Ferdi Kübler

Procycling - - Rider Diaries -

24 July 1919 – In the 1949 Tour, Kübler at­tacked in the Alps, putting the great Bar­tali and Coppi in trou­ble. Ul­ti­mately punc­tures cost him what would have been a leg­endary win but the buc­ca­neer­ing move was noted and he was later de­scribed a “devil of a rider”. The next year, Ferdi Kübler rode to Tour glory.

Pre­ceded only by suc­cess in his home­land, his 1950 win set in mo­tion his most pro­lific pe­riod. Con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries in 1951 and 1952 in both Liège-Bas­togne-Liège and La Flèche Wal­lonne, a feat un­matched by any other rider be­fore or since, as well as the 1951 World Cham­pi­onships, marks out his im­mense one-day abil­ity rac­ing along­side stage race wins.

For all his wins Kübler is per­haps best re­mem­bered for an ex­change with Raphaël Gémini­ani on Ven­toux in 1955. As Kübler pre­pared to at­tack, Gémini­ani warned: “Care­ful Ferdi, the Ven­toux is like no other.” His rider replied, “And Ferdi is cham­pion like no other.” Kübler be­came deliri­ous on the up­per slopes and had to be pointed the right way. He pulled out that night and never rode the Tour again. 1950 Tour de France: After re­pelling Loui­son Bo­bet, who had de­clared “it’s vic­tory or noth­ing,” on the last day in the Alps, Kübler smashed the fi­nal TT to win the Tour by more than nine min­utes. Tour de France: 1950 Tour de Suisse: 1942, 1948, 1951 Tour de Ro­mandie: 1948, 1951 Liège-Bas­togne-Liège: 1951, 1952 La Flèche Wal­lonne: 1951, 1952 World Champs: 1951 Bordeaux-Paris: 1953 Mi­lano-Torino: 1956 The quag­mire which is the 1984 Paris-Roubaix is the essence of Sean Kelly. He’s tow­ing them, lit­er­ally, all day, and one by one the rest just… cap­size. On 14 March 1984, John James ‘Sean’ Kelly won his third of seven edi­tions of Paris-Nice. Three days later he lost San­remo, out­gunned by a chem­i­cal­lyen­hanced Francesco Moser. The next week­end he won all three stages of the Critérium In­ter­na­tional but was sec­ond again at the Ronde. No­body dared work with him so Jo­han Lam­merts in­ex­pli­ca­bly stayed away.

That evening a chas­tened Sean Kelly flew to Bil­bao and the fol­low­ing morn­ing won the open­ing stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco. Then he won two more and, on 6 April, clinched the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Two days later he won Paris-Roubaix, then LiègeBas­togne-Liège the next week­end.

L’Équipe wrote: “He seems not to feel the ped­als at all. Rather that he sim­ply waits for the oth­ers to col­lapse, where­upon he will be­come the win­ner. If they have the courage or temer­ity to stay with him, he will sim­ply ride away from them in the fin­ish. On days like th­ese there is no race at all. He is im­pe­ri­ous, mag­nif­i­cent…”

Re­ally, it’s a won­der he took ‘only’ nine Mon­u­ments, a Vuelta and four green jer­seys. More­over how on Earth, given his dom­i­nance of one-day races, did he fail to win a rainbow jersey? Sean Kelly. The mind bog­gles…

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