Pierre Chany - Biography


Chany was born in Langeac, Haute-Loire, the son of a near-illiterate father who worked in the horse industry. The family then moved to Paris, to run a small bar in the rue Guillaume Bertrand, in the 11th arrondissement. Chany grew up there and, in his teens, escaped from the city on his bicycle, sometimes riding as far as Melun. He became interested in cycle-racing after reading L'Auto, Paris-Soir and Match and looking at sepia pictures of riders such as André Leducq. He rode several races, including the Premier Pas Dunlop event which in other years showed the talent of young riders such as Louison Bobet and Raphaël Géminiani. In Chanaleilles, he won a cycle and a running race on the same day, winning two packets of Gauloises cigarettes. After that he joined the CV des Marchés club in Paris.

He raced for five years and then, in 1942 when he was 20, went into hiding rather than be sent to Germany as a worker.

He was arrested and jailed first at Puy-en-Velay and then Riom. He escaped - on his birthday - from a train taking him to Germany. He joined a branch of the Resistance, the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, then joined an Algerian regiment. He was wounded three times and awarded the Croix de Guerre.

The war ended his aspirations as a cyclist and he turned to sports reporting, having briefly tried the transport business in buying two army lorries with a friend, Jacques Michelon. Encourage by another friend, Stanilas Gara, he wrote his first pieces, in 1946, for an agency which sold articles to La Marseillaise among others. It was in La Marseillaise that his first writing appeared. He then took a job with Front National, a Resistance publication edited by Jacques Debu-Bridel. He was to replace Albert Baker d'Isy (1906–1968), an author and one of France's best-known contemporary writers. Baker d'Isy was already Chany's hero and the move brought them together for the first time and led to a lifelong friendship.

From there Chany moved to Sport and to Ce Soir, publications associated with the Communist Party but which employed journalists of various opinions. It was when Ce Soir went out of business in 1953 that he joined L'Équipe. He was head of cycling there from 1953 to 1987.

He also wrote under the pen name Jacques Périllat for 'Miroir Sprint and 'Miroir du Cyclisme'. Chany insisted that L'Équipe's editor, Jacques Goddet, knew Chany was doing it but chose to say nothing rather than lose his leading cycling writer.

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