On Sunday, February 18, 2007, former Tour de France organiser Félix Lévitan passed away at the age of 95. Cyclingnews' Les Woodland reccounts the life of the journalist turned race organiser who brought the Tour de France to the commercial world.
Félix Lévitan was the man who brought commerce to the Tour de France…only to be fired for trying to bring it elsewhere.
He was a short, sunken-cheeked Parisian and with Jacques Goddet he brought the Tour de France out of the heroic era of the inter-war years and prepared it for the festival of commerce it is now. The world of cycling owes a lot to both.
No two men could have been more different than Goddet and Lévitan. The first was tall, gentlemanly, spoke fluent English (though rarely did) and revelled in the glory - the thundering drums of the Tour. He wrote prose that sung to the calling of trumpets and clash of cymbals.
Lévitan was a little street-fighter, a wringer of money from sponsors, a man who saw it as his right to overrule judges and commissaires if they made a decision that didn't fit the commercial purposes he had set, and whose command of English was such that in his British car he had to stick French translations for words such as choke, windscreen wipers and heater.
Read the full Félix Lévitan feature.