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Ferdy Kübler, 1950 Tour de France Winner,
Answers Some Questions

October 7, 2004

Tour de France: the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour de France: The Inside Story - Making the World's Greatest Bicycle Race is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

Our story:

With the kind assistance of René Moser of Swiss Trading, we were able to submit several written questions to the great Ferdy Kübler, winner of the 1950 Tour de France.

When I wrote this (October 7, 2004), he was the oldest living Tour winner; he has since passed away (December 29, 2016).

It might be a stretch to call the written format "oral history", but this was the only way we could accomplish the interview.

Chairman Bill: You mentioned that when the Italians left the 1950 Tour de France, your job was much harder because you could no longer mark them and ride in their shadow. How did you change your tactics with the Italian departure?
Ferdy Kübler: It was more difficult for me to win the Tour after the Italians quit. The Italians rode for victory. Every break was pulled back in by the Italians. I had to race against the remainder of the peloton after the Italians departed, so the Italians were indirectly riding for me.

Fery Kübler in yellow during stage 20 of the 1950 Tour de France

Chairman Bill: Did you feel that you were riding to victory even before Bartali and Magni left?
Ferdy Kübler: I was able to win the Tour because I was the best in the time trials.

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CB: What was it like riding the unpaved descents of the Pyreness and Alps with the bikes of 1950?
FK: The roads were very difficult to ride in those days, especially the downhill grades from the passes.

CB: What kind of training did you do for the Tour. How many kilometers a day?
FK: I trained for the Tour 6 to 8 hours every day, which amounted to approximately 1,100 kilometers a week

Back when riders had to make their own repairs. Here Kübler (facing camera) gets help from Emilio Croci repairing a tire in the 1950 Tour.

CB: This was the golden era of Swiss cycling. Did you feel that your Swiss team was as strong as the teams from France and Belgium?
FK: We were the weakest team in the 1950 Tour with only 5 riders. After 5,000 kilometers, all my teammates who arrived in Paris were between 2.5 to 3 hours behind me in the General Classification. Practically, they could never help me.


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CB: Is there any particular memory that stands out in the 1950 Tour?
FK: The greatest moment for me was the 98-kilometer time trial from St.Etienne to Lyon. I won the stage, beating Stan Ockers by 5 minutes and 34 seconds and Louison Bobet by about 8 minutes!

Ferdy Kübler in 1951 wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey.

CB: Any thoughts or comments on Bartali, Coppi, Ockers and Bobet?
FK: Coppi, Bartali, Bobet, Anquetil, Ockers, Charly Gaul, Van Steenbergen, Bahamontes and Hugo Koblet were the greatest during those times. We all raced together for over 10 to 12 years. Today, there are barely 3 to 4 riders on the same level, except Armstrong, but he only rides the Tour with the best team!!

With Warmest Regards,

Ferdy Kübler

23/9/04


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