Chances are you don’t know of Jean-Paul Brouchon. Most readers here are English speaking and JPB was a French journalist who died today, aged 72. But his departure is a loss to cycling because he was a sort of the guardian for cycling’s history.
He covered the Tour de France 44 times and was one of the “voices” of the Tour de France thanks to his focus as a radio commentator for the sport. Recently I’d enjoyed his contributions to the Carrément Vélo podcast. He wrote books and received several prizes for his writing and more recently started blogging and had a twitter account too.
A colossus of the press room in more ways than one, he was a great storyteller, able to reel off fascinating stories from backstage at the Tour de France as well as recounting his first hand experience of the racing from his vantage on a race motorbike.
For example I learned from him that Laurent Fignon took four years to revisit the Champs Elysées in Paris such was his devastation at losing the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds. To avoid one of major thoroughfares whilst living in the capital was the just the kind of anecdote that JPB could employ to broaden the tale of a rider’s career. He had countless other anecdotes. Many of these related to incidents long ago but he had the knack of relating them to the present day, to remind us that the racing today isn’t all that different than it was decades ago.
Today it feels like we’ve lost JPB but also a little bit of the sport’s past has gone too.
Best wishes to his family, friends and the colleagues who will miss his 45th appearance this July.