Jan Janssen won in 1964, then Jacques Anquetil became the first man to have won four times in 1965. He would win again the following year and become the first man to five victories. 1972 went to his arch-rival Raymond Poulidor, with France divided into two groups - those who followed Anquetil and those who favoured Poulidor. The race was hit by its first big doping scandal in 1974, the year it was won by Joop Zoetemelk who would win the Tour six years later: Roger Legeay tested positive for amphetamines and was banned, but later returned to racing after a presidential amnesty. Zoetemelk won again in 1975, the year that the start was moved to Fontenay-sous-Bois.
1983 saw a second consecutive victory for Irishman Sean Kelly, who would go on to win for the following five years and set a record that is unlikely to ever be broken. In 1997, Laurent Jalabert became the first man to win three times consecutively - and doping raised its ugly head once again as Luca Colombo, Erwann Mentheour and Ivan Santaromita were barred from taking part after recording haematocrit counts greater than 50%, indication of blood tranfusions or EPO.
(image credit: Heidas CC BY-SA 3.0)
2008 brought victory for Davide Rebellin who, later that year, would be confirmed as one of six athletes to fail anti-doping tests at the Olympics. The race that year was overshadowed by a heated row between the Amaury Sports Organisation, who had owned the race since it was sold to them by Laurent Fignon in 2002, and cycling's governing body the UCI. The ASO, which also owns the Tour de France and numerous other major races in addition to assisting with many others, had become sufficiently powerful to challenge the UCI on decisions with which they disagreed, causing the UCI to assert authority by removing Paris-Nice from its ProTour race series and threaten that any team entering the event would be banned from UCI membership - effectively making it impossible for them to race. The Court for Arbitration in Sport became involved but declared itself unable to judge - eventually, the two opposing bodies came to an agreement and the race went ahead. There were two firsts that year: the start was moved to Amilly and the leader's jersey, which had undergone numerous alterations since the race began, became yellow to match that of the Tour de France.
Roberto Ferrari was born on this day in Gavardo, Italy in 1983. In 2009 he won the Memorial Marco Pantani and in 2011 he was 5th overall at the Tour of Turkey.
Ryan Bayley, born in Perth on this day in 1982, is an Australian track cyclist who became involved in a notorious feud with fellow Aussie track star Shane Perkins. Perkins crashed in the National Championships and Bayley rode into him, his tyre burning a hole into his rival's skinsuit. Perkins felt that the other man could have avoided him, so the animosity they already felt for one another boiled over. In February 2008, both riders were found guilty of improper riding by event judges, but the row continued Perkins and Bayley as they sniped at each other over whom should be selected for the Beijing Olympics later that year. Bayley was eventually selected as Perkins had not competed in a sufficient number of races.
(image credit: Heidas CC BY-SA 3.0)
Born in Virum, Copenhagen on this day in 1973, Jakob Piil began his professional career on track before his aggressive attacking style won him a contract as a road racer with Memory Card-Jack&Jones, the team that would become CSC and later Saxo Bank-Sungard. However, in his first year on road he crashed into a car and was out for much of the season.
During Stage 10 of the 2003 Tour de France, Piil was part of a nine-rider break that got away from the peloton. Gradually, other riders exhausted themselves and dropped away to be caught by the chasing pack until eventually only Piil and Fabio Sacchi remained. They were seen to shake hands as the finish line came within sight and then began battling to be the first over. Sacchi looked to be winning, but with a few metres to go Piil emerged from his back wheel and powered past him to take his first - and only - Tour stage victory. He tried again in 2004 but was unsuccessful, though his efforts made him a very deserving winner of the Combativity Award for Stages 2 and 8.
2005 was ruined by more crashes - the closest he came to a major road win was 8th in Stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana, but victory at the Copenhagen Six Days prevented the year from being entirely wasted. He formed part of the winning squad in the 2006 Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi-Bartali Stage 1b team time trial, then rounded off his career with some podium finishes at other races before retiring in 2007.
(image credit: Richard Masoner CC BY-SA 2.0)
At the end of the 2005 season, he was offered a contract by AG2r Prévoyance, a strong team that offered him the best chance of a future Tour win. 2006 started off well with 5th place overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Then, his name was one of the many to be connected to that of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes as part of the Operación Puerto doping scandal which resulted in him being kept away from the Tour that year. He announced his immediate retirement, but ended his contract with the team and signed up to Relax-Gam after the investigation found no reason to prosecute.
Remaining with Relax for a season, he won the Vuelta Chihuahua Internacional and achieved podium finishes at the Tour of Qinghai Lake and elsewhere before Fercase - Paredes Rota dos Móveis signed him up for 2008 and he won a second Vuelta Chihuahua Internacional. At the end of the season, he moved on to Rock Racing and won the Vuelta a Asturias, the Tour of Utah and the Spanish National Mountain Bike Marathon, but again stayed for only one season before signing to Heraklion. He won another National MTB Marathon in 2010 and came 8th overall in the UCI America Tour, then switched to Realcyclist.com and, at the age of 35, had the best year of his career with 14 victories including San Dimas, the Redlands Classic, the Sea Otter and several others.
Asghar Khodayari, born in Iran on this day in 1953, represented his nation at the 1976 Olympics. With Akbar Goharkhani, he set up the Azerbaijan International Cycling Tour in 1986 - the race has taken place in Iranian Azerbaijan every year since.
Francisco Antequera, born in Castellar on this day in 1964, was Spanish Amateur Road Race Champion in 1984. He also won the Vuelta a La Rioja in 1985 and the Vuelta a Burgos in 1989. He rode in five Tours de France, best result 94th on 1986 and three Vueltas a Espana, best result 81st in 1988.
Giuseppe Tonucci, born on this day in Fano, Italy in 1938, won Stage 10 at the 1962 Giro d'Italia.
Joseph Muller was born in Orschwiller (which, in our opinion, has the most impressive castle in France) on this day in 1895. He's been largely forgotten now, but was a cyclist of some repute during the 1920s when he won Stage 12 at the 1923 Tour de France and came 6th overall - beating Romain Bellenger, Philippe Thys, Jean Alavoine and several others who are listed in many more books on cycling history that he is - in 1924, also winning Paris-Nancy that year. Muller died in the 8th of May, 1975.
Marco Velo - the owner of what is surely the best name of any cyclist - was born in Brescia, Italy on this day in 1974. Velo was National Time Trial Champion between 1999 and 2000.
Other births: Andy Tennant (Great Britain, 1987); Karl Kühn (Austria, 1904); Thomas Freienstein (Germany, 1960); Roger Gibbon (Trinidad and Tobago, 1939); Karl Krenauer (Austria, 1959); Kurt Zellhofer (Austria, 1958); Kirkor Canbazyan (Turkey, 1912, died 2002).