By Graham Healy
In 1965, Jacques Anquetil achieved a remarkable double when he won the eight-day Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in the Alps and the 557-km Bordeaux-Paris directly afterwards.
The Dauphiné finished on May 31st at 3.00pm with Bordeaux-Paris starting on the other side of the country at 1.30am the following morning. It was a remarkable idea to aim to win both that had been conceived by his manager Raphael Geminiani.
It had been a tough Dauphiné that year as the riders faced terrible weather. On the third stage from Saint-Etienne to Oyonnax, Anquetil took the stage win and two days later on the stage to Chambery, he took another stage win ahead of his nemesis Raymond Poulidor. He sealed the overall victory with a third stage win two days later, a 38-kilometre time-trial from Saint-Marcellin to Romans. Poulidor and Karl-Heinz Kunde completed the podium.
Following on from his win in Dauphiné, Anquetil showered, stayed around for interviews for a couple of hours and ate a meal of steak tartare and two beers before catching a flight from Nîmes to Bordeaux to start the second race where he would line up against the likes of Tom Simpson and Jean Stablinski.
Rumours would later emerge that the plane made available for Anquetil had been paid for by the state on the orders of President Charles de Gaulle.
Anquetil managed a small nap in Bordeaux before getting up at midnight for his pre-race meal before travelling to the northern suburbs of Bordeaux.
That night in the first few hours of the race, Anquetil struggled as he suffered from stomach cramps but he persevered. He had considered quitting but Géminiani had apparently sworn at Anquetil and called him “a great poof” to offend his pride and keep him going.
Half-way through the race, the peloton stopped to change out of their wet clothes following a night of rain and they would then complete the race behind derny pacers.
At the break, one of the Peugeot riders, François Mahé, took off and his team-mate Tom Simpson would take up the chase. Simpson was apparently furious with Mahé for attacking whilst the others were changing. In his haste to get back on the bike, Simpson had pulled up his shorts with pieces of gravel sticking to his chamois, which he then had to remove.
Anquetil and Stablinski joined Simpson in the chase. The trio caught and dropped Mahé at the Chevreuse Valley with just 30 kilometres remaining. The French team mates then took turns to attack Simpson on the way into Paris, and they eventually cracked the Englishman.
Anquetil was the one who managed to get away and he soloed to the finish. Stablinski outsprinted Simpson on the Parc des Princes track 57″ later to complete a Ford-France 1-2. He had achieved the remarkable double after an incredibly tough battle and the French public seemed to appreciate this feat more than any of his other big wins.
Amazingly enough, the following day Anquetil made the journey to Maubeuge in north-eastern France to race in a criterium.