1938 Tour de France

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1938 Tour de France
Tour de France 1938.png
Route of the 1938 Tour de France
Followed counterclockwise, starting in Paris
Race details
Dates 5–31 July 1938
Stages 21 (29 including split stages)
Distance 4,694 km (2,917 mi)
Winning time 148h 29' 12"
Winner  Gino Bartali (Italy) (Italy)
Second  Félicien Vervaecke (Belgium) (Belgium)
Third  Victor Cosson (France) (France)

Mountains  Gino Bartali (Italy) (Italy)
Team Belgium

The 1938 Tour de France was the 32nd Tour de France, taking place July 5 to July 31, 1938. It was composed of 21 stages over 4694 km, ridden at an average speed of 31.565 km/h.[1] The race was won by Italian cyclist Gino Bartali, who also won the mountains classification.

Changes from the 1937 Tour de France

The bonification system was reduced compared to 1937: the winner of a stage now only received one minute bonification time, added by the margin to the second arriving cyclist, with a maximum of 75 seconds. The cyclists who reached a mountain top that counted towards the mountains classification first, now received only one minute bonification time.[2]

The team trial stages, where the teams departed 15 minutes separately, were removed from the race. They would later return in the 1954 Tour de France, in a different form.[2] Instead, the 1938 Tour de France featured two individual time trials.[3]

In previous years, some cyclists were in teams and other rode individually. In 1937, there had been problems with individual cyclists being accused of helping other cyclists, culminating in the Belgian cyclists leaving the Tour. To avoid these problems, the categories for individual cyclists were removed for the 1938 Tour de France,[4] and the race was contested by national teams. But because there were many French cyclists that did not fit into the national team, there were two extra French teams, the Bleuets and Cadets.[2] The Bleuets was a kind of French "B"-team, while the Cadets consisted of young French promises.[5]


The big cycling nations in 1938, Belgium, Italy, Germany and France, each sent a team of 12 cyclists. Other countries, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands, sent smaller teams of six cyclists each. The French had two extra teams of 12 cyclists, the Cadets and Bleuets.[2]

The three most powerful teams were the Belgian, the French and the Italian national team.[3] The Italian team was led by Bartali, who had been close to winning the Tour de France in 1937 until he crashed. The Italian cycling federation had requested him to skip the 1938 Giro d'Italia so he could focus on the Tour de France.[6]

Race details

A flock of sheep, with behind them around 30 cyclists riding from left to right.
Cyclists passing a herd of sheep

Before the Pyrénées, all the favourites remained calm. André Leducq did not lose much time in the first stages, and when he got in a breakaway in the second part of the sixth stage, he took over the lead from Jean Majerus.[3] In the eighth stage, Gino Bartali attacked, and dropped everybody. On the descent of the Col d'Aspin, his wheel collapsed, and Félicien Vervaecke and Ward Vissers overtook him. Bartali came back to finish in third place, but Vervaecke took the lead in the general classification.[5] In that stage, former winner Georges Speicher was caught holding on to a car, and was removed from the race.[3]

After that stage, Bartali was in second place in the general classification. He won some time on Vervaecke because of bonifications for reaching the tops of the Portet d'Aspet and the Braus first and winning the 11th stage, but lost some time in the individual time trial in stage 10B.[3]

In the fourteenth stage, Bartali attacked again, and gained 17 minutes on Vervaecke and 20 on Vissers. Bartali was now leader of the race.[5] Before the next stage, Bartali felt poorly. His team director, Costante Girardengo, told him not to force himself. Bartali let the others get away on the first mountains, but during the descent of the Iseran, Bartali went as fast as he could, and reach his concurrents. During that stage, Mathias Clemens, who started the stage in second place, lost a lot of time, so Vervaecke was back in second place, 20 minutes behind Bartali.[3]

In the rest of the race, Bartali defended his lead with ease. Vervaecke won back some time in the last individual time trial, but that was not enough to endanger Bartali's lead.

