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Lucien Buysse

Bayonne Luchon 1926 Lucien Buysse col d'Aubisque

Bayonne Luchon 1926 Lucien Buysse col d'Aubisque

Lucien Buysse

Lucien Buysse, 11 September 1892 – 3 January 1980, was a Belgian cyclist and winner of the 1926 Tour de France.

Lucien Buysse

Lucien Buysse

Lucien Buysse was born in Wontergem Belgium in 1892, Buysse started racing as a professional in 1914, in which year he rode his first Tour de France. He comes from one of cycling’s great families, with 3 brothers, 3 sons and 3 nephews who have all raced as professionals. He was winner of the Tour of Belgium in 1913 and this prompted the move to be a professional.

He resumed his cycling career in 1919 after the First World War and again like 1914 rode but failed to complete Le Tour. In 1920 he finished 7th in Tour of Flanders, 3rd in Paris–Roubaix and second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In 1921 he rode his only Giro de Italia and finished 4th. 1922 seems to have been a lean year with few notable results, victory at a race in Lier in Belgium and 5th in Tour of Flanderes.

The 1923 season was the start of his best years of racing which would reach a peak in 1926 with victory in Le Tour. He won the Six Days of Ghent and the Critérium d’Amsterdam. Lucien won the 8th stage of the Tour de France and was a top ten finisher in 7 other stages. He finished Le Tour in 8th place on GC. In 1924 he failed to win a stage but he had 6 top ten finishes and ended 3rd overall. The following year he went one better finishing 2nd on GC. Lucien also won 2 stages and finished in the top 10 on 13 stages.

Lucien Buysse-1926

Lucien Buysse


1926 Tour de France

The year 1926 was to be his big year. It is a remarkable tour and a remarkable winner for a number of reasons. It is the longest tour in history, with 5745km over 17 stages averaging 338km each and an average speed of 24.1km per hour. Many would argue that it was the hardest tour ever and that stage 10 from Bayonne to Luchon was the hardest stage in history. It was stage 10 that made Lucien Buysse a legend of Le Tour de France. 126 riders started, 44 on sponsored teams and 82 independent (touristes-routiers) with only 41 finishers.

Lucien Buysse rode on the Italian trade team Automoto along with his brother Jules.

001 Ottavio BOTTECCHIA
002 Lucien BUYSSE
003 Jules BUYSSE
004 Simon TEQUI
005 Omer HUYSE
006 Joseph VAN DAM

The team was led by Ottavio Bottecchia the winner of the previous two tours. The Automoto team had pioneered the tactic of using a domestic, whose sole role in the race was to help his team leader. Bottecchia being leader and Buysse being the first domestic in cycling racing, it had been highly successful winning the tour for Bottecchia twice and in 1926 it was expected that he would win a third straight victory, with Lucien Buysse sacrificing himself day after day for his leader. It is still the main tactic for any team hoping to win in the 21st century.

It was the first Tour to start outside Paris. The riders were shuttled by train to the alpine town of Évian, on the shore of Lake Geneva. Tour director Henri Desgrange hoped to have a more aggressive and exciting Tour by starting in the mountains, and having only a few flat stages before the finish in Paris. Clearly he got the maths wrong as 10 of the 17 stages ended in a sprint. Apart from the Automoto team only the French team Alcyon, were seem as being strong contenders for the overall victory. They had Bartolomeo Aimo and Nicolas Frantz, third and fourth in 1925. They also had Adelin Benoit, the highly rated Belgian who had cracked the year before in his effort to overhaul Bottecchia. Tour director Desgrange believed that Benoit would be the real challenger to Bottecchia’s 3rd straight victory.

Stage 1: Sunday, June 20, Evian – Mulhouse, 373 km

It was a mixed result for the Automoto team with Jules Buysse taking victory by 13 minutes from a chasing group of 9 riders. Their star rider, Bottecchia finished 16th, 34min and 17sec behind his team mate Jules Buysse, and 10 minutes behind 15th placed Lucien Buysse in what seems to have been a team free for all. Jules Buysse would wear the yellow jersey the following day. 15 riders had abandoned on the stage, the last finisher was 4:52:17 behind.

