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1931 Tour de France

June 30- July 26

Results, stages with running GC, photos and history

1930 Tour | 1932 Tour | Tour de France Database | 1931 Tour Quick Facts | 1931 Tour de France Final GC | Stage results with running GC | The Story of the 1931 Tour de France |


1931 Tour Quick Facts:

5,095 km raced at an average speed of 28.735 km/hr

81 starters, aligned either on national teams (41 riders with Francisco Cepeda as the only rider representing Spain) or as independent touristes-routiers (40 riders). 35 classified finishers.

Once Antonin Magne took the lead after a masterful ride in stage 9, he seemed to easily resist the best efforts of the Italians and Belgians and thereby won his first Tour.

Time Bonuses: 3 minutes to the stage winner if he won by more than 3 minutes.


1931 Tour de France Complete Final General Classification:

  1. Antonin Magne (France): 177hr 10min 3sec
  2. Joseph "Jef" Demuysère (Belgium) @ 12min 56sec
  3. Antonio Pesenti (Italy) @ 22min 51sec
  4. Gaston Rebry (Belgium @ 46min 40sec
  5. Maurice De Waele (Belgium) @ 49min 46sec
  6. Julien Vervaecke (Belgium) @ 1hr 10min 11sec
  7. Louis Péglion (France) @ 1hr 18min 33sec
  8. Erich Metze (Germany) @ 1hr 20min 59sec
  9. Albert Büchi (Australia-Switzerland) @ 1hr 19min 29sec
  10. André Leducq (France) @ 1hr 30min 8sec
  11. Oskar Thierbach (Germany) @ 1hr 34min 3sec
  12. Hubert Opperman (Australia-Switzerland) @ 1hr 36min 43sec
  13. Benoît Faure (France) @ 1hr 40min 38sec
  14. Charles Pélissier (France) @ 1hr 45min 11sec
  15. Max Bulla (touriste-routier) @ 1hr 51min 32sec
  16. Kurt Stoepel (Germany) @ 2hr 5min 58sec
  17. Raffaele Di Paco (Italy) @ 2hr 11min 11sec
  18. Alfons Schepers (Belgium) @ 2hr 15min 27sec
  19. Ludwig Geyer (Germany) @ 2hr 16min 22sec
  20. Herbert Sieronski (Germany) @ 2hr 33min 40sec
  21. Roger Pipoz (Australia-Switzerland) @ 2hr 25min 19sec
  22. Hermann Buse (Germany) @ 2hr 28min 22sec
  23. Alfred Siegel (Germany) @ 2hr 36min 6sec
  24. Marius Guiramand (touriste-routier) @ 3hr 5min 39sec
  25. Michele Orecchia (Italy) @ 3hr 9min 26sec
  26. André Van Wierst (touriste-routier) @ 3hr 33min 44sec
  27. Joseph Mauclair (France) @ 3hr 41min 22sec
  28. Louis Bajard (touriste-routier) @ 4hr 6min 2sec
  29. Fernand Fayolle (touriste-routier) @ 4hr 20min 58sec
  30. Fabio Battesini (Italy) @ 4hr 39min 43sec
  31. Lazare Venot (touriste-routier) @ 4hr 42min 4sec
  32. Jean Maréchal (France) @ 4hr 43min 15sec
  33. Julius Goedhuys (touriste-routier) @ 4hr 47min 9sec
  34. François Henri (touriste-routier) @ 5hr 13min 0sec
  35. Richard Lamb (Australia-Switzerland) @ 6hr 27min 6sec

1931 Tour stage results with running GC:

Stage 1: Tuesday, June 30, Paris - Caen, 208 km

Riders 7 - 34 given same time and place

  1. Alfred Haemerlinck: 6hr 17min 12sec
  2. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  3. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  4. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  5. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  6. Max Bulla s.t.
  7. Pierino Ferioli, Oskar Thierbach, Giuseppe Pancera, Erich Metze, etc. s.t.

Stage 2: Wednesday, July 1, Caen - Dinan, 212 km

  1. Max Bulla: 6hr 37min 14sec
  2. René Bernard s.t.
  3. André Van Vierst s.t.
  4. Charles Pélissier @ 2min 46sec
  5. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  6. Alfred Haemerlinck s.t.
  7. Erich Metze s.t.
  8. Jef Demuysère s.t.
  9. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  10. Hubert Opperman s.t.

