Thys in spite of Pélissier

picture of Henri Pélissier
Henri Pélissier just failed to win the 1914 Tour de France after, he claimed, being baulked by spectators in the run in to the finish in Dunkerque. He eventually went on to win the Tour in 1923.

The 1914 Tour marked the final ever event before the Great War changed life for good. Indeed, it only just occurred: within hours of the starter's pistol being fired in Paris on 28th June 1914, Gavrilio Princip had fired a far more devastating shot for Serbian nationalism. As the 147 Touristes made their way around France, the clockwork timetables of the Great Powers conspired to plunge Europe into a devastating war

One wonders how much all this effected the race, or the minds of the riders. Sufficient to say, Philippe Thys took a strong lead after his teammate Henri Pélissier faltered in the Pyrenees. Pelissier fought back, but once again, a mechanical incident had a hand in determining the race. When Thys' forks broke on the way to Dunkerque, Thys dashed into a nearby bicycle shop and begged the owner to fix them. The owner protested that to do so would land Thys with a penalty, but Thys was prepared to take the risk: better than most others, perhaps, he knew what had happened to Eugène Christophe in 1913. Soon on his way, Thys was able to catch the leaders by the finish. He was fined: 30 minutes, which cut his lead from 31'50" to just 1'50". Nonethless, he held on, once again, to win in Paris - perhaps, by now, he was getting used to the drama.

And that was it until 1919. When the peloton reassembled for that Tour, it was without a host of great riders: Lucien Petit-Breton, Octave Lapize, François Faber, Edouard Wattelier, Emile Engel... The loss would be felt for years to come.

Stage winners

 StageWinnerOverall Leader
Stage 1Paris - Le Havre, 388kmPhilippe ThysPhilippe Thys
Stage 2Le Havre - Cherbourg, 364kmJean RossiusPhilippe Thys and Jean Rossius, equal
Stage 3Cherbourg - Brest, 405kmEmile EngelPhilippe Thys and Jean Rossius, equal
Stage 4Brest - La Rochelle, 470kmOscar EggPhilippe Thys and Jean Rossius, equal
Stage 5La Rochelle - Bayonne, 379kmOscar EggPhilippe Thys and Jean Rossius, equal
Stage 6Bayonne - Luchon, 326kmFirmin LambotPhilippe Thys
Stage 7Luchon - Perpignan, 323kmJean AlavoinePhilippe Thys
Stage 8Perpignan - Marseille, 370kmOctave LapizePhilippe Thys
Stage 9Marseille - Nice, 356kmJean RossiusPhilippe Thys
Stage 10Nice - Grenoble, 323kmHenri PélissierPhilippe Thys
Stage 11Grenoble - Geneva, 325kmGustave GarrigouPhilippe Thys
Stage 12Geneva - Belfort, 325kmHenri PélissierPhilippe Thys
Stage 13Belfort - Longwy, 325kmFrançois FaberPhilippe Thys
Stage 14Longwy - Dunkerque, 390kmFrançois FaberPhilippe Thys
Stage 15Dunkerque - Paris, 340kmHenri PélissierPhilippe Thys

In a nutshell



1st: Philippe Thys, (Belgium), Peugeot-Wolber, 5405km in 200h 28' 48" (27.028km/h)
2nd: Henri Pélissier, (France), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 1' 50"
3rd: Jean Alavoine, (France), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 36' 53"
4th: Jean Rossius, (Belgium), Alcyon-Soly, @ 1h 57' 05"
5th: Gustave Garrigou, (France), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 3h 00' 21"
6th: Alfons Spiessens, (Belgium), J.B. Louvet-Continental, @ 3h 53' 55"
7th: Emile Georget, (Belgium), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 4h 20' 59"
8th: Firmin Lambot, (Belgium), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 5h 08' 44"
9th: François Faber, (Luxembourg), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 6h 15' 53"
10th: Louis Heusghem, (Belgium), Peugeot-Wolber, @ 7h 49' 02"

(54th: Henri Leclerc, (France), "Isole", @ 99h 04' 45")