While Citroën is supporting a team in the Tour de France, we take a look back at the car brands’ previous forays into the Grande Boucle.
This year, the rafters are back in the peloton. French team AG2R Citroën Team marked this edition of the Tour de France, in particular with the fine mountain performances of the Australian Ben O’Connor. The automobile brand of the Stellantis group announced a few months ago a sponsorship contract binding it for several years to the cycling team of Vincent Lavenu.
This is not quite a first for Citroën. The brand had already made a brief appearance in the world of cycling, in the mid-1980s. Reinvigorated by the sparkling advertising Jacques Séguéla after a long period of decline, the red chevrons then appeared on “Mondrian” jerseys from the La Vie Claire team. Ironically, the squad funded by the galaxy Bernard Tapie was led by the former star rider of the Renault-Gitane team: Bernard Hinault.
Renault-Gitane crushes the Tour
This period was also the culmination of partnerships between car manufacturers and cycling teams. By buying the manufacturer Gitane and its 350,000 bikes produced annually in the midst of seventies, the Losange had entered the loop. The Renault-Gitane team and its men in yellow dominated this period with six victories in seven years on the Tour de France. (Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon).
Confronted with a difficult economic context, Georges Besse withdraws the Régie du Tour after the 1985 edition. The sports director – Cyrille Guimard – bounces with a sponsorship contract with the Système U distribution network.
Other auto brands have also appeared in the bicycle world. Example? Seat, through a collaboration with the Basque bicycle manufacturer Orbea in 1986. Twenty years earlier, in the black and white photos, four well-known letters can be distinguished. Lucien Aimar won the 53rd edition on behalf of the Ford France-Hutchinson team. Its leader was called Jacques Anquetil.
Peugeot: legendary checkerboards
But the biggest name common to the bicycle and the automobile was Peugeot. The company soldered its first cycles before assembling its first cars, at the dawn of the 1880s. Like many manufacturers of biclous, the Lion created its team at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1905, Louis Trousselier won the Tour de France for the Peugeot-Wolber “patrol”. The list of heroic times is full of triumphs on Doubian bikes: René Pottier, Lucien Petit-Breton, Philippe Thys, Firmin Lambot…
Created in the early 1960s, Peugeot’s famous checkered jersey dressed Tom Simpson, Eddy Merckx, Roger Pingeon, Walter Godefroot, Hennie Kuiper, Phil Anderson, Robert Millar or Stephen Roche… And above all Bernard Thévenet, winner of the 1975 and 1977 Tours! The 1986 season was the last Peugeot appeared in the peloton. They then give way to the “Z” of children’s clothing stores.
Fiat then Skoda for the officials
Up to eighties, the official Tour cars were stamped with the Lion. Archives dear to Jean-Paul Ollivier This is evidenced by: organizers and sports directors running through the stages in 504, in 505 or in 604. It was in 1988 that Fiat took over the automobile supplier contract. The Croma, Tempra then Alfa Romeo appear in the background behind the breakaways. Fifteen years later, Skoda became the official Tour de France car. Since 2003, Czech station wagons and SUVs have contributed to the brand’s growing success in Europe.
Photo: Bernard Thévenet, leader of the Peugeot team, during the Tour de France 1976 / René Milanèse / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-3.0
To read on auto-moto.com:
Behind the scenes of Skoda at the Tour de France (2017)
How are the vehicles of the Tour de France caravan built? (2016)
The Skoda Enyaq iV already on the Tour (2020)