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1979 Tour de France

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1979 Tour de France

1979 Tour de France
Race details
Dates 27 June–22 July 1979
Stages 24+Prologue
Distance 3,720.4 km (2,312 mi)
Winning time 103h 06' 50" (36.513 km/h or 22.688 mph)
Winner  Bernard Hinault (France) (Renault)
Second  Joop Zoetemelk (Netherlands) (Miko–Mercier)
Third  Joaquim Agostinho (Portugal) (Flandria)

Points  Bernard Hinault (France) (Renault)
Mountains  Giovanni Battaglin (Italy) (Inoxpran)
Youth  Jean-René Bernaudeau (France) (Renault)
Sprints  Willy Teirlinck (Belgium) (KAS)
Team Renault
Team Points Renault

The 1979 Tour de France was the 66th Tour de France, taking place June 27 to July 22, 1979. The total race distance was 24 stages over 3765 km, with riders averaging 36.513 km/h.[1] It was the only tour to finish at Alpe d'Huez twice. It was won by Bernard Hinault, who also won the points classification, and whose team won both team classifications. The mountains classification was won by Giovanni Battaglin, and the young rider classification was won by Jean-René Bernaudeau.


  • Difference from the 1978 Tour de France 1
  • Participants 2
  • Race details 3
  • Stages 4
  • Results 5
    • General classification 5.1
    • Points classification 5.2
    • Mountains classification 5.3
    • Team classification 5.4
    • Team points classification 5.5
    • Young rider classification 5.6
    • Intermediate sprints classification 5.7
    • Other classifications 5.8
  • Doping 6
  • Aftermath 7
  • References 8

Difference from the 1978 Tour de France

In previous years, the team time trials only counted for the team classification, and not for the general classification, except for the bonifications. From 1979 on, the team trial also counted for the general classification.[2]

Since 1975, the

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour de France: 1965-2007. Dog Ear Publishing. pp. 117–122.  
  3. ^ a b c d "Bonificaties en punten". Het vrije volk (in Dutch) (De Arbeiderspers). 28 June 1979. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Tour de France zonder halve etappes". Leeuwarder courant (in Dutch) (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). 23 June 1979. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Christopher S. (2008). The Tour de France: A Cultural History. University of California Press. p. 48.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f "66ème Tour de France 1979" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Historique du Tour de France - Year 1979: The starters". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Boyce, Barry (2010). "66th Tour de France 1979: A Hinault-Zoetemelk Battle". Cycling Revealed. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "The Tour, year 1979". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Tour: Clasificaciones Oficiales". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 19 July 1979. p. 21. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "66ème Tour de France 21ème étape". Memoire du Cyclisme (in French). Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Kostbare vergissing Tesnière". Leidsch Dagblad (in Dutch) (Regionaal Archief Leiden). 20 July 1979. p. 9. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  13. ^ Beerthuyzen, Maurice (29 July 2007). "Gerhard Schönbacher: de koning van de rode lantaarn". Sportgeschiedenis (in Dutch). Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  14. ^ "Tour '79: kort maar hevig". De Waarheid (in Dutch) (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). 2 November 1978. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. Retrieved 15 Aug 2011. 
  17. ^ a b c Christian, Sarah (2 July 2009). "Tour de France demystified - Evaluating success". Ltd. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "TDF guides: White jersey".  
  19. ^ Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Intermediate Sprints Classification". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  20. ^ Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard.  
  21. ^ Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Other Classifications & Awards". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  22. ^ a b c d e "Clasificaciones oficiales". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 23 July 1979. p. 29. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  23. ^ "Tour-eindstanden". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 23 July 1979. p. 13. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Zoetemelk strijdlustigste". Leeuwarder Courant (in Dutch) (De krant van toen). 23 July 1979. p. 13. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  25. ^ Thompson, Christopher S. (2008). The Tour de France: A Cultural History. University of California Press. p. 47.  
  26. ^ de Mondenard, Jean-Pierre (2004). Dictionnaire du dopage (in French). Elsevier Masson. p. 800.  
  27. ^ "Battaglin positivo". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 16 July 1979. p. 32. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  28. ^ "Geen dopinggevallen in laatste Tourweek". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De Krant van Toen). 25 July 1979. p. 7. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "Zoetemelk geeft gebruik van verboden middelen in Tour toe". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch) (De Krant van Toen). 16 August 1979. p. 1. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 


The Tour organisation did not like the attention that the last-placed riders received, and for the next year made a new rule that after several stages the last-placed cyclist in the general classification would be removed from the race.