In the last stage, Antonin Magne (winner of the Tour de France in 1931 and 1934) and André Leducq (winner of the Tour de France in 1930 and 1932) escaped together, and crossed the finish line together. The Tour jury declared them both winner.[2] This was Leducq's 25th and final stage victory; only Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault would later win more stages.[5] For both cyclists it was also the last stage they ever rode in the Tour de France.[7][8]


Stage results[2][9]
Stage Date[10] Route Terrain[Notes 1] Length Winner
1 5 July Paris-Caen Plain stage 215 km (134 mi)  Willi Oberbeck (GER)
2 6 July Caen-Saint-Brieuc Plain stage 237 km (147 mi)  Jean Majerus (LUX)
3 7 July Saint-Brieuc – Nantes Plain stage 238 km (148 mi)  Gerrit Schulte (NED)
4A 8 July Nantes – La Roche-sur-Yon Plain stage 62 km (39 mi)  Éloi Meulenberg (BEL)
4B La Roche-sur-Yon – La Rochelle Plain stage 83 km (52 mi)  Éloi Meulenberg (BEL)
4C La Rochelle – Royan Plain stage 83 km (52 mi)  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
5 10 July Royan – Bordeaux Plain stage 198 km (123 mi)  Éloi Meulenberg (BEL)
6A 11 July Bordeaux – Arcachon Plain stage 53 km (33 mi)  Jules Rossi (ITA)
6B Arcachon – Bayonne Plain stage 171 km (106 mi)  Glauco Servadei (ITA)
7 12 July Bayonne – Pau Plain stage 115 km (71 mi)  Theo Middelkamp (NED)
8 14 July Pau – Luchon Stage with mountain(s) 193 km (120 mi)  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
9 16 July Luchon – Perpignan Stage with mountain(s) 260 km (160 mi)  Jean Fréchaut (FRA)
10A 17 July Perpignan – Narbonne Plain stage 63 km (39 mi)  Antoon van Schendel (NED)
10B Narbonne – Béziers History.gif Individual time trial 27 km (17 mi)  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
10C Béziers – Montpellier Plain stage 73 km (45 mi)  Antonin Magne (FRA)
11 18 July Montpellier – Marseille Plain stage 223 km (139 mi)  Gino Bartali (ITA)
12 19 July Marseille – Cannes Plain stage 199 km (124 mi)  Jean Fréchaut (FRA)
13 21 July Cannes – Digne Stage with mountain(s) 284 km (176 mi)  Dante Gianello (FRA)
14 22 July Digne – Briançon Stage with mountain(s) 219 km (136 mi)  Gino Bartali (ITA)
15 23 July Briançon – Aix-les-Bains Stage with mountain(s) 311 km (193 mi)  Marcel Kint (BEL)
16 25 July Aix-les-Bains – Besançon Stage with mountain(s) 284 km (176 mi)  Marcel Kint (BEL)
17A 26 July Besançon – Belfort Plain stage 89 km (55 mi)  Émile Masson Jr. (BEL)
17B Belfort – Strasbourg Plain stage 143 km (89 mi)  Jean Fréchaut (FRA)
18 27 July Strasbourg – Metz Plain stage 186 km (116 mi)  Marcel Kint (BEL)
19 28 July Metz – Reims Plain stage 196 km (122 mi)  Fabien Galateau (FRA)
20A 30 July Reims – Laon Plain stage 48 km (30 mi)  Glauco Servadei (ITA)
20B Laon – Saint-Quentin History.gif Individual time trial 42 km (26 mi)  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)
20C Saint-Quentin – Lille Plain stage 107 km (66 mi)  François Neuville (BEL)
21 31 July Lille – Paris Plain stage 279 km (173 mi)  Antonin Magne (FRA)
 André Leducq (FRA)[Notes 2]

Classification leadership

Stage General classification
Jersey yellow.svg
Mountains classification Team classification
1  Willi Oberbeck (GER) no award  Germany
2  Jean Majerus (LUX)  France
6b  André Leducq (FRA)
8  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL)  Gino Bartali (ITA)  Belgium
14  Gino Bartali (ITA)
Final  Gino Bartali (ITA)  Gino Bartali (ITA)  Belgium


Final general classification

The time that each cyclist required to finish each stage was recorded, and these times were added together for the general classification. If a cyclist had received a time bonus, it was subtracted from this total; all time penalties were added to this total. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey.

Final general classification (1–10)[2][11]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 148h 29' 12"
2  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium +18' 27"
3  Victor Cosson (FRA) France +29' 26"
4  Ward Vissers (BEL) Belgium +35' 08"
5  Matt Clemens (LUX) Luxembourg +42' 08"
6  Mario Vicini (ITA) Italy +44' 59"
7  Jules Lowie (BEL) Belgium +48' 56"
8  Antonin Magne (FRA) France +49' 00"
9  Marcel Kint (BEL) Belgium +59' 49"
10  Dante Gianello (FRA) Bleuets +1h 06' 47"

Final team classification

The team classification was calculated in 1938 by adding up the times of the best three cyclists of a team; the team with the least time was the winner. In 1938, there were eight teams of twelve cyclists. Belgium, Italy, Germany and France had a team, Luxembourg and Switzerland both supplied six cyclists for a combined team, as did Spain and the Netherlands, and there were two extra French teams, the bleuets and the cadets.[2] The bleuets were also described as "France B", and the cadets as "France C".

