Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux - 15 Oct 1950

From France-Soir (France), 14? Oct 1950:

The "roule-toujours" will race Sunday for the title of champion. The France-Soir team, which will include Pieters, Cahu, Belotti, Pare, Espargillière, Noblecourt, Armani and Rimbeur, met in the office of our fellows Paris-presse. The battle began at once. One recognizes Pieters in the foreground, arguing with Prestat (head of their team) over the official poster of the championship.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From But et Club (France), 16 Oct 1950:

Pieters, champion of the newspaper couriers

Sunday afternoon, around Paris, the traditional championship of the newspaper couriers was held. Joyous, with a 15 kg load on his rack, Pieters passes the finish line on avenue Junot as victor.

From Miroir Sprint (France), 16 Oct 1950:

Jean Pieters, new king of the "roule-toujours"

After a race animated by the pedestrians of the boulevards as well as the competitors, 4 men dominated the field of 60 couriers. Finally, Pieters parted company with his companions in the breakaway and finished at the summit of the avenue Junot with 500 meters lead, followed closely by the dreaded professional motorcyclists.
The start of the pleasant race of the "roule-toujours" has just occurred in the heart of the press district, rue Montmartre, and already Pieters, loaded with 15 kg. of unsold papers, animates the race, reaching at times nearly 50 km/h for the delivery of this special edition.
While the "roule-toujours" race daily in their delivery rounds, they never receive bouquets, having arrived and beaten the competitors. Once does not a habit make, and Pieters, the winner, receives flowers and congratulations from La Houppa with satisfaction.
Results: 1. Jean Pieters (France-Soir) 57' 13" (Cycle Vanoli); 2. Solente (INF); 3. Prestat (Paris-Presse); 4. Friedrich (Ce Soir); 5. Pellon (N.M.P.P.); 6. Cathelin (Sport Complet); 7. Toros (Ind.); 8. Chapuis (Ce Soir); 9. Dupont (N.M.P.P.); etc...

From Ce Soir (France), 16 Oct 1950:

Pieters first of the "roule-toujours"

Jean Pieters won yesterday the very Parisian and picturesque championship des "roule-toujours", reserved for newspaper couriers. Jean Pieters, whom one sees here, congratulated by a resident of Montmartre, triumphed after a vigorous battle in the streets of Paris, over Stevens, Cathelin and our rider Friedrich.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From Liberation? (France), 16 Oct 1950:

Pieters the victor, was the strongest

Today like yesterday, they roll... since they are the roule-toujours!... But yesterday they did not joke between themselves while rolling, did not shout at the "p'tites mères" which cross the street without looking, did not whistle admiration while contemplating the "pin-ups" waiting for the bus.

Yesterday was not the annual bullfight, the insane rush through the streets of Paris... the buses moved to let them pass and, for once, the police motorcycles, cleared the way for them.

The best, was Jean Pieters, the cocky Parisian with the trumpet nose, savage animator of americaines at the Vel' d' Hiv' and also a good road rider in the colors of the Vélo-Club de Bondy.

In spite of the heavy load of newspapers on his rack, "gars Jean" climbed the slopes of the Butte with as much ease as the boulevard Sérurrier where he definitively escaped.

He finished remarkably fresh. Behind him, there was the sprint of the peloton, the second place snatched by the elegant Guy Solente who, at the same time, ensured the success of his team by a very small number of points over that of Ce Soir, second...

The winner in 1948, Friedrich, finished fourth, very close to Solente and Prestat, beating Cathelin, who won last year.

All had been valiant... and rapids, including Mme. Andrée Régnier, the only female competitor.

On the rue Lepic, nearby, the "bolides" the slower-paced riders of Liberation had an average speed of 50 meters/hour.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From an unknown French daily, 16 Oct 1950:

This porteur of France-soir (PIETERS) ("Américaine" Sunday at the Vél' d' Hiv') is the champion of the "roule-toujours"

Pieters, who is one of our good track racers (in the Américaine), has worked during the week as a newspaper courier for France-soir for three years.

It is astonishing that this excellent racer has not succeeded earlier in claiming the title of champion of his trade.

