Charly Gaul

Charly Gaul

Gaul in 1959
Personal information
Full name Charly Gaul
Nickname L'Ange de Montagne (The Angel of the Mountains), L'Archange de Montagne (The Archangel of the Mountains), Rimbaud du Tour (Rimbaud of the Tour), Chéri-pipi[1]
Born (1932-12-08)8 December 1932
Pfaffenthal, Luxembourg
Died 6 December 2005(2005-12-06) (aged 72)
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 64 kg (141 lb)
Team information
Discipline Road and cyclo-cross
Role Rider
Rider type Climber
Professional team(s)
1953–1954 Terrot–Hutchinson
1955 Magnat–Debon
1956–1958 Faema–Guerra
1959–1960 EMI–Guerra
1961–1963 Gazzola
1963 Peugeot–BP
1964 Individual
1965 Lamot–Libertas
Major wins

Grand Tours

Tour de France
General classification (1958)
Mountain classification (1955, 1956)
10 individual stages (1953–1963)
Giro d'Italia
General classification (1956, 1959)
Mountain classification (1956, 1959)
11 individual stages (1956–1962)

Charly Gaul (pronounced [ˈʧaːlɪ ɡaʊ̯l]; 8 December 1932[2] – 6 December 2005 in Luxembourg City[2]) was a professional cyclist. He was a national cyclo-cross champion, an accomplished time triallist and superb climber. His ability earned him the nickname of The Angel of the Mountains in the 1958 Tour de France, which he won with four stage victories. He also won the Giro d'Italia in 1956 and 1959. Gaul rode best in cold, wet weather. In later life he became a recluse[3] and lost much of his memory.

Early life

Charly Gaul – pronounced Gowl, to rhyme with trowel[4] – was a fragile-looking man with a sad face and disproportionately short legs. He had "a sad, timid look on his face, marked with an unfathomable melancholy [as though] an evil deity has forced him into a cursed profession amidst powerful, implacable riders," as one writer put it.[5]

Gaul worked in a butcher's shop and as a slaughterman in an abattoir at Bettembourg before turning professional on 3 May 1953[6] for Terrot,[2] at the age of 20.[5] By then he had already won more than 60 races as an amateur[7] having started racing in 1949.[6] They included the Flêche du Sud and the Tour of the 12 Cantons.[8] He won a stage up the climb of Grossglockner during the Tour of Austria when he was 17, setting a stage record. It was his first race outside Luxembourg.[9] The writer Charlie Woods said:

"The Grossglockner is slightly higher than Mont Ventoux and just as formidable. One can imagine the youngster engaging rather sheepishly with such a monster. He knew that he could climb well on ordinary hills, but this was no man's land. At half-distance, however, despite his manager's exhortations to caution, his class told and he found himself alone in the lead. A few moments of giddy pleasure were soon dispatched by the ever-present need to keep the pedals turning; he was, after all, still in no man's land. This show of force was greeted by another, a thunderstorm and the first squalls of rain probably cooled the fever of his labours and brought with it a lighter, freer atmosphere. He had always been at ease in rainfall [and] beginning to pedal now with an edge of fierce affirmation, he perhaps completely forgot himself for a long series of ramps and bends... To such an extent that not only did he win the stage but broke the existing record for the climb.[10]

His first professional race was the Critérium de la Polymultipliée, which he finished eighth.[9] His first professional win was in 1953 in Luxembourg, in the national cyclo-cross championship.[2] He came second the same year in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré stage race. The following year he was second in the Luxembourg road championship (which he won six times), won a stage in the Dauphiné Libéré, and won a bronze medal in the 1954 world championship.

Riding style

Gaul was 1.73 m tall and weighed 64 kg. His lightness was a gift in the mountains, where he won the climbers' competition in the Tour de France of 1955 and 1956.[3] Unusual for a light man, he was also an accomplished time-trialist, in one Tour de France beating the world leader, Jacques Anquetil. Gaul pedalled fast on climbs, rarely changing his pace, infrequently getting out of the saddle.[11] His contemporary, Raphaël Géminiani, said Gaul was "a murderous climber, always the same sustained rhythm, a little machine with a lower gear than the rest, turning his legs at a speed that would break your heart, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock."[5][12] The journalist Pierre About wrote that Gaul had "irresistible sprightliness [allegresse]", that he had "the air of an angel for which nothing is difficult."[13]

