Christophe’s broken forks

A reconstruction in 1951 of the drama of 1913

Everybody with more than a passing interest in bike racing will know the story of Eugene Christophe’s broken forks on the descent of the Tourmalet in the 1913 Tour. He carried his broken bike eight kilometres to the village of Sainte Marie de Campan where he was directed to a blacksmith’s shop and with the assistance of a seven year old boy carried out a repair and was back on the road having lost four hours. He arrived in Luchon in last place with all hope gone of winning the Tour.

The old warrior was back for the start in 1919 and after three stages he was race leader and for the start of stage 11 he was awarded a yellow jersey following complaints from journalists that they could not pick out the race leader. As there were, at this stage, only eleven men surviving it would hardly seem to be the trickiest task.

By the penultimate stage of 468km from Metz to Dunkerque the future toe-clip maker had a lead of 28 minutes and victory looked certain. But can you imagine the state of the roads in northern France just eight months after the end of the Great War? They were too rough for Christophe’s forks and just outside Valenciennes they broke. This time he was in luck, sort of, as there was a workshop just one km up the road. He replaced the broken blades and was back in the saddle in just over an hour. Again he was last on the stage and again he had lost his yellow jersey and the Tour.

1 Comment »

  1. Wislon said

    He would have been 66 years old when this was done assuming it was him in the reconstruction.

    What unfortunate event would Greenjersey like to reconstruct from his racing days?

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