Richard Virenque facts for kids
Virenque at the 2003 Tour de France
|Full name||Richard Virenque|
|Born||19 November 1969
|Height||1.79 m (5 ft 101⁄2 in)|
|Weight||65 kg (143 lb; 10 st 3 lb)|
Richard Virenque (born 19 November 1969) is a French retired professional cyclist. He was one of the most popular French riders. 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 rode for the Vélo Club Hyèrois from the age of 13. 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. He then did his national service in the army battalion at Joinville in Paris.
He turned professional for RMO in January 1991.
Virenque rode his first Tour de France in 1992 as a replacement for Jean-Philippe Dojwa. On the third day he took the maillot jaune of leadership and held it for a day, losing it to his team-mate Pascal Lino, who led for the next two weeks. Virenque finished second in the polka dot jersey climbers' competition.
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.
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 and were disqualified. Virenque said he was innocent.
Virenque changed teams to Team Polti in January 1999. 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. Franco Polti, the head of Virenque's team, fined him 30 million lire.
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. Leblanc said he hoped Virenque would not win. 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.
In 1999 he wrote a book called Ma Vérité. In the book he said he was innocent of doping. 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.
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. 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. The sentence was reduced by an independent tribunal to six and a half months. He was fined the equivalent of 2,600 euros and told to pay 1,300 euros in costs. He became depressed.
It was difficult for Virenque to find a team after he returned from his suspension.
On 5 July 2001 he joined Domo-Farm Frites. 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.
Virenque returned to fame by winning Paris–Tours on 7 October 2001. This was unusual because Paris–Tours is a flat race and sprinters usually win, not climbers. The French magazine, Vélo, called the victory "extraordinary." L'Équipe 's headline on the front page was "Unbelievable!"
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.
Virenque rode the Olympic Games road race in Athens. He announced his retirement on 24 September 2004.
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. In autumn 2005 he opened Virenque Design, a company to design and sell jewellery. Since 2005 he has been a commentator for Eurosport. He has also advertised an energy drink and a pharmacy company.
In December 2007, Virenque and his wife, Stéphanie, divorced. They had been together for 17 years. They have two children, Clara and Dario.
Virenque lives at Carqueiranne in the Var region of France. He likes dancing, wine, gardening and flowers. "Put me in a good garden nursery and I'm in heaven," he says.
- 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
DQ = disqualified
- 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
|Tour de France Maillot Grimpeur (Polka dot jersey) winners|
1933 Trueba | 1934 Vietto | 1935 Vervaecke | 1936 Berrendero | 1937 Vervaecke | 1938 Bartali | 1939 Maes | 1947 Brambilla | 1948 Bartali | 1949 Coppi | 1950 Bobet | 1951 Géminiani | 1952 Coppi | 1953 Lorono | 1954 Bahamontes | 1955 Gaul | 1956 Gaul | 1957 Nencini | 1958 Bahamontes | 1959 Bahamontes | 1960 Massignan | 1961 Massignan | 1962 Bahamontes | 1963 Bahamontes | 1964 Bahamontes | 1965 Jimenez | 1966 Jimenez | 1967 Jimenez | 1968 Gonzalez | 1969 Merckx | 1970 Merckx | 1971 Van Impe | 1972 Van Impe | 1973 Torres | 1974 Perurena | 1975 Van Impe | 1976 Bellini | 1977 Van Impe | 1978 Martinez | 1979 Battaglin | 1980 Martin | 1981 Van Impe | 1982 Vallet | 1983 Van Impe | 1984 Millar | 1985 Herrera | 1986 Hinault | 1987 Herrera | 1988 Rooks | 1989 Theunisse | 1990 Claveyrolat | 1991 Chiappucci | 1992 Chiappucci | 1993 Rominger | 1994 Virenque | 1995 Virenque | 1996 Virenque | 1997 Virenque | 1998 Rinero | 1999 Virenque | 2000 Botero | 2001 Jalabert | 2002 Jalabert | 2003 Virenque | 2004 Virenque | 2005 Rasmussen | 2006 Rasmussen | 2007 Soler | 2008 Kohl, disqualified | 2009 Pelizotti, disqualified | 2010 Charteau | 2011 Sánchez | 2012 Voeckler | 2013 Quintana | 2014 Majka
Images for kids
Virenque et Dufaux - World Cycling Championships 1990 - Amateur Men's Road Race.jpg
Virenque (second from the left) during the amateur race at the 1990 UCI Road World Championships
Richard Virenque Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.