___Race Snippets

 

43rd Tour de France 1956

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Known Frenchman Wins TdF!

Many cycling experts thought the racecourse was too easy in 1956 because Tour organizers scheduled fewer major climbs and no mountain top finishes. This fact made most of the top stars stayed away from the 1956 Tour de France. Three-time defending champion Louison Bobet chose not to race because of injury, an aging Italian “Campionissimo” Fausto Coppi (1949 and 1952) stayed away, and Swiss riders Ferdi Kubler (1950) and Hugo Koblet (1951) both bypassed the Tour.


(L to R) Louison Bobet, Fausto Coppi, Ferdi Kubler, Hugo Kublet

Frenchman Andre Darrigarde, a stage 1 specialist, and Gilbert Desmet (Bel) traded the Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey) several times through the first six stages.




The race began to take shape on the 244 km stage 7 from Lorient to Angers , when a relatively unknown rider from a regional French team, Nord Est-Centre, took advantage of the big names from the National teams. While the stars marked each other very closely, Roger “Walko” Walkowiak made an extraordinary effort to join a 31-rider breakaway. By the time the National team riders noticed the seriousness of the escape, the breakaway had gained an 18-minute advantage. Despite a desperate charge by the peloton, the large breakaway group could not be caught. The breakaway cruised into the finish in Angers with a large time gain. Walko, the highest placed member of the breakaway, was rewarded with the race lead and his first Maillot Jaune.

The weight of the Maillot Jaune is great and the 15 stage road from Angers to Paris would not be easy for Walko. He struggled and relinquished the race lead three stages later to Gerrit Voorting (Hol) . Gamely Walkowiak fought back in the Alps .

The inspired regional rider was having the race of his life and took back the overall race lead by matching Spanish climbing specialist Federico Bahamontes pedal stroke for pedal stroke in the Alps . The pair finished stage 18 in 7'29” behind stage winner Charly Gaul, but Walko gained enough time to take 3'56” lead over French team leader Gilbert Bauvin in the overall classification.

The individual time trial in Lyon on stage 20 (2 stages before Paris ) would be the final test for Walko. Second placed Gilbert Bauvin, trailing by 3'56”, started the ITT one spot in front of race leader Walkowiak. Bauvin rode well and completed the 73 km course in 1h49'24”. At each time check along the route, Walko knew the time he needed to secure the victory. Roger Walkowiak did what he had to do, finishing the course 2'31” behind Bauvin but 1'25” ahead in the overall classification. He had survived the final serious challenge of this year's Tour. By the finish in Paris , Walkowiak held onto a slim 1'25” lead on the favored Bauvin.

 

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 REIMS-LIEGE (Bel), 223 km

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Stage 2 LIEGE (Bel)-LILLE , 217 km

Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Stage 3 LILLE-ROUEN, 225 km

Arrigo Padovan (Ita)

Gilbert Desmet 1 (Bel)

Stage 4a CIRCUIT DES ESSARTS, 15.1 km ITT

Charly Gaul (Lux)

Gilbert Desmet 1 (Bel)

Stage 4b ROUEN-CAEN, 125 km

Roger Hassenforder (Fra)

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Stage 5 CAEN-ST MALO, 189 km

Joseph Morvan (Fra)

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Stage 6 ST MALO-LORIENT, 192 km

Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Stage 7 LORIENT-ANGERS, 244 km

Alessandro Fantini (Ita)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 8 ANGERS-LA ROCHELLE, 180 km

Miguel Poblet (Esp)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 9 LA ROCHELLE-BORDEAUX, 219 km

Roger Hassenforder (Fra)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 10 BORDEAUX-BAYONNE, 201 km

Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)

Gerrit Voorting (Ned)

Stage 11 BAYONNE-PAU, 255 km

Nino Defilippis (Ita)

Andre Darrigade (Fra)

Stage 12 PAU-LUCHON, 130 km

Jean-Pierre Schmitz (Lux)

Jan Adriaensens (Bel)

Stage 13 LUCHON-TOULOUSE, 176 km

Nino Defilippis (Ita)

Jan Adriaensens (Bel)

Stage 14 TOULOUSE-MONTPELLIER, 231 km

Roger Hassenforder (Fra)

Jan Adriaensens (Bel)

Stage 15 MONTPELLIER-AIX EN PROVENCE , 204 km

Joseph Thomin (Fra)

Wout Wagtmans (Ned)

Stage 16 AIX EN PROVENCE-GAP, 203 km

Jean Forestier (Fra)

Wout Wagtmans (Ned)

Stage 17 GAP-TURIN, (Ita), 234 km

Nino Defilippis (Ita)

Wout Wagtmans (Ned)

Stage 18 TURIN (Ita)- GRENOBLE , 250 km

Charly Gaul (Lux)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 19 GRENOBLE-ST ETIENNE, 173 km

Stan Ockers (Bel)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 20 ST ETIENNE-LYON, 73 km ITT

Miguel Bover (Spa)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 21 LYON-MONTLUCON, 237 km

Roger Hassenforder (Fra)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

Stage 22 MONTLUCON-PARIS, 331 km

Gastone Nencini (Ita)

Roger Walkowiak (Fra)

 

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Charly Gaul (Lux)

POINT'S COMPETITION

Stan Ockers (Bel)

 

TdF July 5- July 28, 1956
4,527 Km

1. Roger WALKOWIAK (Fra) 124h01'16"

2. Gilbert Bauvin (Fra) +1'25"

3. Jan Adriaenssens (Bel) +3'44"

Starters: 120
Finishers: 88
Average Speed: 36.268 km/h

 

 

 

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