Jacques Anquetil, the most elegant rouleur of all time, defined the suave, enigmatic, rarely-loved-often-admired, specialist-time-triallist, stage race winner - a type of cyclist which has gone on to win the Tour de France so very many times in the modern era. Jacques, himself, won in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964, all without a single strand of well gelled hair ever slipping out of place.
Some fascinating nuggets of information about Jacques Anquetil include:
- He was unashamed of doping - maintaining that all professional cyclists used performance enhancing drugs because you simply could not be the hero the public expected without them. I have a memory of reading somewhere that he considered that, in health terms, taking drugs was a much, much, safer way of ‘building stamina’ that putting in endless training hours on the fiendishly dangerous roads of 1960s France - and in this he is almost certainly correct.
- He was an unlikely admirer of the British cycling scene (then an amateurish irrelevance in world terms), because of its penchant for his beloved time trialling.
- He pursued and married the wife of his team doctor, and then, because the couple could not have children, he fathered a child with both his wife’s 18 year old daughter by her previous marriage and his wife’s daughter-in-law. In that 1970s French way, all parties appear to have been aware of what was going on, and, because it was all consensual, were not particularly concerned about it.
- According to Wikipedia, amongst all the powerful and glamorous people he mingled with, he was most particularly pleased to meet Yuri Gagarin.
In derailleur terms he rode Simplex up to 1962, defecting to Campagnolo for 1963 and 1964. Notably, he used the brand new, high-tech, all plastic Simplex Prestige (532) throughout the 1962 Tour. I could not comment on whether this had anything to do with his decision to move to Campagnolo for the following year.