To each his Raymond Poulidor. In Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, the city of Haute-Vienne where lived the champion with his wife, everyone has an anecdote about the cyclist. Men, women, young and old, the inhabitants maintained a certain proximity with this living monument which was "a true ambassador of the city and an idol" in the words of Mayor Alain Darbon. The elected has opened this Wednesday afternoon a guestbook.
A stadium and an avenue already bear the name of Poulidor in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. A wooden statue carved in a giant sequoia and erected not far from the home of the champion evokes the most illustrious Miaulétous, the name of the inhabitants of Saint-Léonard. "About this statue, I have an anecdote that summarizes in my opinion what Raymond was, remembers the city. In the municipality, we find that it suffers a little too much from the pangs of the weather. Well when I told him that we were going to have to restore it, he simply said: no need, she is getting older like me ".
In the city center, the one everyone affectionately nicknamed "Poupou" had his habits. "He arrived every morning on his mountain bike," says Bertrand Buisson the market gardener. He loved the season of peaches and cherries. I put everything in his pocket and he straddled his bike. "Direction the House of the Press, where he left with the Team because" he adored the sport, all the sports and not that the bike "assures Pascal, an inhabitant.
The one who loved cycling all over France
A "simple and affordable" man, these are the words that come back most in the mouth of Miaulétous crossed in this bleak day of November. "He was our idol, and I adore him. If we know this city, it is thanks to him "insists Ghislaine Dupuis who, in unison with the crossed inhabitants, does not dry up praises on" his "Raymond.
Ghislaine and her husband Christophe, owner of the restaurant bar Le Miauletou, welcomed him for lunch every first Monday of the month, fair day. "He was served with the calf's head. He always asked me for a rum baba to make me moan because he knew we did not have one. He liked to chase me. "
At the Maison de la Presse, Marie-Jeanne Meilhac recalls those tourists who, in the summer, left words for the cyclist. "They knew he had his habits in our school. And Poupou answered them systematically. He was very close to his fans, always friendly with customers. "
On the way to the college, not far from Poupou's home and the statue with his effigy, young people will no longer cross his silhouette and his smile. The champion is no longer but everything in Saint-Léonard reminds the deep imprint left by the one who has never won the Tour but made love bike all over France.