Darrigade at the 1956 Tour de France
|Full name||André Darrigade|
|Nickname||Le Lévrier des Landes|
Le Landais bondissant
|Born||24 April 1929|
André Darrigade (born 24 April 1929 in Narrosse) is a retired French professional road bicycle racer between 1951 and 1966. Darrigade, a road sprinter won the 1959 World Championship and 22 stages of the Tour de France. Five of those were on the first day, a record.
André Darrigade was born at Narosse, near Dax in the forested Landes region. He came to attention at the other end of the country and on the track by beating the future world sprint champion, Antonio Maspes in a meeting at the Vélodrome d'Hiver the night before the Six Days of Paris race there.
His name immediately appealed to northern crowds. René de Latour said: "It is a very 'musical' name to [northern] French ears, especially when pronounced by a southerner who rolls his Rs like a Scotsman to make it sound like Darrrrrigade. De Latour said:
Darrigade stayed in Paris and joined one of its leading clubs, the Vélo-Club d'Asnières-Courbevoie, at the invitation of Francis Pélissier, the former professional who was one of its officials. Darrigade rode again on the track at the Vél' d'Hiv, winning madisons and sprints, and won four races on the road. He turned professional in 1951 for a salary that barely covered his rent.
Raphaël Géminiani said: "Darrigade was the greatest French sprinter of all time and he'll stay that way for a long time. The mould has been broken. But he wasn't just a sprinter. He was an animateur who could start decisive breaks; he destroyed the image of sprinters who just sit on wheels." He began his sprints from a long distance from the line, challenging others to pass him. It endeared him to the French public, said de Latour.
Darrigade wore 19 yellow jerseys and won 22 stages. He won the opening stage of the Tour de France in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1961. Darrigade lost time in the mountains and his best final positions were 16th in 1956, 1959 and 1960. In single-day races, he won the national championship in 1955 and a year and a half later the Giro di Lombardia. He won the world championship at Zandvoort on 16 August 1959, breaking clear with the Italian, Michele Gismondi, and Retvig. Darrigade was at his best in the middle of the season and the spring races were too early and those in autumn too late. He did, however, come fourth in the 1957 Paris-Roubaix, 3rd in Milan-San Remo and second in Paris-Brussels in 1960.
He said: "I was always considered a team man. I never had any pretensions to be anything else. In the days when the Tour had national teams, Marcel Bidot [the manager] always saw me as just that. Those wins never became dull or routine. Each one was an immense pleasure. What's more, I had the chance to race alongside such great champions as Louison Bobet and Jacques Anquetil." He was close to Anquetil, whom he called "bizarrely calm." He said: "Quite often, I had to say to him, 'If you don't get going, you'll lose the Tour."
On 19 July 1958 the Tour finished at the Parc des Princes in western Paris. The 70-year-old sécrétaire-général of the stadium, Constant Wouters ran across the grass in the centre of the ground to prevent photographers encroaching on the track. The journalists hid the riders and Wouters from each other and Darrigade rode into Wouters as he stepped onto the track. Darrigade was lifted from his bike and turned round and Wouters thrown into the air. Both fell heavily and were taken to hospital. Wouters was treated at the nearby Boucicaut medical centre but died on 31 July. Darrigade cracked his skull and broke ribs. He was able to return before the end of the meeting to take a lap of honour.
Darrigade retired to run a newspaper shop in Biarritz. Finally retired, he became with his friend Albaladejo ardent fan of Biarritz Olympique, the town's rugby team, his first passion for the sport.
A stadium in Dax is named after him.
A statue of 6 meters high, designed by "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" Guy Pendanx, was unveiled in his honor in Narrosse on 12 July 2017.
Darrigade's brother, Roger, six years younger, also rode as a professional. In 1955, both brothers were French national champions, André in professional and Roger in amateur.
André Darrigade has two sons and two grandson.
He is an officer of the Légion d'Honneur.
|Tour de France||37º||49º||49º||16º||27º||21º||16º||16º||32º||21º||DNF||66º||93º||62º|
|Vuelta a España||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Road World Championships||17º||-||-||13º||3º||3º||1º||2º||-||16º||4º||-||-||-|