Raymond Delisle

Raymond Delisle
Personal information
Full name Raymond Delisle
Born (1943-03-11)11 March 1943
Ancteville, France
Died 11 August 2013(2013-08-11) (aged 70)
Team information
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type Puncher-climber
Amateur team(s)
1959–1964 Periers-Sports
? AC Boulogne-Billancourt
Professional team(s)
1965–1976 Peugeot
1977 Miko-Mercier
Major wins
2 stages in the Tour de France
French National Road Race Champion (1969)

Raymond Delisle (11 March 1943 – 11 August 2013) was a French professional road bicycle racer. He is the only rider to have won a stage of the Tour de France on 14 July, France's national day, while wearing the jersey of national champion.[1]

Born in Ancteville,[2] Delisle started racing as an amateur in 1961 and won the Tour du Lac Leman classic in 1963 and the national team time-trial championship in 1964, with Jean Jourden. He turned professional in 1965. He rode 12 Tours de France between 1965 and 1977. He won two stages, one in 1969 and one in 1976. He wore the maillot jaune for two days after his stage win in 1976. His best placings were fourth in 1976 and ninth in 1977. He was national road champion in 1969. He retired in 1977[2] after 45 professional wins. He owned a hotel in Hébécrevon, Manche until his death on 11 August 2013.[3]

Amateur career

Delisle was born on a farm near Coutances, in Normandy.[4][5] He had three sisters and it was on a women's bike too large for him that he began riding in the area around the farm.

He studied to become a plumber but became an assistant-surveyor, a job which would let him ride to wherever he was working.[5] He joined the local Periers-Sports club in 1959 and won his first race the following season. There were no races for young riders in Normandy and Delisle raced from the start against older and more experienced riders.

In 1961 he won the national team time-trial championship at Compiègne in a team that included Jean Jourden, who won that year's world road championship.[6] Compulsory national service enrolled him at the barracks at Joinville to which many of France's top sportsmen were sent. He joined the AC Boulogne-Billancourt in the capital's north-western suburbs, a club which had supplied riders to the Peugeot professional team.

Delisle came third in the 1963 Route de France, one of the country's biggest and hardest stage races. His ride brought selection for the national team in the Tour de l'Avenir, a race for amateurs and semi-professionals which rode ahead of the Tour de France on its mountain stages. He finished third behind André Zimmerman and Rolf Maurer.

In 1965 he joined the Peugeot team, recommended by Désiré Letort, a colleague in the AC Boulogne-Billancourt.

14 July victory

Delisle won the national championship on a wind-blown circuit at Soissons in 1969[5] and on 28 June went to the start of the Tour de France in Roubaix.[7] He wore not the white and black jersey of Peugeot-BP, his sponsor, but the blue, white and red of champion.

Peugeot's leader was another Frenchman, Roger Pingeon. Pingeon had won the Tour in 1967 but he was anxious about getting through the Pyrenees in a position to match Eddy Merckx, who had started dominating world cycling. Delisle said of 13 July, the eve of his victory: "Roger wanted me to stay at his side. I was willing to do that but not just as a domestique. I got away with Agostinho and Gandarias, and if you think that I didn't lift a finger to help them, you're right.[8] But even so, Roger felt threatened and, when we were caught, he gave me a good talking-to (un bon gifle). That evening, I ate all alone, in a corner; you get the picture?"[9]

Delisle felt the only way to save his honour was to win a stage, and next day — France's national day – he attacked from the start. A British rider, Barry Hoban, went with him but dropped off on the col de Mente. Both Merckx and the Dutch rider, Jan Janssen, set off in chase but Delisle still had 23 seconds over Janssen when the stage finished at Luchon after 199 km. Delisle said: "Accounts had been settled and, that evening, Roger congratulated me. We became good friends and we never mentioned the incident again."

At the finish, the television commentator, Léon Zitrone, asked Delisle: "How are you, Rouget?" Delisle laughed and answered: "Yes, I am in Rouget de Lisle's will and I get royalties every time they play the Marseillaise. Delisle had won as national champion on 14 July and Zitrone had punned by referring to him not as Raymond but Rouget, Rouget de Lisle being the composer of the Marseillaise, the national anthem.


The writer Jean-Luc Gatellier said of Delisle that "he was a creative, a puncher-climber, a Manchot[10] who didn't lack the legs to push big gears, sitting on the nose of his upward-pointing saddle. And, in fact, a rider impossible to categorise, neither a leader nor a team rider, but a man of July who mattered to the Tour de France." [1][11]


Arsène Maulave of the Belgian magazine, Coups de Pédale, wrote:

We expected a new head of French cycling in 1970, Anquetil having retired, but he [Delisle] wasn't cut out to give orders, not having the soul of a leader. He had, of course, shown his talent. He had won soundly and intelligently, but he remained above all an exemplary team-mate for Pingeon and then for Thévenet. Raymond belongs to the history of the famous team with the chequered band [a reference to the Peugeot team's jersey], to which he often brought honour. Foreign teams solicited him, notably Italian ones, but he stayed loyal to Peugeot because he liked the atmosphere there.[5]


Delisle won the Polymultipliée and a criterium at Lescouet-Jugon in his last season, 1977. He also came ninth in the Tour de France and fifth in the season-long Prestige Pernod, forerunner of the World Cup. He had ridden 47,654 km and 250 stages in the Tour.[5] He retired at the end of that season and began selling bicycles under his own name.

He and his wife, Mireille, then bought a 16th-century manor house at Hébecrevon, which they ran as a hotel.

Major results

 France national amateur team-trial championship (with Jean Jourden)
Tour de l'Hérault
 France national road championship
Tour de France:
Winner stage 16
Le Mesnilbus
Circuit des genêts verts
Trophée d'Europe de la Montagne
Vuelta a España
Winner stage 10A
Draguignan – Seillans
Tour du Haut Var
Tour de France:
Winner stage 12
Wearing yellow jersey for two days
4th overall
Winner combativity award
Trophée des Grimpeurs
Tour de France:
9th overall


  1. 1 2 L'Équipe, France, 15 July 2003
  2. 1 2 "Raymond Delisle". Cyclingarchives.com. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  3. "Décès du champion cycliste Raymond Delisle" [Death of cycling champion Raymond Delisle]. Ouest-France.fr (in French). Ouest-France. 11 August 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  4. Coutances has a place in the history of the Tour because it was in the station café there that in the 1930s Henri Pélissier spoke to the writer, Albert Londres, of how riders took drugs to get through the race, of how the organiser, Henri Desgrange, imposed what he said were near-impossible conditions. Londres' story appeared under the headline Les forçats de la route, an expression which entered the cycling lexicon.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Coups de Pédales, Belgium, November 2005
  6. The other riders were Wuillemin and Saint-André.
  7. Chany, Pierre (1997), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, Martinière, France, ISBN 978-2-7324-2353-1, p915
  8. Agostinho and Gandarias, both Spanish, were among the best climbers in the race, and near the border of their own country. Delisle had further incentive not to help because he did not want the group to leave Pingeon further behind.
  9. L'Équipe, 15 July 2003
  10. Someone from the Manche region of France, on the north-west coast. Using the description is a play on words because a manchot is also someone with one arm; Gatellier writes that "Delisle was a Manchot who didn't lack legs."
  11. C'était un créatif, un puncheur-grimpeur, un Manchot qui ne manquait pas de jambes pour emmener de gros braquets, assis sur un bec de selle incliné. Et, en fin de compte, un coureur inclassable, ni leader ni équiper, mais un homme de juillet qui comptait pour-le-Tour de France.
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