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Jan Janssen
Jan Janssen in 1967
Personal information
Full name Johannes Adrianus Janssen
Born (1940-05-19) 19 May 1940 (age 84)
Nootdorp, South Holland, Netherlands
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type All rounder
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
General classification (1968)
Points classification (1964, 1965, 1967)
7 individual stages
Vuelta a España
General classification (1967)
Points classification (1967, 1968)
3 individual stages

Stage Races

Paris–Nice (1964)
Ronde van Nederland (1965)

Single-Day Races and Classics

World Road Race Champion (1964)
Bordeaux–Paris (1966)
Paris–Roubaix (1967)
Züri-Metzgete (1962)

Johannes Adrianus "Jan" Janssen (born 19 May 1940) is a Dutch former professional cyclist (1962–1972). He was world champion and winner of the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the first Dutch rider to win either. He rode the Tour de France eight times and finished all but the first time. He won seven stages and wore the yellow jersey for two days (after stage 16 in 1966 and after stage 22B in 1968). He was easily spotted in the peloton because of his blond hair and his glasses. As of the death of Federico Bahamontes in August 2023, he is, after Lucien Aimar, who won in 1966, the oldest surviving winner of the Tour de France.

Early life

Janssen was born at Nootdorp, a small town near The Hague and Delft, just five days after the Netherlands surrendered to the Nazis. He later moved to Putte, a village on the Belgian border between Roosendaal and Antwerp. He worked with his parents as a youth, digging the heavy ground of the western Netherlands to excavate foundations for the buildings the family firm erected. He joined the cycling club at Delft when he was 16 and as a novice won 25 races in two years.


Janssen turned professional after an amateur career in which he won several Dutch classics and rode for the Netherlands in the Tour de l'Avenir, which was then open to amateurs and to independents, or semi-professionals. Janssen rode for French teams and is especially associated with Pelforth-BP, sponsored by a brewer and an oil company. His talent, authority, and command of French quickly established him as the team leader. At first he had a reputation as a sprinter but he quickly developed into a rider of multi-day races.

He competed in the individual road race at the 1960 Summer Olympics.

He rode his first Tour de France in 1963, when he won a stage, but a crash forced him to retire. In 1964 he won Paris–Nice, then two stages and the green jersey of points leader in the Tour. Later that year he became world champion at Sallanches, in France. He wore the green jersey again in the Tour of 1965 and in 1966 came close to winning overall. But it was finally in 1968 that he became the first Dutchman to win the Tour de France, beating the Belgian, Herman Van Springel, by 38 seconds. That remained the smallest winning margin until 1989, when Greg LeMond won by only eight seconds ahead of Laurent Fignon. Janssen had not worn the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification in 1968 until he reached Paris at the end of the final stage, an individual time-trial.

The Tour in 1968 was, like the previous year, for national teams rather than trade teams. The organisers resolved to "experiment" with national teams in a measure widely interpreted as revenge by the organiser, Félix Lévitan, on sponsors he thought had provoked a strike against drug tests the previous year. Putting into one team riders who the rest of the year rode for rival sponsors proved a problem and internal rivalries were said to divide the Dutch team more than most. Janssen had to overcome these internal problems to win. His victory in the orange jersey of the Netherlands rather than the blue, yellow and white of the Pelforth team made his first win for the Netherlands all the more popular at home.


Jan Janssen with family 1972
Janssen with his wife and daughter Karin during his retirement ceremony on 23 September 1972

He retired from racing, he says, after being left behind in the Tour of Luxembourg and being ashamed to hear his name listed on the race radio service among other also-rans.

"I knew then that I was Jan Janssen, winner of the Tour de France and the championship of the world and that it was time for me to stop", he says.

He left the peloton to run a bicycle frame-building business in the south-western village of Putte, which is divided by the border with Belgium. That company still bears his name today. His neighbours there included another world champion, Hennie Kuiper. Janssen continued to ride his bike in retirement as a member of the Zuid-West Hoek club. He continues to make personal appearances along with other Dutch riders of his era. He said he enjoyed being recognised while on training rides.


The Dutch race organiser Charles Ruys, who called Janssen a businesslike, honest and straightforward man, said:

Anybody who tries to do something unpleasant to Jan, may it be in a race or a matter of money, has a very tough opponent. Like most successful bikies, Jan knows the value of money. So much so that he gives the impression that he is our Minister of Finance.

