PBP Stories - 2003

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

This is an e mail that was in the circulation mill after PBP 2003. I received it in February 2004. It concerns the dispute over the time penalties handed out to the "Gang of Six" - the first six finishers at PBP 2003.

42h40 ??

>From Marc Leuckx, Belgium:

Hello all

So far I was an interested lurker on ultracycling. Some of you are friends,
some know me, others maybe heard of me. But you are all interested in riding
a bike, and a lot of you did PBP or want to do it in the future.

I just received the official results of PBP 2003. Maybe you got them too,
maybe you receive them in a short time. And I think this is the time to
finally react publicly.

Because I don't know if you heard about the fuss that is going on
(especially in France, both in magazines and on websites), but here is the
story. I'll try to keep it as short as possible (quite difficult because a
lot of things happened).

We were six to finish together after 42h40 on Wednesday afternoon. Needless
to say we were all very happy. And guys from the organisation were jumping
all around to be on the pictures that were taken and to be in front of the
camera of the French television.

How big was our surprise on Friday evening that the organisation honored the
oldest, the youngest, ... and the first women and the first tandem, but no
word about the first men. After the ceremony we were told we had to wait
till the official result appeared in January, because there would be an
investigation about our performance.

Mid september we all received a letter in which was announced that we all
(the 14 leaders during the second night) would receive a 2 hour penalty
because we were lightened by a car (by cars?) between Loudéac and Tinténiac
and after Tinténiac. We got time till the end of September to answer. We all
have sent a letter by registered post in which we stated that at no point in
the ride we were followed by cars that lightened us.

Of course the organisation never replied to us and they never confirmed the
penalty. So finally, one of us contacted them by phone, and the penalty was
confirmed. So we all have resent a letter by registered post in which we
asked a couple of questions, like:
* who saw the mentioned cars?
* where were the mentioned cars seen?
* what was the licence plate of the car(s) and since all following cars had
a number given by the organisation, it should be easy to find out which
participant had EVENTUALLY committed an error?
* why is a group of 14 riders punished for an EVENTUALLY wrong doing of one
* why didn't the organisation followed his own rules? In article 15 they
state that a penalty would be given on the spot, the latest at the next
control stop. Why didn't they stop us there and didn't they mentioned the

After a while we received a letter, but no answers to the questions. But
suddenly they started to talk about article 17, "...les décisions qui
s'imposeraient dans les cas non prévus au présent règlement..." (things not
foreseen in the rules), but what the hell is not foreseen in our case,
because article 15 is all about penalties. And of course they stated that
PBP is not a race.

We've sent an official complaint to the FFCT, the French Federation of
cyclotourist, under which direction the ACP acts. Begin January we finally
received a letter from their president in answer to our letter of November
4th. He stated that he supports the penalty, and in my case he couldn't
mediate because I am not a member of the FFCT. In other cases he couldn't do
anything either because PBP is a brevet and not a race. Why we receive a
penalty in a brevet isn't clear, of course there are no answers to our
questions, and why they honored the first women and the first tandem in
something that is not a race is still not clear. Neither the publication of
a general classification and so on is explained.

Meanwhile, during the first week of January, the BBR/FBC (the Belgian
Federation of Cyclotourist) has sent an official complaint to the ACP (and a
copy to the FFCT). In their letter they ask the same question as we did (and
that are listed above). To my knowledge, they have received no answer so

The complete disrespect with which we are treated by the organisation is
proven again by the fact that none of us has received an invitation to their
annual meeting January 24th. Normally they always honor the first man,
woman, ... and so on. But of course not this year.

Since the meeting is open to everybody, 5 of the 6 of us where there. The
meeting started at 2PM. And when they announced the end (nearly 6 PM), a
friend stood up and asked if it was possible to give more information about
the first guys. Meanwhile we walked up to the stage. And then it became
crazy. Lamouller, president of the FFCT, took the mike from Théobald, the
president of the ACP and said no questions could be asked. They hid the
mike, we spoke to the public and handed them a letter (with about the same
remarks and questions as mentioned above), Lamouller jumped back on the
stage, was handed over the hidden mike and shouted that he would make sure
that we were disqualified.

This week I received the official results by post. Unlike the other years
the results are by country and in alphabetic order, and no word about the
first man, woman,... I've heard that normally they have pages about them.

Only if you read the editorial of Theobald, you can read that the first guys
are liars, cheaters and villains.
In the same envelop as the results was included my official road book. To my
surprise, frustration and anger it was falsified. Indeed, on the last page
they included the text: "2 hours penalty because lightened by a car at
night" with an unreadable signature.

In the end, I don't care if they consider PBP as a race or not (but then
again, till this edition the first were always honored, they spoke about a
record and even now they honored the first woman, first tandem on Aug 22).
What I don't accept at all is a 2 hour penalty while I followed all the
rules all the way long (meanwhile they change their rules as they like, and
6 months after date there is still no proof given that one rider in the lead
group during the 2nd night committed an error). I won't be considered as a
cheater, and that is what they do.

Marc Leuckx, Belgium