GC after stage 2:

Max Bulla is the first touriste-routier to wear yellow

  1. Max Bulla: 12hr 54min 26sec
  2. André Van Vierst @ 1min 47sec
  3. Alfred Haemerlinck @ 2min 46sec

Stage 3: Thursday, July 2, Dinan - Brest, 206 km

Places 10 - 32 given same time and place

  1. Fabio Battesini: 6hr 17min 29sec
  2. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  3. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  4. Erich Metze s.t.
  5. Karl Altenburger s.t.
  6. Romain Gijssels s.t.
  7. Alfons Schepers s..t.
  8. Georges Antenen s.t.
  9. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  10. Albert Büchi s.t.

37. Max Bulla @ 29min 16sec

GC after stage 3:

  1. Léon Le Calvez: 19hr 14min 41sec
  2. 14 riders with same time and place

Stage 4: Friday, July 3, Brest - Vannes, 211 km

  1. André Godinat: 6hr 8min 16sec
  2. Jean Naert @ 6min 15sec
  3. Max Bulla @ 7min 21sec
  4. Raffaele Di Paco @ 8min 31sec
  5. Fabio Battesini s.t.
  6. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  7. Karl Altenburger s.t.
  8. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  9. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  10. Georges Antenen s.t.

GC after Stage 4:

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 25hr 31min 28sec
  2. 12 riders with same time and place

Stage 5: Saturday, July 4, Vannes - Les Sables d'Olonne, 202 km

Places 6 - 59 given same time and place

  1. Charles Pélissier: 6hr 36min 49sec
  2. Antonin Magne s.t.
  3. Max Bulla s.t.
  4. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  5. Jef Demuysère s.t.
  6. Giuseppe Pancera, Georges Laloup, Jean Naert, August Van Tricht, Gérard Loncke, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 5:

  1. Raffaele di Paco & Charles Pélissier tied: 32hr 2min 17sec
  2. 8 riders tied for second

Stage 6: Sunday, July 5, Les Sables d'Olonne - Bordeaux, 338 km

  1. Alfred Haemerlinck: 10hr 46min 20sec
  2. André Leducq s.t.
  3. Fabio Battesini s.t.
  4. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  5. Alfred Siegel s.t.
  6. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  7. Julien Vervaecke s.t.
  8. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  9. Erich Metze s.t.
  10. Ludwig Geyer s.t.

GC after Stage 6:

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 42hr 54min 37sec
  2. 9 riders tied for second

Stage 7: Monday, July 6, Bordeaux - Bayonne, 180 km

Places 9 - 19 given same time and place

  1. Gérard Loncke: 5hr 37min 45sec
  2. Max Bulla s.t.
  3. André Godinat s.t.
  4. Jean Bidot s.t.
  5. Giuseppe Pancera s.t.
  6. Francis Bouillet s.t.
  7. Amulio Viarengo s.t.
  8. Robert Van Grootenbruele s.t.
  9. Achille Viane, Robert Brugère, etc. s.t.

GC after stage 7:

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 48hr 43min 9sec
  2. 9 riders tied for second

Stage 8: Tuesday, July 8, Bayonne - Pau, 106 km

  1. Charles Pélissier: 3hr 24min 20sec
  2. Erich Metze s.t.
  3. André Leducq s.t.
  4. Achille Viaene s.t.
  5. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  6. Fabio Battesini @ 5sec
  7. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  8. Bernard Van Rysselberghe s.t.
  9. Gaston Rebry s.t.
  10. Louis Peglion s.t.
  11. Jean Marechal s.t.
  12. Alfon Scheper @ 1min 59sec

GC after stage 8:

  1. Charles Pélissier: 52hr 7min 29sec
  2. Erich Metze s.t.
  3. Oskar Thierbach @ 50sec

Stage 9: Wednesday, July 8, Pau - Luchon, 231 km

Major ascents: Aubisque, Tourmalet

Antonin Magne earned a 3-minute time bonus on this stage.

  1. Antonin Magne: 8hr 56min 3sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 42sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 7min 44sec
  4. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  5. Albert Büchi s.t.
  6. Louis Peglion @ 13min 59sec
  7. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  8. Alfons Schepers @ 20min 47sec
  9. Joseph Mauclair s.t.
  10. Gaston Rebry s.t.

