Lucien Petit-Breton Photo Gallery
Born Lucien Georges Mazan, Lucien Petit-Breton (October 18, 1882 - December 20, 1917) was the first rider to win the Tour de France two years in a row.
Born in France, his family emigrated to Argentina but Lucien returned to France in 1902. Because his father disapproved of a cycle racing career, he took the pseudonym Lucien Breton. Finding that name had been taken, he changed it to Lucien Petit-Breton.
His initial success came on the track, he broke the World Hour Record in 1905. He won the 1907 Tour de France after race leader Emile Georget received a crippling penalty for an illegal bike change. His 1908 victory was accomlished with stunning ease.
He tried twice to win the Giro d'Italia, but finished neither time. still, he deeply impressed the Italian sportswriters. A short quote from the 1911 chapter of my The Story of the Giro d'Italia:
"While Carlo Galetti was admired as the strongest Italian in the Giro, Petit-Breton won unstinting admiration from Italian sportswriters. Emilio Colombo wrote this after the second stage (Florence–Genoa): “We stopped at Ostadia, a little distance before Arezzo, to have a drink. When we resumed we noticed a man who pedaled with a wonderful speed and suppleness. He was riding in a striking way. It was Petit-Breton who had left behind, bit by bit, every one of his companions.”
Costamagna, writing under the pseudonym “Magno”, wrote this about Petit-Breton after his stage eleven abandon:
“The best of the class. A superior man, of great class, a courageous and fair athlete; a perfect gentleman; a genial and kind man had won. After four hard-fought battles [the previous stages] he had proven that he was a strong man who could fight them all. This magnificent champion, truly an expression of the Latin race, had taken a triumph worthy of a hero.
“The judgment of most is inadequate. The race route had long, hard climbs and difficult descents. In the Mondovì–Turin stage he learned he was up against a coalition of the best Italian climbers. In one stage he also knew that his best defenses had come undone, going from first to last and had then in the final moment triumphed with a sprint worthy of a track champion.
“His elegant silhouette, an attractive figure of a lord competing with dignity on the field of professional glory and money was saluted everywhere with true sporting enthusiasm.
“The knight without blemish and without fear is fallen, gloriously fallen while battling.” (The last sentence is a reference to the great medieval French hero, Chevalier Bayard)"
Petit-Breton died in the First World War when a vehicle he was driving on a dark road crashed into a car.
1905: World Hour Record (41.110 kilometers)
1907: Tour de France with 2 stage wins, Milano-San Remo
1908: Tour de France with 5 stage wins, Paris-Brussels
1905: JC Cycles
1907: Alcyon-Dunlop, Peugeot-Wolber
1911: La Française-Diamant
Undated photo of Lucien Petit-Breton
Petit-Breton was good on the track.
Postcard noting Petit-Breton was from Argentina
A dapper-looking Petit Breton on the track
Undated photo of Petit-Breton on a velodrome
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Petit-Breton wins the 1907 Tour de France
1908 Tour de France: Gustave Garrigou, Lucien Petit-Breton and Giovanni Rossignoli
Petit-Breton after (possibly) stage 2 in Metz
A century ago road racing was a dusty, dirty business.
1908 Tour de France, stage 3, Petit-Breton at a sign-in in Epinal
Petit-Breton as winner of the 1908 Tour de France
Post card printed after Petit-Breton's 1908 Tour win noting he rides a Peugeot.
1913 Tour de France, stage 7: Petit-Breton climbs the Puymorens in the Pyrenees.
Petit-Breton in the 1913 Tour de France. The bike he is riding in this picture is equipped with a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub.