The next afternoon, on a chilly mountainous leg from Chamonix to St.-Etienne, the pack crossed the Rh�ne and began to work out its various stratagems during a blinding summer thunderstorm. Suddenly Anquetil dropped back 200 yards. He pulled his bike to the side of the road and announced to his team manager, alongside in a car: "C'est fini. J'arr�te." The doctor bundled him into the ambulance, "the cage of lost illusions" to the racers, and announced that the greatest champion of the Tour de France had a chest cold and a fever and could not continue. Said Anquetil: "My teammate, Lucien, has surmounted many difficulties. I tried to help him as much as I could, but what more could I do? In my condition I would have been more of a hindrance.... If Lucien Aimar enters Paris with the maillot jaune, I think that I may have been of some help getting him there. For me the Tour is finished."
Three days later Lucien Aimar fulfilled Anquetil's hopes, pedaling into an applauding mob of 46,000 at the Parc des Princes 67 seconds ahead of the Dutchman Jan Janssen and 122 seconds ahead of the valiant Poulidor, who had cut Aimar's lead almost in half on the 32-mile sprint leg from Rambouillet to Paris. The people's choice, Poulidor, clearly the most physically talented rider in the Tour, had managed to lose again. The crowd cheered Aimar and runner-up Janssen, but when third-place Poulidor mounted the stand in his royal-purple-and-gold uniform to accept a bouquet and a kiss, the emotional Parisians jumped to their feet and began chanting, "Pou-li-dor! Pou-li-dor!" When their breath gave out, they began a rhythmic clapping, three claps over and over again, one for each syllable of Poulidor's name. The weary farm boy from the country near Limoges pushed back his shock of black hair, smiled his shy smile and waved weakly to the crowd, secure in his annual role: France's favorite loser in France's favorite race.