In the 55th Tour de France, it would not be dominated and won by the French and Italians like in previous years. 1968 was the year of the Dutch. 1968 was the year of Jan Janssen.
Easily spotted in the midst of the peloton with his signature thick-rimmed glasses and blond hair, Jan Janssen became the first Dutch person to win both La Vuelta a España and the Tour de France in 1967 and 1968 respectively. Making his mark immediately prior to the arrival of Eddy Merckx and his winning streak, the flying Dutchman’s performance in ’68 is now immortalised as part of cycling history.
Like many cycling underdogs, Janssen waited it out and let the other riders fight for the top spot and burn themselves out early on. Jansses tailed close behind the leaders and planned his eventual attack carefully.
When the final time trial stage arrived, Jan Janssen won it by a minute, but more impressively, he won the entire Tour by a slight 38 seconds. With this win, he didn’t just break one record as the first Dutchman to win the Tour, but two: he also won it by the smallest margin.