Louison Bobet - Origins

Origins

Louis Bobet was born one of three children above his father's baker's shop in the rue de Montfort, Saint-Méen-le-Grand, near Rennes. His father gave him a bicycle when he was two and after six months he could ride it 6 km. Bobet's father was also called Louis and the son was called Louison - little Louis - to avoid confusion The ending -on is a diminutive in French but outside Brittany Louison refers more usually to a girl. He was known as Louis in his early years as a rider, even as a professional, until the diminutive Louison gained in popularity.

His sister played table tennis,his brother Jean football, although he also became a professional cyclist. Louison played both table tennis and football and became Brittany champion at table tennis. It was his uncle, Raymond, who was president of a cycling club in Paris who persuaded him to concentrate on cycling.

Bobet's first race was a 30 km event when he was 13. He came second in a sprint finish. He raced in his local area and won four events for unlicensed riders in 1941. He qualified for the final of the unofficial youth championship, the Premier Pas Dunlop in 1943 at Montluçon and came sixth. The winner was Raphaël Géminiani, who would become a professional team-mate and rival.

Bobet is said to have carried messages for the Resistance during the second world war. After D-Day he joined the army and served in eastern France. He was demobilised in December 1945.

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