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Hundreds of mourners gather for funeral of Raymond Poulidor

Christian Prudhomme, Mathieu van der Poel, former Tour de France winners among those that gathered to pay last respects to 'an inter-generational champion'.

Hundreds gathered for the funeral of legendary Frenchman Raymond Poulidor on Tuesday.

Former Tour de France winners Bernard Thevenet and Bernard Hinault were among the crowds of mourners who gathered in the village of Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat for the funeral of the icon of French cycling, who died last week aged 83.

“We will miss him, that’s for sure, there’s going to be a big hole in our lives,” said Thevenet. “He was an inter-generational champion. Known by people who never saw him on a bike.”

Poulidor clinched 189 wins during his career from 1960-1977 but he will always be remembered for the races he failed to win. From 1964 to 1976 he finished second in the Tour de France on three occasions and was third five times in an era dominated by Eddy Merckx.

Career high points included wins at the Vuelta a Espana, Dauphine Libere twice, and Paris-Nice twice.

Poulidor’s grandson Mathieu van der Poel accompanied Poulidor’s widow Giselle and their two other grandchildren at the funeral service.

Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme was also in attendance. He thanked Poulidor, who he said embodied “courage” and “work”. Prudhomme added that “to have him, from childhood gave the love of the Tour de France”.

A large banner reading ‘Thank you Poupou’ bearing a photo of Poulidor marked the entrance to Saint-Léonard, a town of 5,000 inhabitants which also has a street and sports stadium bearing the name of one of the greats of French cycling.