Because he drank wine and no water, a possible Tour stage victory turned out entirely different for Abdel-Kader Zaaf precisely seventy years ago.
The Algerian unsuspectingly took the drink from a spectator, drank it in one go, and then… fell asleep against a tree. When he woke up and wanted to limit the damage, he cycled in the opposite direction. Indeed! Talk about a bizarre day at work.
A scorching Tour day in 1950, when the crickets sing from the trees. Two riders struggle their way to Nîmes. It is the Algerians Marcel Molinès and Abdel-Kader Zaaf. Their lead on the peloton is enormous, so they will compete for the victory.
The heat plagues their thirsty bodies, and the men take on any kind of drink that the spectators have on offer. Understandable, but not sensible.
About 15 kilometers before the finish, Abdel-Kader Zaaf starts swinging on his bicycle. One of the bottles he was offered contained wine, a drink that Zaaf is not familiar with as a Muslim and which he therefore greedily clocked back.
Drunk and spinning, he ends up on the roadside, where he drowses against a plane tree. Molinès sees spectators take care of his fellow countryman and continues his route. He wins the stage.
When Zaaf wakes up a few minutes later, the world is still spinning, but he understands that he cannot lie hereunder that tree.
The Algerian scrambles on his bicycle and heads for where Nîmes should be. He grinds the pedals around and is actually quite happy with how he solved this until he realizes that he is cycling towards the peloton.
Zaaf tries to turn around and ends up on the road again. This time, the public intervenes, and the rider is taken to the hospital. There he sleeps off his intoxication.