Jean Robic Photo Gallery
Jean Robic was an extraordinary athlete who seemed always to be at war with the world. His short stature (5' 3" - 1.6m) and homely appearance caused journalists to name him "the Hobgoblin of Brittany".
But, take a look at his big wins, both the 1947 Tour de France, taking three stages long the way, and the 1950 World Cyclo-Cross Championships. Only a superb racer could display such superiority in two different sports. Having fractured his skull in a 1944 race, he took to wearing a leather helmet, hence his nickname of "Old Leather-head"
1947 was the first post-war Tour de France. National and regional teams were entered. Robic was furious at being left off the French team and being made part of the France-West Squad.
Stage 7 of the 1947 Tour had four big climbs culminating in the 1,326 meter high Col de Porte. Robic was first over the final two climbs and won the stage by 4½ minutes. He was still down more than seven minutes, but he showed he was a rider to be feared.
Going into the final stage, Robic was still down almost three minutes. In one of the Tour's most famous moments, Robic attacked on the the Bonsecours hill outside Rouen. Eventually Robic and Edouard Fachleitner were together and riding away.
Fachleitner wanted to drop Robic and get up to riders further up the road, thereby gaining enough time to surpass Robic and possibly win the Tour. Robic is famously to have said to him, "You can't win the Tour, Fach, because I'm not going to let you go. Work with me and I'll pay you 100,000 francs." The deal was made. Robic and Fachleitner powered away.
Robic rode into the Yellow Jersey. Belgian Brik Schotte won the stage but Robic had beat GC contenders Brambilla, Ronconi, Vietto and Camellini by over thirteen minutes. Robic became the first man to gain the final General Classification victory on the final day. The only time he had possession of the Yellow Jersey in the 1947 Tour was when he donned it on the final podium. It wasn't done again until Jan Janssen won the Tour in the final time trial in 1968.
- 1945: French cyclo-cross championship
- 1947: Tour de France, winning stages 4, 7 & 15
- 1948: A Travers Lausanne
- 1949: Tour de France stage 11, 4th place GC
- 1950: World cyclo-cross championships, Rome-Naples-Rome
- 1952: Polymultipliée (now called Trophée des Grimpeurs), Tour de France stage 15, 5th place GC
- 1953: Tour de France stage 11
1943–1945: Génial Lucifer
1946–1949: Génial Lucifer-Hutchinson
1950: Thomann-Riva Sport
Nicknames: Leather-head (Tête de cuir), Kid goat (Biquet), Hobgoblin of Brittany
Robic (in leather helmet) leading a climb in the 1947 Tour de France
Robic in the 1947 Tour de France, stage 17
A couple joyously cool Robic as he climbs in the 1947 Tour.
Robic with Pierre Brambilla to his right in the 1947 Tour.
The winner of the 1947 Tour de France. Harry Sagers photo
Robic's 1947 Tour bike with Simplex changers and 172.5 cranks!
Jean Robic did have his commercial value
Robic (front, with leather hairnet) in the 1948 Tour
Robic repairs a flat in the 1948 Tour
Robic climbs in the 1950 Tour de France
Robic on his way to winning the 1950 world cyclo-cross championship.
Robic following Fausto Coppi in the 1952 Tour de France
Another shot of Coppi leading Robic in the 1952 Tour.
Monument to Jean Robic on that famous Bonsecours Hill.