GC after stage 9:

  1. Antonin Magne: 61hr 2min 31sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 9min 32sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 10min 44sec

Stage 10: Friday, July 10, Luchon - Perpignan, 322 km

Major ascents: Ares, Portet d'Aspet, Port, Puymorens

Riders 7 - 52 given same time and place

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 12hr 33min 57sec
  2. Max Bulla s.t.
  3. André Leducq s.t.
  4. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  5. Amulio Viarengo s.t.
  6. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  7. André Van Vierst, Gérard Loncke, Achille Viaene, Jules Goethuys, etc. s.t.

53. Hubert Opperman @ 58sec

GC after Stage 10:

  1. Antonin Magne: 73hr 36min 28sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 9min 32sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 10min 44sec

Stage 11: Sunday, July 12, Perpignan - Montpellier, 164 km

Places 9 - 19 given same time and place

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 5hr 50min 36sec
  2. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  3. André Leducq @ 31sec
  4. Fabio Battesini s.t.
  5. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  6. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  7. Max Bulla s.t.
  8. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  9. Ludwig Geyer, Alfred Siegel, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 11:

  1. Antonin Magne: 79hr 27min 35sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 9min 32sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 10min 44sec

Stage 12: Monday, July 13, Montpellier - Marseille, 207 km

  1. Max Bulla: 6hr 22min 7sec
  2. Alessandro Catalani s.t.
  3. Giuseppe Pancera @ 2min 7sec
  4. André Van Vierst @ 5min 38sec
  5. René Bernard s.t.
  6. Kurt Nitzschke s.t.
  7. François Henri @ 6min 37sec
  8. Marius Guiamand s.t.
  9. Fernand Fayolle s.t.
  10. Erich Ussat @ 12min 8sec

GC after Stage 12:

  1. Antonin Magne: 86hr 9min 55sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 9min 32sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 10min 44sec

Stage 13: Tuesday, July 14, Marseille - Cannes, 181 km

Places 8 - 21 given same time and place

  1. Charles Pélissier: 6hr 41min 20sec
  2. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  3. René Bernard s.t.
  4. Hermann Buse s.t.
  5. André Van Vierst s.t.
  6. Léon Le Calvez s.t.
  7. Marius Guiramand s.t.
  8. René Faure, Ludwig Geyer, Louis Péglion, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 13:

  1. Antonin Magne: 92hr 51min 15sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 9min 32sec
  3. Jef Demuysère 10min 44sec

Stage 14: Wednesday, July 15, Cannes - Nice, 132 km

Major ascents: Braus, Castillon

  1. Eugenio Gestri: 4hr 47min 1sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 17sec
  3. Felice Gremo @ 4min 9sec
  4. Antonin Magne @ 4min 48sec
  5. Louis Péglion @ 5min 26sec
  6. Benoît Faure @ 6min 46sec
  7. Raffaele Di Paco @ 8min 49sec
  8. Fernand Fayolle s.t.
  9. Michele Orecchia s.t.
  10. Hubert Opperman @ 10min 10sec

GC after Stage 14:

  1. Antonin Magne: 97hr 43min 4sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 5min 31sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 16min 6sec

Stage 15: Friday, July 17, Nice - Gap, 233 km

Major ascent: Allos

  1. Jef Demuysère: 8hr 43min 1sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 2min 19sec
  3. Raffaele Di Paco @ 2min 22sec
  4. Antonin Magne s.t.
  5. Charles Pélissier @ 2min 29sec
  6. Alfons Schepers @ 8min 27sec
  7. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  8. Max Bulla s.t.
  9. Marius Guiramand s.t.
  10. Giuseppe Pancera s.t.