- In 1947 I was eliminated following a fall, in 1948 I finished third, in 1949 second behind Cathelin. It is him whom I feared most. When he reached the cobbles before the Porte Charenton i did not hesitate to begin the hunt. He is a rouleur who one should not allow ten meters lead. I had made this error last year. This time I watched him closely and counter-attacked immediately without leaving him time to react, he explains.

The fact is that Jean Pieters readily showed his desire to escape. But he does not only owe his title to this initiative, he dominated all his adversaries physically.

With a fifteen kilos load on his rack, he developed his victorious escape at 45 km/h while threading among the cars with as much confidence as in the pack racing the américaine.

Jean Pieters (28 years old) returned this morning to his rounds for France-soir through Paris while thinking that his popular victory will be worth his selection for the next américaine at the Vél' d' Hiv' or that one turn of the pedals can result in his certain success.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From Route et Piste (France), 16? Oct 1950:

Jean PIETERS, the track racer, is No 1 of the roule-toujours and claims the Coupe "Route et Piste"

An extraordinary animation - for a Sunday - rules the rue Montmartre, for the start of the Eleventh Championnat des Porteurs de Journaux. A large crowd attends the start; all around the course, we find a dense crowd - especially at place Blanche - which follows with interest the frolicking of the day's speedsters.

Jean Pieters, excellent track rider - he shone last year in the américaine - boldly launched a seemingly premature escape. He succeeds in preserving his lead, riding in perfect form and incontestably dominating the remaining lot of participants.

The roule-toujours have a beautiful champion: J Pieters

Guy Solente, another track racer, beat Prestat and Friedrich in the sprint
From the start, given to sixty-five competitors, Provost attacks in the mass of cars along the Faubourg Montmartre, while threading through the pack.

The train is very fast and the vehicles numerous.

Blocked by intense traffic, the racers have trouble following.

The group caught Dupont, Solente and Cathelin after the porte de Montreuil; but, at the front, Pieters maintains a beautiful pace through the traffic: motorcycles, cars and others. He accelerates after the porte des Lilas, rolling at 50 km/h and, despite the efforts of Stevens, continually increases his lead.

Pasty goes to the front of the peloton: but Solente, Cathelin, and Prestat do not bother to react: also, the man of France-Soir arrives at the avenue Junot and takes the title for the first time.

An immense crowd applauds his beautiful victory, while, behind him, for second place, the sprint is launched in front of... Gaumont. Solente, wins over Prestat, who is exhausted, and fourteen other races.

Let us announce that Samson was one of the best attackers: that the injured Marthollin, Degères and Crost finished this hard race courageously: that Mme. Régnier was once again honored, and that the director of the race observed the rules of the event perfectly.

This race, very dangerous because of the intense traffic which reigns in Paris, went off without incident. It is better that way, but it is only possible because the "roule-toujours" are cycling virtuosos to pass without trouble through limitless difficulties thanks to their clam nerves and reflexes of the highest order. This year again, they eertainly earned the honors of the capital.
Jean Pieters crosses the finish line as the winner, on top of the avenue Junot
Mlle. Prudhomme, Miss Route et Piste, gives him, with a kiss, the trophy offered by our newspaper
RESULTS: 1st PIETERS Jean (France-Soir), in 57' 13", on a VANOLI bicycle, DUNLOP tires; 2. à 40", Solente (Information); 3. Prestat (Paris-Presse); 4. Friedrich (Ce Soir); 5. Pellon (N.M.P.P.); 6. Cathelin (Sport-Complet); 7. Toros (Ind.); 8. Chapuis (Ce Soir); 9. Dupont (N.M.P.P.); 10. Bacon (Information); 11. Fay (Ind.); 12. Corchia (Paris-Presse); 13. Pasty (N.M.P.P.); 14. Samson (Paris-Presse); 15. Stevens (Sport-Complet); 16. Cahu, in 58' 45" (France-Soir); 17. Defor (Ce Soir); 18. Berthaud (St-Nazaire); 19. Boucher (Information); 20. Bourneuf (Information); 21. Belotti (France-Soir); 22. Letellier (Ce Soir); 23. Haas (Information); 24. Provost (Ce Soir); 25. Darcq (Information); 26. Forter (Information); 27. Pattin (Information); 28. Vallée (Ind.); 29. Jacquet (Paris-Presse); 30. Malfray (Ce Soir); 31. Le Borgne; 32. Noblane; 33. Vinsonneau; 34. Martin; 35. Genin; 36. Vannier; 37. Delsault; 38. Espagillière; 39. Bonnafy; 40. B. André; 41. Ory; 42. Poty; 43. Lemaire; 44. Paré; 45. Régnier; 46. Remy; 47. Bernard; 48. Noblecourt; 49. Marthollin; 50. Chapa; 51. Banzet; 52. Theizen; 53. Degères; 54. Pietto; 55. Bequisseau; 56. Marche; 57. Crost.