The writer Jan Heine said: "Nobody else ever climbed that fast. Gaul dominated the climbs of the late 1950s, spinning up the hills at amazing cadences, his legs a blur while his cherubic face hardly showed the strain of his exceptional performances."[9] Pierre Chany called him "without doubt, one of the three or four best climbers of all time."[11]

Philippe Brunel of the French newspaper, L'Équipe, said: "In the furnace of the 1950s, Gaul seemed to ride not against Bahamontes, Anquetil Adriessens, but against oppressive phantoms, to escape his modest origins, riding the ridges to new horizons, far from the life without surprises which would have been his had he stayed in Luxembourg."[14] Gaul was weakest on flat stages and in the heat. In the 1957 Tour de France he went home after two days, stricken by the temperature in what Pierre Chany called a "crematorium Tour".[12] He was at his best in cold and rain, winning the following year's race after a lone ride through the Alps in a day-long downpour described by the French newspaper, L'Équipe as "diluvian".[3] It was the first time the Tour had been won by a pure climber.[3]

The writer Roger St Pierre said of Gaul in the bad weather of the 1956 Giro d'Italia, in which a stage through the Dolomites ended with the 12 km climb of Monte Bondone:

"Charly averaged just four miles an hour over the final uphill kilometres of that murderous stage and collapsed at the finish, being taken off to the welcome warmth of his hotel, wrapped in a blanket. But he had assured his overall victory by beating his closest challenger on that nightmarish day by many minutes. The rest of the field was spread-eagled over several hours, some even having stopped for warm baths en route!"[15]

Gaul moved from 11th to first place. Jacques Goddet wrote in L'Équipe: "This day surpassed anything seen before in terms of pain, suffering and difficulty."[5]

Gaul was a variable rider who could delight and disappoint, almost at random.[8] He was talented in stage races but unremarkable in one-day events.[8]

Tour de France

Early years

Gaul rode his first Tour de France in 1953, but abandoned on the sixth stage.[7] He also started the 1954 Tour but again abandoned before the finish. He came to the 1955 Tour after winning the mountainous Tour de Sud Ouest and finishing third in the Tour of Luxembourg. He conceded a lot of time on the opening flat stages, not helped by being in a weak team.[7] His fight back started in the Alps, where the first stage was from Thonon-les-Bains to Briançon. He attacked and dropped the Dutch climber, Jan Nolten. Crossing the col du Télégraphe he had five minutes on his chasers; by the top of the Galibier he had 14m 47s. By the finish he had moved from 37th to third. He was on his way to winning the next day as well when he crashed descending in the rain. He attacked again when the race reached the Pyrenees, winning stage 17 from (Toulouse to Saint-Gaudens) ahead of the eventual overall winner, Louison Bobet. He won the mountains competition and finished third in Paris.

After a hard-fought victory in the 1956 Giro d'Italia (in which he took three stages – including an eight-minute victory in the Dolomites stage from Meran to Monte Bondone, near Trento),[16] Gaul was almost half an hour down after six days' racing in the 1956 Tour de France, but he was confident he could close the gap in the mountains. He won the mountains prize again, and two more stages – a mountain individual time trial on stage three and stage 18 to Grenoble. But his efforts did little good; he finished 13th.

Gaul started the 1957 Tour, but abandoned after two days with no stage wins.


Gaul returned to the Tour in 1958. Third in that year's Giro, he started dominantly and won four stages, three of them time trials, including the ascent of Mont Ventoux. His time of 1h 2m 9s from the Bédoin side, which in those days was cobbled in the first kilometres and poorly surfaced to the summit, stood as a record until Jonathan Vaughters beat it 31 years later in the Dauphiné Libéré.[n 1]

On the last day in the Alps, his manager, Jo Goldschmidt[n 2] looked at the rain falling and woke Gaul with the words: "Come on soldier... This is your day." Gaul woke delighted at the cold rain and angry at the memory of how he had been denied the Giro the previous year, when he was attacked as he stopped by the roadside (see below). A lot of riders took advantage of his halt but he most blamed Bobet, a man as refined and diffident as Gaul was coarse and brusque.

