St Raphaël: delicious aperitif with a rich cycling history

Wednesday 16 June 2021

St Raphaël is one of the official suppliers of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in Flanders. It is not an new name in the world of cycling, although we have to go back in time for this. The iconic French drink used to be the sponsor of the St. Raphaël cycling team in the 50s and 60s. And with success.  

Sponsoring a cycling teams for companies outside the cycling industry was not common at the time. St. Raphaël took the lead and was not at all disappointed. Between 1954 and 1964, the team developed into one of the best cycling teams in the world. The most famous name in the French team was undoubtedly Jacques Anquetil. Maître Jacques won the Tour de France three times in the team colours. It did not stop there. A number of riders from the team also played a leading role at some world championships.   

The World Championships of 1962 in Salo, Italy, with a course of 296 km long, was predicted to be a clash of titans between the two great rivals of the time: Jacques Anquetil of St. Raphael and Rik Van Looy of Flandria-Faema. Neither man won, but St. Raphaël emerged as the big winner. Frenchman Jean Stablinski rode solo to the world title and Irishman Seamus Elliott completed the team's celebration with second place.   

A year later the World Championships were held in Ronse. The Belgian participants had agreed to ride across the team borders for Rik van Looy, but one man didn't care. In a chaotic bunch sprint after 279 km, Benoni Beheyt crossed the line ahead of Rik van Looy. St. Raphael-Raphaël had the third rider of the day in its ranks, Jo de Haan from the Netherlands.