CHALLENGE VERDIERE: 1. Information, 44 points; 2. Ce Soir, 45 points; 3. Paris-Presse, 50 points; 4. N.M.P.P., 53 points; 5. France-Soir, 64 points; 6. Sport-Complet, 67 points.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From an unknown French daily, 16 Oct 1950:

Pieters (France-Soir) champion of the porteurs de journaux

The corner of rues Réaumur and Montmartre is greatly animated. It is there that is serving as the starting checkpoint of the 9th championnat des porteurs de journaux, the "roule-toujours", as they are called.

Sixty-five competitors have come come to take possession of the fifteen kilo load which they will have to carry on their racks through and around Paris during their championship.

The only female competitor, Mrs. Régnier, who has distinguished herself in women's competitions and who also works as a newspaper courier, starts first, in the company of the veterans and even a one-armed man.

The champions of the "roule-toujours" start a few minutes later.

On the climb of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Mme Régnier allows her companions to escape.

And at once one sees the group of true challengers for the title of champion of the "roule-toujours" begin to form.

Prestat escapes during the climb to place Clichy.

At the front of the peloton, the speedsters of the trade, Cathelin and Pieters, distinguish themselves and liven up the chase.

on the rise towards l'Etoile, Prestat is caught, and it is the young Stevens who makes an attack.

Around the Arc de Triomphe, he leads the peloton by a few tens of meters and descends towards the Palais de Challiot.

He continues in the lead while the route uses the quays of the Seine. He passes Mme. Régnier, who, despite courage and a beautifully strong cadence, can not keep up with the men.

But Stevens, no more than Prestat, cannot resist the chase which rolls behind him, and is caught before the viaduc d'Auteuil.

The group then rushes onto the nasty cobbles of the boulevard Victor.

Solente and Cathelin make an attack, but before they reach the climb of the boulevard Lefebvre, Pieters sprints ro the head of the group and everyone is collected.

The group stretches out over the rise of the boulevard Lefebvre. Prestat and Friedrich each try to escape, but they cannot get away from the pressure of the peloton, and just before the porte d'Orleans, Prestat increases his efforts, and arrives for the change of packet slightly ahead.

He is followed in this operation by Pieters, Friedrich and Dupont.

These four men form the front guard of the championnat des "roule-toujours" and descend the boulevard Jourdan at great speed

Before the Porte d'Italie, Cathelin returns beautifully to join the four escapees on the cobbles leading up to the Porte de Charenton. At once the professional rouleur tries to attack, but Pieters reacts and recollects his companions.

In the lead group the attacks burn out. Pieters puts pressure to the pedals and escapes just before the Porte Dorée.

Friedrich, Dupont and Cathelin hesitate to start the chase, and the porteur of France-Soir gets away on the climb of the boulelvard Mortier.

Stevens tries to catch him while Cathelin, Dupont and Friedrich are soon caught by the group.

Pieters ignores the pace which has been set, and descends at more than 50 km/h, passing through the cars and motorcycles which open the road to him. At the Porte de Pantin his lead is 300 meters. He will increase this on the avenue Jean-Jaurès and the carrefour Barbès.

Finally at the foot of the climb of the avenue Junot, where the finish line is, he has five hundred meters lead on the group and cannot be beaten.

Indeed, he briskly climbs the final slope and wins for the first time the title of champion of the "roule-toujours".

Behind him an impetuous sprint puts Solente, Prestat and Friedrich at the head of the peloton.

The stayer Solente succeeds in winning in front of Prestat who, spent, is dropped before the line.

