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1981 Tour de France

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1981 Tour de France

1981 Tour de France
Race details
Dates 25 June–19 July 1981
Stages 22+Prologue, including two split stages
Distance 3,756.1 km (2,334 mi)
Winning time 96h 19' 38" (37.987 km/h or 23.604 mph)
Winner  Bernard Hinault (France) (Renault)
Second  Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) (Boston)
Third  Robert Alban (France) (La Redoute)

Points  Freddy Maertens (Belgium) (Sunair)
Mountains  Lucien Van Impe (Belgium) (Boston)
Youth  Peter Winnen (Netherlands) (Capri Sonne)
Combination  Bernard Hinault (France) (Peugeot)
Sprints  Freddy Maertens (Belgium) (Sunair)
Team Peugeot
Team Points Peugeot

The 1981 Tour de France was the 68th Tour de France, taking place June 25 to July 19, 1981. The total race distance was 24 stages over 3753 km, with riders averaging 38.96 km/h.[1] It was dominated by Bernard Hinault, who led the race from the sixth stage on, increasing his lead almost every stage, and winning the race with a margin of almost 15 minutes. Only Phil Anderson was able to stay close to him, until the seventeenth stage when he lost 17 minutes. The points classification was won by Freddy Maertens, who did so by winning six stages. The mountains classification was won by Lucien Van Impe, Peter Winnen won the young rider classification, and the Peugeot team won the team classification.


  • Differences from the 1980 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
    • Young rider classification 5.5
    • Intermediate sprints classification 5.6
  • Doping cases 6
  • Aftermath 7
  • References 8

Differences from the 1980 Tour de France

The time bonus for stage winners had been absent in the years before, but it returned in 1981:[2] 30, 20 and 10 seconds for the first three cyclists in every stage.[3] The time bonuses for intermediate sprints


Late 1980, there were plans to make the tour "open", which meant that amateur teams would also be allowed to join. This would make it possible for teams from Eastern Europe to join.[4] The plan did not materialize, so only professional teams were invited. In January 1981, the organisation decided that there would be 15 teams with 10 cyclists, or 16 teams with 9 cyclists each. At that point, 16 teams had already submitted a request to join, and the organisation was in discussion with four additional Italian teams, and the American national team.[5]

In the end, the American team did not apply, and the Italian teams decided to focus on the

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "68ème Tour de France 1981" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Drie aankomsten op bergen van de eerste categorie". Het vrije volk (in Dutch) (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). 23 June 1981. p. 13. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Profwereld wijst 'open' rondes af". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch). De Krant van Toen. 28 November 1980. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Amerikanen willen in Tour". Limburgs Dagblad (in Dutch). 22 January 1981. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Vijftien ploegen in Tour". Limburgs Dagblad (in Dutch). 11 June 1981. p. 19. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2008). The Story of the Tour de France: 1965-2007. Dog Ear Publishing. pp. 129–133.  
  8. ^ a b c Boyce, Barry (2010). "The Badger's return to Form". Cycling Revealed. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Aubrey, Jane (6 July 2011). "Tour de France: Remembering Phil Anderson's day in yellow". Cyclingnews. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  10. ^  
  11. ^ "Felix Levitan: niet blij met bemoeizucht UCI Meer tumult in de Ronde van Frankrijk". Amigoe (in Dutch) (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). 23 December 1980. p. 9. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Bergetappe minder in de Tour" (in Dutch). De Telegraaf. 4 April 1981. p. 37. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Zwegers, Arian. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. Retrieved 15 Aug 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Christian, Sarah (2 July 2009). "Tour de France demystified - Evaluating success". Ltd. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "TDF guides: White jersey".  
  16. ^ Mark, Eddy van der. "Tour Xtra: Intermediate Sprints Classification". Chippewa Valley Cycling Club. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  17. ^ Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard.  
  18. ^ a b c d "Laatste Tour in cijfers". Leidsch dagblad (in Dutch) (Regionaal archief Leiden). 20 July 1981. p. 10. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c "Clasificaciones". El Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 20 July 1981. p. 22. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "Vincendeau positief". Limburgsch dagblad (in Dutch) (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). 15 July 1981. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  21. ^ Dauncey, Hugh; Hare, Geoff (2003). The Tour de France, 1903-2003: a century of sporting structures, meanings, and values. Routledge. p. 219.  
  22. ^ "Memoire du Cyclisme - 70ème Tour de France 1983" (in French). Memoire du Cyclisme. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  23. ^ Wilcockson, John (15 July 2011). "Inside the Tour with John Wilcockson: Hushovd joins an elite band of world champion stage winners". Velonews. Competitor Group. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 


Maertens who also won five stages would make his comeback year complete by winning the 1981 UCI Road World Championships later that year, but after that never reached his 1981 level again.

