Le Petite Ramoneur


80 x 20 x 3cm. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. SOLD.
Maurice Garin

[detail]

Maurice-Francois Garin, nicknamed ‘Le petit ramoneur’ (the little chimney sweep), holds the ignominious title of being both the first cyclist to win the Tour de France (1903) and the first to be stripped of the title (1904).

Many years later, Maurice Vernaldé, an inhabitant of Garin’s home town of Lens, confirmed the rumours that Garin had taken a train in the 1904 Tour. “He was amused by it. Not embarrassed, not after all those years, and he used to laugh and say ‘Well, I was young…’”

The second running of the Tour de France (1904) almost became the last, with road blocks, armed muggings, nails strewn across the roadway; regional partisanship the root cause. The Union Vélocipédique Française (UVF) eventually disqualified the first four finishers, plus all the stage winners (6). Garin was banned for two years. Two were banned for life.
“The Tour de France has just finished and its second edition will, I fear, be the last. It will have died of its own success, of the blind passions which have been unleashed, of the abuse and of the suspicions that have come from ignorant and ill-intentioned people.” wrote Tour organiser Henri Desgrange in L’Auto, below a headline which simply read THE END.
All artwork and images © James Straffon 2017.