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Philippe Thys (cyclist)

Philippe Thys (Thijs)
Thys in 1913
Personal information
Full namePhilippe Thijs
NicknameLe basset (The Basset Hound)[1]
Born(1889-10-08)8 October 1889
Anderlecht, Belgium
Died16 January 1971(1971-01-16) (aged 81)
Anderlecht, Belgium
Team information
Professional teams
1919–1921La Sportive
1927Opel–ZR III
Major wins
National Championships (1910)

Grand Tours

Tour de France
General classification (1913, 1914, 1920)
Mountains classification (1913)
13 individual stages (1913, 1914, 1920, 1922, 1924)

Stage races

Circuit Français Peugeot (1911)

One-day races and Classics

Giro di Lombardia (1917)
Paris–Tours (1917)
Tours–Paris (1918)
Paris–Menen (1914)
Limburgse Dageraad (1927)
Critérium des As (1921)

Philippe Thys (pronounced [fi.lip tis]; Dutch: Philippe Thijs; 8 October 1889 – 16 January 1971) was a Belgian cyclist and three times winner of the Tour de France.[2]

Professional career

In 1910, Thys won Belgium's first national cyclo-cross championship. The following year he won the Circuit Français Peugeot, followed by stage races from Paris to Toulouse and Paris to Turin. He then turned professional to ride the Tour de France.

Thys won the Tour in 1913 despite breaking his bicycle fork, and needing to find a bicycle shop to mend it. The repair induced a 10-minute penalty, but he won with a lead of just under nine minutes.[3]

Thys, celebrating his 1913 Tour de France win

Thys took the stage and the race lead when Eugène Christophe broke his fork on the way to Luchon. Marcel Buysse overtook him in the results the following day. Another broken fork on the way to Nice gave Thys the lead again but drama continued when he fell on the penultimate stage from Longwy to Dunkirk. Despite being knocked out and being penalised for help from teammates to repair his bike, he won 8 minutes and 37 seconds ahead of Gustave Garrigou, with Buysse third.

In 1914, he took his first stage victory, to Le Havre, holding the race from start to finish despite a 30-minute penalty for an unauthorised wheel change on the penultimate stage. His victory looked uncertain, his lead cut to less than two minutes ahead of Henri Pélissier.[4] Ironically, on the final stage from Dunkirk to Paris, the Frenchman's supporters along the route who were expecting victory over the Belgian were the reason he was prevented from launching a breakaway. He won the stage but Thys finished on his wheel to win the Tour.

In 1917, Thys won Paris–Tours and the Giro di Lombardia. In 1918, he also won the second and last Tours–Paris. After World War I, Thys won the Tour a third and final time in 1920. He led from the second stage, Henri Desgrange writing "France is not unaware that, without the war, the crack rider from Anderlecht would be celebrating not his third Tour, but his fifth or sixth".

Philippe Thys at the 1922 Critérium des As

Not until 1955 did Louison Bobet equal Thys's record, and not until 1963 did Jacques Anquetil break it with four wins. Thys also rode in the 1922 Tour, winning five stages, and in the 1924 Tour, winning two stages.

Thys was one of a generation of cyclists whose careers were disrupted by the First World War. After retiring, he recalled that he had been asked by his manager, Alphonse Baugé, to wear a yellow jersey as leader of the Tour, although that distinction is more commonly attributed to Eugène Christophe.[5]

Career achievements

Major results

1st National Cyclo-cross Championships
1st Overall Tour de France Independents
1st in 2 Stages
1st Overall Paris-Turin
1st in 2 Stages
1st Paris-Toulouse
1st Circuit Française Peugeot
6th Overall Tour de France
1st Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 6
1st Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 1
1st Paris-Menin (fr)
3rd Paris–Tours
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Paris–Tours
1st Tours-Paris
1st Six Days of Brussels (with Marcel Dupuy)
2nd Paris–Roubaix
1st Overall Tour de France
1st Stages 2, 9, 12 & 13
4th Road race, National Road Championships
4th Paris–Roubaix
4th Paris–Brussels
1st Critérium des As
1st Paris–Lyon (with Jean Rossius)
1st Paris–Dijon (with Jean Rossius)
3rd Bordeaux–Paris
4th Giro della Provincia di Milano
10th Milan–San Remo
Tour de France
1st Stages 4, 8, 9, 10 & 15
2nd Road race, National Road Championships
4th Bordeaux–Paris
5th Critérium des As
1st Paris–Lyon (with Jean Alavoine)
2nd Circuit du Languedoc
8th Paris–Tours
Tour de France
1st Stages 3 (tied with Théophile Beeckman) & 9
7th Paris–Roubaix
3rd Six Days of Brussels (with Maurice De Wolf)
1st Limburgse Dageraad
9th Rund um Leipzig

Grand Tour results

1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925
Stages won
Tour de France 6 1 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A DNF-1 1 DNF-2 14 DNF-9 11 DNF-9
Stages won 0 1 1 0 4 0 5 0 2 0
Vuelta a España N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Stages won
1 Winner
2–3 Top three-finish
4–10 Top ten-finish
11– Other finish
DNE Did not enter
DNF-x Did not finish (retired on stage x)
DNS-x Did not start (not started on stage x)
HD Finished outside time limit (occurred on stage x)
DSQ Disqualified
N/A Race/classification not held
NR Not ranked in this classification



  • Van Thys tot Nys by Luc Lamon, Mark van Hamme in 2011, Houtekiet, 227 p. ISBN 9789089241405
  • Philippe Thys: de vergeten drievoudig tourwinnaar by Johan Van Win in 2014, Ronde Tafel, 248 p. ISBN 9789491545153


  1. ^ Vergne, Laurent (22 July 2015). "Cannibale, Chéri-pipi, Wookie, Andy torticolis… le Top 20 des surnoms mythiques du cyclisme" [Cannibal, Chéri-pipi, Wookie, Andy Torticollis... the Top 20 mythical nicknames of cycling]. Eurosport (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Philippe Thys". 2023.
  3. ^ "11ème Tour de France 1913" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Dagboek van een Tourwinnaar. Philippe Thys tijdens de Tour van 1914" (in Dutch). 28 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Palmarès de Philippe Thys (Bel)". (in French). Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  6. ^ Maurice Moszberger (dir.), Dictionnaire historique des rues de Strasbourg, Le Verger, Barr, 2012 (nouvelle éd. révisée), p. 441 ISBN 9782845741393.
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Philippe Thys (cyclist)
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