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
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."