RESULTS: 1. Pieters (France-Soir) 39 km in 57' 13"; 2. Solente (Information) at 37"; 3. Prestat (Paris-Presse); 4. Friedrich (Ce Soir); 5. Dupont (N.M.P.P.); 6. Cathelin (Sport-Complet); 7. Toros (Paris Pin-up); 8. Chapuis (Ce Soir); 9. Pellon (N.M.P.P.); 10. Bacon (Information); 11. Un peloton

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From Route et Piste (France), 16? Oct 1950:

Do you know Miss Route et Piste?

The Parisian crowd does not hesitate to celebrate, as is its habit, the "roule-toujours".

The encouragements burst forth throughout the race course and the ambiance at the finish on the top of the avenue Junot, was particularly enthusiastic.

It is true that La Houppa and her collegues of the Butte found an audience eager to take up the occasion to relax.

And the song "roule-toujours" obtained a well-deserved success.

With the refrain, everyone sang along: "roule-toujours, bien fièrement quand tu détales..."

At the arrival of Pieters, escorted by a group, rather, a squadron, of motorcyclists, the fever rose.

And, as soon as La Houppa had given the traditional kiss (rather two!), there was a commotion:

The winner had disappeared!

Fortunately, the second placed rider, Solente was there, quite ready to play the substitute.

[Cela ne fait rien, en avait eu chaud!]

This is but one of the reasons which caused the invasion of the café de la Mère Catherine, a little higher up, on the square.

Miraculously found, Pieters accepted a (new) kiss from Miss Route et Piste and a cup (Route et Piste also).

But, in fact, do you know Miss Route et Piste?

No? You are wrong!

She is a charming blonde, by the name of Micheline, all smiles in her eighteen years, and who studies medicine.

She also has a precise goal for next summer.

She would like to follow the Tour Cyclotouriste by motorcycle.

Happy pilot!...

Ah! I forgot to mention that Mlle Micheline is (also) the daughter of M. Prudhomme, director of the New Nouvelles Messageries de la Presse.


Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From an unknown French daily, 16? Oct 1950:

He escaped at Charenton

The track racer Jean Pieters winner of the "roule-toujours"

The traditional championnat des "roule-toujours" was a regular success on the course as well as on the finish line on the Butte.

Jean Pieters, road rider and six-day man took revenge on fate this time and crossed the finish line as victor, with 37 seconds' lead over second-place Solente, who beat Prestat and Friedrich in the sprint.

Pieters succeeded in taking a flyer after the porte de Charenton and held his advantage until the finish.

Before this deciding moment, though, various attacks had been made.

Solente and Cathelin followed the attacks of Prestat and Stevens on the climb of the boulevard Lefebvre, then it was Prestat and Friedrich who tried their luck, but without success.

Because none of these succeeded, it was the acceleration of Pieters which was the determining factor, and ensured, for the first time, his claiming the title of the "roule-toujours" and the coupe "Route et Piste" offered to the winner.

RESULTS: 1. Pieters (France-Soir) 39 km in 57' 13"; 2. Solente (Information) at 37"; 3. Prestat; 4. Friedrich; 5. Dupont; 6. Cathelin; 7. Toros; 8. Chapuis; 9. Pellon; 10. Bacon; 11. Fay; 12. Corchia; 13. Pasty; 14. Samson; 15. Stevens; 16. Cahu; 17. Defer; 18. Bertho; 19. Boucher; 20. Bourneuf, etc.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

From an unknown French daily, 16? Oct 1950:

Jean Pieters champion of the "roule-toujours"

To Ce Soir the cup
Once again, Paris thinks of its "roule-toujours". Their peloton, from quarter to quarter, heard the applause of the crowd. From place Clichy to Montmartre... while riding along the exterior boulevards, a whole troop of backfiring motorcyclists escorted them.

It was a champion who, once again, won the race, Jean Pieters is one of ons better "américaines" and last Sunday, he shone at the Vél' d'Hiv' where, last year, he won, with George Roux, a big américaine in front of all the aces.

In spite of the hard trade at which he works, Pieters knew knew it was essential to race like a champion. He is thus worthy to be such to his trade: champion 1950 of "roule-toujours".

He escaped at the the Porte Dorée, a little more than halfway through the race. Pieters arrived alone at the top of the hard incline which ends behind the Moulin de la Galette. A whole artistic program, set up by the stars of the C.S.M.P., had entertained the crowd while it waited. They were still cheering Pieters, when the rest of the peloton appeared around the last turn. In an energetic sprint, Guy Solente, road rider and stayer, took second place in front of Prestat and the winner of 1948, Friedrich, leader of the team of Ce Soir.

