Here at VeloVeritas we were saddened to hear of the recent loss of one of the names from our youth.
Former French professional champion and Tour de France ace Raymond Delisle died recently at the age of 70.
One of those super cool Peugeot riders from the late 60’s and early 70’s with names like Pingeon, Thevenet, Danguillaume, Ovion – and Delisle, they even sounded classy.
They rode beautiful silver Peugeots with brazed-on Mafac brakes, Stronglight chainsets and Simplex gears – they looked the business.
Delisle first made the headlines in 1963 when he finished second in the now defunct but then very important Grand Prix de France, an amateur time trial which was always a shop window for the pro talent scouts.
That same year he finished third in the Route de France and Tour de l’Avenir amateur stage races – another two events the pro teams kept a close eye on.
It was no surprise then when he turned pro with Leroux in 1963.
He rode his first Tour de France in 1965 – but was DNF – having joined Peugeot at the start of the season, he would remain with them until the end of 1976.
He was one of the original ‘super domestiques’ – riding in service of Roger Pingeon and Bernard Thevenet but more than capable of achieving big results himself.
By our reckoning he would feature in le Grand Boucle some 12 times in total, 11 in the black and white chequers of Peugeot.
He also won the criterium in Henanbihen that ’65 season.
In 1966 he again rode le Tour finishing 21st and won the Mont Faron hill climb, the start of his palmares as a devil may care aggressive mountain man.
That he year he was also second in the Tour of Romandie as well as winning in Brionne, Hyeres and Lescouet-Jugon.
The tragic ’67 Tour which saw the death of Tom Simpson again witnessed Delisle in action with a 26th place finish – he would also finish third that year in the GC of the Tour of Luxembourg and win in Munneville.
In ’68 there was no Tour, he rode the Giro instead and finished 39th but there was a second overall in the Tour of Romandie and numerous criterium wins in places like Sizun, Poullalouen and Biot.
A year later and he was back at le Tour winning a mountain stage en route 37th place with the red, white and blue jersey of French Road Race Champion on his back – this was perhaps his finest hour, winning in the tricolore maillot on July 14th, Bastille Day, the only Frenchman ever to do so.
The year also brought another clutch of wins including the GP Antibes and GP Marseille.
The start of the 70’s saw another Tour and a solid 11th spot, another batch of crit wins and victory in the tough Puy-de-Dome race.
He was back at the Tour in ’71 in a lowly 77th spot but winning in places like Camors and Periers.
Stage wins in the Tour of Romandie where he finished third overall and Setmana Calalana were the hi-lites of ’72 and of course the annual pilgrimage around his homeland where he was back to 11th.
More wins including the GP Nice and another Setmana stage preceded his Tour ride in ’73 (11th) and were the precursor to a Vuelta stage win and yet another Tour in ’74 (12th).
The now lost but highly sought after Genoa-Nice went his way in ’75 as did Draguignan-Seillans and two stages of the Paris-Nice plus there was the inevitable Tour ride (16th).
In his last year with Peugeot, ’76 he took stage 12, wore jaune for two days and finished 4th on GC in le Tour and won criteriums in Putanges, Plessela and St. Pol as well as making the GC podium in the Dauphine.
‘Miko’ was the name on his chest for ’77 and he rode another solid Tour – ninth overall.
In addition he won the very hilly Poymultipliee race in France.
“An offensive-minded rider” says the palmares bible, ‘Gotha.’
The sport never has enough riders from that mould.
After his retirement he marketed bikes under his own name and opened a hotel in Hebecrevon which he ran with his wife.
Raymond Delisle born Anctevile, Manche, France 11:03:43, died Hebecrevon, Manche, France 11:08:13, “man of July who mattered to the Tour de France,” – to quote cycling writer Jean-Luc Gatellier – thank you and may you rest in peace.