French cycling great Raymond Poulidor has died at the age of 83.
Poulidor was renowned for finishing on the podium of the Tour de France eight times from 1962 to 1976, without ever winning the yellow jersey.
As a result he was nicknamed ‘The Eternal Second’, his career coinciding with legends Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx, who won five Tours each.
However, Poulidor also won the 1964 Vuelta a Espana and the ‘monument’ classic Milan-San Remo in 1961.
He rode for Mercier for the entirety of his 17-year professional career, during which he won 11 Grand Tour stages – seven at the Tour and four at the Vuelta.
Representing France, he won one silver and three bronze medals in World Championship road races.
Poulidor remained a hugely popular figure in France, affectionately known as ‘Pou-Pou’, and continued to work for sponsors and appear on the podium during presentations at the Tour de France, including at this year’s event.
France president Emmanuel Macron paid tribute by saying, “Raymond Poulidor is gone. His exploits, his panache, his courage will remain engraved in the memories. ‘Pou-Pou’, forever yellow jersey in the hearts of the French,” posted Macron.
Poulidor’s grandson, Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel, is one of the best young riders in cycling, having won two cyclocross world titles as well as Amstel Gold Race and the Tour of Britain on the road this year.
“Always so proud,” said Van der Poel.
Merckx said the cycling world had lost “a monument, an icon”.
“You can’t imagine how much loved he was in France,” he said.
“Every year, I saw that again with the Tour de France. France loved his charm. I have rarely come across such a charming person.”
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