GC after Stage 15:

  1. Antonin Magne: 106hr 28min 27sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 13min 44sec

Stage 16: Saturday, July 18, Gap - Grenoble, 102 km

Major ascent: Bayard

Riders 8 - 23 given same time and place

  1. Charles Pélissier: 3hr 31min 43sec
  2. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  3. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  4. Alfon Schepers s.t.
  5. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  6. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  7. Max Bulla s.t.
  8. Louis Bajard, René Bernard, Adrien Buttafocchi, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 16:

  1. Antonin Magne: 110hr 0min 10sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 13min 44sec

Stage 17: Sunday, July 19, Grenoble - Aix les Bains, 230 km

Major ascents: Lautaret, Galibier

  1. Max Bulla: 8hr 37min 2sec
  2. Gaston Rebry s.t.
  3. Antonin Magne s.t.
  4. Michele Orecchia s.t.
  5. Julien Vervaecke s.t.
  6. Jef Demuysère s.t.
  7. Felice Gremo s.t.
  8. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  9. Albert Büchi s.t.
  10. Benoît Faure @ 1min 27sec
  11. Fabio Battesini @ 5min 23sec
  12. Giuseppe Pancera s.t.

GC after Stage 17:

  1. Antonin Magne: 118hr 37min 12sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 13min 44sec

Stage 18: Monday, July 20, Ais les Bains - Evian, 204 km

Major ascent: Aravis

Places 7 - 33 given same time and place

  1. Jef Demuysère: 7hr 57min 13sec
  2. André Leducq @ 48sec
  3. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  4. Max Bulla s.t.
  5. Jules Goethys s.t.
  6. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  7. Antonin Magne, Herbert Sieronski, Hermann Buse, André Van Vierst, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 18:

  1. Antonin Magne: 126hr 35min 13sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 12min 56sec

Stage 19: Tuesday, July 21, Evian - Belfort, 282 km

Major ascent: Faucille

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 10hr 33min 48sec
  2. Ludwig Geyer s.t.
  3. Gaston Rebry @ 6min 24sec
  4. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  5. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  6. Charles Pélissier @ 9min 20sec
  7. Max Bulla s.t.
  8. Jef Demuysère s.t.
  9. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  10. René Bernard s.t.

GC after stage 19:

  1. Antonin Magne: 137hr 18min 21sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 12min 56sec

Stage 20: Wednesday, July 22, Belfort - Colmar, 209 km

Major ascent: Schlucht

Places 5 - 30 given same time and place

  1. André Leducq: 7hr 5min 53sec
  2. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  3. Erich Metze s.t.
  4. Hubert Opperman s.t.
  5. Oskar Thierbach, Hermann Buse, Herbert Sieronski, Karl Altenburger, Louis Péglion, Adrien Buttafocchi, etc. s.t.

GC after stage 20:

  1. Antonin Magne: 144hr 24min 14sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4hr 58min
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 12min 56sec

Stage 21: Thursday, July 23, Colmar - Metz, 192 km

Places 7 - 29 given same time and place

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 6hr 20min 0sec
  2. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  3. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  4. Max Bulla s.t.
  5. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  6. René Bernard s.t.
  7. Ludwig Geyer, Hermann Buse, Herbert Sieronski, Antonin Magne, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 21:

  1. Antonin Magne: 150hr 44min 14sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 12min 56sec

Stage 22: Friday, July 24, Metz - Charleville, 159 km

Places 7 - 29 given same time and place. Charles Pélissier was first across the line but was relegated for irregular sprinting.

  1. Raffaele Di Paco: 5hr 1min 44sec
  2. Charles Pélissier s.t.
  3. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  4. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  5. André Leducq s.t.
  6. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  7. Herbert Sieronski, Antonin Magne, Herman Buse, Fernand Fayolle, etc. s.t.

GC after Stage 22:

  1. Antonin Magne: 155hr 45min 58sec
  2. Antonio Pesenti @ 4min 58sec
  3. Jef Demuysère @ 12min 56sec

Stage 23: Saturday, July 25, Charleville - Malo les Bains, 271 km

  1. Gaston Rebry: 8hr 8min 16sec
  2. Antonin Magne @ 11sec
  3. Jed Demuysère s.t.
  4. André Leducq @ 17min 34sec
  5. Maurice De Waele s.t.
  6. Erich Metze s.t.
  7. Antonio Pesenti s.t.
  8. Hubert Opperman s.t.
  9. Kurt Stoepel @ 18min 24sec
  10. Julien Vervaecke @ 23min 37sec

GC after Stage 23:

  1. Antonin Magne: 163hr 54min 25sec
  2. Jed Demuysère @ 12min 56sec
  3. Antonio pesenti @ 22min 21sec

Stage 24 (final stage): Sunday, July 26, Malo les Bain - Paris, 313 km

From 10th place onward, the results are very uncertain because the crowd rushed onto the velodrome (Parc des Princes).

