x

 
December 2005
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

 

 


Rene Vietto

 

 


Antonine Magne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Top 25 All Time Tours #13

1934: “Roi” Rene's Regal Sacrifice

CR Timeline 1934 [also see Special Notes below]

The political atmosphere in Europe was very active in 1934. Nazi leader Adolph Hitler and Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini were gaining power in Germany , Austria , and Italy . In France , the Stavisky Affair, a financial and political scandal, shook the government. The political problems set a depressing atmosphere in France as the final preparations for the Tour were being completed. The Grand Boucle came as a welcome diversion from political problems and gave France a much needed morale boost.

The Tour's successful national team format was well established and the recent victories of the French team gave their beleaguered French fans an optimistic anticipation for this year's race. Defending Tour champion Georges Speicher and Antonin Magne were selected to lead a very strong French National team. Slight controversy arose when the selection committee named 20-year-old Tour rookie Rene Vietto to the French team. Prior to his appointment, he had won only small regional races and had no experience at this level. The criticisms grew louder after Vietto struggle early and lost over 11 minutes on the first stage. From that point forward the story of “Roi Rene” Vietto began to grow.

Defending champion Georges Speicher kept his Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey) for an additional stage after winning the stage 1 sprint. Although Speicher was riding well, he did not have the fitness of teammate Antonin Magne. On stage 2, Magne rode in an eight-man breakaway that gained enough time to give him the Maillot Jaune. The powerful French team, riding a wave of success through the early stages, controlled the race and the Maillot Jaune. The road to Paris is lined with mishaps and the strongest rider does not always win the race.

Young climber Rene Vietto, after finishing 44th on stage 1, began to battle back into contention. Vietto excelled in the Alps, winning stage 9 in Digne, as well as winning the climbs of the Col d'Allos and the Col de Vars. By the time the Tour reached his hometown of Cannes , Vietto was in third place and riding very well. All of France was beginning to recognize and follow the exploits of the young Vietto.

The Tour's next challenge came in the Pyrenees Mountain stages. Climbing well, Vietto and Magne controlled the lead group over the top of the Col du Puymorens. Vietto was the first over the climb. As the leaders descended the Puymorens race leader Magne hit a pothole and broke his front wheel. Rene came to the rescue, giving his team leader his wheel. Magne rejoined the leaders and Vietto waited for the team support. By the finish in Ax-les-Thermes, Vietto had lost 5 minutes in the overall classification, but had saved his team leader's Maillot Jaune. French fans have always had great appreciation for acts of sacrifice for the team. With this single act of sacrifice Vietto's popularity began to grow.

The Tour is always hectic and there were more heroics to come. The legend of “Roi Rene” Vietto continued to grow larger on the next stage. Again, there were major climbs with Vietto and Magne controlling the lead pack of riders. Vietto won the first climb of the day, the Col de Port and was winning the climb of the Portet d'Aspet, when Magne locked up his rear wheel. This time Vietto turned around and with true team spirit sprinted back to rescue his team leader. Magne was able to again regain a place in the lead group and finish third on the stage. Rene was forced to emotionally wait for the team support vehicle to get a new bicycle.

The mishaps dropped Vietto from contention in the overall classification. A lesser rider would have cracked, but young and talented Rene Vietto battled back. He won the 172 km stage 18 from Tarbes to Pau by 6 minutes. He had begun another come back. By the finish in Paris , the resilient Frenchman “Roi Rene” Vietto battled into fifth place in the overall classification and won the Best Climber Prize .

Grand French champion Antonin Magne rode magnificently throughout the entire 1934 Tour and benefited greatly from team support. He rode proudly into Parc des Princes Velodrome for his second TdF victory and France 's fifth in a row.

TdF 1934 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 PARIS-LILLE, 262 km

Georges Speicher (Fra)

Georges Speicher (Fra)

Stage 2 LILLE-CHARLEVILLE, 192 km

Rene Le Greves (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 3 CHARLEVILLE-METZ, 161 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 4 METZ-BELFORT, 220 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 5 BELFORT-EVIAN, 293 km

Rene Le Greves (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 6 EVIAN-AIX LES BAINS, 207 km

Georges Speicher (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 7 AIX LES BAINS-GRENOBLE, 229 km

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 8 GRENOBLE-GAP, 102 km

Giuseppe Martano (Ita)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 9 GAP-DIGNE, 227 km

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 10 DIGNE-NICE, 156 km

Rene Le Greves (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 11 NICE-CANNES, 126 km

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 12 CANNES-MARSEILLE, 195 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 13 MARSEILLE-MONTPELLIER, 172 km

Georges Speicher (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 14 MONTPELLIER-PERPIGNAN, 177 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 15 PERPIGNAN-AX LES THERMES, 158 km

Roger Lapebie (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 16 AX LES THERMES-LUCHON, 165 km

Adriano Vignoli (Ita)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 17 LUCHON-TARBES, 91 km

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 18 TARBES-PAU, 172 km

Rene Vietto (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 19 PAU-BORDEAUX, 215 km

Ettore Meini (Ita)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 20 BORDEAUX-LA ROCHELLE, 183 km

Georges Speicher (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 21a LA ROCHELLE-LA ROCHE SUR YON, 81 km

Rene Le Greves (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 21b LA ROCHE SUR YON-NANTES, 90 km ITT

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 22 NANTES-CAEN, 275 km

Raymond Louviot (Fra)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

Stage 23 CAEN-PARIS/Parc des Princes, 221 km

Sylvere Maes (Bel)

Antonin Magne (Fra)

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

x Rene Vietto (Fra)

Start List: 60

Finishers: 39

Distance: 4,363 km

Average: 30.360 km/h

Best Climber Category:

1. Rene Vietto (Fra) 111 pts

2. Vicente Trueba (Spa) 93 pts

3. Giuseppe Martano (Ita) 78 pts

SPECIAL NOTE: Heroes of the Tour de France are generated in two ways: the champions who win the races in grand style and the riders whose actions earn our respect. Rene Vietto earned hero status because of his selfless sacrifices and was given the nickname “Roi Rene” (King Rene). The relative unknown at the start, Rene Vietto became the sentimental winner of the Tour by the end. Vietto was never destined to win the Tour, but the popularity of “Roi Rene” would continue to grow for years to come.

The question will always remain, “If the double mishap had not happened, could Vietto have won the 1934 Tour?” We will never know the answer, but “Roi Rene” fans steadfastly swear he would have won the race… easily .

Return to the CyclingRevealed ToC

 
       
         
         
   


All materials are property of CyclingRevealed and Copyright © 2006
unless otherwise noted

Advertising Information | Contact Us
-