Tour Winners and Music

Bernard Hinault’s disco disc is not the only example of a Tour winner doing a record. The video above is altogether more classy as Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi share the stage and start singing together.

To list them as Tour winners is restrictive, the pair amongst the greatest the sport has seen and their rivalry was tremendous and supposedly divided Italy. Yet watch as they unite. There’s no tension, just light entertainment.

Another great rivalry was between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor. Again they divided fans and similar to the Italian pair, one represented modernity and the other tradition, one was urbane and sleek whilst the other presented a rustic charm. But these stereotypes were not so clear-cut, for example if Poulidor was the country bumpkin why did he live in a newly built town house whilst rival Anquetil lived in a country house and enjoyed hunting and farming? Poulidor appeared on a record sleeve with Michel Mallory, the self-styled “Cowboy of Aubervilliers” and the scene looks ordinary.

Odder still is French punk band Ludwig von 88 with a song about Louison Bobet, the winner of the Tour in 1953, 1954 and 1955.

Bobet’s career coincided with a young Yvette Horner. She surfed the race’s popularity and literally in some cases as she first played the accordeon on the podium and then spent several years strapped to the roof of a car in the publicity caravan ahead of the race, playing music for the benefit of Suze, a brand of herbal apéritif.

Yvette Horner Tour de France

Horner is 90 today and still a national figure in France, although rarely seen in public and perhaps remembered for her pale white make-up and bright orange hair dye, a geriatric shock when combined with her preferred outfits from stylist Jean Paul Gaultier. Her story is being told in a documentary that’s being filmed and hopefully we can learn more about her experiences of the Tour de France.

Talking of documentaries, Marco Pantani rise and fall is being retold in a filn doc currently in production. The full story is for other day, perhaps with the film or “The Death of Marco Pantani” biography. But for now his song E Adesso Pedala, “And Now Ride,” is not a memorable moment from his career.

The bicycle itself has given rise to many related tunes and 1988 winner Pedro Delgado inspired Scottish band The Delgados, at least when it came to their name and also picking album names like Peloton and Domestiques.

The race too has inspired many songs. Yvette Horner had several songs. German electro band Kraftwerk produced “Tour de France” in June 1983 and returned 20 years later with Tour de France soundtracks, an impressive album that captures sounds and rythms from the race and blends them with the bands traditional sound. The band’s Ralf Hütter is a keen cyclist and legend has it he crashed on his bike one day and woke up sometime later in hospital and the first question he asked is “where is my bike?”

Thanks to Klaus at Cycling Inquisition for the Pantani clip.

12 thoughts on “Tour Winners and Music”

  1. Two of the members of Kraftwerk used to love cycling so much it almost killed their musical careers. They’d be out on their bikes (always dressed in black) instead of rehearsing and recording. They would ride their bikes on tour too – from city to city.

  2. Bartali has a strong character by the looks if it, Coppi seems more reticent, similar to more modern sports stars, almost afraid to say too much. Thanks for the great reading this year, merry Christmas Inrng!

  3. Having just slid my Christmas book, Herbie Sykes’ Coppi, across the breakfast table to take a sneaky look at Inner Ring, I see the man himself singing.
    Great post, thanks and Happy Christmas to you all.

  4. “Ma le prendeva, oh , se le prendeva”, I overlooked Bartali’s killer and good-humoured doping denunciation. He sings more in tune than Bassons. 🙂

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