July is traditionally the month of the Tour de France. Reason enough to look back at the heros of the road in the 1930s, at a time when roads were predominantly dirt tracks, derailleur use wasn't allowed and competitors carried their spare tire wrapped around their shoulders. And of course a time of style and fashion (when will somebody feature more sports fashion on Dieselpunks?).
The 1930s saw further commercialization of the Tour with some radical changes compared to the competition in the 1920s. Cycle manufacturers' teams were replaced by national squads of eight riders, picked by Tour inventor Henri Desgrange and paid by the Tour. Everyone would ride identical bikes. And the publicity caravan was introduced to make up the cash shortfall from the absence of the cycle-makers and their teams.
Until 1937, the derailleur systems allowing riders to change gears without removing their wheels were not allowed despite them being widely used by the public. This left riders to get off and turn their wheel around every time the road changed from uphill to downhill.
Federico Ezquerra from Spain in the Tour of 1934.
Cover of VU magazine, 30 July 1930.
André Leducq won the Tour de France in 1930 and 1932.
1930s design by A. M. Cassandre for Dubonnet showing a tour racer sipping the French aperitif.
In stage 16 of the 1930 Tour Benoit Faure and André Leducq approach the summit of the Col du Galibier.
Gino Bartali (right) and a French rider in the 1930 Tour.