The lamb transformed into a lion


Never was it possible for us to write: 'Today Fausto was mistaken'. His legs never betrayed him, neither did his legs or his brains...I ask myself if ever in the course of the history of the Tour de France a winner knew how to ally more strength to more wisdom, patience and intelligence.
- André Leducq

Absent in 1950 after a crash in the Giro; depressed and out of form in 1951 after the death of his brother Serse, 1952 was the year that Fausto Coppi was determined to renew his dominance in the Tour de France. And with what style did he do so! So complete was the dominance of the Campionissiomo that the organisers had to double the prizes for second and third place to preserve interest in the race.

Seemingly whenever the road went upwards, Coppi was in a class of his own. Having proved his form in the opening time trial, the rout started on l'Alpe d'Huez, used in the Tour for the first time. Once again it was the Breton rider Jean Robic who was first on the attack, but halfway up the climb Coppi moved smoothly past to win alone by over a minute, claiming the yellow jersey in the process. The next day the attack came much earlier, halfway up the Col du Galibier. Moving past early attacker Jean Le Guilly, Coppi set out on his own with seventy five kilometres still to ride to the finish in Sestrière: by the finish, his lead had stretched to seven minutes over second placed rider Bernardo Ruiz. In two days, Coppi had moved from being four minutes behind his gregario Andrea Carrea to being nearly twenty minutes ahead of his closest challenger, Alex Close.

The domination was total; when Coppi punctured on the way to Monaco, Gino Bartali was on hand to give him a wheel, burying years of enmity in the process. In Avignon, after Mont Ventoux, Robic was the winner, but as if to show who was boss, Coppi evaded the pack for a narrow victory in the Pyrenees, then won again on the Puy de Dôme (also included in the Tour for the first time). He could afford to take a leisurely stroll through the closing time trial; by Paris, his lead was 28 minutes on Stan Ockers and more than thirty on Bernardo Ruiz and the amazing Gino Bartali, now 38 years old and fourth in the Tour de France. "Irresistible just as he had been in Paris - Roubaix", wrote André Leducq, "the lamb was transformed into a lion".

Stage winners

 StageWinnerOverall Leader
Stage 1Brest - Rennes, 246kmRik Van SteenbergenRik Van Steenbergen
Stage 2Rennes - Le Mans, 181kmAndré RosseelVan Steenbergen
Stage 3Le Mans - Rouen, 189kmNello LaurediNello Lauredi
Stage 4Rouen - Roubaix, 232kmPierre MolinerisLauredi
Stage 5Roubaix - Namur, 197kmJean DiederichLauredi
Stage 6Namur - Metz, 228kmFiorenzo MagniFiorenzo Magni
Stage 7Metz - Nancy, 60km TTFausto CoppiLauredi
Stage 8Nancy - Mulhouse, 252kmRaphaël GeminianiMagni
Stage 9Mulhouse - Lausanne, 238kmWalter DiggelmannAndrea Carrea
Stage 10Lausanne - l'Alpe d'Huez, 266kmCoppiFausto Coppi
Stage 11Le Bourg d'Oisans - Sestriere, 182kmCoppiCoppi
Stage 12Sestriere - Monaco, 251kmJan NoltenCoppi
Stage 13Monaco - Aix-en-Provence, 214kmRaoul RémyCoppi
Stage 14Aix-en-Provence - Avignon, 178kmJean RobicCoppi
Stage 15Avignon - Perpignan, 275kmGeorges DecauxCoppi
Stage 16Perpignan - Toulouse, 200kmRosseelCoppi
Stage 17Toulouse - Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 182kmGeminianiCoppi
Stage 18Bagnères-de-Bigorre - Pau, 149kmCoppiCoppi
Stage 19Pau - Bordeaux, 195kmHans DekkersCoppi
Stage 20Bordeaux - Limoges, 228kmJacques VivierCoppi
Stage 21Limoges - Le Puy de Dôme, 245kmCoppiCoppi
Stage 22Clermont-Ferrand - Vichy, 63km TTMagniCoppi
Stage 23Vichy - Paris, 354kmAntonin RollandCoppi

In a nutshell

Results

Overall

1st: Fausto Coppi, Italy, 4807km in 151h 57' 20" (32.233km/h)
2nd: Stan Ockers, Belgium, @ 28' 17"
3rd: Bernardo Ruiz, Spain, @ 34' 38"
4th: Gino Bartali, Italy, @ 35' 25"
5th: Jean Robic, France, @ 35' 36"
6th: Fiorenzo Magni, Italy, @ 38' 25"
7th: Alex Close, Belgium, @ 38' 32"
8th: Jean Dotto, France, @ 48' 01"
9th: Andrea Carrea, Italy, @ 50' 28"
10th: Antonio Gelabert, Spain, @ 58' 16"

(78th: Henri Parret, France (Afrique du Nord) 7h 15' 09")

Mountains

1st: Fausto Coppi, Italy, 92
2nd: Antonio Gelabert, Spain, 69
3rd: Jean Robic, France, 60

Team

1st: Italy 455h 56' 50"
2nd: France @ 25' 16"
3rd: Belgium @ 55' 36"