Anquetil's impossible double


Dauphiné Libéré:
1st: Jacques Anquetil
2nd: Raymond Poulidor @ 1' 43"
3rd: Karl-Heinz Kunde @ 5' 58"
4th: Lucien Aimar @ 8' 53"
5th: Roger Pingeon @ 10' 22"

Bordeaux - Paris:
1st: Jacques Anquetil 15 03' 03"
2nd: Jean Stablinski @ 57"
3rd: Tom Simpson, same time
4th: François Mahé @ 7' 34"
5th: Jean Claude Lefèbvre @ 9' 47"
6th: Vin Denson, @ 18'

Dauphiné Libéré and Bordeaux - Paris, 1965

By his 13th season as a professional, there wasn't much left for Jacques Anquetil to chase. Always motivated by pride, he had outdone Bobet's three consecutive Tours de France by winning four in a row; Coppi's seven major tour victories had been eclipsed by Maître Jacque's eight. Criticised for relying over much on his phenomenal time trialling ability, he had out sprinted Bahamontès to win an Alpine stage of the 1963 Tour de France, and matched Poulidor pedal for pedal on the Puy de Dôme in 1964 until the line was in sight. Yet for all his class, somehow the public never quite warmed to Anquetil - a legendary champion, certainly, but also perhaps the most misunderstood of all the great champions. For 1965, his publicity-concious manager, Raphaël Geminiani, was determined to pull off a spectacular coup. And thus it was that Anquetil was entered for the Dauphiné Libéré followed less than twelve hours later by the 557 kilometre Bordeaux Paris, le Derby de la route. Some suggested Anquetil would treat the Dauphiné as a training ride for The Derby; others suggested that he would withdraw from the latter race. Those who knew him best suggested that he would try to win both - but only try.

If Anquetil was riding the Dauphiné just for "training", then it was an impressive training session! On stage four into Oyonnax Anquetil won; two days later over the Alps to Chamonix he won again, dropping everyone else in the process except the "eternal second", Raymond Poulidor. The weather that day was terrible; when Anquetil finished, his teeth chattering, he admitted that he would have packed had he not been leading. But with the jersey safely resting on his shoulders, the Norman won again two days later, averaging over 45 kmh in the time trial at Avignon. Three stages, second on points, second in the King of the Mountains and with only three riders within ten minutes, Anquetil's performance was little short of a sensation. Yet Geminiani's great double was only half executed.

The final stage of the Dauphiné finished at 3pm. Anquetil then had two hours of interviews and receptions to carry out before being driven to Nîmes airport where a specially chartered plane was waiting; he was finally away by 6.30 pm. After a short flight, he grabbed a little sleep at Bordeaux before getting up at midnight for his pre-race meal. And shortly after he was away, embarking through the cool south western evening on the longest one day race in existence! Accompanying him on this cycling oddessey were, amongst others, the Briton Tom Simpson, winner of the event in 1963; Simpson's team mate Mahé; former World Champion Jean Stablinski, a team mate of Anquetil at Ford-France and the Belgian Melkenbeeck, a former winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Through the night Anquetil could eat nothing due to stomach cramp and was on the verge of retiring, but some inner fortitude kept him riding. At Chatellrault, after a night of rain, the field as a whole stopped to change clothes and pick up their Derny pacers. At this moment two things happened; the Frenchman François Mahé attacked and Simpson, caught literally with his pants down, dropped them on the ground where the grease with which he had carefully covered the chamois picked up seemingly every piece of gravel and grit in sight! So in the rush to pursue Mahé Simpson found himself groping inside his shorts removing chunks of gravel! Furious at this unplanned incident, Simpson was little consoled by his Directeur Sportif, Gaston Plaud, explaining that Mahé's attack was aimed to benefit the Peugeot rider!

As the afternoon began, Simpson attacked in pursuit of his teamate, now more than seven minutes up the road. Remarkably, Anquetil was quickly onto his wheel, followed by his Ford-France teammate Jean Stablinski. The threesome caught and then dropped Mahé at the beginning of the Chevreuse Valley with just twenty miles to go. Two against one: on the final climbs before Paris, Stablinski and Anquetil attacked one after the other. Eventually it was Simpson who cracked. And which of the two Ford riders was it that was time trialling his way to the finish? Anquetil, of course, who rode in triumph into the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris; just 57 seconds later, the faithful "Stab" outsprinted Simpson to complete a Ford-France 1-2. Mahé lost over seven minutes in those last twenty miles, but still held on to fourth place. Geminiani's impossible double was thus not just achieved, but achieved with some style!