Hinault won five stages as reigning world champion. This had happened before, most recently in 1979 with Gerrie Knetemann and in 1980 with Jan Raas, but after 1981 it became a rare occurrence. The next time that this happened was in 2002 with Óscar Freire, and after that in 2011 with Thor Hushovd.[23]

Anderson would again wear the yellow jersey in the next year, when he also won the young rider classification.

The 1981 Tour de France is seen as the year in which the globalization of the Tour became important. Before that most cyclists came from France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands, with only occasional successes by other European cyclists. Anderson was the first non-European cyclist to lead the Tour de France, and more would follow in the coming years.[21] The plans to make the Tour de France open to amateurs were not forgotten, and it happened in 1983.[22]


In the 16th stage, Claude Vincendeau was randomly selected to undergo a doping test. Vincendeau abandoned during that stage, and had already left to his hotel. One of the doctors then went to his hotel to obtain a urine sample, but Vincendeau was unable/unwanting to give it. This counted as a positive test.[20]

Doping cases

Final general classification (1–10)[2]
Rank Name Team Time
1  Bernard Hinault (FRA) Renault 96h 19' 38"
2  Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Boston +14' 34"
3  Robert Alban (FRA) La Redoute +17' 04"
4  Joop Zoetemelk (NED) TI-Raleigh-Creda +18' 21"
5  Peter Winnen (NED) Capri Sonne +20' 26"
6  Jean-René Bernaudeau (FRA) Peugeot +23' 02"
7  Johan De Muynck (BEL) Splendor +24' 25"
8  Sven-Åke Nilsson (SWE) Splendor +24' 37"
9  Claude Criquielion (BEL) Splendor +26' 18"
10  Phil Anderson (AUS) Peugeot +27' 00"

General classification

For the team classification, the times of the best three 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.[17]

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 1981, this classification had no associated jersey.[16]

Another classification was the young rider classification. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but only cyclists younger than 24 were eligible, and the leader wore a white jersey.[15]

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.[14]

Additionally, there was a points classification, were 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.[14]

There were several classifications in the 1981 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.[14]


Stage results[2][13]
Stage Date Route Terrain Length Winner
P 25 June Nice Individual time trial 6 km (3.7 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
1A 26 June Nice Hilly stage 97 km (60 mi)  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
1B Nice Team time trial 40 km (25 mi) Raleigh
2 27 June Nice – Martigues Plain stage 254 km (158 mi)  Johan van der Velde (NED)
3 28 June Martigues – Narbonne Plain stage 232 km (144 mi)  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
4 29 June Narbonne – Carcassonne Team time trial 77 km (48 mi) Raleigh
5 30 June Saint-GaudensPla d'Adet Stage with mountain(s) 117 km (73 mi)  Lucien Van Impe (BEL)
6 1 July NayPau Individual time trial 27 km (17 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
7 2 July Pau – Bordeaux Plain stage 227 km (141 mi)  Urs Freuler (SUI)
8 3 July RochefortNantes Plain stage 182 km (113 mi)  Ad Wijnands (NED)
9 5 July Nantes – Le Mans Plain stage 197 km (122 mi)  René Martens (BEL)
10 6 July Le Mans – Aulnay-sous-Bois Plain stage 264 km (164 mi)  Ad Wijnands (NED)
11 7 July CompiègneRoubaix Plain stage 246 km (153 mi)  Daniel Willems (BEL)
12A 8 July Roubaix – Brussels Plain stage 107 km (66 mi)  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
12B Brussels – Zolder Plain stage 138 km (86 mi)  Eddy Planckaert (BEL)
13 9 July BeringenHasselt Plain stage 157 km (98 mi)  Freddy Maertens (BEL)
14 10 July Mulhouse Individual time trial 38 km (24 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
15 11 July BesançonThonon-les-Bains Hilly stage 231 km (144 mi)  Sean Kelly (IRE)
16 12 July Thonon-les-Bains – Morzine Stage with mountain(s) 200 km (120 mi)  Robert Alban (FRA)
17 14 July Morzine – Alpe d'Huez Stage with mountain(s) 230 km (140 mi)  Peter Winnen (NED)
18 15 July Le Bourg-d'OisansLe Pleynet Stage with mountain(s) 134 km (83 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
19 16 July VeureySaint-Priest Plain stage 118 km (73 mi)  Daniel Willems (BEL)
20 17 July Saint-Priest Individual time trial 46 km (29 mi)  Bernard Hinault (FRA)
21 18 July AuxerreFontenay-sous-Bois Plain stage 207 km (129 mi)  Johan van der Velde (NED)
22 19 July Fontenay-sous-Bois – Paris (Champs-Élysées) Plain stage 187 km (116 mi)  Freddy Maertens (BEL)