His feelings for Bobet had turned to "flaming hatred," said the historian Bill McGann.[17] He sought out his tormentor before the stage started. The impact was all the greater because the two had barely spoken to each other since the Giro.[14] "You're ready, Monsieur Bobet?", he asked, laying emphasis on the false politeness of the monsieur. "I'll give you a chance. I'll attack on the Luitel climb. I'll even tell you which hairpin. You want to win the Tour more than I do? Easy. I've told you what you need to know."[18]

There was a prize of 100,00 francs at the top of the col de Lautaret in memory of the race's founder, Henri Desgrange. The Dutchman Piet van Est won it, with Bahamontes behind him. A small group broke clear on the descent and had eight minutes on the rest. Gaul began the chase and shed rider after rider, including the Spaniard, Salvador Botella, who held eighth place. Botella stopped, covered his head in his hands and wept. Teammates turned back to encourage him; he burst into tears again when he saw them and climbed into the race ambulance.

Gaul and Bahamontes dropped the rest. At first the rest thought that Gaul had lost too much time earlier in the race to be a threat, that he was looking only at the best climber's prize.[19] But on the climb to the col de Luitel Gaul dropped Bahamontes as well. He was within three minutes of the leaders at the top, with Bahamontes a minute behind. Gaul took the lead and moved ahead as the race progressed through "a curtain of water, a deluge without an ark", as L'Équipe described it. Michel Clare, reporting for the paper, said: "I was on a motorbike and I had to stop at Granier for a hot grog. I was so cold that afterwards it was an hour before I could start writing."[12] When he finally began his report in the press room at Aix-les-Bains, he wrote: "I remember only a curtain of rain. A deluge without an Ark. The caravan[n 3] dissolved from the moment it entered the sea of clouds that followed the pretty chalets of [the ski station of] Chamrousse. Now we know what it means to be 'soaked to the bone.' I thought of Jacques Anquetil, whose face was becoming more and more triangular and yellow. I thought of them all, the known and the unknown, sailors carried away by the flood and who tried desperately to avoid being shipwrecked. One man escaped from the storm. Charly Gaul. Finally, his time had come."[20] Gaul crossed the line at the lake in Bourget-en-Aix in near darkness[21] with a slight smile, 12m 20s ahead of the chasing group and 15 minutes ahead of the leader, Raphaël Géminiani.[n 4]

It moved him to third place, and two days later Gaul got those 67 seconds and more in a time-trial on a difficult circuit at Châteaulin, riding at 44.2kmh.[22] There he beat even Anquetil, who was suffering a lung infection after the rainy ride to Bourget-en-Aix.[23][n 5]


In 1959, he was 12th. He lost time in the heat of the Pyrenees but won the stage to Grenoble again, with the eventual overall winner Bahamontes second.

Late Tours

Gaul missed the 1960 Tour. In 1961 he came third and won stage nine to Grenoble. He crashed in the Alps, on the descent of the Cucheron, bruising his hip, shoulder and knee. At the beginning of the final stage he was second to Anquetil. Guido Carlesi attacked as the Tour entered its final kilometre, overcoming a four-second deficit to Gaul. This moved him to second, relegating Gaul to third.

In 1962 he finished ninth with no stage victories. The 1962 Tour was contested by trade rather than national teams for the first time since 1929, and Gaul's was not one of the strongest. His final contested Tour was 1963, when he dropped out without winning any stages.

Giro d'Italia

Gaul at the Giro d'Italia 1959

Gaul won the Giro d'Italia in 1956 and 1959. His victory in 1956 came after leaving the field in the climb of Monte Bondone at 1,300m[24] (see above). Snow fell and Gaul was alone with 88 km to go. It was so cold that he had to be carried off his bike at the finish and stopped on the way up for a drink. René de Latour of Sporting Cyclist wrote:

"A search was going on for a missing man. The searcher-in-chief was former world champion Learco Guerra, now manager of the Faema team. The man he was looking for was Charly Gaul, who had not been seen for the last 20 minutes. Guerra was driving his car up the mountain pass, peering through the clogged-up windscreen when, by sheer chance, he saw a bike leaning against the wall of a shabby mountain trattoria. 'That's Charly's bike!' he exclaimed to his mechanic.
"They rushed into the bar and there, sitting on a chair sipping hot coffee, was Charly Gaul, exhausted, so dead to the world that he could hardly speak. Guerra knows bike riders. He talked gently to Gaul. 'Take your time, Charly,' he said. 'We're going to take care of you.' While a masseur was ripping off Gaul's wet jersey, Guerra had some water warmed and poured it over the rider's body. Then, rubbed down from head to toes, Gaul's body gradually came back to life. He lost that glassy look and in a few minutes he was a new man again... With the encouragement of his followers he managed to reach the top, literally miles ahead of Fiorenzo Magni, who finished second at 12 14 minutes. The cheering spectators could hardly believe that men had suffered such hardships up there in the icy mountain. On the way, 44 had fallen by the wayside."[25]

