Victory for the Little Chimney Sweep

The start of the inaugaral Tour de France
The sixty riders in the first ever Tour de France gather at the Café au Reveil Matin in Paris prior to the start of the event. Several weeks and 2428km later, twenty-one of them made it back to the finish at the Parc des Princes, led home by Maurice Garin.

And so finally they were off, a rag-bag of sponsored riders and adventurers. The difference was soon clear; the great Maurice Garin won the first stage narrowly from Emile Pagìe and was never headed thereafter. Garin's main opposition was considered to come from Hippolyte Aucouturier, but illness forced his withdrawl on the first stage. For that inaugaral Tour, however, the rules allowed a rider to enter stages individually. Thus permitted, Aucouturier won the next two stages (without, of course, being classified overall). The fourth stage went to the Swiss Charles Laeser, another rider to benefit from the re-entry rule, but Garin reasserted himself on the last two stages to win comfortably - indeed with the largest ever winning margin - from the revelation of the race Lucien Pothier.

When the race finished, Desgranges rushed out a special edition of 130,000 copies of l'Auto. The success of the race (and the paper) seemed assured. Nothing could be further from the truth: in 1904 the race was all but killed by its own popularity, a story for the next part of this saga...

Stage winners

 StageWinnerOverall Leader
Stage 1Paris - Lyon, 467kmMaurice GarinMaurice Garin
Stage 2Lyon - Marseille, 374kmHippolyte AucouturierMaurice Garin
Stage 3Marseille - Toulouse, 423kmHippolyte AucouturierMaurice Garin
Stage 4Toulouse - Bordeaux, 268kmCharles LaeserMaurice Garin
Stage 5Bordeaux - Nantes, 425kmMaurice GarinMaurice Garin
Stage 6Nantes - Paris, 471kmMaurice GarinMaurice Garin

In a nutshell



1st: Maurice Garin, (France), 2428km in 94h 33' 14" (26.450km/h)
2nd: Lucien Pothier, (France), @ 2 49' 21"
3rd: Fernand Augereau, (France), @ 4h 29' 24"
4th: Rodolfo Muller, (Italy), @ 4h 39' 30"
5th: Jean Fischer, (France), @ 4h 58' 44"
6th: Marcel Kerff, (Belgium), @ 5h 52' 24"
7th: Julien Lootens, (Belgium), @ 9h 31' 08"
8th: Georges Pasquier, (France), @ 10h 24' 04"
9th: François Beaugendre, (France), @ 10h 52' 14"
10th: Aloîs Catteau, (Belgium), @ 12h 44' 57"

(21st: Arsène Millocheau, (France), @ 64h 57' 08")