A bit of insight into his personality, showing the respect and compassion he showed for his fellow riders, can be gathered from a 2007 interview regarding the feisty British rider Tom Simpson (see the Death of Tom Simpson):

"Occasionally Tommy could be annoying. When it was rolling along at 30kmh and - paf!… he’d attack. Oh leave us alone! There's still 150km to go pipe down. But often, he wanted war.” Janssen went on to say, “Even in the feed zones. It's not the law, but it's not polite. Musettes (lunch bags) were up in the air there was panic and crashes. It was Simpson acting like a jerk. It didn't happen often. Occasionally I was angry at him. ..... Each had their own table. And at a certain moment, Tommy walked into the restaurant like a gentleman, with a cane, bowler hat and in costume… He was like a Lord in England and the rest of us were in tracksuits. Everyone saw that, laughed, and the things he had done during the race were forgotten.”

Views of modern racing

Janssen spent most of his career with a French sponsor, profiting from the higher rate that the French franc enjoyed then against the guilder. But since then things have changed, he said.

We had to be good all the time, from the first of February until the end of October. Because it was my duty to make the most of my sponsor's name, to get publicity. And if you had an off-day, well, you were letting your sponsors down. Now the whole sponsorship of sport has taken off. It has become so interesting to a company, because a company that wants to get its name known, you can buy a good team, with good management, good public relations, and you can get all the big names. I think, too, that the motivation has changed with the professionals as well. You get riders like Steven Rooks and Gert-Jan Theunisse saying that after the Tour they are stopping at home because they can't be bothered with criteriums, and that's not attractive for the public.

Career achievements

Major results

1st Stage 13 Tour de l'Avenir
1st Züri-Metzgete
3rd Overall Tour de l'Avenir
1st Stage 1, 4 & 7
3rd Overall Olympia's Tour
1st Stage 4
1st Stage 2b (TTT) Tour de France
1st Stage 7 Tour de France
2nd Overall Grand Prix du Midi Libre
1st Stage 3 & 5
1st Jersey rainbow.svg UCI World Road Race Championships
Tour de France
1st Jersey green.svg Points classification
1st Stage 7 & 10a
1st Jersey white.svg Overall Paris–Nice
1st Jersey green.svg Points classification Tour de France
1st Stage 12
1st Overall Ronde van Nederland
1st Stage 3
1st Stage 7a Critérium du Dauphiné
1st Stage 1 Grand Prix du Midi Libre
1st Stage 4a Tour du Sud-Est
1st Grand Prix du Parisien
1st Bordeaux–Paris
1st Brabantse Pijl
1st Overall Super Prestige Pernod
1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall Vuelta a España
1st Jersey green.svg Points classification
1st Stage 1b
5th Overall Tour de France
1st Jersey green.svg Points classification
1st Stage 13
1st Paris–Roubaix
1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 14 & 22b
6th Overall Vuelta a España
1st Jersey green.svg Points classification
1st Stage 1a & 1b
1st Stage 5 Paris–Nice
1st Stage 5 Vuelta a Mallorca
1st Overall Vuelta a Mallorca
1st Stage 2
1st Stage 2 Critérium du Dauphiné
1st Stage 5 Paris–Nice
1st Grand Prix d'Isbergues
1st Stage 6 Paris–Nice
1st Stage 3a Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco
1st Stage 2 Grand Prix du Midi Libre
1st Stage 2 Tour de Luxembourg

Grand Tour results timeline

1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970
Tour de France DNF-10 24 9 2 5 1 10 26
Stages won 1 2 1 0 1 2 0 0
Mountains classification NR NR NR NR 7 14 NR NR
Points classification NR 1 1 4 1 3 2 4
Stages won
Mountains classification
Points classification N/A N/A N/A
Vuelta a España DNE DNE DNE DNE 1 6 DNE DNE
Stages won 1 2
Mountains classification NR NR
Points classification 1 1
1 Winner
2–3 Top three-finish
4–10 Top ten-finish
11– Other finish
DNE Did Not Enter
DNF-x Did Not Finish (retired on stage x)
DNS-x Did Not Start (no started on stage x)
HD Finished outside time limit (occurred on stage x)
DSQ Disqualified
N/A Race/classification not held
NR Not Ranked in this classification

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jan Janssen para niños

  • List of Dutch Olympic cyclists
  • List of Dutch cyclists who have led the Tour de France general classification
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