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André Darrigade

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André Darrigade

André Darrigade
Darrigade at the 1960 Tour de France
Personal information
Full name André Darrigade
Nickname Dédé
Born (1929-04-24) 24 April 1929
Narosse, France
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type Sprinter
Professional team(s)
1952-1955 La Perle
1956-1960 Helyett
1961 Alcyon
1962 Leroux-Gitane
1963-1965 Margnat-Paloma
1966 Kamome
Major wins

Tour de France

Points classification (1959, 1961)

World Championship (1959)

Giro di Lombardia (1956)

André Darrigade (born Narrosse, 24 April 1929[1]) was a French professional road bicycle racer between 1951 and 1966.[1] Darrigade, a road sprinter won the 1959 World Championship and 22 stages of the Tour de France. Five of those were on the first day,[2] a record.[3]


  • Origins 1
  • Professional career 2
  • Parc des Princes crash 3
  • Honours and personal life 4
  • Palmarès 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


André Darrigade was born at Narosse, near Dax in the forested Landes region. He came to attention at the other end of the country and on the track by beating the future world sprint champion, Antonio Maspes[4] in a meeting at the Vélodrome d'Hiver the night before the six-day race there.

His name immediately appealed to northern crowds. René de Latour said: "It is a very 'musical' name to [northern] French ears, especially when pronounced by a southerner who rolls his Rs like a Scotsman to make it sound like Darrrrrigade.[5] De Latour said:

André Darrigade is heavily built and would have made a good football centre forward. He has blond hair, clear eyes, rosy cheeks, and is a bit on the shy side. When we first saw him in Paris soon after the war finished he was a novice, not a roadman at all. He had come to the big city to ride in the final of the famous Médaille race at the Vélodrome d'Hiver. When he arrived at the Vélodrome d'Hiver, he had no soigneur, no dressing gown,[6] nobody to hold him up at the start, pump his tyres or adjust his position to suit the high, frightening bankings. He was lonely — but courageous. And guess who was his principal victim — Antonio Maspes![5]

Darrigade stayed in Paris and joined one of its leading clubs, the Vélo-Club d'Asnières-Courbevoie, at the invitation of Francis Pélissier, the former professional who was one of its officials. Darrigade rode again on the track at the Vél' d'Hiv, winning madisons and sprints, and won four races on the road. He turned professional in 1951 for a salary that barely covered his rent

Professional career

Raphaël Géminiani said: "Darrigade was the greatest French sprinter of all time and he'll stay that way for a long time. The mould has been broken. But he wasn't just a sprinter. He was an animateur who could start decisive breaks; he destroyed the image of sprinters who just sit on wheels."[7] He began his sprints from a long distance from the line, challenging others to pass him. It endeared him to the French public, said de Latour.

Darrigade won 16 yellow jerseys and 22 stages. He won the opening stage of the Tour de France in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1961. Darrigade lost time in the mountains, however, and his best final positions were 16th in 1956, 1959 and 1960. In single-day races, he won the national championship in 1955 and a year and a half later the Giro di Lombardia. He won the world championship at Zandvoort on 16 August 1959, breaking clear with the Italian, Michele Gismondi, and an unknown Dane, Retvig. Darrigade was at his best in the middle of the season and the spring races were too early and those in autumn too late. He did, however, come fourth in the 1957 Paris–Roubaix, 3rd in Milan–San Remo and second in Paris–Brussels in 1960.

He said: "I was always considered a team man. I never had any pretensions to be anything else. In the days when the Tour had national teams, Marcel Bidot [the manager] always saw me as just that. Those wins never became dull or routine. Each one was an immense pleasure. What's more, I had the chance to race alongside such great champions as Louison Bobet and Jacques Anquetil." He was close to Anquetil, whom he called "bizarrely calm." He said: "Quite often, I had to say to him, 'If you don't get going, you'll lose the Tour."[3]

Parc des Princes crash

On 19 July 1958 the Tour finished at the Parc des Princes in western Paris. The 70-year-old sécrétaire-général[8] of the stadium, Constant Wouters[9] ran across the grass in the centre of the ground to prevent photographers encroaching on the track.[10] The journalists hid the riders and Wouters from each other and Darrigade rode into Wouters as he stepped on to the track. Darrigade was lifted from his bike and turned round and Wouters thrown into the air.[11] Both fell heavily and were taken to hospital.

Wouters was treated at the nearby Boucicaut medical centre but died on 31 July.[12] Darrigade cracked his skull and broke ribs.[3] He was able to return before the end of the meeting to take a lap of honour.[13][14][15]

Honours and personal life

Darrigade retired to run a newspaper shop in Biarritz. It was painted red in honour of the town's rugby team. A stadium in Dax is named after him.[16] Darrigade's brother, Roger, six years younger, also rode as a professional.



  • Bordeaux-Saintes


  • 1st stage Paris-Saint Etienne


  • 12th stage Tour de France


  • GP La Marseillaise


  • National champion
  • 6th stage Tour de France



  • 1st stage Tour de France
  • 3rd stage A Tour de France (team time trial)
  • 4th Paris–Roubaix
  • 21st stage Tour de France
  • 22nd stage Tour de France
  • 3rd stage A Tour de Romandie


  • 1st stage Tour de France
  • 9th stage Tour de France
  • 15th stage Tour de France
  • 17th stage Tour de France
  • 22nd stage Tour de France
  • Paris-Valenciennes
  • 1st stage Dunkirk Four-day


  • 1st stage Tour de France
  • 11th stage Tour de France
  • Points, Tour de France
  • World champion


  • 5th stage Tour de France
  • 2nd stage Tour de Romandie
  • 4th stage Tour de Romandie
  • 15th stage Giro d'Italia
  • 6th stage A Paris–Nice


  • 1st stage A Tour de France
  • 2nd stage Tour de France
  • 13th stage Tour de France
  • 20th stage Tour de France
  • Points, Tour de France
  • 1st stage Dauphiné Libéré
  • 2nd stage Paris–Nice


  • 2nd stage A Tour de France
  • 3rd stage B Dauphiné Libéré


  • 12th stage Tour de France
  • 6th stage B Paris–Nice


  • 2nd stage Tour de France
  • 18th stage Tour de France
  • 8th stage B Dauphiné Libéré
  • 9th stage B Dauphiné Libéré
  • 5th stage Paris–Nice


  1. ^ a b "Le Palmarès de André Darrigade". 1929-04-24. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  2. ^ [3]
  3. ^ a b c Vélo, France, undated cutting
  4. ^ Chany, Pierre (1988), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, p493
  5. ^ a b Sporting Cyclist, UK, undated cutting
  6. ^ In that era riders wore dressing gowns (Am: robes), to keep warm between races
  7. ^ Raphaël Raconte... Deleted personal web site retrieved 2003
  8. ^ "Wouters is sometimes described as a gardener. His title was 'secretary-general' but he was more the track's caretaker and day-to-day manager". London: Guardian. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  9. ^ Born Deurne, Belgium, 26 October 1889. He lived in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.
  10. ^ "Palmarès d'André Darrigade (Fra)". 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  11. ^ Picture at:
  12. ^ He was buried in the suburb of Bagneux on 8 August.
  13. ^ Chany, Pierre (1988), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, La Martinière, France, p491
  14. ^ [4]
  15. ^ Picture of Darrigade in bandages:
  16. ^

External links

  • Memoire-du-Cyclisme: Palmares
  • Critical injury in 1958 TdF
  • Official Tour de France results for André Darrigade
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