Did you know that the 1919 Tour de France was won by a Belgian?
Although Brussels had repaired its main roads for the Tour de France in 1919 following the First World War, the riders used the roads that had been decimated by the fighting. The Tour de France had not been organised during the four years of war, and unfortunately many riders died in battle. Firmin Lambot, a Walloon living in Flanders, was one of the lucky ones. He was therefore one of the 67 riders ready on the starting line.
Firmin won the longest stage in the history of the tour, between Metz and Dunkirk (468km), in 21 hours. He was one of only 11 riders who crossed the finish line in Paris. And as the icing on the cake, he was the first rider in history to cross the finish line of the Tour de France with the yellow jersey.
The yellow jersey, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, was invented by Henri Desgrange to distinguish the leader of the general rankings within the peloton.
Our compatriot was already 33 when he accomplished his feat, and he was known for his very Belgian humour: "I don't suffer from the heat like Van Hauwaert, or from stomach complaints like Georges, I conserve my energy unlike Alavoine, I am more regular than Massonou or Mottiat. I take it all in my stride and sleep like a log.
A true champion.