François Faber Photo Gallery
François Faber (January 26, 1887 - May 9, 1915) was the first foreigner to win the Tour de France. Though born in France, because his father was a Luxembourg citizen, François Faber had Luxembourg nationality.
Like most pre-World War II professional cyclists, Faber was a laborer, working as a porter, waiter, shipyard worker and dockhand before turning pro.
He was a big man, 6' 1", 200 pounds (1.86 m, 91 km), hence his cycling nickname, The Giant of Colombes, Colombes being the area in Paris where he lived.
Faber's 1909 Tour de France ride is one of the most dominating in the history of the sport. He won five stages in a row that year, still the record. The riders in the 1909 Tour were harassed with wind, snow and rain (and remember, roads were often unpaved back then, meaning they could become muddy bogs). Faber thrived in 1909's miserable weather, perhaps the worst of any Tour.
He crashed badly midway through the 1910 edition, allowing teammate Octave Lapize to win. But Faber was probably never going to win a Tour after 1909. Faber was a big man and 1910 the Tour introduced climbs in the high mountains, allowing smaller, lighter men like Lapize to scoot away.
Faber wasn't finished, though. After 1910 he won four more Tour stages, Bordeaux-Paris, Paris-Brussels and Paris-Roubaix. Unsurprisingly, the 1913 Paris-Roubaix that Faber won was held on a cold and sleety day.
In 1914, with the start of the First World War, Faber joined the French Foreign Legion. He was killed at the Battle of Artois shortly after receiving a telegram telling him of the birth of his daughter. Faber was shot carrying a wounded comrade back across no-man's land.
His body was never found, the battlefield was completely torn up by artillery shells.
You want a sports hero? Here he is.
1907: 7th Tour de France
1908: 2nd Tour de France with 4 stage wins, 3rd Paris-Roubaix, 1st Giro di Lombardia
1909: 1st Tour de France with 6 stage wins, 1st Paris-Brussels, 1st Paris-Tours
1910: 2nd Tour de France with 3 stage wins, 1st Paris Tours
1911: 1st Bordeaux-Paris, 2nd Paris-Brussels, abandoned Tour de France in the 12th stage after 2 stage wins
1913: 1st Paris-Roubaix, 5th Tour de France with 2 stage wins
1913: Saphir Cycles
François Faber plaque in Parc de la Ville de Luxembourg. Carel Kremer photo
1908 Tour de France: François Faber crests a hill alone. Note the dirt road and mud.
His chain broken, Faber pushes his bike to the line at the end of stage four of the 1909 Tour de France.
Faber during the 1909 Tour de France
End of the 1909 Tour de France: third place Jean Alavoine (left) shakes Faber's hand.
End of 1909 Tour de France: Faber with the winner's bouquet.
Faber looking serious after winning the Tour in 1909.
Faber at the Parc des Princes at the end of the 1909 Tour de France
The hero. François Faber celebrates his victory in the 1909 Tour de France.
Francois Faber, "The Giant of the Road", endorsing Alcyon bikes, which he rode from 1909 to 1911.
1910 Tour de France: Faber is followed by 1911 Tour winner Gustave Garrigou
Faber on a velodrome, undated photo.
François Faber, winner of the 1913 Paris-Roubaix on a Peugeot bicycle
Faber in 1913.
1913 Tour de France, stage seven: François Faber is on the Portet d'Aspet
1913 Tour de France, stage eleven: Faber and Gustave Garrigou on the Galibier
1914 Tour de France: Faber leads the pack through Pont Audemer in Normandy.
Faber as a French Legionnaire in the trenches