The American magazine, VeloNews, said:

"The weather turned colder and colder, and on the long, steep slopes of the Giro's final mountain, light snow soon turned to a full blizzard as the temperature dropped to freezing point. Fornara was overcome by the cold and took refuge in a farmhouse. Other race leaders rode to a standstill before keeling over in the ditches. Some stopped to drink hot chocolate or dip their freezing hands in bowls of hot water offered by the spectators. In all, 46 of the day's 89 starters would pull out. Gaul just kept on going. He was on his own after 10km of the 14km climb, riding through the thickening snow in his usual smooth style. He arrived at the finish almost eight minutes ahead of the second man, Alessandro Fantini, and 12m15s ahead of defending champion Fiorenzo Magni.[7]
"His face a wrinkled mess, his hands and feet turned blue, Gaul took the pink jersey, and won the Giro two days later by 3m27s over Magni. The young Luxembourger had etched his name into the annals of not only cycling, but all sports with one of the most courageous and remarkable upsets in modern times."[7]

On the stage victory to Courmayeur he took a 10-minute advantage over Anquetil on the final two climbs.

Gaul lost the 1957 Giro after stopping for what was described in French papers as "a natural need" on the road to Trieste. His rivals, particularly Bobet and Gastone Nencini attacked. Gaul was upset at a breach of race etiquette and still more annoyed to find himself referred to as Monsieur Pi-Pi, which in French rhymes with and means pee-pee. Gaul rounded on Bobet and said: "I will get my revenge. I will kill you. Remember I was a butcher. I know how to use a knife."[14][26] It was that that sparked the attack in the following year's Tour de France (see above).

In the 1960 Giro he won a stage on his way to third place. In 1961 he finished fourth.


Gaul was national cyclo-cross champion at the start and the end of his time as a professional. He also came fifth in the world championships of 1956 and 1962. He won in Dippach in 1955, Kopstal, Colmar-Berg and Bettembourg in 1956, Schuttrange, Ettelbruck, Kopstal, Bissen and Colmar-Berg in 1957, Alzingen in 1958, Muhlenbach in 1960.[27]


Gaul was taciturn and spoke rarely to anyone but a circle including Anglade, Roger Hassenforder, Nencini and Bahamontes.[14] The writer Philippe Brunel described his reputation within cycling as "notorious" [sulfureuse].[14] "His eloquence and assurance seemed reserved for the bike, and the bike alone," said Charlie Woods.[28]

Gaul was popular with fans but not among his rivals. Roger St Pierre said: "With his boyish good looks and Jack the Giantkiller style, Charly Gaul was loved by the fans. He had his friends, too – his faithful lieutenant Marcel Ernzer even rode an identical bike so that his master would not be uncomfortable if he had to borrow it after a crash or a puncture.[n 6] But he was not always popular with his rivals, his unpredictable, schoolboyish temperament, his lazy riding on the flat and his sometimes insufferable ego winning him few allies in the bunch."[29]

Many of his problems, said the writer Jan Heine, appeared to have been caused by a hostile peloton, which often seemed to do anything to make Gaul lose.[30] He rarely shared what he won with those who helped him, said René de Latour in Sporting Cyclist.[25] Brian Robinson rode with Gaul in a mixed team in the 1956 Tour de France. He said Gaul had no intention of discussing tactics or of sharing his prizes with the rest of the team in return for their help. Robinson said:

"Together with the rest of the team we were all in the same hotel and every hour I expected to be summoned to what I thought would be a certainty on the eve of the start – a conference to discuss tactics, allocation of prize money, etc. That such a meeting was not held seems an extraordinary thing to me. Everybody had taken it for granted that all in the Luxembourg team [of which Robinson, although British, was part] would be riding for Charly Gaul. Had such a conference taken place on the eve of the race and my orders had been to nurse Gaul from Reims to Paris, with the promise of a cut of the total prize money won by the team at the end, I would have obeyed those orders until I dropped. But there were no such orders and when the question of sharing the prize money was brought up[n 7] during a meal, it was vaguely dismissed with 'We'll talk about that later.'"[4]

