Raymond Impanis was a professional cyclist from 1947 until 1963.
He was a beloved cyclist in Belgium.
People see him as a great rider, a great person too.
In 1942, 5 years before his professional career started,
he hit an electric light pole during a sprint.
After this accident his right arm was partly paralysed.
He couldn’t lift his right hand anymore
and had to do everything with his left hand.
‘I lost millions because of that’, is one of his statements about it.
He believed that without that accident, he would have had more victories.
Still, he won a lot of races.
How many riders can say that they won the Ronde van Vlaanderen
and Paris-Roubaix in the same year?
Raymond Impanis is one of them, 1954 is the year.
Three stages in the Tour, three times in the top 10 of
the final classification, even a third place in the Vuelta of 1956.
And I didn’t even mention that he won Paris-Nice twice.
Ok, he never won Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
He became 2nd four times though.
Being born in Berg and adopted by the local baker,
he was known as ‘the baker of Berg.’
Being a baker’s son, it’s not weird that during his youth
Raymond would bring the breads to the customers.
He did it every morning, on a bike.
He made a lot of kilometres on this bike.
In that time, it was the only way to get to the customers.
Through wind, rain, snow.
The best training you can have.
With the tips from the customers he bought his first bike.
The rest is history.
And then there’s that other famous story about him.
Sixteen times he managed to finish Paris-Roubaix.
He even ended nine times in the top ten.
You could call him a ‘Flemish Classics’ specialist,
but he was so much more than that.
He was a Belgian rider, who loved to attack,
somebody who could ride against the clock,
just one of the best cyclists of the 50’s.
Raymond Impanis, he will be deeply missed.
1925 – 2010