The champions of the track outrode the pure professionals. It is logical... But as a whole, this Critérium had shown the quality of our "roule-toujours" which does not have as much occasion to show off like their comrades.

Courageously the last riders finished. It was necessary to wait until the end for the Challenge.

Article courtesy of Jean Pieters

Jean Pieters, winner of the Critérium des Porteurs de Journaux
Jean Pieters crossing the finish line on ave Junot

Jean Pieters with La Houppa

Jean Pieters during the race
Jean Pieters with La Houppa
Jean Pieters during the race
Post-race publicity shot
Post-race publicity shot
Post-race publicity shot

Photos courtesy of Jean Pieters

In August of 2006, I chanced upon a web page devoted to Jean Pieters' career, maintained by his neighbor. Positively exuberant, I made contact, and set up a meeting during a trip to Paris in early November. For 7 years the Championnat des Porteurs de Journaux had been an obsession for me - since I first discovered an article on the event in the pages of an old issue of Miroir des Sports - and I had dreamed of someday tracking down one of the "roule-toujours" who had participated in the event, in the hopes of hearing about the event firsthand, and filling in gaps in my knowledge. Here was my long-awaited chance.

After a short train voyage to the outer Parisian suburbs, I was welcomed into the home of M. Pieters. I recognized his face immediately - so many of the riders from those days have such distinctive features, unlike the seemingly uniform visages of modern cycling. He asked if I wanted a beer, and I knew I'd found my man. His neighbor, Dominque Grandfils, aided with translation, as my French is still embarrassingly nonexistant (despite my ever-improving translation skills, spoken French still escapes me), but mostly the pictures and clippings from his scrapbooks did the talking - and I certainly speak their language. I had brought photos of my own, reprints from my collection, in the hopes of discussing them with him, perhaps shedding some light on the locations and riders pictured, and I enjoyed the opportunity to surprise him with the discovery that some crazy guy from the other side of the world is completely absorbed by such an obscure race.

In spite of his years - M. Pieters is 86 at the time of writing - he seems as healthy as someone 20 years his junior. We spoke of a career that encompassed time as a regional professional road racer, a 6-day man, and a track racer specializing in the américaine and demi-fond - as well as his 4 years riding the streets of Paris as a newspaper courier. For me, a courier myself, the similarities in our experience as messengers were uncanny - much as the descriptions of the racers' antics in my collection of articles strike a chord for all their resemblance to current (albeit more informal) races. I pulled out my foldout map of Paris that has been my constant companion since this research began, and asked if he could fill in the gaps in my picture of the race course, and in moments I had confirmation of the route I had been guessing at based on place names mentioned here and there in articles. A challenging course it was indeed, not merely for the distance (38 km), but for the then-prevalent cobbled sections and the climbs, especially those of the Butte Chaumont and the final climb up to the center of Montmartre. M. Pieters spoke of near-insane speeds on the downhill bits, and weaving between the live traffic in which the race was held. Again, despite the passing years, it was a very familiar picture.

For his victory in 1950, M. Pieters received 60,000 francs (worth about 1500 euros today - two months' pay for him at the time) - 20.000 of which was a bonus from his employer, the paper France-Soir. quite a windfall, if you ask me! But the sacrifices for a racer working as a messenger were the same then as they are now - fantastic base mileage, but complete exhaustion between the work and the training. After his time working as a newspaper courier, M. Pieters moved on to other work, and served as a directeur sportif for his company's cycling team.

For me, the meeting meant not only access to a huge stash of clippings from 1947-50 that it would have taken me years to track down, and a collection of original photographs that I might otherwise have never seen, but absolute definition of the race course and format for the post-war years, and some insight into the character of the event and its participants - I can only hope now that there are other old "roule-toujours" out there, just waiting to be found, and just as willing to speak of their experience.

So, to Jean Pieters (and also to Dominique Granfils, whose help was invaluable) - here's to you, and your willingness to share your memories of time as a porteur de journaux, so that we might remember this little-known piece of Parisian history. Thank you!
The winner's trophy
Jean Pieters with the winner's trophy, 2006

Photos courtesy of Dominque Grandfils and Jean Pieters

the above articles in the original french

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