When Robinson won £250 on the first day and became the team's best-placed rider, "many of my friends in rival teams congratulated me on my effort [but] the least enthusiastic of all seemed Gaul. "[4] Similar events happened in other teams. Gaul rode in 1958 for a team largely of Dutchmen. They did nothing to help him in the wind on flat stages, said the French rider Henry Anglade, who knew Gaul well, who came from the same region and was one of the few French riders close to him.[31] "He wasn't helped to move up through the echelons,[n 8] " he said. Gaul in turn said the Dutch were "too interested in their personal classification."[32]


Gaul rode in an era before drug tests and drug rules.[n 9] Pictures show that he frequently frothed at the mouth. Goddet spoke of his dribbling during his record ride up Mont Ventoux: "Yes, it was without doubt the first time that I saw the soft and thin face of the Luxembourger, who never shows signs of suffering, running with the sweat of pain, the dribble of effort flooding his shaven chin and sticking to his chest in long dirty ropes."[33]

Gaul rode best in the cold and poorly in the heat. His rival, Bahamontes, didn't name Gaul but said that the heat suited him best "because then others couldn't take as much amphetamine." Marcel Ernzer, Gaul's domestique, recalled a conversation with Gaul:

"Charly's going to die."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because Charly takes too many pills."
"But everybody takes them."
"Yes, but Charly a lot more than the others."[14]


Gaul and Federico Bahamontes in front of the memorial to Luxembourg's other Tour de France winners, François Faber and Nicolas Frantz, in 1998

Gaul's career effectively ended with the Tour de France in 1962. "Without knowing it, he was climbing the slope of his own decline," said Philippe Brunel.[14]

He grumbled as he climbed the Pyrenees and his eyes were flecked with blood.[14]
"At Saint-Gaudens, after his faithful team-mate and roommate Marcel Ernzer had dropped out, he spoke of his lassitude.
"I'm scared in the peloton... The abuse of stimulants, the fatigue [make riders] clumsy. How many of them have got the reflexes that they need?"

Gaul was never the same. At the end of the season, he left the Gazzola team, tried Peugeot (which came to nothing), a comeback (equally nothing) in the Lamote-Libertas team."[14]

Gaul stopped for good after a track meeting at Niederkorn in 1965.[14] He never recovered from the hurt of being whistled by the crowd when he made his last appearance on the road in the country, riding for a poor team, Lamote, sponsored by a Belgian brewery and achieving nothing.[14] He ran a café at Bonnevoie near the railway station in Luxembourg city[14] before slipping out of public view.

Life as a recluse

Gaul moved into a small hut in a forest in the Luxembourg Ardennes.[14] There he wore the same clothes every day – patterned green trousers, studded walking boots and a sweater or jacket – and went walking with his dog, Pocki. He had a telephone but never answered it. He removed his name from the phone book.[14] His rare excursions were to buy everyday goods and shopkeepers who met him spoke of a man who was ill and depressed, that he hadn't recovered from separating from his second wife. When journalists found him to ask more he confirmed he was distressed but declined to say more.

"I'm sorry but it was all so long ago. Please leave me in peace. I'm just an old grumbler."[14][n 10]

He appeared now and then anonymously beside the road during the Tour de France, unrecognisable with a beard, straggling hair and a paunch.

His isolation lasted until 1983, the 25th anniversary of his victory in the Tour de France and the year he met his third wife, Josée.[n 11] He moved with her into a house in the south-west suburbs of Luxembourg city. There he spoke to Pilo Fonck of the radio and television station, RTL. "I was as happy as a kid," Fonck said. "I had the interview of my life, the one that everybody wanted to have."[14] Of his life as a hermit, Gaul told Fonck:

"I bought myself a little portable television and I connected it to the battery of my car to watch the Tour de France. When the battery ran down, I called the man at the garage. I had travelled plenty enough. I told myself 'You're happy here, at peace.' There was nothing but the trees and the water. I passed my days planting vegetables. Deer used to come and eat at the end of my garden.
How do I explain what I did? Well, it's difficult to go back into normal society. Today, of course, I laugh about it, but that period was essential: without it, I wouldn't have been able to tackle the final slope, that of old age."[14]