  1. Charles Pélissier: 13hr 15min 38sec
  2. André Leducq s.t.
  3. Raffaele Di Paco s.t.
  4. Kurt Stoepel s.t.
  5. Max Bulla s.t.
  6. Jules Goethys s.t.
  7. Oskar Thierbach s.t.
  8. Erich Metze s.t.
  9. Jean Marechal s.t.
  10. Antonio Pesenti s.t.

Final 1931 Tour de France General Classification


The Story of the 1931 Tour de France

This excerpt is from "The Story of the Tour de France", Volume 1 If you enjoy it we hope you will consider purchasing the book, either print or electronic. The Amazon link here will make either purchase easy.

Desgrange increased the number of stages from 21 in 1930 to 24. This reduced the number of rest days to 3.

The French team, so completely dominant in 1930, retained its core of André Leducq, Antonin Magne and Charles Pélissier. Benoît Faure, who had ridden so well in the 1930 edition as a touriste-routier, was induced to become part of the French team. Faure had preferred to be, as he put it, a loner, rather than ride on the large teams. This was the only time out of his 7 Tour starts that Faure rode the Tour for a team. He turned down lucrative sponsorship offers from Alcyon, preferring to ride for less money for a smaller sponsor, Le Cheminot, during the rest of the year.

The Belgians, as usual, provided the major challenge to the French. Gaston Rebry, Julien Vervaecke, 1929 winner Maurice De Waele and Alfons Schepers assisted 1930's fourth place Joseph "Jef" Demuysére. The Italian team with climber Antonio Pesenti could be expected to be tough as well.

Hubert Opperman, who was part of the confused entry of Australian and New Zealand riders in the 1928 Tour, was put on a team made up of 4 Swiss and 4 Australian riders.

The first notable occurrence was in the second stage. Desgrange had the touriste-routiers starting 10 minutes after the national teams. That didn't deter them. They would chase and often quickly catch the top men. Max Bulla was a touriste-routier who not only caught the big men, he won the stage and took the overall lead. Bulla has the distinction of being the first and, I think, the only touriste-routier to wear yellow. His glory was short-lived. The next day in the Dinan-Brest stage he lost a half-hour. Léon Le Calvez was the new leader.

Leading up to the Pyrenees, Italy's ace sprinter Raffaele Di Paco dueled with France's Charles Pélissier for stage wins and the lead. After stage 5 they shared the lead for a single day. Then Di Paco had it to himself before relinquishing it to Pélissier on stage 8.

All of these sprinter games jockeying for the lead ended on stage 9, the Pyreneen stage with the Aubisque and the Tourmalet. Last year's winner, André Leducq, didn't have the Tour-winning form he showed in 1930. One man was particularly well prepared. Antonin Magne, who had ridden as Leducq's domestique in 1930, was in superb shape in 1931 and was the acknowledged leader of the French team.

Stage 9: Joseph Demuysére at the summit of the Tourmalet

Still stage 9: Well behind Demuysére was Italian Felice Gremo, shown here on the Aubisque. Gremo eventually finished the stage almost 21 minutes behind winner Magne.

The Belgian Demuysére, in a leading group, went ahead of Magne over the 2 climbs. Magne took off after him and the other leaders on the descent of the Tourmalet. Magne caught the group and not knowing that Demuysére had flatted and was now behind, kept going, wanting to chase him down. The now-solo flying Frenchman kept pouring on the gas and arrived in Luchon a full 4 minutes, 42 seconds ahead of Pesenti and almost 8 minutes ahead of Demuysére and De Waele.

That ride brought Magne the Yellow Jersey with a large cushion given the new 3-minute time bonus for winning the stage. Here was the General Classification after stage 9:

1. Antonin Magne
2. Antonio Pesenti @ 9 minutes 32 seconds
3. Joseph Demuysére @ 10 minutes 44 seconds

The riders did not attack stage 10, with its 4 major climbs, with the same energy. 57 riders, including sprinters Pélissier and Di Paco, who won the stage, finished at the same time. Even Hubert Opperman, who usually suffered time losses on the descents, finished within a minute of the leaders.

