Jean-Marie Leblanc (born in Fontaine-au-Bois)

Jean-Marie Leblanc, the current manager of the famous Tour de France, was born in Fontaine-au-Bois, which is a little village inside the canton of Landrecies.

When he was young, Jean-Marie got interested in everything related to cycling, and he tried to compete in several races while studying economics in a private university of Lille. His dream was to become a great cycle champion, and he got his first victory after a 1967 race in Bousies

His career as a racing cyclist was quite short, since it only lasted 5 years. And yet, he was able to accumulate seven professional victories, two participations in the Tour de France and five in the famous Paris-Roubaix race of northern France.

But even before the end of his career, Jean-Marie Leblanc had already turned towards the world of journalism. As soon as 1971, he got a job in the sports column of a local newspaper, La Voix du Nord, and he worked there for six years. Then he joined the staff of L'Equipe (the most popular, widespread French sport magazine) from 1978 to 1988. But the real pride of his life was his nomination as the General Director of the Tour de France cycling race, and then his election as the president of the International Association of Cycling Races. Nowadays, he's still the one who has to coordinate the annual Tour de France, one of the most important cycling races in the world, with champions coming from every continent.

Jean-Marie Leblanc is also a writer, and has published two books. The first one was written in 1982 and was entitled Les Pavés du Nord ("Roads of Northern France"), and the second one, Le Quesnoy (a little French town close to Landrecies) was published in 1999. The first of these books is a collection of personal memories about the Paris-Roubaix cycling race. The second one is a short story inspired by the memories of his childhood, when he was only a kid running through the green meadows of his native town.

Landrecies has recently paid tribute to this great contemporary figure by naming a new gymnasium after him. Even today, Jean-Marie Leblanc still says : "I am a true northerner from the Avesnois region, and I already know I will end my days over there, in my native house of Fontaine-au-Bois."

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