A final fling for les Bleus


Leducq and Magne win the final stage of the Tour de France in 1938
Antonin Magne and André Leducq bowed out of the Tour in fine fashion, by winning the final stage together, five minutes ahead of the peloton. Note the primitive derailleur gears, allowed in the Tour for the first time in 1938.

This time Gino Bartali made no mistake. On reaching the Pyrenees, it was André Leducq who led, but on the stage from Pau to Luchon, Bartali attacked on the Col d'Aspin, dropping his two Belgian challengers, Félicien Vervaceke and Ward Vissers. Once again, though, bad luck struck; Bartali's wheel collapsed on the descent, and though he chased back valiantly to finish the stage third, less than a minute down on the two Belgians, Vervaecke won the stage and took the Yellow Jersey. Bartali was not finished, however. On the stage to Briançon, taking in the classic Alpine trilogy of Allos - Vars - Izoard, Bartali attacked with four of his team-mates on the Allos, where he won the prime and a bonus at the summit. By the summit of the Col de Vars, Vervaecke had been dropped; by the Izoard Bartali was alone, and he won in Briançon by over five minutes from his team-mate, Mario Vicino. More importantly, Vervaecke had lost over seventeen minutes and Vissers nearly twenty. Despite a difficult chase the following day after he punctured on the descent of the Col d'Iseran - included in the Tour for the first time - Bartali was never troubled again.

This Tour marked the end of individual participation in the Tour, the riders variously known as "Isoles", "Touristes Routiers" or "Individuels". Instead, along with twelve-man teams from Belgium, Italy, Germany and France and six-man Spanish, Swiss, Dutch and Luxembourg teams, the French entered two further teams. One, the "Cadets", contained the likes of André Leducq, René Vietto and Raymond Louviot; it was a kind of French "B" team. The second, the "Bleuets", was a kind of youth team; the best known names were Eloi Tassin and Jo Goutorbe. But the great days of the French riders were over; Leducq, Magne, Speicher, Lapébie, Pélissier, Le Grèves, Archambaud, Vietto, Louviot, Merviel and Moineau had worn the colours with distinction and dominated the race for a decade, but there were to be a World War and nearly two decades between Magne's last victory and Louison Bobet's first. But there was to be one last great act; on the final stage of the 1938 Tour, Antonin Magne and André Leducq broke away together; they finished arm in arm with five minutes lead on the peloton. This was to be Leducq's twenty-fifth and final Tour de France stage win; only Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault subsequently won more.

Stage winners

 StageWinnerOverall Leader
Stage 1Paris - Caen, 215kmWilli OberbeckWilli Oberbeck
Stage 2Caen - St Brieuc, 237kmJean MarjerusJean Marjerus
Stage 3St Brieuc - Nantes, 238kmGerrit SchulteMarjerus
Stage 4 ANantes - La Roche-sûr-Yon, 62kmEloi MeulenbergMarjerus
Stage 4 BLa Roche-sûr-Yon - La Rochelle, 83kmMeulenbergMarjerus
Stage 4 CLa Rochelle - Royan, 83kmFélicien VervaeckeMarjerus
Stage 5Royan - Bordeaux, 198kmMeulenbergMarjerus
Stage 6 ABordeaux - Arcachon, 52.5kmJules RossiMarjerus
Stage 6 BArcachon - Bayonne, 171kmGlauco ServadeiAndré Leducq
Stage 7Bayonne - Pau, 115kmThéo MiddelkampLeducq
Stage 8Pau - Luchon, 115kmVervaeckeFélicien Vervaecke
Stage 9Luchon - Perpignan, 260kmJean FréchautVervaecke
Stage 10 APerpignan - Narbonne, 63kmAntoon Van SchendelVervaecke
Stage 10 BNarbonne - Beziers, 27km TTVervaeckeVervaecke
Stage 10 CBeziers - Montpellier, 73kmAntonin MagneVervaecke
Stage 11Montpellier - Marseille, 223kmGino BartaliVervaecke
Stage 12Marseille - Cannes, 223kmFréchautVervaecke
Stage 13Cannes - Digne-les-Bains, 284kmDante GianelloVervaecke
Stage 14Digne-les-Bains - Briançon, 219kmBartaliGino Bartali
Stage 15Briançon - Aix-les-Bains, 311kmMarcel KintBartali
Stage 16Aix-les-Bains - Besançon, 284kmKintBartali
Stage 17 ABesançon - Belfort, 89.5kmEmile Masson Jr.Bartali
Stage 17 BBelfort - Strasbourg, 143kmFréchautBartali
Stage 18Strasbourg - Metz, 186kmKintBartali
Stage 19Metz - Reims, 196kmFabien GalateauBartali
Stage 20 AReims - Laon, 48kmServadeiBartali
Stage 20 BLaon - St Quentin, 42km TTVervaeckeBartali
Stage 20 CSt Quentin - Lille, 107kmFrançois NeuvilleBartali
Stage 21Lille - Paris, 279kmAntonin Magne and André Leducq, equalBartali

Results

Overall

1st: Gino Bartali, Italy, 4694km in 148h 29' 12" (31.565km/h)
2nd: Félicien Vervaecke, Belgium, @18' 27"
3rd: Victor Cosson, France, @29' 26"
4th: Ward Vissers, Belgium, @35' 08"
5th: Matt Clemens, Luxembourg, @42' 08"
6th: Mario Vicini, Italy, @44' 59"
7th: Jules Lowie, Belgium, @48' 56"
8th: Antonin Magne, France, @49' 00"
9th: Marcel Kint, Belgium, @59' 49"
10th: Dante Gianello, France (Bleuets), @1h 06' 47"

(55th: Janus Hellemons, The Netherlands, @5h 02' 34")

Mountains

1st: Gino Bartali, Italy, 108
2nd: Félicien Vervaecke, Belgium, 78
3rd: Edward Vissers, Belgium, 76

Team

1st: Belgium 447h 10' 07"
2nd: France @43' 29"
3rd: Italy @44' 06"