Eugène Christophe, Ste. Marie de Campan and the forge


When Christophe asked a small boy present to work the bellows, Desgrange fined him 10 minutes - despite Christophe having, by this stage, already lost about four hours.

The Tour reverted back to a classification based on time, and straight away gave rise to one of the most famous incidents in of all time in the Tour: the story of the forge in Ste. Marie de Campan.

The crucial stage was stage 6, Bayonne to Luchon in the Pyrenees. Leading the race overall was the 1912 winner, Odile Defraye but he was long dropped, and the leader on the road was Eugène Christophe. At the top of the Tourmalet, Christiophe led by five minutes from a group containing Philippe Thys, Lucien Petit-Breton, Gustave Garrigou and Firmin Lambot - Tour winners of the past or future all. On the descent of the Tourmalet, however, Christophe crashed after his forks snapped: nothing for it but to collect the pieces and find a forge. Half running, half stumbling, cutting through the undergrowth on occasions to cut away a bend, eventually Christophe reached the village of Ste. Marie de Campan. Finding a forge, he lit the fire, shaped a piece of metal and repaired his bicycle - all under the watchful eye of Henri Desgrange, there to see he didn't cheat. When Christophe asked a small boy present to work the bellows, Desgrange fined him 10 minutes - despite Christophe having, by this stage, already lost about four hours.

With Christophe gone from the final reckoning - gallantly he carried on, to finish seventh overall in Paris - the lead was taken by Philippe Thys of Belgium. Going into the penultimate stage his lead of over an hour looked secure, especially when second-placed rider Lucien Petit-Breton dropped out after a crash. But Thys was not yet home and dry; a spectacular collapse on the road to Dunkerque saw him lose 56 minutes, and with it, most of his lead, to Gustave Garrigou. It was a somewhat relieved Thys who reached Paris the next day to win his first Tour.

As for the forge, it still stands, with a commemorative inscription added by the French state - the buliding is now an official monument. After descending the Tourmalet, it can be seen on the right of the road, as you exit the village down the Adour valley.

Stage winners

 StageWinnerOverall Leader
Stage 1Paris - Le Havre, 388kmGiovanni MichelottoGiovanni Michelotto
Stage 2Le Havre - Cherbourg, 364kmJules MasselisJules Masselis, Odile Defraye, Marcel Buysse and Alfons Lauwers, equal
Stage 3Cherbourg - Brest, 405kmHenri PélissierOdile Defraye
Stage 4Brest - La Rochelle, 470kmMarcel BuysseOdile Defraye
Stage 5La Rochelle - Bayonne, 379kmHenri Van LebergheOdile Defraye
Stage 6Bayonne - Luchon, 326kmPhilippe ThysPhilippe Thys
Stage 7Luchon - Perpignan, 323kmMarcel BuysseMarcel Buysse
Stage 8Perpignan - Aix-en-Provence, 325kmGustave GarrigouMarcel Buysse
Stage 9Aix-en-Provence - Nice, 356kmFirmin LambotPhilippe Thys
Stage 10Nice - Grenoble, 333kmFrançois FaberPhilippe Thys
Stage 11Grenoble - Geneva, 325kmMarcel BuyssePhilippe Thys
Stage 12Geneva - Belfort, 325kmMarcel BuyssePhilippe Thys
Stage 13Belfort - Longwy, 336kmFrançois FaberPhilippe Thys
Stage 14Longwy - Dunkerque, 393kmMarcel BuyssePhilippe Thys
Stage 15Dunkerque - Paris, 340kmMarcel BuyssePhilippe Thys

In a nutshell

Results

Overall

1st: Philippe Thys, (Belgium), Peugeot, 5387km in 197h 54' 00" (27.625km/h)
2nd: Gustave Garrigou, (France), Peugeot, @ 8' 37"
3rd: Marcel Buysse, (Belgium), Peugeot, @ 3h 30' 55"
4th: Firmin Lambot, (Belgium), Griffon, @ 4h 12' 45"
5th: François Faber, (Luxembourg), Peugeot, @ 6h 26' 04"
6th: Alfons Spiessens, (Belgium), J.B. Louvet, @ 7h 57' 52"
7th: Eugène Christophe, (France), Peugeot, @14h 06' 35"
8th: Camillo Bertarelli, (Italy), "Isole", @ 16h 15' 38"
9th: Joseph Van Daele, (Belgium), J.B. Louvet, @ 16h 39' 53"
10th: Emile Engel, (France), Peugeot, @ 16h 52' 34"

(25th: Henri Alavoine, (France), "Isole", @ 76h 55' 52")