Henri Cornet

Henri Cornet

French cyclist
Date of Birth: 04.08.1884
Country: France

Content:
  1. Biography of Henri Cornet
  2. Early Life and Cycling Career
  3. The Challenges of 'Tour de France'
  4. A Controversial Victory and Later Career
  5. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Henri Cornet

Henri Cornet was a French cyclist who won the 'Tour de France' bicycle race in 1904. At just shy of 20 years old, he became the youngest winner of this prestigious competition. The competition between cyclists in the 'Tour de France' often went beyond all bounds of common sense. There are reports that competitors would sprinkle powders causing severe itching in each other's underwear. They would scatter nails behind them, and it was under such an attack that Cornet found himself, having to ride the last 40 km of the race with punctured tires.

Henri Cornet

Early Life and Cycling Career

Henri Cornet was born under the name Arni Jardry on August 4, 1884, in the French town of Desvres, France. The reasons why he changed his surname are unknown. Getting on a bicycle, Cornet demonstrated his talents even at the amateur level, becoming the champion of the 'Paris-Honfleur' race in 1903. However, at that time, the athlete was little known outside of France and Belgium.

Henri Cornet

In his first year after moving to the professional division, Cornet won the 'Tour de France' race in 1904. The race organizer, Henri Desgrange, dubbed Cornet 'Cornet Le Rigolo' or 'The Jester' after discovering that this athlete had a healthy sense of humor. Desgrange described the future race winner as cheerful, with widely set eyes, a nose resembling a pipe, and a mouth that easily broke into a smile.

Henri Cornet

The Challenges of 'Tour de France'

The 'Tour de France' race became successful immediately after its launch in 1903. The competition between cyclists and the fans' desire to support their idols often went beyond common sense. There are reports that rivals would sprinkle powders causing severe itching into each other's underwear. They would scatter nails behind them and try every possible means to eliminate as many competitors from the track as possible.

At the same time, there is an incident when fans attacked the cyclists outside of St-Étienne, and the fight only stopped after Maurice Garin fired his weapon. It was under such an attack that Cornet fell victim, having to ride the last 40 km of the 1904 'Tour de France' with punctured tires.

A Controversial Victory and Later Career

After numerous complaints, the French Cyclists' Union disqualified the first four winners. Thus, Cornet was declared the new champion, despite arriving three hours later than Maurice Garin, whose result was not counted. After such turmoil, Desgrange declared that he would never participate in the 'Tour de France' race again.

At the time of his victory, Cornet was 19 years, 11 months, and 20 days old. The following 'Grand Loop' in 1905 ended for Henri with his withdrawal on the fourth day. He won the one-day cycling race 'Paris-Roubaix' and finished second in the 'Bordeaux-Paris' competition in 1906.

In the 1908 'Tour de France' race, Cornet finished in eighth place. He won an individual speed race that took place at the end of this competition at the 'Parc des Princes' stadium. However, it was just a demonstration race that did not affect the overall results of the 'Tour de France'.

His last appearance in his career at the 'Grand Loop' was in 1912 when he finished twelfth. It was the periodic health problems that led Cornet to decide to leave professional sports. He stopped participating in cycling races with the onset of World War I and switched to bicycle trade.

Later Life and Legacy

Cornet passed away in the hospital on March 18, 1941, at the age of 57 in Prunay-le-Gillon. A road in Prunay-le-Gillon was named in his honor.

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