Magne's grip on the race seemed secure. The Italians launched an attack in stage 14 from Cannes to Nice that put Magne and the French on notice that his lead was not safe and the race was far from over. With the Braus and Castillon climbs, 3 Italians—Pesenti, Eugenio Gestri and Felice Gremo—got away from the French. The chase was on and eventually Magne, having exhausted his help, had to go after them by himself. He never caught them. The Italians got the first 3 places in the stage and Magne's lead shrank to 5 minutes.

The next stage (2 days later), Di Paco and Pesenti tried again. Pélissier helped Magne reel them in. And then it was Demuysére's turn to take off. He gained 2 minutes, 30 seconds on Magne at the end of the day as the attacks continued.

Over the Alps the highly motivated and unified French team kept Magne out of trouble. There was no change to the podium of the General Classification. The last threat to Magne's lead came on the penultimate stage, from Charleville to Malo-les-Bains. This was to be a day over cobbles, the type that good Belgian riders master as part of their trade.

Magne, a man who worried incessantly that something might happen to take away his lead, couldn't sleep the night before the day on the cobbles. Knowing that they had not conceded the race, he had a real fear of the Belgians. He kept saying that the race was not won until the last turn of the pedal. His roommate, André Leducq, tiring of Magne's fretting, suggested that Magne read some of his fan mail.

Magne found this suggestion agreeable. One letter in particular caught Magne's attention:

"Monsieur Antonin Magne,

"I am writing to warn you that Rebry [one of the Belgian team riders] has written to his mother saying that he'll attack with Demuysére on the stage from Charleville to Malo-les-Bains."

The letter's postmark was from Rebry's village. Leducq, being an easier-going sort and not having a Yellow Jersey in the balance, laughed the letter off as a joke. Magne thought Leducq was probably right, but he was taking no chances. The next day was wet and cold. Combined with the pavé, this was the ideal place for Rebry to put the hammer down. Rebry had won Paris-Roubaix that spring and would be at home on this stage. Demuysére was also a Belgian tough guy as only the Belgians make them in bicycle racing.

Magne told his compatriots to stick to Rebry and Demuysére and be ready for anything. 60 kilometers into the 271 kilometer stage the Belgian pair took off on a cobbled bend in the road. They instantly gained a gap. Leducq saw the move. He and Magne made a superhuman effort and got on their wheels. Rebry and Demuysére increased the pace. Magne hung on for dear life, refusing to do any of the work.

Magne fell. He remounted and regained contact with the pair. Upset that the Yellow Jersey was sitting on, refusing to pull, the Belgians maneuvered so that Magne got no shelter in the crosswind. With that, Magne consented to do some work.

Constantly the pair took turns attacking Magne, who fought to maintain contact. Rebry and Demuysére, with Magne refusing to be dropped, kept up the infernal place the entire balance of the stage, arriving at the finish 17 minutes, 34 seconds ahead of Leducq who led in the first chasing group. Even though Magne could not be dropped, the move wasn't entirely without gain for Demuysére. He moved up to second in the General Classification ahead of Pesenti.

To the best of my knowledge, the writer of the warning letter was never identified.

With the Belgians' gutsy attempt to gain time on Magne ending in partial failure, the Tour was really over. Pélissier won his fifth stage when he prevailed in the final stage into Paris. With this victory he and Di Paco were tied for 5 stage wins in the 1931 Tour.

Magne won to overwhelming French acclaim. The early 1930's were the glory years of French cycling. More was to come. Yet, the depth of the Belgian squad cannot be minimized. 4 of the top 6 riders in the final General Classification were Belgian. But it is the man in Yellow in Paris that we always remember. Five stages were won by touriste-routiers, including two by Max Bulla. This was the high point of the independent rider until Italy's Mario Vicini came in third as an independent in 1937.

The final 1931 Tour de France General Classification:

1. Antonin Magne (France): 177 hours 10 minutes 3 seconds
2. Joseph Demuysére (Belgium) @ 12 minutes 56 seconds
3. Antonio Pesenti (Italy) @ 22 minutes 51 seconds
4. Gaston Rebry (Belgium) @ 46 minutes 40 seconds
5. Maurice De Waele (Belgium) @ 49 minutes 46 seconds
6. Julien Vervaecke (Belgium) @ 1 hour 10 minutes 11 seconds