Stage: Jules Buysse: 14hr 12min 4sec
GC: Jules Buysse: 14hr 12min 4sec

Stage 2: Tuesday, June 22, Mulhouse – Metz, 334 km

A 25 man group arrived in Metz for a sprint finish
Stage: Aimé Dossche: 13hr 29min 16sec
GC: Jules Buysse: 27hr 41min 20sec

Stage 3: Thursday, June 24, Metz – Dunkerque, 433 km

Gustave Van Slembrouck won the stage and took the yellow jersey having beaten the top riders to Dunkerque by over 10 minutes. It was in Dunkerque that Lucien Buysse got the terrible news from Belgium of the death of his daughter. He decided to quit the race to return home but was persuaded to continue by his brothers and other family members. He pledged that he would win the Tour in the Pyrénées. Some accounts say that his daughter died on this day, in fact she had died before the start of the Tour with the news only reaching Lucien when he arrived in Dunkerque.

Lucien Buysse-tour-de-france

Lucien Buysse

Stage: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 17hr 11min 14sec

GC: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 45hr 5min 40sec

There would be no significant changes until stage 10 as the next 6 stages ended in bunch sprints.

Stage 4: Saturday, June 26, Dunkerque – Le Havre, 361 km
Stage: Félix Sellier: 14hr 57min 1sec
GC: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 60hr 2min 41sec

Stage 5: Monday, June 28, Le Havre – Cherbourg, 357 km
Stage: Adelin Benoît: 14hr 14min 9sec
GC: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 74hr 16min 50sec

Stage 6: Wednesday, June 30, Cherbourg – Brest, 405 km
Stage: Joseph Van Dam: 16hr 12min 49sec
GC: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 90hr 29min 39sec

Stage 7: Friday, July 2, Brest – Les Sables d’Olonne, 412 km
Stage: Nicolas Frantz: 16hr 20min 54sec
GC: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 106hr 50min 33sec

Stage 8: Saturday, July 3, Les Sables d’Olonne – Bordeaux, 285 km
Stage: Joseph Van Dam: 12hr 0min 8sec
GC: Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 118hr 50min 41sec

Stage 9: Sunday, July 4, Bordeaux – Bayonne, 189 km
Stage: Nicolas Frantz: 7hr 38min 19sec
GC after Stage 9:
Gustaaf Van Slembrouck: 126hr 28min 0sec
Albert De Jonghe @ 1min 9sec
Jules Buysse @ 6min 17sec
This stage was a bunch sprint contested by 56 riders, a bunch gallop that was unheard of at that time.

 Stage 10 1926 Tour de France – The hardest stage

Stage 10: Tuesday, July 6, Bayonne – Luchon, 326 km

This would be the stage that would change everything, the stage that Lucien Buysse would win the Tour de France and the stage long remembered as the most brutal in Tour history. Lucien started with a 22 minute deficit on yellow jersey Gustaaf Van Slembrouck.

The weather that day was hellish, heavy rain from the start and freezing fog on the mountains. The roads became rivers of mud and the riders crossed the Circle of Death, Col d’Ousqich, Col d’Aubisque, Cirque du Litor, Col du Soulor, Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin and Col de Peyresourde. 326km with 6000m of climbing. Hell indeed!

1926 Lucien Buysse

Lucien Buysse on Cirque du Litor on stage 10 of the 1926 Tour de France.

Max elevation: 2137 m
Total climbing: 11350 m

The race started at 02:00 in the night, wind and cold rain were beating off the Atlantic ocean. The riders proceeded at a good pace towards the high mountains. At the bottom of Col d’Aubisque the real racing and suffering started when Lucien Buysse attacked, pulling clear of the bunch with Albert Dejonghe and Omer Huyse. Bottecchia was immediately dropped but soldiered on. Desgranges favorite Benoit abandoned shortly after the start. As the leading group of 3 approached the summit they were forced to get off and push their bikes as the wheels were sinking into the mud. A biting cold sleet was beating into their faces. At 1709m altitude the col d’Aubisque is high but ahead lay the Tourmalet, 500m higher and temperatures below freezing.

On Col du Tourmalet, Huyse was dropped and Buysse and Dejonghe were joined by Odile Tailleau, Léon Devos and Bartolomeo Aimo before the summit. It was very cold and the rain and sleet fell by the bucketful. This group descended together to the start of Col d’Aspin where Buysse attacked again, as the mountains reverberated to the flash and crack of thunder and lightening. This time he rode off up the mountain on his own. He opened the gap further on Col de Peyresourde, arriving in Luchon at 19:17 in the evening 17hr 12min 04sec after leaving Bayonne. He became the 3rd Buysse brother to lead the Tour de France after Jules a week earlier and Marcel in 1913.


