In this series, I’ll briefly recall few historical races which have disappeared from the pro cycling calendar due to lack of resources or interest.
Grand Prix du Midi Libre
As is well known, the race was first organized in 1949 by the regional newspaper Midi Libre. It was viewed as a preparation race for the Tour and was traditionally organized in May, before the bigger Critérium du Dauphiné. The relatively sunny climes of the southern France used to attract a strong field, unsurprisingly packed with French grimpeurs. It was a beautiful race which covered the coastal Languedoc-Roussillon region and gave the riders a perfect opportunity to put their legs to an early test.
The race was considered big by the French riders and they usually performed well in it. One of the old pros, Jean-Claude Theillière, recalls his 1966 win with great fondness in the short Rapha video on Massif Central.
Without the backing of a sponsor with deep pockets like ASO, the race gradually disappeared from the calendar because of lack funds. In Sept 2002, the race organizers cited economic difficulties and doping culture of cycling as the reasons to discontinue the race.
The race flickered one last time , when it made an apperance in 2004 as Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon. But when the local council decided to pull the plug on funding, the race was relegated to history books.
Race History Summary
Total editions: 54 (1 void)
Maximum wins: 4 (Jean-René Bernaudeau)
Last winner: Christophe Moreau (2004)
Winners by country: 30 (France), 9 (Italy), 6 (Spain), 4 (Belgium)
Associated book: Grand Prix du Midi Libre.