Public recognition

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg recognised Gaul's past and his return to society by offering him a job as archivist at the sports ministry. There, said Philippe Brunel, "he could go back into the past, put together day after day, scrupulously, the puzzle of his life, looking for why this need to escape from society."[14]

The organisers of the Tour de France invited him in 1989 as their guest when the race started in Luxembourg. He made his first public appearance there, with his daughter, Fabienne. He received the Tour de France medal from the organiser, Jean-Marie Leblanc.[34] He attended a reunion of former Tour winners when the centenary race was presented in October 2002. He began following cycling again, particularly Marco Pantani, the leading climber of the time.[5][35] He was a guest at many races, including stages of the Tour. There he sat beside the rostrum and answered questions put by the commentator, Daniel Mangeas. William Fotheringham, writing in The Guardian, said Gaul "cut a curious figure – plump, shambling, confused – his eyes hidden behind thick spectacles above a wispy beard, a far cry from his heyday in the 1950s."[5]

Death and inheritance

Gaul died of a lung infection two days before his 73rd birthday, following a fall in his house at Itzig.[3] He left a wife, Josée, and daughter, Fabienne.[7] VeloNews said: "Gaul raced in a different era, and his like will never be seen again."[7] Charlie Woods said:

"By one of those telling ironies of eternal recurrence his riding style has come back into fashion. Switch on any mountain stage these days and the screen fills with our contemporary grimpeurs earnest twiddling[n 12] upwards. Whether they realise it or not, they've all taken a crank out of Charly's chainwheel. There is a further, rather touching irony attached to the identity of the rider who has revived this way with inclines. As regards physique and disposition he is far removed from the 'angelic' Luxembourger. Who could he be, this opportune plagiarist, this new twiddler-in-chief? Why, none other that the present king of the hill himself, Lance Armstrong."[36]

A cyclo-sportive event is held each summer in Luxembourg in Gaul's memory, sometimes attended by his wife and daughter.[37]

Mountains crossed alone


  • Romeyere, 1954. Stage – Lyon–Grenoble
  • Aravis, 1955. Stage – Thonon les Bains–Briançon
  • Galibier, 1955. Stage – Thonon les Bains–Briançon
  • Télégraphe, 1955. Stage – Thonon les Bains–Briançon
  • Cayolle, 1955. Stage – Briançon–Monaco
  • Vasson (col), 1955. Stage – Briançon–Monaco
  • Aspin, 1955. Stage – Toulouse–St Gaudens
  • Peyresourde, 1955. Stage – Toulouse–St Gaudens
  • Aubisque, 1955. Stage – St Gaudens–Pau
  • Portet d'Aspet, 1956. Stage – Luchon–Toulouse
  • Latrape, 1956. Stage – Luchon–Toulouse
  • Sestrières, 1956. Stage – Gap–Turin
  • Luitel, 1956. Stage – Turin–Grenoble
  • Ventoux, 1958.
  • Cucheron, 1961. Stage – St Etienne–Grenoble
  • Granier, 1961. Stage – St Etienne–Grenoble
  • Porte, 1961. Stage – St Etienne–Grenoble
  • Vars, 1955. Stage – Briançon–Monaco
  • Porte, 1958. Stage – Briançon–Aix les Bains
  • Galibier, 1959. Stage – Le Lautaret–St Vincent (Ita)



  • Palena, 1956. Stage – Pescara–Campobasso
  • Basilica di San Luca, 1956. Stage – Livorno–Lucca
  • Costalunga, 1956. Stage – Meran–Monte Bondone
  • Rolle, 1956. Stage – Meran–Monte Bondone
  • Brocon, 1956. Stage – Meran–Monte Bondone
  • Bondone, 1956. Stage – Meran–Monte Bondone
  • Boscochiesa Nuova, 1957. Stage – Verona–Boscochiesa Nuova
  • Grand St Bernard, 1957. Stage – Saint Vincent–Sion (Swi)
  • Brocon, 1957. Stage – Trento–Levico Terme
  • Abetone, 1959. Stage – Salsomaggiore–Abetone
  • Vesuvio, 1959. Stage – Escalade du Vesuve
  • Eremo, 1959. Stage – Circuit de San Marino
  • Fugazze, 1959. Stage – Verona–Rovereto
  • Rolle, 1959. Stage – Trento-Bolzano
  • Grand St Bernard, 1959. Stage – Aosta-Courmayeur
  • Petit St Bernard, 1959. Stage – Aosta-Courmayeur
  • Terminillo, 1960, Stage – Pescara-Rieti
  • Stelvio, 1961. Stage – Trento-Bormio


