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Re: RIP/ memorial announcements
« Reply #90 on: November 20, 2019, 12:28 »
Raymond Poulidor's funeral was celebrated yesterday, in his own Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat in the Limousin, where he passed away.

I read somewhere that 2,000 people were expected at the ceremony (Ouest-France says there more than 1,000 people ), while the village itself counts 5,000. Inside the small church, 500 people were present but many more outside of it. Some campsites have been reopened to welcome the many camping cars of fans who made it to Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. Some past greats were there as well: Bernard Thévenet and Bernard Hinault carried the coffin, Lucien Aimar had nice words for him, he said that Poulidor never showed any signs of envy/jealousy (Aimar was rival Jacques Anquetil's teammate), Marc Madiot and André Darrigade were also present and Luc Leblanc who had personally known him since childhood. Of course the family with Mathieu, David and Adrie Van der Poel. Mathieu left the message that his mother emotionally said: "You were so proud to be my grandfather and I am even prouder to be your grandson. You are my greatest champion".

Some tragic facts made me think a bit. Actually I knew for years that Raymond Poulidor was sort of addicted to his fame and popularity, to being in contact with the public. He couldn't live without it and has openly confessed it several times. A bit more than 10 years ago, I was offered his autobiography "Poulidor intime" in which he had these words:

"J'aime ce contact avec le public. Il est sûr que je vivrais très mal le fait de ne plus être reconnu dans la rue. De toute façon, le jour où je ne pourrai plus assurer ces animations et ces rencontre avec le public, cela voudrait dire que la fin est proche"

Which I would translate as:

"I like/love this contact with the public. It's for sure that I would feel very bad if I'm no longer recognised in the street. Anyway, the I would no longer be able to make these animations and meetings with the public, that would mean that the end is close".

The book was published in 2010. When reading that I remember saying to myself something like: "this seemingly indestructible and super healthy man has a weakness, here". I didn't really think that that would eventually kill him but it clearly was a weakness.

I recently read an article that saddened me an awful lot. Last September, Poulidor was expected to go the a Leclerc supermarket in Fleury-Les-Aubrais, in the outskirts of Orléans, where he would go pretty much every year to sell and dedicate books. It's about a 3h drive from Saint-Léonard de Noblat and he would always do that on his own, by car. This year he was to do it as well. He never reached Fleury ... He was very weak and tired and got lost in the Orléans suburbs. The next day he was taken to hospital. I didn't know that at all...  :(

Marc Madiot in an interview after the news report that he passed away was that he would leave a great void after him because you could see him on pretty much every French race from Bessèges or La Marseillaise to the Tour of France of course. I don't know if also this year he was present in the French season openers but at age 82/83 still touring round every peloton race to be in contact with the public must've been extremely exhaustive.

Poulidor also went to Narosse in the French Basque country last April to celebrate André Darrigade's 90th birthday, as you can see on the YT clip below (1.28). Darrigade remember that is was very fit that day. The former great sprinter met again with Poulidor during the Pau stage of the Tour of France. That day he wasn't well, was tired and then he had him on the phone when he was home and he wasnt well at all.

The last time I read about Poulidor was during the same Tour of France. I read an interview of his, talking about Wout Van Aert. He had nice words for his grandson's main rival. I was about to share it with you on these boards here but couldn't find the time. It was really amazing to see a 83 year old guy still so clear-minded about present-day cycling. But he really did too much.

I'm saying all this because I sometimes fear that all these past greats who are still so hyped today might go the same way. I saw Merckx reacting to Poulidor's death. He didn't look good at all either. De Vlaeminck has also been hospitalised, he felt tired. Now he's in a course of antibiotics but feeling better. These guys who formerly raced in the advent of live television were enjoying fame as riders and cannot really live without it. They should rest a bit, I think and stop saying yes to any press invitations, methinks.  :angel

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