By Graham Healy
When Chris Froome won the Vuelta a España on Sunday, he became just the third rider to have won the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same season. It hasn’t happened since 1978 when Bernard Hinault won both races and prior to that, it was Jacques Anquetil who achieved the feat back in 1963, becoming the first rider to do so.
Anquetil had aimed to achieve the double the previous year, but in the 1962 Vuelta, he had pulled out two days from the end of the race. The Frenchman had said he was ill, while others said he had been frustrated at not being able to overtake his team mate, Rudi Altig, in the final time trial. It was thought by many that Anquetil could not stand to see his team mate win the race overall, so withdrew. He did go on to win the Tour though.
So, in 1963, Anquetil decided he would go for the Vuelta-Tour double again. If he could win the Vuelta, he would also become the first rider to win all three Grand Tours.
The Vuelta back then was just two weeks long, and Anquetil took over the leader’s jersey on Stage 1b, a 52-kilometre time-trial from Mieres-Gijon. He won that stage by over two minutes.
That year’s race wasn’t particularly mountainous, and the route was said to have been designed to help entice Anquetil to Spain. After taking the leader’s yellow jersey, Anquetil’s St. Raphael team were easily able to defend his lead.
Surprisingly enough, Anquetil didn’t win the second time-trial from Sitges-Tarragona, where Miguel Pacheco was fastest. However, his overall lead was never in doubt and Anquetil won the race three days later in Madrid.
The St. Raphael team dominated the race. In addition to Anquetil winning overall, Bas Maliepaard won the points classification, and the team also won multiple stages through Guy Ignolin, Jean Stablinski, Shay Ellliott, as well as the stage wins of Anquetil and Maliepaard. Unsurprisingly, they also won the team classification.
1963 Vuelta a Espana – Final General Classification
1 Jacques Anquetil St.Raphael-Gitane 64h 46′ 20s
2 José Martin Perez Faema at 3′ 06s
3 Miguel Pacheco Font Kas-Kaskol at 3′ 32s
4 Bas Maliepaard St.Raphael-Gitane at 5′ 06s
5 Francisco Gabica Kas-Kaskol at 7′ 57s
6 Antonio Suarez Faema at 8′ 13s
7 Eusebio Velez Kas-Kaskol at 8′ 34s
8 Antonio Gomez Del Moral Faema at 9′ 10s
9 Jean Stablinski St.Raphael-Gitane at 9′ 31s
10 Guillaume Van Tongerloo GBC-Libertas at 10′ 48s
He had five weeks to recover before he attempted to win the Tour for a record fourth time. Anquetil showed that he was still on form when he won Stage 6b, a 25-kilometre time-trial. However, it was the Belgian rider Gilbert Desmet who moved into the yellow jersey. Anquetil would also go on to win the first big mountainous stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Bigorre. It had been a big surprise to see Anquetil to win such a difficult mountainous stage.
The other favourites were hoping to gain some time in the Pyrenees but they couldn’t shake off Anquetil on any of the other mountainous stages. However, as the race moved into the Alps, Federico Bahamontes emerged as a contender, as he won the stage from Saint-Étienne to Grenoble. He was now ahead of Anquetil on GC.
Two days later, on the seventeenth stage from Val d’Isère to Chamonix, Anquetil’s canny directeur sportif, Raphael Geminiani, came up with a plan to help Anquetil. The rules those days forbade bike changes, unless for mechanical reasons. They faked a mechanical issue with Geminiani snipping through a gear cable, claiming that it had snapped.
This allowed Anquetil to swap to a lighter bike for the Col de la Forclaz. Anquetil went on to win that stage and took over the yellow jersey. Two days later, he won the final time-trial. At the finish in Paris, his lead over Bahamontes was over three and a half minutes. He had completed the Vuelta-Tour double.
1963 Tour de France – Final General Classification
1 Jacques Anquetil (FRA) Saint Raphaël 113h 30′ 05″
2 Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Margnat +3′ 35″
3 José Perez-Frances (ESP) Ferrys +10′ 14″
4 Jean-Claude Lebaube (FRA) Saint Raphaël +11′ 55″
5 Armand Desmet (BEL) Faema-Flandria +15′ 00″
6 Angelino Soler (ESP) Faema-Flandria +15′ 04″
7 Renzo Fontona (ITA) I.B.A.C.-Molteni +15′ 27″
8 Raymond Poulidor (FRA) Mercier +16′ 46″
9 Hans Junkermann (FRG) Wiel’s +18′ 53″
10 Rik Van Looy (BEL) GBC-Libertas +19′ 24″