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July 1, 2016 – To conclude our A-to-Z countdown to the 2016 Tour de France (#TDF2016), for the letter Z, we’ve chosen Joop ZOETEMELK one of only two Dutchmen to win the Tour.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
Both of them are pictured here before the start of the 2010 Tour at Rotterdam in the Netherlands—1980 winner Zoetemelk (now age 69) at the front and 1968 Tour champion Jan Janssen (76 today) behind. Both men are riding the Campagnolo-equipped bikes they rode to victory at the Tour: Janssen on a French-built Lejeune, Zoetemelk on a Raleigh made in England.
Both are wearing their original Tour yellow jerseys: Janssen with the Pelforth-Sauvage-Lejeune team, Zoetemelk with TI Raleigh-Creda. Zoetemelk even has on his 36-year-old team wool shorts—likely kept in place with suspenders (or “braces” as they are called in the UK).
Zoetemelk’s 18-year pro career saw him start (and finish) a record 16 Tours, finishing 12 of them in the top 10, including six times as runner-up. The most successful Dutch road cyclist in history, Zoetemelk would likely have won more Tours had his career not coincided with five-time winners Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.