The 1981 Tour de France started on 25 June, and had two rest days, in Nantes and Morzine.[10] The route for the 1981 Tour de France was revealed in December 1980.[11] Originally, the thirteenth stage was planned as a time trial, followed by a transfer of more than 500 km on the same day, with the fourteenth stage the next day as a mountain stage. A few months before the Tour, there were many teams interested in the Tour, and the Tour organisation was afraid that there would not be enough time on 9 July to have the time trial for that many cyclists, followed by the transfer. For this reason, the thirteenth stage was changed into a criterium, and the fourteenth stage became the time trial.[12]


The time trial in stage 20 was also won by Hinault, who increased the margin to Van Impe to more than 14 minutes.[2]

In the sixteenth stage in the Alps, Anderson was not able to follow anymore. He lost 4 minutes to Hinault, but stayed in second place. Anderson lost this second place in the 17th stage, where he lost 17 minutes, making Van Impe the new second placed cyclist, nine minutes behind. Hinault showed his dominance by winning the eighteenth stage.

In the following stages, through Northern France and Belgium, Hinault slowly increased his margin over Anderson by winning amelioration sprints, until lead by 57 seconds after stage 13. In stage 14, Hinault won the time trial, and added two more minutes to the margin.

Hinault started out strong and won the prologue. Freddy Maertens showed he was still able to win sprints by winning the first part of the first stage. The second part was a team time trial, won by Ti-Raleigh, which put Gerrie Knetemann in the lead of the race. Ti Raleigh also won the second team time trial in stage four.[7] The Pyrenees were only briefly visited, in the fifth stage.[8] For the last mountain, Hinault was the lead group, together with Lucien Van Impe and Phil Anderson. Van Impe escaped in the last kilometers and won the stage, 27 seconds ahead of Hinault. Anderson, who finished in third place, became the new leader, the first Australian cyclist to wear the yellow jersey.[7] Anderson had started as domestique for Jean-René Bernaudeau, and nobody was expecting him to be able to follow Hinault.[9] In the time trial of stage six, Hinault won as expected, and became the race leader. Anderson surprised with a third place, and he now followed Hinault by 13 seconds in the general classification.

Race details

Freddy Maertens, the winner of the points classification in the Tour de France in 1976 and 1978, had won only three minor races in 1979 and 1980, but in 1981 he was selected again for the Tour.[8]

Bernard Hinault, the winner of the 1978 and 1979 Tour de France and reigning world champion, was the main favourite. His knee problems, that caused him to leave the 1980 Tour de France, were solved, and he was in form: Hinault had won important races in the spring, and he had skipped the 1981 Giro d'Italia to focus on the Tour.[7][8] His main rivals were 1980 Tour de France winner Joop Zoetemelk, 1976 Tour de France winner Lucien Van Impe and Joaquim Agostinho, although they had never been able to beat Hinault when he was in form.[7]

  • La Redoute-Motobecane
  • Capri Sonne-Koga Miyata
  • Puch-Wolber-Campagnolo
  • Boston-Mavic
  • Teka


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