Vietto's great sacrifice


...once more Vietto was left silently weeping on his own by the roadside to wait the repair lorry...

This time there could be no controversy: the French were completely dominant, with Antonin Magne leading from the second day and the team taking nineteen of the twenty three stages. But for many people, the true hero was a young regional rider named René Vietto. The French selectors were roundly criticised for including a twenty-year old rider who had won little more than a few minor races in Provence, and these criticisms became more telling after Vietto lost ten minutes on the opening stage. But as the race wore on, Vietto gained in strength, and whilst his team captain Magne had assumed the lead from World Champion Georges Speicher, Vietto went on to record three stage wins on the run through the Alps, hauling himself from nowhere into third place overall.

As the leaders descended from l'Hospitalet to Ax-les-Thermes in the Pyrenees, however, who should suddenly stop with a smashed wheel than race-leader Magne? Selflessly, Vietto handed his leader his own wheel before waiting for the repair lorry. He lost five minutes that day, but more was to follow. The next day, Vietto was away on the Col de Portet d'Aspet, just ahead of a small group containing Magne. But when he looked round, Vietto once again saw Magne waving a smashed front wheel. Turning round in the road, Vietto rode back down to his leader and once more gave up his wheel, and once more was left silently weeping on his own by the roadside to wait the repair lorry. A lesser man would have been broken, but the young Vietto bounced back to win once more the next day over the Tourmalet and Aubisque, before finally limping in to Paris in fifth place: to this day Vietto swears he would have won the Tour but for that double misfortune.

This was the beginning of Vietto's great love affair with the Tour; an affair which was to bring more pain than pleasure. He was to hold the yellow jersey for a total of twenty six days; no-one else has held it for longer without also having won the Tour at some stage.

Stage winners

 StageWinnerOverall Leader
Stage 1Paris - Lille, 262kmGeorges SpeicherGeorges Speicher
Stage 2Lille - Charleville, 192kmRené Le GrèvesAntonin Magne
Stage 3Charleville - Metz, 161kmRoger LapébieMagne
Stage 4Metz - Belfort, 220kmLapébieMagne
Stage 5Belfort - Evian, 293kmLe GrèvesMagne
Stage 6Evian - Aix-les-Bains, 207kmSpeicherMagne
Stage 7Aix-les-Bains - Grenoble, 229kmRené ViettoMagne
Stage 8Grenoble - Gap, 102kmGuiseppe MartanoMagne
Stage 9Gap - Digne, 227kmViettoMagne
Stage 10Digne - Nice, 156kmLe GrèvesMagne
Stage 11Nice - Cannes, 126kmViettoMagne
Stage 12Cannes - Marseille, 195kmLapébieMagne
Stage 13Marseille - Montpellier, 168kmSpeicherMagne
Stage 14Montpellier - Perpignan, 166kmLapébieMagne
Stage 15Perpignan - Ax-les-Thermes, 158kmLapébieMagne
Stage 16Ax-les-Thermes - Luchon, 165kmAdriano VignoliMagne
Stage 17Luchon - Tarbes, 91kmAntonin MagneMagne
Stage 18Tarbes - Pau, 172kmViettoMagne
Stage 19Pau - Bordeaux, 233kmEttore MeiniMagne
Stage 20Bordeaux - La Rochelle, 183kmSpeicherMagne
Stage 21 ALa Rochelle - La Roche-sûr-Yon, 81kmLe GrèvesMagne
Stage 21 BLa Roche-sûr-Yon - Nantes, 90km TTMagneMagne
Stage 22Nantes - Caen, 275kmRaymond LouviotMagne
Stage 23Caen - Paris, 222kmSylvère MaesMagne

Results

Overall

1st: Antonin Magne, France, 4363km in 147h 13' 58" (30.360km/h)
2nd: Guiseppe Martano, Italy, @27' 31"
3rd: Roger Lapébie, France, @52' 15"
4th: Félicien Vervaecke, Belgium (Touriste - Routier), @57' 40"
5th: René Vietto, France, @59' 02"
6th: Ambrogio Morelli, Italy (Touriste - Routier), @1h 12' 02"
7th: Ludwig Geyer, Germany, @1h 12' 51"
8th: Sylvère Maes, Belgium (Touriste - Routier), @1h 20' 56"
9th: Mariano Cañardo, Spain (Switzerland - Spain), @1h 29' 02"
10th: Vincente Trueba, Spain (Switzerland - Spain), @1h 40' 39"

(39th: Antonio Folco, Italy, @7h 15' 36")

Mountains

1st: René Vietto, France, 111
2nd: Vincente Trueba, Spain (Switzerland - Spain), 93
3rd: Guiseppe Martano, Italy 78

Team

1st: France 443h 42' 41"
2nd: Italy @3h 09' 51"
3rd: Switzerland - Spain @3h 44' 24"