1961 Jacques Anquetil Became the First to Win Four Straight Tours in 1961
Jacques Anquetil won the Tour de France four years in a row
from 1961 to 1964.
He was the first to achieve this feat. And because of his 1957 victory, he also became the first man to rack up five total Tour de France wins.
Anquetil also won the Giro d’Italia in 1960 and 1964, as well as the Vuelta a España in 1963. But with such an impressive record, why wasn’t he more popular?
Anquetil kept his head low to minimize air resistance and peddled to a rhythm with metronome-like accuracy. His skill in the time trials earned him the nickname “Monsieur Chrono” (meaning “Mister Clock”).
Set the Standard on How to Win the Tour de France
That standard way to win was buying time in the time trials, then minimizing gaps by sticking to climbers in the mountain stages. Suppress foes, but do not aggressively attack. Focus on the win, but know your limits and cycle efficiently. Anquetil was so strong the media portrayed him like a villain, forging his image as a cool and calculating competitor.
Pou-Pou, the Popular “Eternal Second”
Meanwhile, Anquetil’s rival, Raymond Poulidor, was a fellow with a tough look on his face they called “Pou-Pou.” He is still an incredibly popular cyclist.
During his 17-year career, Poulidor appeared in 14 Tour de Frances and finished 12.
He placed second on three occasions and third on five. At the age of 40, the year before his retirement, Poulidor came in third.
No one has ascended the podium more times, and yet he never had a day wearing the maillot jaune.
He picked a terrible era to compete in. When the champion Anquetil left the scene, Poulidor found himself blocked by Merckx and stuck as the “Eternal Second.”
Once, Anquetil was suffering an upset stomach from sheep barbeque, but he put on a false show of strength that caused
Poulidor to think twice about attacking. Another time, Poulidor made the wrong number of laps. He certainly wasn’t lacking in power, and he remained focused, but Poulidor still could not win. That was why fans loved him, and perhaps they loved him so much it made Anquetil envious.