After the race finished, Joop Zoetemelk was found to have used doping, which he confessed later. Zoetemelk was fined with 10 minutes in the general classification, but kept his second place.[29]

After the 17th stage, it was announced that Giovanni Battaglin, leader of the mountains classification, had tested positive after the 13th stage. He received a penalty of 10 minutes in the general classification, and lost all mountain points that he collected during that 13th stage, and an extra penalty of 10 points.[27] Frans Van Looy and Gilbert Chaumaz also tested positive for doping.[28]

For the first time in the Tour de France, doping tests were able to find anabolicals. The doping tests were performed by Manfred Donike in his lab in Köln.[26]


The combativity award was initially given to Joop Zoetemelk;[24] he was later disqualified after his doping offence (see below) and Hennie Kuiper received the award.[6] In addition to the classifications above, there were several minor classifications; in total the 1979 Tour de France contained sixteen competitions, each with its own sponsor.[25]

Other classifications

Final general classification (1–10)[6]
Rank Name Team Time
1  Bernard Hinault (FRA) Renault 103h 06' 50"
2  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) Miko +3' 07"
3  Joaquim Agostinho (POR) Flandria +26' 53"
4  Hennie Kuiper (NED) Peugeot +28' 02"
5  Jean-René Bernaudeau (FRA) Renault +32' 43"
6  Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) Inoxpran +38' 12"
7  Jo Maas (NED) DAF +38' 38"
8  Paul Wellens (BEL) Raleigh +39' 06"
9  Claude Criquielion (BEL) KAS +40' 38"
10  Dietrich Thurau (GER) IJsboerke +44' 35"

General classification

For the team classification, the times of the best four cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time. The riders in the team that lead this classification wore yellow caps.[20] There was also a team points classification. After each stage, the stage rankings of the best three cyclists per team were added, and the team with the least total lead this classification, and were identified by green caps.[21]

The fifth individual classification was the intermediate sprints classification. This classification had similar rules as the points classification, but only points were awarded on intermediate sprints. In 1979, this classification had no associated jersey.[19]

Another classification was the young rider classification. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but cyclists under 24 were eligible,[3] and the leader wore a white jersey.[18]

There was also a hors catégorie, first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorized climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a polkadot jersey.[17]

Additionally, there was a points classification, where cyclists got points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.[17]

There were several classifications in the 1979 Tour de France, four of them awarding jerseys to their leaders. The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.[17]


Stage results[6][16]
Stage Date Route Terrain Length Winner
P 27 June Fleurance Individual time trial 5 km (3.1 mi)  Gerrie Knetemann (NED)
1 28 June Fleurance – Luchon Stage with mountain(s) 225 km (140 mi)  René Bittinger (FRA)
2 29 June Luchon – Superbagnères Individual time trial 24 km (15 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
3 30 June Luchon – Pau Stage with mountain(s) 180 km (110 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
4 1 July CaptieuxBordeaux Team time trial 87 km (54 mi) Raleigh
5 2 July Neuville-de-PoitouAngers Plain stage 145 km (90 mi)  Jan Raas (NED)
6 3 July Angers – Saint-Brieuc Plain stage 239 km (149 mi)  Jos Jacobs (BEL)
7 4 July Saint-Hilaire-du-HarcouëtDeauville Plain stage 158 km (98 mi)  Leo van Vliet (NED)
8 5 July Deauville – Le Havre Team time trial 90 km (56 mi) Raleigh
9 6 July AmiensRoubaix Plain stage 201 km (125 mi)  Ludo Delcroix (BEL)
10 7 July Roubaix – Brussels Plain stage 124 km (77 mi)  Jo Maas (NED)
11 8 July Brussels Individual time trial 33 km (21 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
12 9 July RochefortMetz Plain stage 193 km (120 mi)  Christian Seznec (FRA)
13 10 July Metz – Ballon d’Alsace Hilly stage 202 km (126 mi)  Pierre-Raymond Villemiane (FRA)
14 11 July BelfortEvian Plain stage 248 km (154 mi)  Marc Demeyer (BEL)
15 12 July Evian – Morzine Avoriaz Individual time trial 54 km (34 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
16 13 July Morzine Avoriaz – Les Menuires Stage with mountain(s) 201 km (125 mi)  Lucien Van Impe (BEL)
17 15 July Les Menuires – Alpe d'Huez Stage with mountain(s) 167 km (104 mi)  Joaquim Agostinho (POR)
18 16 July Alpe d'Huez Stage with mountain(s) 119 km (74 mi)  Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
19 17 July Alpe d'Huez – Saint-Priest Plain stage 162 km (101 mi)  Dietrich Thurau (GER)
20 18 July Saint-Priest – Dijon Plain stage 240 km (150 mi)  Serge Parsani (ITA)
21 19 July Dijon Individual time trial 49 km (30 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
22 20 July Dijon – Auxerre Plain stage 189 km (117 mi)  Gerrie Knetemann (NED)
23 21 July Auxerre – Nogent-sur-Marne Plain stage 205 km (127 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
24 22 July Le Perreux-sur-MarneParis (Champs-Élysées) Plain stage 180 km (110 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)