Career achievements

Major results

 Luxembourg National cyclo-cross champion
Circuit des 6 Provinces
Tour du Sud-Est
Tour de Luxembourg
 Luxembourg National road champion
 Luxembourg National road champion
Tour de Luxembourg
 Luxembourg National road champion
 Luxembourg National road champion
Tour de Luxembourg
 Luxembourg National road champion
 Luxembourg National road champion
 Luxembourg National cyclo-cross champion

Grand Tour results timeline

1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963
Giro DNE DNE DNE 1 4 3 1 3 4 DNF DNE
Stages won 3 2 1 3 1 1 0
Mountains classification 1 2 3 1 5 7 NR
Points classification N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Tour DNF-6 DNF-12 3 13 DNF-2 1 12 DNE 3 9 DNF-16
Stages won 0 0 2 2 0 4 1 1 0 0
Mountains classification NR NR 1 1 NR 2 2 2 4 0
Points classification NR NR NR NR NR 24 4 11 NR NR
Stages won 0
Mountains classification NR
Points classification NR
1 Winner
2–3 Top three-finish
4–10 Top ten-finish
11– Other finish
DNE Did Not Enter
DNF-x Did Not Finish (retired on stage x)
DNS-x Did Not Start (no started on stage x)
DSQ Disqualified
N/A Race/classification not held
NR Not Ranked in this classification



  1. Vaughters broke the record for the ascent of Mont Ventoux with 26 other riders, timed in 56m 50s. Gaul was there to see it happen and had forecast the fastest would take less than an hour. He told Cycle Sport in August 1999: I am glad that my record will fall. That's what records are there for, to be beaten. The road is pretty similar, slightly better surfaced, but the equipment is better, too. That is bound to have an effect. I can remember that, like today, it was very hot and I was worried about that because I didn't respond well to the heat." The last time Gaul had tried the climb, he said it took "a whole two hours."
  2. Gaul's manager, Jo Goldschmit's first name was Jean but he was always referred to as Jo
  3. 'The caravan' is a term used for the procession of vehicles preceding and following the race
  4. When Gaul crossed the line in Bourget-en-Aix it was dark enough that the streetlights had come on and cars and motorcycles were using their headlights. The finish line had begun to wash away in the rain.
  5. The 1958 Tour de France became known as the Judas Tour. Géminiani and Bobet chased after Gaul and Géminiani asked his fellow Frenchman to help. Bobet couldn't or wouldn't. He had a fragile personality (see main entry: Louison Bobet), he was suffering and he was quite possibly demoralised by Gaul's taunting. Géminiani was a good climber but not in Gaul's class. Géminiani lost his lead by a quarter of an hour and accused Bobet publicly of betraying him, calling him "Judas." (See main entry: Raphaël Géminiani.)
  6. Gaul was said to have been especially popular with married women in Italy, receiving up to 60 letters some days. The story, possibly apocryphal, is that they were given to Ernzer to read. Some were so frank that Ernzer is said to have sworn never to marry.
  7. Robinson said he was sure Gaul would win £2,000 as king of the mountains
  8. An echelon, known in French as a bordure or eventail, is a technique groups of riders employ to protect each other from side winds. Rather than ride in a line or a group, they fan out across the road with each rider taking a turn protecting the others before taking up shelter at the other side of the road. Several echelons can form at the same time and it is important to be in one and, preferably, the front one. A light rider like Gaul would be particularly vulnerable in a crosswind.
  9. Drug testing started in Belgium and then in France in 1965 but there was little serious effort within cycling until the death of Tom Simpson in the 1967 Tour de France. The first tests in the Tour de France, at Bordeaux, led to a strike by riders next morning.
  10. "Old grumbler" – un vieux grognard – is a popular expression in French meaning more a veteran than someone who complains excessively. It is akin to Old Contemptible for British soldiers of the first world war, an insult ("Britain's contemptible army" – Germany) turned back in half-pride. The Grumblers were Napoléon's Old Guard.
  11. Gaul married three times, including once in Dover, England, on a special licence. It was one of only two visits to Britain, the other being to ride the track at Herne Hill, London.
  12. 'Twiddling' is a British cycling expression for pedalling fast. American English says "spinning".


