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Mandag d. 18. december 2000

Jacques Goddet dies at 95

One of cycling's true visionaries Tour organiser and journalist Jacques Goddet has died at the age of 95.

Born in Paris June 21 1905, Goddet was founder and owner of the French sporting newspaper l'Equipe from 1946 to 1954 and director of the Tour de France from 1947 to 1987. L'Equipe was in turn the heir to l'Auto, owned by Goddet's father and Henri Desgrange, and the paper responsible for the creation of the Tour de France in the first place.

Goddet's achievements included involvement in the organisation of 44 Tours, 12 Olympic Games, and the creation of the skiing World Cup and football's European Cup.

Goddet started at l'Auto in 1928 as a reporter on the Tour de France, and just eight years later he took the reigns of the Grande Boucle as interim director while Henri Desgrange was ill. In 1932 Goddet was the sole French journalist at the Los Angeles Olympics, a far cry from the enormous press corps at the modern Games.

He was a frequent innovator as a sports promotoer, constantly looking for events that would help boost circulation at l'Equipe. To this end he was involved in boxing and hockey as well as owning the Paris six-day track for a while. In 1956 he sold l'Equipe to concentrate on running the Tour.

During his reign as race director and in retirement, Goddet preferred to look forward rather than back and always presented visionary ideas for the development of the Tour. The status of the cycling's biggest event as one of the world's greatest sporting spectacles is in no small way down to Goddet's relentless innovation. He believed the 2003 Tour —which will mark the event's centenary — should visit significant historical sites of the twentieth century and suggested the 2010 Tour start in Moscow and the 2020 Tour in Peking.

Goddet also believed passionately in a national element for the Tour and in 1982 suggested the event should be turned over to national teams every four years. "But I am not sure that it is possible," he concluded.

Goddet was always a passionate fan of cycling and all sports, relishing "the unexpected and the beautiful" and modest about his achievement. "The past only matters when compared to the future," he once said.