The Link: Philippe Tesnière’s race to the Bottom of the Tour de France

Tour de France – stage 1a, June 27, 1980

 

From issue 17.4, on sale now

 

The lanterne rouge, that contentious poisoned chalice awarded to the last placed Tour finisher, reached its nadir in 1979, thanks in part to the antics of Philippe Tesnière.

 

Race director Félix Lévitan was not enamoured with the idea of riders competing to finish last, which Tesnière and Gerhard Schönbacher did their utmost to do. Where the Austrian went, the Frenchman followed, and vice versa, in a race to the bottom of the pile.

 

Tesnière, defending his 1978 ‘title’, had the upper hand going into the time-trial on stage 21, but finally made an error of judgement regarding the time cut. Winner Bernard Hinault smashed around the course in Dijon, while Tesnière bumbled along casually, only to find himself outside the 20 per cent limit. And out of the race. Schönbacher got his precious lanterne rouge.

 

Tesnière changed tactics the following year, here attacking on the road to Wiesbaden and bagging the polka dot jersey in the process.

 

Your suggestions to follow on from this tale of anti-racing for issue 17.5 please. Intense rivals busy eyeing each other while the race escapes them? Time cut mishaps? Riders who have reinvented their careers out of necessity? Email the connection and the story to link@rouleur.cc

 

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