30 years ago today, shortly after 5:00 pm, I was sitting on the stoop outside the Nob Hill restaurant at which I worked in San Francisco, smoking a cigarette. The lunch rush was long over, and the dinner rush hadn’t started. It was hot; very hot that day. We called it earthquake weather. Little did we know. I was one of the lucky ones.
On June 28, 1969, a young Belgian cyclist, dressed in the white and red colors of the Faema squad and wearing dossard #51, took his place on the start-line of the 56th Tour de France; his first appearance. He almost didn’t start, however, and who knows what his career would have looked like had he not.
2019 marked a number of milestones for the Tour de France. It is the 30th anniversary of Greg LeMond’s 58-second defeat of Laurent Fignon. t is also the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first of five Tour de France victories in 1969. 2019 also marks the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the maillot jaune, the yellow jersey worn to signify the leader of the race, and that is a story in itself.
The father of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange likely turned over in his grave when the first Mavic Neutral Service car joined the caravan in 1973. In the early years of the Tour, riders were responsible for conducting their own repairs and were forbidden any outside assistance. So how did that first Mavic Neutral Service vehicle come to be?