Team classification (1–8)[5][12]
Rank Team Time
1  Belgium 447h 10' 07"
2  France +43' 29"
3  Italy +44' 06"
4  Luxembourg/  Switzerland +3h 02' 29"
5 Cadets +3h 11' 31"
6  Spain/ Netherlands +3h 15' 29"
7 Bleuets +4h 04' 49"
8  Germany +7h 05' 57"

Mountains classification

For the mountains classification, 12 mountains were selected by the Tour organisation. The Iseran was included for the first time in 1938.[2]

Mountains in the 1938 mountains classification[2]
Stage Name Height Mountain range[13] Winner
8 Aubisque 1,709 metres (5,607 ft) Pyrénées Gino Bartali
8 Tourmalet 2,115 metres (6,939 ft) Pyrénées Gino Bartali
8 Aspin 1,489 metres (4,885 ft) Pyrénées Gino Bartali
8 Peyresourde 1,569 metres (5,148 ft) Pyrénées Félicien Vervaecke
9 Portet d'Aspet 1,069 metres (3,507 ft) Pyrénées Gino Bartali
13 Braus 1,002 metres (3,287 ft) Alps-Maritimes Gino Bartali
14 Allos 2,250 metres (7,380 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
14 Vars 2,110 metres (6,920 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
14 Izoard 2,361 metres (7,746 ft) Alps Gino Bartali
15 Galibier 2,556 metres (8,386 ft) Alps Mario Vicini
15 Iseran 2,770 metres (9,090 ft) Alps Félicien Vervaecke
16 Faucille 1,320 metres (4,330 ft) Alps Gino Bartali

On the top of these mountains, ten points were given for the first cyclist to pass, nine points to the second cyclist, and so on, until the tenth cyclist who got one point. The mountains classification in 1938 was won by Gino Bartali. Bartali was the first cyclist to win the general classification and the mountains classification of the Tour de France in the same year.[14]

Mountains classification (1–5)[2][15]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy 107
2  Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium 79
3  Edward Vissers (BEL) Belgium 76
4  Dante Gianello (FRA) Bleuets 57
5  Victor Cosson (FRA) France 55


Because of the political tensions in Europe before the Second World War, Italy did not send a team to the 1939 Tour de France, so Bartali was unable to defend his title.[16] After that, the only resumed in 1947. In 1948, Bartali won his second Tour de France, becoming the first and so far only cyclist to win editions of the Tour de France ten years apart.[1]


  1. The icons shown here indicate whether the stage was run as a time trial, the stage was flat or the stage included mountains for the mountains classification.
  2. Magne and Leducq were both declared winners of stage 21.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, Part 6" (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-03. Retrieved 1 October 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 "32ème Tour de France 1938" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 13 October 2009.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour De France. dog ear publishing. pp. 139–144. ISBN 978-1-59858-180-5. Retrieved 2010-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "De Ronde van Frankrijk". De Halle (in Dutch). 2 January 1938. Retrieved 21 May 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Tom James (15 August 2003). "1938: A final fling for les Bleus". VeloArchive. Retrieved 20 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Gino "the Pious" Climbs to Victory". Cycling revealed. 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Tour - André Leducq". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 20 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Tour - Antonin Magne". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 20 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Arian Zwegers. "Tour de France GC Top Ten". CVCC. Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-04-20. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, part 3" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 15 January 2010.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "La clasificacion international" (in Spanish). El mundo deportivo. 1 August 1938. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-10-13.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "De Ronde van Frankrijk door Bartali gewonnen" (in Dutch). Leeuwarder Courant. 1 August 1938. Retrieved 13 October 2009.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Augendre, Jacques (2009). "Guide Historique, part 8" (PDF) (in French). Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 18 January 2010.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Moliterno, Gino (2000). Encyclopedia of contemporary Italian culture. CRC Press. p. 73. ISBN 0-415-14584-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Tour-Giro-Vuelta". Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "33ème Tour de France 1938" (in French). Memoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 20 January 2010.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Media related to 1938 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons