Richard Virenque

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Richard Virenque
Virenque at the 2003 Tour de France
Personal information
Full nameRichard Virenque
NicknameRicco
Born (1969-11-19) 19 November 1969 (age 49)
Casablanca, Morocco[1][2]
Height1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight65 kg (143 lb)
Team information
DisciplineRoad
RoleRetired
Rider typeClimber
Professional team(s)
1991–1992
1993–1998
1999–2000
2001–2002
2003–2004
R.M.O.
Festina
Polti
Domo-Farm Frites
Quick Step-Davitamon
Major wins
Tour de France
King of the Mountains Classification
(1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004)
7 Stages (1992-2004)
Paris–Tours (2001)
Infobox last updated on
28 March 2008

Richard Virenque (born 19 November 1969) is a French retired professional cyclist. He was one of the most popular French riders.[3] He won the King of the Mountains competition of the Tour de France seven times, which is more than any other cyclist. Virenque finished third in the Tour de France in 1996 and second in 1997.

He was part of a famous doping scandal in 1998.

Early career[change | change source]

He rode for the Vélo Club Hyèrois from the age of 13.[4] He said he knew he could climb well from the start.

His first win was in a race round the town at La Valette-du-Var. He and another rider, Pascale Ranucci, lapped everyone else.[5] He then did his national service in the army battalion at Joinville in Paris.[2]

In 1990 he came eighth in the world championship road race at Utsunomiya, Tochigi in Japan. He was then offered a professional contract with the team RMO.[6]

Professional career[change | change source]

He turned professional for RMO in January 1991.[1][2]

Virenque rode his first Tour de France in 1992 as a replacement for Jean-Philippe Dojwa.[6] On the third day he took the maillot jaune of leadership and held it for a day,[2] losing it to his team-mate Pascal Lino, who led for the next two weeks.[6] Virenque finished second in the polka dot jersey climbers' competition.[6]

After the Tour de France Virenque joined another French team, Festina. He stayed there until the team closed down after a doping scandal in 1998.

Virenque first wore the yellow jersey of the Tour de France in 1992 and for the last time in 2003. In 2003 he wore the jersey on the climb of Alpe d'Huez.

Virenque was good at climbing but not at time trials.

Festina affair[change | change source]

In 1998 the Festina cycling team was disgraced by a doping scandal, known as the Festina affair.

Virenque's teammates, Christophe Moreau, Laurent Brochard and Armin Meier, admitted taking EPO after being arrested during the Tour[7] and were disqualified.[8] Virenque said he was innocent.

Virenque changed teams to Team Polti in January 1999.[9] He rode the Giro d'Italia in 1999 and won a stage.

A few weeks later Virenque's name emerged in an inquiry into Bernard Sainz. Sainz was later jailed for practising as an unqualified doctor.[10] Franco Polti, the head of Virenque's team, fined him 30 million lire.[9]

Race director Jean-Marie Leblanc banned Virenque from the 1999 Tour de France. He was made to let Virenque race by the Union Cycliste Internationale.[9] Leblanc said he hoped Virenque would not win.[11] Virenque rode on a bicycle painted white with red dots to resemble the polkadot jersey of best climber, but he didn't win the competition. He had a bodyguard, Gilles Pagliuca.[9]

In 1999 he wrote a book called Ma Vérité. In the book he said he was innocent of doping.[12] He wrote that his team-mates confessed to using EPO because of pressure from the police. He said Moreau's urine showed EPO had not been detected.[13]

The Festina affair led to a trial in October 2000. Virenque was a witness as well as others from the Festina team. He at first denied he had doped himself but then confessed.[14] But he denied doping himself intentionally.

Virenque was criticised by the media and satirists for denying doping even though there was evidence. He was also criticised for pretending he had been doped without his knowledge.

Virenque lived near Geneva in Switzerland and the Swiss cycling association suspended him for nine months.[15] The sentence was reduced by an independent tribunal to six and a half months.[16] He was fined the equivalent of 2,600 euros and told to pay 1,300 euros in costs. He became depressed.[6]

Post-suspension career[change | change source]

It was difficult for Virenque to find a team after he returned from his suspension.

On 5 July 2001 he joined Domo-Farm Frites.[6][17] He had help from Eddy Merckx who paid the extra money after the main sponsors wouldn't pay. Domo kept him the following season. On 25 October 2002 he signed for another two years.[6]

Virenque returned to fame by winning Paris–Tours on 7 October 2001.[6] This was unusual because Paris–Tours is a flat race and sprinters usually win, not climbers. The French magazine, Vélo, called the victory "extraordinary."[18] L'Équipe 's headline on the front page was "Unbelievable!"[19]

Virenque was beaten by Laurent Jalabert in the 2001 and 2002 Tour de France King of the Mountains competition. He won his sixth polka dot jersey in 2003. In 2004 he won the polka dot jersey for the seventh time. This is the most of any cyclist.

