"Poupou", as he was affectionately known, passed away last Wednesday at the age of 83. Tuesday in his village of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, Haute-Vienne, Haute-Vienne, hundreds of people gathered in and outside the church. Many anonymous, but also former cyclists, like Bernard Hinault, or Bernard Thévenet have greeted one last time their idol or friend.
"He has conquered the hearts of our grandparents, our parents and our children"
And if Raymond Poulidor was someone happy, the ceremony was very solemn. Hardly have the accordions begun to play that the church bells rang, much louder. Carried in particular by Bernard Thevenet and Bernard Hinault, the grave face, the wooden coffin of the champion is placed at the foot of the altar.
Alain Darbon, the village mayor, then took the floor. "Who did not shout 'Go on, Poupou'?", The elu shouted, visibly moved. "Unjustly called the eternal second in view of his tremendous sporting career, with an exceptional track record, he has conquered the hearts of our grandparents, our parents and our children." Poupou "is intergenerational. our hearts "
"We will always think of him"
Outside, several hundred people watched the ceremony on a giant screen, in the cold, and in absolute silence. "I was born here, and I always knew it," says a resident. And my grandmother was a great fan of Poulidor, my daddy after. And when we were kids, there was not so much distraction as that, and I remember that the Tour de France, the afternoons, was sacred, "she concludes.
"It was Poupou, he was a great champion, he was our 'Poupou'," continues another. "And it was very simple, it was 'Hello Raymond, good morning,' handshakes to everyone, it was simple, and we'll always think of him, that's it."
The body of Raymond Poulidor will then be cremated in Limoges, but the final destination of his ashes has not been specified.