Jean Bobet, “the man with the brother’s mask” in the words of Antoine Blondin, died this week at the age of 92. The announcement of his death was made this Saturday by the National Union of Professional Cyclists (UNCP), where he was one of founders.
The Breton, from Saint-Méen-le-Grand (Ille-et-Vilaine), was world university champion, then professional cyclist from 1951 to 1959, twice participating in the Tour de France (14e in 1955, 15e in 1957), winner of Paris-Nice 1955, Genoa-Nice in 1956, Circuit du Morbihan 1953, 3e de Milan – San Remo 1955. He was later a journalist (at L’Equipe, RTL), then a talented writer, author of many books (he was awarded the Grand Prize for Sports Literature). In 1977, his name spread to take the direction of the Tour de France.
“I’m a special cyclist”
Jean Bobet is also clearly the brother of Louison, the first man to win the Tour three times in a row between 1953 and 1955. “I am a special cyclist”, admitted this younger brother who was born in 1930, five years after Louison. “First, I am a curiosity described as an intellectual. It is written on my face: I wear glasses. And then, I am the brother of another…”
A brother whom he loved dearly, whose memory “never left him, sometimes too much, according to Jean-Marie Leblanc, former director of the Tour. “The greatest service he gave to Louison was not so much riding for him on the plains or in the mountains, but always protecting and guarding his memory after his death in 1983” , continues Christophe Penot, writer, publisher, who knows him well. “He was a great support for his brother in difficult times,” thought Bernard Hinault, five-time winner of the Tour.
In the world of cycling, Jean Bobet has the image of an elegant soul. Sometimes on the sides, a little, in the middle. “He came to the aggregate English platoon!, said Christophe Penot. He’s really intelligent, he’s sensitive. Above all, he became a great writer. His book “Cyclisme de Plaisance”, in which he mainly recounts his ascent of Ventoux on the Tour, is for me one of the masterpieces of sports literature. »
“The first intellectual of the peloton”
“He was basically the first intellectual in the peloton. It is the head and the legs”speculates Daniel Mangeas, the Tour’s former fictitious announcer. “He is a person who is always clear-sighted, clear, sensitive. It is always relevant, said former rider Stéphane Heulot, who shared many moments with him. He is intellectually honest. He still has a sharp eye. He warns me, sometimes, about people in the industry, and he sees everything before others… He is one of the nicest people I have met on the bike. “He is a gentleman of great quality, with a genuine character that must be told”lined Christian Prudhomme, current director of the Tour. “He’s a bike character! »loose Bernard Hinault.
Jean-Marie Leblanc: “Jean is about moral integrity, intellectual strength. He demands. Demands with him, and therefore with others as well. His attention is always shifting. But he is not a flatterer, a demagogue, he makes no concessions… ” “He’s not the kind of person you greet with a pat on the back! » joked by Daniel Mangeas. “He is not familiarconfirmed Jean-Marie Leblanc. It was a Bobet, what! »
After his career, Jean Bobet also ran a thalassotherapy center in Quiberon, founded a few years ago by his brother. “With this retraining, Jean and Louison are actually fifty years ahead”, said Christian Prudhomme. In 1996, he returned to live in Rennes, continuing to write and follow cycling news. His funeral will be celebrated on Tuesday, August 2, at 2:30 pm, in the church of Toussaint in Rennes.