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Roger Lapébie

Roger Lapébie
Personal information
Full nameRoger Lapébie
Born(1911-01-16)16 January 1911
Bayonne, France
Died11 October 1996(1996-10-11) (aged 85)
Pessac, France
Team information
Professional teams
1932-1936La Française
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
General classification (1937)
9 individual stages (1932, 1934, 1937)

Stage races

Paris–Nice (1937)
Critérium International (1934, 1937)
Circuit du Morbihan (1933)

One-day races and Classics

National Road Race Championships (1933)
Paris–Angers (1933)
Paris–Vichy (1934)
Paris–Saint-Etienne (1935)
Paris–Sedan (1938)

Roger Lapébie (pronounced [ʁɔ.ʒe]; 16 January 1911 – 11 October 1996) was a French racing cyclist who won the 1937 Tour de France. In addition, Lapébie won the 1934 and 1937 editions of the Critérium National. He was born at Bayonne, Aquitaine, and died in Pessac.

Early career

Lapébie made his debut in the Tour de France in 1932, as a member of the French national team. He won one stage in that Tour, and was selected again in 1933; that year he did not win any stage.

In 1934, Lapébie again rode the Tour de France as part of the national team. He won five stages, and finished in third place in the general classification. He would have been a contender for the victory in the 1935 Tour, had it not been for his difficult relation with Henri Desgrange, the Tour director. In the 1935 Tour de France, Lapébie was not selected to be part of the French national team, but had to start as a French individual cyclist. In the Tour of 1936, he did not even start.

1937 Tour de France

In 1937, Desgrange had retired, and Lapébie was back. In the month before the Tour started, Lapébie had undergone surgery for a lumbar hernia, and there were doubts about his form.[1]

Lapébie won the 1937 Tour by riding 4,415 kilometers in 138 hours, 58 minutes and 31 seconds. His victory was controversial as he was the first rider to complete the race using a modern derailleur. This gave him the advantage of shifting gears without having to stop, dismount and flip the wheel as was customary of racing bicycles used at the time.[2] Lapébie was also known to accept outside assistance in violation of the rules and was at one point penalized 90 seconds by race commissaires.[3]

The advantages taken by Lapébie angered his Belgian rival, Sylvère Maes who had won the Tour the previous year. Maes had led the race through the Alps and Pyrenees but decided to quit in protest of Lapébie's tactics and derailleur use after the 16th stage to Bordeaux. Lapébie, in second place, took the yellow jersey in the absence of Maes and kept it until Paris. The victory delighted the French but angered the cycling-proud Belgians.

Following Lapébie's victory derailleurs became standard racing equipment in the Tour peloton.

After his victory, Lapébie wrote about his experiences during the Tour in left-wing socialist magazines. This did not sit well with Desgrange, who used his influence to prevent Lapébie from starting in the 1938 Tour, so he did not defend his title.

Career achievements

Major results

Tour de France
Winner stage 12
Circuit du Morbihan: winner stage 2 and winner overall classification
 France National road race Championship
Paris-Saint-Etienne: winner stage 2
GP de l'Echo d'Alger
Tour de France
Winner stages 3, 4, 12, 14 and 15
3rd place overall classification
Critérium International
Paris–Nice:Winner stage 2 and 5B
Paris - Saint-Etienne
Paris Routiers, Six Days
Paris, Six Days
Critérium International
Tour de France
Winner overall classification
Winner stages 9, 17C, 18A
Paris - Sedan
1st stage Paris - Nice

Grand Tour results timeline

1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937
Stages won
Mountains classification
Tour de France 23 29 3 DNF-12 DNE 1
Stages won 1 0 5 0 3
Mountains classification NR NR NR NR NR
Vuelta a España N/A N/A N/A DNE DNE N/A
Stages won
Mountains classification
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


  1. ^ McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. dog ear publishing. pp. 132–139. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  2. ^ History of the Tour de France: 1920–1939 - Les Forcats de la Route by Mitch Mueller
  3. ^ The Official Tour de France Centennial 1903-2003, pg. 124
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Roger Lapébie
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