The 1979 Tour de France started on 27 June, and had one rest day, in Les Menuires.[15]

The route for the 1979 Tour was revealed in November 1978. It was the shortest course since 1904, but with many climbs it was still considered hard.[14]


Besides the struggle for the first place, there was also a struggle for the last place, the lanterne rouge. After the 20th stage, Philippe Tesnière was last in the general classification, with Gerhard Schönbacher before him.[10] Tesnière had already finished last in the 1978 Tour de France, so he was aware of the publicity associated with being the lanterne rouge. In the 21st stage, Tesnière therefore rode extra slow. Hinault took 1 hour, 8 minutes and 53 seconds to win the time trial, Schönbacher used 1 hour, 21 minutes and 52 seconds,[11] while Tesniere rode it in 1 hour, 23 minutes and 32 seconds; both were slower than all other cyclists.[12] Tesnière's time was more than 20% slower than Hinault's, which meant that he had missed the time cut, and was taken out of the race.[12] When Schönbacher was near the finish of the last stage, he stopped and kissed the road, before he crossed the finishline.[13]

Before the last stage, Hinault had an advantage of more than three minutes on Zoetemelk, and almost 25 minutes on the next cyclists. Traditionally, the last stage is run at a slow pace, because the winners are already known. But Zoetemelk attacked, and Hinault chased him. Together they stayed away from the rest, and Hinault beat Zoetemelk in the sprint, winning his seventh stage of the race.[2]

Hinault won back 36 seconds in the time trial of stage 11, and more than two minutes in the mountain time trial of stage 15, thus becoming the new leader.[2] Hinault won some more time in the next stages in bonification sprints. In the eighteenth stage, Zoetemelk beat Hinault, and won back 47 seconds. That eighteenth stage was scheduled to cross the Izoard, but the course was changed in the last minute.[2]

In the ninth stage, over the cobbles also used in Paris–Roubaix,[8] Zoetemelk had joined an escape, and Hinault had to chase him. Hinault had to stop to replace a flat tire, was stopped by strikers, and finished more than three minutes behind Zoetemelk, losing the lead to him.[2] Hinault was not happy that the other cyclists escaped while he had a flat tire, and warned that "there are some riders who will suffer plenty after what happened today".[9] Five-time winner Jacques Anquetil was pleased with Hinault's performance, and predicted that Hinault won the Tour in that stage, because he had kept his losses limited.[9]

In the fifth stage, the team time trial, Hinault lost time, but stayed the leader by 12 seconds on Zoetemelk. The Peugeot team had selected the wrong tires, according to their team leader Hennie Kuiper; he punctured five times in that stage, and if he had been 31 seconds faster he would have been the race leader.[2]

The prologue was won by Knetemann; Zoetemelk and Hinault both followed at four seconds.[2] The first stage took the riders immediately into the mountains. Bittinger won the stage, and the favourites stayed together.[2] The second stage was run as an individual climb time trial. Hinault won it, and became the new leader, with Zoetemelk and Agostinho almost one minute behind. Hinault also won the third stage, without gaining time on his rivals.[2]

Race details

The big favourite was Hinault; not only was he the defending champion, but the large number of time trials made the race especially suited for him.[2] The only cyclist though to be able to seriously challenge Hinault was Zoetemelk, the runner-up of the previous edition.[2]

  • La Redoute-Motobecane
  • Peugeot-Esso
  • Teka
  • Fiat-La France
  • Ijsboerke-Warncke

The following 15 teams each sent 10 cyclists, for a total of 150:[6][7]


For the first time, the Tour was broadcast in the USA.[5]

In stages 6, 12, 14, 20, 22 and 23, there was a new system for time bonuses. In the intermediate sprints in these stages, the first three cyclists received time bonuses of 10, 6 and 3 seconds; a classification of these time bonuses was made on each of these stages, and the first three of this classification received extra time bonuses of 20, 10 and 5 seconds.[3]

Since 1974, the Tour had always been composed of 22 stages, with some of them run as split stages. Following the riders' strike in the 1978 Tour against these split stages, the 1979 Tour included no split stages. To compensate for this, the total number of stages increased to 24.[4]


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