Paris has, on the other hand, beautiful sunshine at the starting time of Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux, at Place de la Nation the majestic columns of the trône are outlined perfectly in the clear sky.
Boulevard Lefebvre: the peloton is still together. Legrand, who won, is at the head, in front of Chimberg, last year's winner
Legrand is lifted in triumph, as is the custom, on his arrival
Prestat escaped in the Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux, but one cannot say, by seeing this impressive troop of followers, that he rides alone. Prestat will be caught and it is Legrand who will win.
Changing the itinerary of the Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux has completely transformed the race. In the past when the brave riders left the rue Reaumur en route for Montmartre taking in the great thoroughfares of the capital it was primarily a test of navigation, unquestionably picturesque, but of little sporting merit.
This time the course adopted was that of the Tour of Paris, used every year by the triporteurs, and at a single stroke the race took on a new character. The roads forming the ring of the ancient City walls improve from season to season, one might almost say from month to month: the boulevards are widened and straightened; the roads are resurfaced one by one, and the modern underground tunnels, the number of which continues to increase, considerably ease the flow of traffic. If you add to these advantages the absolutely impeccable organisation supplied by the 'Messageries Hachetes' and a more rigorous selection process for the riders, you'll understand why this new kind of courier race is much more dynamic and interesting than its predecessors.
Previously, the stars had only to break as quickly as possible from the bunch, and then to demonstrate the finer points of acrobatics. Generally, after the first few hundred metres, you would see a few riders break cleanly from pack, and the race was virtually over. On the broad boulevards of the ring road the struggle seemed much tighter, and for a long while the peloton stayed together, exactly as in any other road race. Greater regularity then, but for example, what an incredible, stunning, frightening 'bullfight' of cars, motorbikes, and bicycles on this new type of 'autostrada'. Fortunate then, that the rain paused, and the road wasn't too slippery!
Staying quite tightly grouped for a long time, the peloton began to separate on the climb of the Porte de Versailles, and an unforseen escape by Prestat, who wasn't counted among the favourites, managed to split the group of brave and skillful riders. On the rough climb after the porte de Chaumont, Prestat was joined by his team-mates Legrand and Jarousse, and it was Legrand who was eventually first across the finish line, ahead of Jarousse, and in spite of little Chimberg, last year's winner, who made a superb but unsuccessful come-back.
The 39 kilometre course was covered in a time of 37'47" giving an average speed of 40km/h. Admit it - that's quite impressive!
RESULTS: 1. Legrand, 39 km in 57' 47"; 2. Jarousse, 58' 1"; 3. Chimberg, 59' 6"; 4. Couturier, 59' 13"; 5. Macé; 6. Pottier, etc...
Before the start of the critérium of the cyclo-porteurs, a clever competitor cuts the corners of its package of newspapers to be able, he explains, to clear his handlebars.
The porteurs de journaux, everyone knows, are famous for their craftiness, and some of them gave us, Sunday morning, proof of their opportunistic ingenuity. To race their annual critérium, the cycloporteurs are loaded with a package of newspapers weighing, theoretically, 15 kilos. I say: theoretically, because, in practice, the most shrewd always, quite sensibly, endeavoured to reduce the weight of this cumbersome luggage. Some even took this even further and, last year, a particularly astute competitor was discovered to have completely hollowed out the interior of his load, leaving simply some sheets on the top and bottom. To avoid abuses of this kind, the organizers had decided, this year, that the parcels would be distributed only at the very last moment, on the real starting place, the place de la Nation. But cycloporteurs have one more trick in their bag! And thus while waiting for the starting signal, we saw, not without some astonishment, several competitors bravely notching their package, giving as pretexts that they were making room for their handlebars. Room which, of course, was not long in being transformed into a vast apartment! That happily made a pretty mess of small bits of paper flying in the wind... and thus the load's weight was much reduced. Quite simple, but still it was necessary to think of it!
Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux - At the top, a little after the start, the group is already spread out, and Prestat, who will escape soon, makes the pace. Below, the winner Legrand, seated on his machine, has broken away, and will not be caught...
The Porteurs de Journaux had, last year, a champion of small stature, in the person of Chimberg. They have found a giant one this year, with Legrand, who carries his name well.
Favored at the start, Legrand did not disappoint his supporters, although he gave them some concern over the course of the race, because, as is his style, he did not let off pressure from start to finish, being generous with wasted effort. It was understood immediately that Legrand wanted to win. When the young Pottier broke away resolutely, and a little early in our opinion, before the porte dıIvry, Legrand commenced the hunt with authority, taking his turn at the front, but unable to shake Jarousse, Chimberg, Couturier, Coudrain, Jamin or other race favorites. Coudrain punctured before the porte de Versailles, and Legrand and Jarousse attacked with resolve, inseperable companions which we had already seen going head to head in the Championnat des Triporteurs. Only three men could remain in their wake: Prestat, Chimberg and Couturier. The latter two wore the white jersey of Paris-Sport. The other three, the green jersey of Paris-Soir. They decided to work together, it being allowed to race as a team. Benefitting from the cooperation of Jarousse and Legrand, Prestat joined the group, follwed by Chimberg and Couturier who had, one imagines, to tire quickly with this game. At the foot of the boulevard Sérurier, the most serious difficulty of the Tour of Paris, Prestat weakened, but Chimberg and Couturier, they also slackened their pace, whereas Jarousse and Legrand literally flew away. At the summit, Jarousse and Legrand had broken away... Their tactic had succeeded admirably, beyond even their hopes!
By the finish, Legrand succeeded in shaking Jarousse, strangely preoccupied with preserving his second place. And the two comrades finished, in that order, the course at Versailles, having effected a tour of Paris via the exterior boulevards, in about an hour, while carrying a load of 15 kg...
It is also adviseable to ignore the romance of the race, and to retain its purely sporting lessons. How many champions of the pedal would be able, indeed, to post similar times to those of Legrand, in the manner of a porteur, on a porteurıs bicycle, with the handicap of 15 kilos of paper? Legrand is otherwise a rider of quality, who we would not be surprised to see, one day, carry out beautiful performances in the more traditional races. "The class is taught daily". so it is said, the slogan which has not grown old, and which has just been given strong confirmation in this championship of the porteurs de journaux which profited this year - once does not a habit make - from splendid sunshine, opportunely come to take the bit out of a sharp north wind.
Article scan courtesy of Aldo Ross.
Straight through the French capital rush the Parisian newspaper couriers who took part in the 12th Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux; the enthusiasm of the public was great throughout the streets.
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