Marianne Martin inducted into US Bicycling Hall of Fame 37 years after women's Tour de France win

Tour de France winners Frenchman Laurent Fignon and Marianne Martin of the United States smile on the podium on July 22 1984 in Paris
Tour de France winners Frenchman Laurent Fignon and Marianne Martin of the United States smile on the podium on July 22 1984 in Paris (Image credit: Getty Images)

Marianne Martin was inducted into the US Bicycling Hall of Fame last year and, due to a postponement because of the pandemic, will accept her induction at a ceremony on November 6 at USA Cycling Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Martin was a member of the USA National Team and the first winner of the women’s Tour de France in 1984. 

In an interview with Cyclingnews, Martin said she is honoured to accept her induction into the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, which comes nearly four decades after she won the coveted yellow jersey, and she said it was a joy to be part of the first edition of the women’s Tour de France. 

“I’m so proud and so excited and it’s a huge honour. My family is flying in from various parts of the country,” Martin told Cyclingnews about the ceremony set to be held on November 6.

“It feels like I’ve been getting more press in the last five years than I did right after winning. It’s in my heart and I’m very proud of that win but it’s a personal thing and I’m proud of that accomplishment whether anyone else knows about it or not.”

Greg LeMond was the first American to win the men’s Tour de France in 1986 and went on to win titles in 1989 and 1990. LeMond was inducted into the US Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1996 and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2020.

Martin, who is a professional photographer and manages her own business Real Life Portraits, told Cyclingnews that her victory at the 1984 women’s Tour de France is largely unknown to most of the people in her life, outside of close family and friends. She said that while she is honoured to be inducted to the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, her accomplishment isn't something she speaks about very often.

“Half my friends don’t even know that I was a cyclist. It’s not something I carry out in front of me. It’s not who I am, it’s something that I did. That’s how I feel about people, whatever their accolades are, that’s not who they are, it’s something they did, and it’s more important to be a good person than doing something fabulous,” Martin told Cyclingnews.

“Just because I [won the Tour de France] doesn’t mean that I have to shout it out. Some people say to me, ’aren’t you proud or it’ or ‘why don’t you tell people’. It’s not like it comes up in conversation with a new friend, you don’t say, ‘oh, by the way, I won the Tour de France’. I almost don’t want people to know because that would be who I am to them, instead of just being me. It’s a very exciting thing for me, and I’m very proud of it, but just because I don’t go around shouting about it, doesn’t mean that I’m not proud of it.”

The men's Tour de France is rich in history, with its beginnings in 1903. A women's version found its roots much later and under a different organisation, as a one-off multi-day race won by the Isle of Man's Millie Robinson in Normandy in 1955. But the women's peloton wouldn't see their first official launch of the women's Tour de France until 1984, which was an 18-day race held simultaneously with the men's event and along much of the same but shortened routes with shared mountain passes and finish lines. The Société du Tour de France, which later became part of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) in 1992, managed both events, but the ASO-run women’s Tour de France ended in 1989.

“As soon as I heard about the Tour de France that’s all I ever wanted to do. It was a huge highlight for me. I was self supported in my financial pursuit of my cycling, and couldn’t afford to go to a lot of the big races, but I felt like, if you can’t do them all, do the best. It was a huge joy for me to be a part of the Tour de France,” Martin said.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme made a long-awaited confirmation that ASO will launch a Tour de France Femmes to be held from July 24-31 in 2022. The eight-day race is set to start at Eiffel Tower and end atop La Planche des Belles Filles.

Martin said she hopes people remember the women’s Tour de France that was held from 1984 to 1989 and that she is pleased to see ASO bring the event back in 2022.

“History is always important. The race happened from 1984-1989, and then it didn’t, for whatever reason, but now that it’s coming back again. It’s the history. I thought in many ways that it was successful in 1984. I don’t know all the reason why it stopped, but, now it has a stronger base than if it were the first edition. The history gives the race more strength,” Martin said.

“I’m just so excited that they are doing something next year. I want it to be fabulous. I want the press to be all over it. I want to see women get an opportunity to race that amazing event. To me, there is so much history there, and the Tour de France is what bike racing is about, it’s part of the magic.”

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