1926 Buysse on Col du Tourmalet

Aimo came second 24min and 48sec behind. Van Slembrouck lost 1hr 50min, the yellow jersey and any hope of victory. Desgrange doubled the time cut-off to 40% of the winner’s time. At midnight Tour officials rescued several riders from the Peyresourde, freezing cold and starving with hunger their Tour was over. Of the 76 riders to start the stage only 54 would ride into Luchon, among those to abandon on Peyresourde was Bottecchia, he would never ride another Tour. The last rider to finish was Fernand Besiner, 5hr 34min 1sec behind Buysse. The winner’s average speed was an incredible 18.9km per hour. Even today with tarmac roads and fancy carbon bikes, it takes a very good rider to cover that route at such a speed.

Ottavio Bottecchia was murdered in Italy in 1927. He was out on a training ride when he was attacked. His bike was found a few meters from his lifeless body. Nobody was ever found for the murder, it is believed he was killed by the Fascists as he was a socialist, his brother would also be murdered in the same area two years later.

Lucien Buysse and Omer Huysse on col d'Aubisque 1926

Lucien Buysse and Omer Huysse on col d’Aubisque 1926

Stage: Lucien Buysse: 17 hours 12 minutes 4 seconds

1. Lucien Buysse
2. Odile Taillieu @ 36 minutes 14 seconds
3. Albert Dejonghe @ 46 minutes 50 seconds

Export as KML for Google Earth/Google MapsOpen standalone map in fullscreen mode
Stage 10 1926 Tour de France

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| km | +m | download GPX file download GPX file
Pyrenees Cycling Lodge: 42.981246, -0.092118
Col d\'Osquich: 43.200915, -1.014849
Col d\'Aubisque: 42.976570, -0.339673
Col du Soulor: 42.960505, -0.261354
Col du Tourmalet: 42.908192, 0.145000
Col d\'Aspin: 42.942570, 0.327834
Col de Peyresourde: 42.800920, 0.462615

Stage 11: Thursday, July 8, Luchon – Perpignan, 323 km

This was another savage hard stage with Col d’Ares, Col de Portet d’Aspet, Col de Port and Col de Puymorens and Col de la Perche before the long descent to Perpignan. The weather had improved considerably and the Buysse brothers stamped their superiority on the stage from the start. Lucien won again after a 150km solo breakaway. He increased his lead to over an hour. Jules crossed the line in second place, 7 minutes later.

Stage: Lucien Buysse: 12hr 31min 16sec
1. Lucien Buysse: 156hr 21min 49sec
2. Albert De Jonghe @ 1hr 4min 41sec
3. Odile Taillieu @ 1hr 13min 32sec

Effetively the Tour was now over; there were no real changes through the Alps, even the hardest alpine stage finished as a bunch sprint. Lucien simply protected his lead to Paris.

Lucien never finished the Tour again and retired in 1930 after 13 years as a professional cyclist. He lived in the Belgiun town of Deinze where he was proprietor of a café which he called “Café Aubisque”. He died in 1980.

Bust of Lucien Buysse at the Café on Col d'Aubisque.

Bust of Lucien Buysse at the Café on Col d’Aubisque.

Lucian Buysse on Col du Tourmalet in 1925

Lucian Buysse on Col du Tourmalet in 1925

The final General Classification 1926 Tour de France:

