Saturday, June 07, 2008

Jerry Springer's Favorite Cyclist

Just about any well-informed "all-time top ten" list of cyclists would have to include Jacques Anquetil. He was the first to win the Tour de France five times, and he was one of only four men to win every three-week Grand Tour (France, Italy, Spain) at least once. He even led the 1961 Tour de France and the 1963 Vuelta a Espana from the first stage to the finish.

Anquetil was controversially frank about doping:
"If you want to accuse me of having doped, it's not difficult. All you have to to do is look at my thighs and buttocks – they're veritable pin cushions. You have to be an imbecile or a hypocrite to imagine that a professional cyclist who races 235 days a year in all weather can keep going without stimulants," Anquetil said bluntly.
But the Frenchman's love life is what would interest Jerry Springer. He met his doctor's wife, Jeanine, they had an affair, and she left the doctor to marry Anquetil in 1958. Things became much more interesting after Anquetil's retirement in 1969:

His greatest desire was to father a child. He had two stepchildren, Jeanine's son and daughter from her first marriage, and she could have no more... A surrogate mother was needed, and one was found: his 18 year-old stepdaughter, Annie. The result was daughter Sophie. Anquetil stayed together with his wife, stepdaughter and daughter in one household for some 12 years. There was, as might be expected, much friction in the house, and matters weren't improved in 1977, when his stepson Alain brought his new wife Dominique home. By 1983, things came to a head. Annie moved out, to be followed by Jeanine, when Anquetil and Dominique became lovers. They eventually had a son, Christopher, in April 1986.
Alas, Anquetil died in 1987, four years before Springer made such twisted liaisons seem commonplace.

To learn more about Anquetil's achievements on the road and in the velodrome, plus his colorful personal life, check out Sex, Lies And Handlebar Tape by Paul Howard, due to be released in the United States on November 1, 2008.

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