Whack it – not the best way to hit the boards

Last Lap of the 1958 Tour de France Original caption: Editor’s notes: Paris, July 19, 1958. 45th “Tour de France” (Brussels-Paris). Dramatic fall of the French rider Andre Darrigade (who’d already won 5 laps) on the Parc des Princes track, at the arrival of the 24th and last lap disputed between Dijon and Paris. He slams into a track official who was too close to the track.

But the accident pictured above was severe. On 19 July 1958 the Tour finished at the Parc des Princes in western Paris. The 70-year-old sécrétaire-général of the stadium, Constant Wouters ran across the grass in the centre of the ground to prevent photographers encroaching on the track. The journalists hid the riders and Wouters from each other and Darrigade rode into Wouters as he stepped on to the track. Darrigade was lifted from his bike and turned round and Wouters thrown into the air. Both fell heavily and were taken to hospital.

Wouters was treated at the nearby Boucicaut medical centre but died on 31 July.

Darrigade cracked his skull and broke ribs. He was able to return before the end of the meeting to take a lap of honour.


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