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Anquetil, Jacques

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Anquetil, Jacques

Born : 8 January 1934
City : Mont-Saint-Aignan, France
Rank : ( 1228 )
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Anquetil, Jacques Biography

Early life

Anquetil was the son of a builder in Mont-Saint-Aignan, in the hills above Rouen in Normandy, north-west France. He lived there with his parents, Ernest and Marie, and his brother Philippe and then at Boisguillaume in a two-storey house, "one of those houses with exposed beams that tourists think are pretty but those who live there find uncomfortable."

In 1941, his father refused contracts to work on military installations for the German occupiers and his work dried up. Other members of the family worked in strawberry farming and Anquetil's father followed them, moving to the hamlet of Bourguet, near Quincampoix. Anquetil had his first bicycle - an Alcyon - at the age of four and twice a day rode the kilometre and a half to the village and back. There he was taught by a teacher wearing clogs in a classroom heated by a smoking stove.

Born: January 8, 1934, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France
Died: November 18, 1987, Rouen, France
Height: 1.76 m
Spouse: Janine Boeda (m. 1958)
Parents: Marie Anquetil, Ernest Anquetil
Siblings: Philippe Anquetil

Hour record

On 22 September 1954, Anquetil started two years' compulsory service in the army, joining the Richepanse de Rouen barracks as a gunner of the 406th artillery regiment. The army accorded him few great favours but there was an exception:

In June 1956, my chiefs finally gave me an order more to my liking, the strangest, the most unusual that a gunner has ever been asked to carry out; it was nothing less than to beat the world hour record. I knew what that meant: to storm a veritable fortress. For 14 years, since 7 November 1942, the date on which Fausto Coppi planted the Italian flag on it, it had discouraged all assailants. One figure sums up the difficulty of the enterprise: 45.848 km.

Personal life

Anquetil was fascinated by astronomy and was delighted to meet the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The rational side of his character contrasted with his superstition. In the 1964 Tour de France, a fortune-teller called Belline predicted in the newspaper France-Soir that Anquetil would die on or around the 13th day of the race. His wife Janine, knowing Anquetil's superstition, hid the paper from him but Anquetil found out, not least because he was sent cuttings with unsigned letters.

Jean-Paul Brouchon, leading cycling commentator at the news radio station France-Info, said of the day the forecast was supposed to come true:

During those dark hours, Anquetil refused to leave his room [the race was having a rest day]. Finally he agreed to go for a short car ride with Raphaël Géminiani [his team manager] and Janine, to join a party organised by Radio Andorra.

Retirement and death

Anquetil rode his last race not in France, of which he still despaired for its preferring Poulidor, but on 27 December 1969 on the track at Antwerp, in Belgium. It happened, wrote L'Équipe "to the great indifference of the media." He retired to become a farmer at Le Domaine des Elfes, La Neuville-Chant-d'Oisel, 17 km from Rouen. The château, formerly owned by Guy de Maupassant, was surrounded by 170 hectares.

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