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Cycling stars pay tribute to the late Raymond Poulidor

Merckx, Van der Poel and President Macron among those to pay their respects

Joe Robinson
13 Nov 2019

The cycling world has paid tribute to Raymond Poulidor who died in the early hours of Wednesday morning at a hospital in Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat, near Limoges in central France.

Finishing second at the Tour de France on three occasions and on the podium a total of seven times, Poulidor earned himself the nickname 'the eternal second' after never managing to win the race nor wear the leader's yellow jersey.

His career was defined by two great rivalries. Firstly with the late Jaques Anquetil which saw the French duo splitting the loyalty of entire households throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s.

His second great rivalry came with Eddy Merckx in the mid- to late-1960s with Poulidor the older, more experienced rider.

Merckx was among the first to pay tribute to his once rival-turned friend telling Belgian newspaper Het Niuewsblad: 'People sometimes say "The Eternal Second", but don’t forget that he also won Milan-San Remo, the Vuelta a Espana, the Flèche Wallonne and other major races.

'The cycling world loses a monument, an icon. You can’t imagine how loved "Poupou" was in France. Every year, I saw that again with the Tour de France. France loved his charm. I have rarely come across such a charming person.'

Poulidor was the father-in-law to Classics winner Adrie van der Poel and grandfather to cyclocross World Champion Mathieu van der Poel and his brother David, all three of whom have paid their public respects.

'As a grandfather, he was very proud of his grandsons,' Adrie told Radio 2 Antwerp. 'Certainly, because they have followed in his footsteps. He closely followed the races of his grandsons.'

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Mathieu van der Poel took to Instagram writing: 'He was always so proud'. While his brother David wrote: 'He was my hero and my biggest supporter.'

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome shared a picture of him meeting Poulidor at the Tour writing: 'Always a friendly face and a kind word. He will be dearly missed. Rest in Peace Poupou.'

Mark Cavendish said that Poulidor's 'fighting spirit' inspired riders for generations.

Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Julian Alaphilppe wrote: 'Glad to have crossed your path. Goodbye Raymond, Goodbye champion,' accompanied with a photo of the two.

UCI president David Lappartient also paid his respects on Twitter writing: 'It is with deep sadness to hear that cycling legend Raymond Poulidor has passed away. On behalf of the UCI, I extend my sincere sympathy to Raymond’s family and friends.'

The condolences also extended beyond cycling with French President Emmanuel Macron paying his respects too.

'Raymond Poulidor is no more. His exploits, his panache, his courage will be remembered. "Poupou", forever yellow jersey in the hearts of the French.'

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