  1. Vergne, Laurent (22 July 2015). "Cannibale, Chéri-pipi, Wookie, Andy torticolis… le Top 20 des surnoms mythiques du cyclisme" [Cannibal, Chéri-pipi, Wookie, Andy Torticollis... the Top 20 mythical nicknames of cycling]. Eurosport (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Velo-club, 4335, Charly Gaul, Posté le Mercredi 06 février 2002 Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 L'Equipe, 06/12/2005 Cyclisme – Disparition – Décès de Charly Gaul
  4. 1 2 3 Sporting Cyclist, UK, undated cutting
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Cited obituary, The Guardian, UK, 8 December 2005
  6. 1 2 Memoire du Cyclisme, Charly Gaul, Palmares Archived January 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 VeloNews, Charly Gaul dies at 72 By John Wilcockson Posted Dec. 6, Archived December 8, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. 1 2 3 Le Tour, 1958: Charly Gaul 794
  9. 1 2 3 Konrad, Gabor and Melanie (eds), Bikelore (2000), On The Wheel Publications (USA), ISBN 1-892495-32-5, p70
  10. Alchin, Richard and Bell, Adrian (eds), Golden Stages of the Tour de France, Mousehold Press, UK, ISBN 1-874739-28-5, p46
  11. 1 2 Chany, Pierre (1997), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, ISBN 978-2-7324-2353-1, P461
  12. 1 2 3 Vélo, France, July 2002
  13. L'Équipe, France, 24 May 1954
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 L'Équipe, 12 July 2000
  15. St Pierre, Roger, unidentified cutting, UK
  16. John Wilcockson Archived August 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. 50 years later: Remembering Charly Gaul's great ride. VeloNews
  17. McGann, Bill and Carol (2006), The Story of the Tour de France, vol 1, Dog Ear, USA, ISBN 1-59858-180-5, p233
  18. Chany, Pierre (1997), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, ISBN 978-2-7324-2353-1
  19. Chany, Pierre (1997), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, ISBN 978-2-7324-2353-1, p466
  20. Cited Vélo, France, July 2002
  21. Alchin, Richard and Bell, Adrian (eds), Golden Stages of the Tour de France, Mousehold Press, UK, ISBN 1-874739-28-5, p50
  22. Chany, Pierre (1997), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, ISBN 978-2-7324-2353-1, p467
  23. McGann, Bill and Carol (2006), The Story of the Tour de France, vol 1, Dog Ear, USA, ISBN 1-59858-180-5, p234
  24. Vélo, France, May 2006
  25. 1 2 Sporting Cyclist, UK, 1958
  26. Procycling, UK, undated cutting.
  27. "Acc Contern". Archived from the original on January 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  28. Alchin, Richard and Bell, Adrian (eds), Golden Stages of the Tour de France, Mousehold Press, UK, ISBN 1-874739-28-5, p45
  29. St Pierre, Roger (UK), unidentified cutting
  30. Konrad, Gabor and Melanie (eds), Bikelore (2000), On The Wheel Publications (USA), ISBN 1-892495-32-5, p84
  31. "Vélo 101, le site officiel du vélo  : route, vtt, cyclosport, cyclo-cross, piste, cyclotourisme, cyclisme". 2002-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  32. Konrad, Gabor and Melanie (eds), Bikelore (2000), On The Wheel Publications (USA), ISBN 1-892495-32-5, p80
  33. L'Équipe, France, 14 July 1958
  34. Procycling, UK, undated cutting
  35. "Tour de France – Légendes: Charly Gaul – Yahoo! Sport". Archived from the original on July 7, 2007. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  36. Alchin, Richard and Bell, Adrian (eds), Golden Stages of the Tour de France, Mousehold Press, UK, ISBN 1-874739-28-5, p52
  37. "La Charly Gaul – ACC CONTERN". Archived from the original on September 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  38. 1 2 Velo-club, News : Charly Gaul le solitaire, Posté le Mardi 06 décembre 2005
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charly Gaul.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.