La Vuelta remembers Raymond Poulidor, winner in 1964

November 14 th 2019 - 09:39

 Raymond Poulidor passed away on the 13th of November 2019, aged 83. A cyclist that will go down in history as the Tour de France champion who never got to wear the yellow jersey (he made it onto the final podium eight times). The Frenchman, however, did wear La Vuelta’s yellow jersey in 1964, thus succeeding his compatriot and rival Jacques Anquetil.

"The eternal second place", as he was nicknamed, also won races, and at the top of his victory tally was La Vuelta 1964, the first out of the four he competed in (he came 2nd in 1965, 1967 and 1971). Despite his great performance that year and his historic duel with Jacques Anquetil on the slopes of Puy-de-Dôme during the Tour de France, Poulidor was not a favourite when La Vuelta 1964 took off from Benidorm. The favourites were actually the Ferrys team trident consisting of José Pérez Francés, Luis Otaño and Fernando Manzaneque. In the original peloton, made up of 80 participants, was another big name in international cycling at the time, Belgian rider Rik van Looy, who imposed his authority during the second stage, leading a group of 13 riders and winning the leader’s yellow jersey in Nules, with a 7-minute lead over the rest of the peloton.

Van Looy returned to Belgium following a fall during the fifth stage (between Barcelona and Puigcerdá). It was then that Pérez Francés took over the leadership before ceding it, in a fraternal struggle, to Otaño who shone in his land, the Basque Country, between Pamplona and San Sebastián (9th stage). Thanks to the attack by the team’s third rider, Manzaneque, during the 12th stage between Vitoria and Santander, the Ferrys trio was able to occupy the top three positions in the general classification. But their lack of communication went on to benefit the climber from Ávila, Julio Jiménez, who became leader in León on the eve of a decisive time-trial, on the way to Valladolid: 73 flat kms that did not work in his favour.

With only two days left for the finale in Madrid, it was time for Raymond Poulidor, an agressive cyclist by nature, to shine. He won the stage and the general classification with a 33-second lead over Otaño and 1’26” over Pérez Francés. In the capital, the public booed the Spanish duo when the Frenchman held up the winner’s trophy, flanked by the actresses Lina Morgan and Mary Santpere. La Vuelta and the world of cycling will always remember “Poupou”, a very popular champion, who we honour today. We offer our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

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