Henri Cornet

Henri Cornet
Personal information
Full name Henri Cornet
Nickname Le rigolo
Born (1884-08-04)4 August 1884
Desvres, France
Died 18 March 1941(1941-03-18) (aged 56)
Prunay-le-Gillon, France
Team information
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Professional team(s)
1904–1905 Cycles JC
1906 Unknown
1907 Griffon
1908 Peugeot - Wolber
1909 Nil - Supra
1910–1912 Le Globe - Dunlop
Major wins

Grand Tours

Tour de France
General Classification (1904)

One-day races and Classics

Paris–Roubaix (1906)
Infobox last updated on
21 July 2009

Henri Cornet (born Henri David, Desvres, France, 4 August 1884,[1] died Prunay-le-Gillon, 18 March 1941) was a French cyclist who won the 1904 Tour de France. He is its youngest winner, just short of his 20th birthday.[2]


Cornet was born in the Pas-de-Calais region of north-west France and been registered at birth under his mother's name. Then, he is recognized by his stepfather which given his name Jardry. It's not really known why he changed his name from Henri Jardry to Henri Cornet. He was a talented amateur - he won Paris-Honfleur in 1903[3] - but little known beyond northern France and in Belgium when he entered the second Tour de France in 1904. It was his first year as a professional.[3] The organiser, Henri Desgrange, promoted his unknown competitors to readers of L'Auto, the newspaper he edited, by giving them nicknames. He called Cornet Le Rigolo, or "the joker", for his sense of fun.[4] He is described as cheerful, with wide-spaced eyes, a nose described as trumpet-like, and a generous mouth that spread easily into a smile.[2][4]

Tour de France

The Tour de France had proved a success when the first race was run in 1903 and both the competition between riders and the passion of the fans who supported them rose to sometimes dangerous proportions. Riders took trains[3] and lifts in cars or had themselves towed by drivers; a rider called Pierre Chevalier was repeatedly left exhausted in the darkness of night only to reappear in the race; the 1903 winner, Maurice Garin received food from the race director, Géo Lefèvre when others were denied.[2][5] Fans beat up riders on the col de la République outside St-Étienne and dispersed only when Garin fired his gun.[2][5][6]

Other spectators threw nails on the road on the last day and Cornet rode the last 40 km on flat tires. After many complaints about widespread cheating, the top four finishers were disqualified by the French cycling union. It declared Cornet the winner although he had taken three hours more than Garin, the winner[7] and receiving an official warning that suggests his own conduct was less than pristine. Desgrange said he would never run the race again.[8]

Cornet is the Tour's youngest winner at 19 years 11 months and 20 days.

After 1904

Henri Cornet never had further success in the Tour, dropping out in 1905 on the fourth day. He won Paris–Roubaix and came second in Bordeaux–Paris in 1906, and came eighth in the 1908 Tour de France, in which he won a one-lap time-trial held at the end of the race in the Parc des Princes. It was a demonstration race and did not count for the overall result of the Tour.

He was a fluid rider talented at repeated short efforts.[3]

Retirement and death

Cornet rode his last Tour de France in 1912, finishing 28th. He had repeated health problems, however, which brought his career to an end.[3] He stopped racing with the start of World War I. He retired to work in the cycle business (négoce cycliste) and died after a hospital operation at 56.[4] A road in Prunay-le-Gillon is named after him.

Career achievements

Major results

1904 Tour de France:
Winner overall classification
Winner stage 3[9]

Grand Tour General Classification results timeline

Henri Cornet after the finish of the 1908 Tour de France
Grand Tour 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912
Tour 1 DNF-4 DNE DNF-5 8 DNF-3 16 12 28
Vuelta N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1 Winner
2–3 Top three-finish
4–10 Top ten-finish
11– Other finish
DNE Did Not Enter
DNF-x Did Not Finish (retired on stage x)
DNS-x Did Not Start (no started on stage x)
DSQ Disqualified
N/A Race/classification not held
NR Not Ranked in this classification


  1. 1 2 3 4 Woodland, Les (2007), The Yellow Jersey Guide to the Tour de France, Yellow Jersey, UK, p99
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "'1904: Henri Cornet' - www.tourdefrance.nl [Alle Tourwinnaars]". Tourdefrance.nl. 22 March 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  3. 1 2 3 Coups de Pédales, Belgium, undated cutting
  4. 1 2 Seray, Jacques (1994), The Tour de France which was to be the Last, Buonpane, USA
  5. "Vélo 101, le site officiel du vélo  : route, vtt, cyclosport, cyclo-cross, piste, cyclotourisme, cyclisme". Velo101.com. 30 October 2001. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  6. Cornet's curiously precise time was 96h 5m 55 3/5 seconds.
  7. Chany, Pierre (1988), La Fabuleuse Histoire du Tour de France, Nathan, France, p62
  8. Cornet was not first to cross the line. He was given the stage when the leading riders were disqualified after the race finished.
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