifications in the 1978 Tour de France, four 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] Some rules were changed after the 1977 Tour de France, mainly concerning the time bonuses. In previous years, intermediate sprints were not associated with time bonuses, but in 1978, the winner of such a sprint got 20 seconds bonification time, if he was part of an escape (defined as a group with less than 20% of the total cyclists, with a margin of 20 seconds of more on the next group).[13] The penalty system was also changed. In previous years, cyclists who broke the rules on minor points (being pushed, taking drinks on places where it was not allowed) were penalized with points in the points classification. From 1978 on, time penalties were also given for the general classification.[13]

Additionally, there was a points classification, were 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, and was identified with a polkadot jersey.[12]

Another classification was the young rider classification. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but only neo-professionals were eligible, and the leader wore a white jersey.[14]

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 1978, this classification had no associated jersey.[15]

The team classification, previously calculated with the times of the three best cyclists per team, was now calculated with the times of the best five cyclists per team.[13] The riders in the team that lead this classification wore yellow caps.[16] There was also a team points classification. After each stage, the stage rankings of the best three cyclists per team were added, and the team with the least total lead this classification, and were identified by green caps.[17] The Kas team finished with only two cyclists, so was not eligible for the team classifications.

The combativity award was given to Paul Wellens.[5]

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 with red polka dots. Denotes the winner of the mountains classification A white jersey. Denotes the winner of the young rider classification

General classification

Final general classification (1–10)[1]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Bernard Hinault (FRA) A yellow jersey. Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 107h 18' 00"
2  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson + 3' 56"
3  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Velda–Lono–Flandria + 6' 54"
4  Joseph Bruyere (BEL) C&A + 9' 04"
5  Christian Seznec (FRA) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson + 12' 50"
6  Paul Wellens (BEL) TI–Raleigh + 14' 38"
7  Francisco Galdos (ESP) Kas–Campagnolo + 17' 08"
8  Henk Lubberding (NED) A white jersey. TI–Raleigh + 17' 26"
9  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) C&A + 21' 01"
10  Mariano Martínez (FRA) A white jersey with red polka dots. Jobo–Superia–Lano + 22' 58"

Points classification

Final points classification (1–10)[1][18]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Freddy Maertens (BEL) A green jersey. Velda–Lono–Flandria 242
2  Jacques Esclassan (FRA) Peugeot–Esso–Michelin 185
3  Bernard Hinault (FRA) A yellow jersey. Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 123
4  Jan Raas (NED) TI–Raleigh 109
5  Joseph Bruyere (BEL) C&A 100
6  Klaus-Peter Thaler (GER) TI–Raleigh 91
7  Yvon Bertin (FRA) Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 79
8  Jacques Bossis (FRA) Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 74
9  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson 71
10  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Teka 70

Mountains classification

Final mountains classification (1–10)[1][18]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Mariano Martínez (FRA) A white jersey with red polka dots. Jobo–Superia–Lano 187
2  Bernard Hinault (FRA) A yellow jersey. Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 176
3  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson 155
4  Christian Seznec (FRA) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson 90
5  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Velda–Lono–Flandria 73
6  Sven-Åke Nilsson (SWE) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson 70
7  Paul Wellens (BEL) TI–Raleigh 68
8  René Bittinger (FRA) Velda–Lono–Flandria 63
9  Gilbert Le Lay (FRA) Fiat–La France 54
10  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) C&A 53

Young rider classification

Final young rider classification (1–5)[18]
Rank Rider Team
1  Henk Lubberding (NED) A white jersey. TI–Raleigh
2  Sven-Åke Nilsson (SWE) Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson
3  René Bittinger (FRA) Velda–Lono–Flandria
4  Pierre Bazzo (FRA) Lejeune–BP
5  Gilbert Le Lay (FRA) Fiat–La France

Intermediate sprints classification

Final intermediate sprints classification (1–5)[18]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Jacques Bossis (FRA) Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 95
2  Philippe Tesniere (FRA) Fiat–La France 60
3  Pierre-Raymond Villemiane (FRA) Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 52
4  Freddy Maertens (BEL) A green jersey. Velda–Lono–Flandria 44
5  Marcel Laurens (BEL) C&A 21

Team classification

Final team classification (1–10)[18]
Rank Team Time
1Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson 562h 05' 52"
2TI–Raleigh + 17' 20"
3C&A + 17' 22"
4Velda–Lono–Flandria + 1h 15' 45"
5Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo + 1h 47' 46"
6Peugeot–Esso–Michelin + 4h 25' 36"
7Lejeune–BP + 4h 29' 18"
8Teka + 4h 51' 32"
9Jobo–Superia–Lano + 5h 02' 48"
10Fiat–La France + 7h 04' 37"

Team points classification

Final team points classification (1–10)[18]
Rank Team Time
1TI–Raleigh 720
2Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo 909
3Velda–Lono–Flandria 972
4Miko–Mercier–Hutchinson 1072
5Peugeot–Esso–Michelin 1144
6C&A 1456
7Jobo–Superia–Lano 1656
8Lejeune–BP 1729
9Fiat–La France 2347
10Teka 2629


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "65ème Tour de France 1978" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 13 August 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  2. "Historique du Tour de France - Year 1978: The starters". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  3. Thompson, p.215
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Boyce, Barry (2006). "1978: The Cannibal Retires, the Badger Shines". Cycling Revealed. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 Historical guide 2016, p. 69.
  6. "Acht Nederlandse zege's". Het vrije volk (in Dutch). Koninklijke Bibliotheek. 24 July 1978. p. 16. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  7. Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCCBike.com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  8. Historical guide 2016, p. 109.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour De France: 1965-2007. Dog Ear Publishing. pp. 111–117. ISBN 1-59858-608-4. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  10. Thompson, p.102
  11. "Tombés au champs d'honneur" (in French). Magazine Sport & Vie. July 2003. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 16 May 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. 1 2 3 "Bonificaties, truien, punten en klassementen". Het Vrije Volk (in Dutch). De Arbeiderspers. 29 June 1978. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  14. "TDF guides: White jersey". TeamSky.com. BSkyB. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  15. Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Intermediate Sprints Classification". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  16. Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard. ISBN 0-679-72936-4. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  17. Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Other Classifications & Awards". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Clasificaciones oficiales". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 24 July 1978. p. 25. Retrieved 24 October 2011.


External links

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