Retirement[change | change source]

Virenque rode the Olympic Games road race in Athens. He announced his retirement on 24 September 2004.[20]

He won Je suis une célébrité, sortez-moi de là! (the French version of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!) in Brazil in April 2006.[21] In autumn 2005 he opened Virenque Design, a company to design and sell jewellery.[22] Since 2005 he has been a commentator for Eurosport.[23] He has also advertised an energy drink and a pharmacy company.[24]

Personal life[change | change source]

In December 2007, Virenque and his wife, Stéphanie, divorced.[25] They had been together for 17 years.[26] They have two children, Clara and Dario.[27]

Virenque lives at Carqueiranne in the Var region of France.[24] He likes dancing, wine, gardening and flowers. "Put me in a good garden nursery and I'm in heaven," he says.[28]

Palmarès[change | change source]

  • Jersey polkadot.svg Seven polkadot jerseys in the Tour de France: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004
  • Seven mountain wins: 1994 Luz Ardiden; 1995 Cauterets; 1997 Courchevel; 2000, Morzine; 2002 Mont Ventoux; 2003, Morzine; 2004, Saint-Flour
  • Paris–Tours 2001
  • Trophée des grimpeurs: 1994
  • Tour du Piémont: 1996
  • Grand Prix La Marseillaise: 1997
  • Bol d'or des Monedières 1992
  • Circuit de l'Aulne 1994
  • Critérium de Castillon-la-Bataille 1995, 1997, 2002, 2004
  • Stage win, Tour du Limousin en 1993
  • Stage win, Giro d'Italia 1999
  • 4 stages, Critérium du Dauphiné libéré: 1995 (2), 1996 (1), 1998 (1)
  • Stage win, Route du Sud 1994
  • Critérium de Vayrac: 1996, 1997
  • 2nd national road championship 2003; 3rd 1998
  • 3rd world road championship 1994

Grand Tour General Classification results timeline[change | change source]

Grand Tour 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Pink jersey Giro - - - - - - - 14 - - - - -
Yellow jersey Tour 25 19 5 9 3 2 DQ 8 6 - 16 16 15
golden jersey Vuelta - - - 5 - - 11 - 16 24 - - -

DQ = disqualified

Books[change | change source]

  • Ma Vérité 1999 Éditions du Rocher, with C. Eclimont and Guy Caput.
  • Plus fort qu'avant 2002 Robert Laffont, with Jean-Paul Vespini.
  • Richard Virenque Coeur de Grimpeur Mes Plus Belles Etapes 2006 Privat, with Patrick Louis

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "L'Equipe, Rider database, Richard Virenque". Lequipe.fr. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Richard Virenque biography". Membres.lycos.fr. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  3. As Tu Vu... cote-azur, Richard Virenqu e
  4. Procycling, UK, undated cutting
  5. Vélo, France, November 2003
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 L'Équipe, France, 13 July 2003
  7. "Tour riders down wheels over drug use". London independent. Retrieved 28 July 2007.[dead link]
  8. "A hint of doping at Tour de France". Herald Tribune. Retrieved 19 July 2007.[dead link]
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "L'Équipe, 4 July 2000"
  10. L'Humanité, France, 12 May 1999
  11. "Cycling: The feted and hated one". Retrieved 31 December 2007.[dead link]
  12. Traval P and Duret P (2003). Le dopage dans le cyclisme profesionnel:accusations, confessions et dénégations. STAPS. 60:59-74. 
  13. "Aveux et pression policière". Cyclisme Dopage free. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
  14. "L'AVEU Richard Virenque a fini par admettre s'être dopé. Luc Leblanc lui a emboîté le pas". Humanite.fr. Retrieved 31 December 2007.[dead link]
  15. L'Equipe, Virenque judgement[dead link]
  16. Cycling Weekly, UK, January 2001
  17. Vélo, France, March 2003
  18. Vélo, France, August 2003
  19. L'Équipe, France, 7 October 2001, p1
  20. Vélo, France, October 2004
  21. "Le fan-club de Richard Virenque, La biographie". Teemix.aufeminin.com. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  22. "Ces sportifs qui ont monté leur boîte, Richard Virenque, du vélo à la joaillerie". Journal du Net. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  23. Journal du Dimanche, France, 10 July 2005
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Richard Virenque, dix ans après, Jean-Julien Ezvan,". Lefigaro.fr. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  25. "Richard Virenque divorce". Tempsreel.nouvelobs.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  26. "Pure people. Biographie of Richard Virenque". Purepeople.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  27. iVelo, Richard Virenque : recasé avec l'égérie de sa boisson énergisante ![dead link]
  28. L'Équipe Magazine, 13 October 2001

Other websites[change | change source]