1 002 Lucien BUYSSE 238h 44′ 25″
2 021 Nicolas FRANTZ + 1h 22′ 25″
3 022 Bartolomeo AIMO + 1h 22′ 51″
4 027 Théophile BEECKMAN + 1h 43′ 54″
5 024 Félix SELLIER + 1h 49′ 13″
6 013 Albert DEJONGHE + 1h 56′ 15″
7 012 Léon PARMENTIER + 2h 09′ 20″
8 033 Georges CUVELIER + 2h 28′ 32″
9 003 Jules BUYSSE + 2h 37′ 03″
10 031 Marcel BIDOT + 2h 53′ 54″
11 019 Odile TAILLIEU + 3h 09′ 08″
12 006 Joseph VAN DAM + 4h 00′ 35″
13 005 Omer HUYSE + 4h 07′ 24″
14 014 Camille VAN DE CASTEELE + 4h 28′ 09″
15 009 Aimé DOSSCHE + 5h 23′ 09″
16 007 Emile HARDY + 6h 01′ 30″
17 026 Raymond ENGLEBERT + 6h 03′ 10″
18 011 Henri COLLE + 7h 10′ 35″
19 034 Georges DETREILLE + 7h 48′ 17″
20 041 Omer VERMEULEN + 8h 44′ 44″
21 172 Giovanni ROSSIGNOLI + 8h 23′ 29″
22 028 Alfons STANDAERT + 9h 07′ 32″
23 036 René FAURE + 9h 35′ 44″
24 154 Henri TOUZARD + 9h 36′ 34″
25 032 Léon DEVOS + 10h 05′ 23″
26 029 Tim MERTENS + 10h 27′ 05″
27 192 Paul DUBOC + 10h 30′ 47″
28 030 Louis DE LANNOY + 10h 41′ 10″
29 163 Eugène DHERS + 11h 26′ 16″
30 152 Charles LONGONI + 11h 50′ 56″
31 145 Charles MARTINET + 13h 56′ 33″
32 039 Fernand SAIVE + 14h 59′ 59″
33 153 Maurice ARNOULT + 15h 24′ 52″
34 178 Henri CATELAN + 16h 53′ 32″
35 202 Moïse ARROSIO + 17h 12′ 30″
36 040 Fernand MOULET + 18h 00′ 43″
37 132 Alfred FRANCINI + 18h 18′ 25″
38 162 Edouard TEISSEIRE + 19h 14′ 17″
39 131 Henri FERRARA + 21h 00′ 22″
40 112 Jules GILLARD + 22h 47′ 34″
41 119 André DROBECQ + 24h 59′ 53″

 Palmarès de Lucien Buysse

6th Tour of Belgium
Abandon the Tour de France ( Stage 10 )

2nd in the Ronde van Vlaanderen
3rd Gran Fondo
3rd Paris -Strasbourg
Abandon the Tour de France ( Stage 2 )
– 7th on the 1st stage

Second Liège- Bastogne- Liège
3rd Paris -Roubaix
7th Tour of Flanders

1st fifth stage of the Tour of Belgium
3rd Arlon -Ostend
4th of Giro d’ Italia
– 2nd on 9th stage
– 4th on 4th stage
– 4th on 10th stage
– 5th on 5th stage
– 6th on 7th stage
– 9th on 3rd stage
– 9th on 6th stage
17th Paris- Roubaix

1 in Lier
5th Tour of Flanders
7th Belgian Championships

1 Criterium Amsterdam
1st 6 days of Ghent
8th Tour de France
– 1st on 8th stage
– 2nd on stage 10
– 2nd on stage 12
– 6th on 9th stage
– 7th on 3rd stage
– 7th on 6th stage
– 7th on 11th stage
– 9th on 15th stage

3rd Tour de France
– 2nd on 6th stage
– 3rd on 14th stage
– 7th on 11th stage
– 8th on 10th stage
– 9th on 9th stage
– 9th on 15th stage

2nd Tour de France
– 1st on 11th stage
– 1st on 12th stage
– 3rd on 9th Stage
– 3rd on 16th stage
– 3rd on 17thstage
– 4th one 6th stage
– 4th on 7th stage
– 4th on 13th stage
– 4th on 14th stage
– 4th on 18th stage
– 6th on 10th stage
– 8th on 5th stage
– 10th on 8th stage
10th Paris-Tours

Winner of the Tour de France
– 1st on 10th stage
– 1st on 11th stage
– 4th on 13th stage
– 4th on 16th stage
– 5th on 17th stage
– 6th on 2nd stage
– 6th on 4th stage
– 6th on 7th stage
– 6th on 8th stage
– 6th on 12th stage
– 6th on 15th stage
– 8th on 9th stage
– 9th on 14th stage
3rd Bordeaux- Paris
9th Paris -Brussels

1 Geraardsbergen
3rd Critérium du Midi
3rd Tour of the Basque Country
– 1st on 4th stage
5th Bordeaux- Paris

4th Tour of Flanders

8th Paris -Brussels
Abandon the Tour de France ( Stage 9 )
– 5th on  3rd stage

Abandon the Tour de France ( Stage 16 )
– 7th on 10th stage
– 7th on 11th stage


Bayonne Luchon 1926 Lucien Buysse col d'Aubisque

Bayonne to Luchon, 1926 Tour de France, Lucien Buysse climbing col d’Aubisque.

1 Comment

  1. […] is also a sculpture of 3 bikes in yellow, green and red polka dot. Outside the cafe is a bust of Lucien Buysse winner of the 1926 Tour. The stage that crossed Col d’Aubisque that year is legendary in the […]

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