Wim van Est

Wim van Est

Wim van Est in 1956
Personal information
Full name Willem van Est
Born (1923-03-25)25 March 1923
Fijnaart, Netherlands
Died 1 May 2003(2003-05-01) (aged 80)
Sint Willebrord, Netherlands
Team information
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Major wins

Grand Tours

Tour de France
3 Individual Stages
1 Team Time Trial
Giro d'Italia
1 Individual Stage

Stage Races

Ronde van Nederland (1952, 1954)

Single-Day Races and Classics

Dutch Road Race Champion ::(1956, 1957)
Dutch Individual Pursuit Champion
(1949, 1952, 1953, 1955)
Tour of Flanders (1953)
Bordeaux–Paris (1950, 1952, 1961)

Willem "Wim" van Est (25 March 1923 – 1 May 2003) was a Dutch racing cyclist. He is best known for being the first Dutch cyclist to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France of 1951, and for falling into a ravine while wearing it.[1]


Van Est was born in the town of Fijnaart, in North Brabant. Prior to his cycling career, he used to smuggle tobacco by bike, but was eventually caught and served several months in prison. He started his cycling career (as an amateur) in 1946, after a professional runner had seen him race in a local competition as part of a wager. His first major victory came in 1950, when he won the 600 km Bordeaux–Paris race.

In 1951, Van Est was part of the Dutch team for the Tour de France. In the 12th stage, from Agen to Dax, he escaped with a small group. He won the stage and gained 19 minutes on the leader, enough to move up to first place overall. As the first Dutchman to wear the accompanying yellow jersey he was praised by the public and media at home.

The next day, in defence of his position, Van Est was chasing the leaders in the descent of the Col d'Aubisque. Due to a flat tyre (according to Van Est himself), he slipped away and fell into a 70 m deep ravine. Miraculously, he survived the fall and had no serious injuries. Using a chain of tyres, and helped by spectators and his manager, he managed to get back to the road. Van Est wanted to continue, but was persuaded to go to the hospital.

At home, Van Est's fame grew even more when Pontiac, which had supplied watches to the Dutch team in the Tour de France, started an advertising campaign "Seventy meters deep I dropped, my heart stood still but my Pontiac never stopped".[2]

Later in his career, Van Est twice won the Ronde van Nederland, wore the yellow jersey again in 1955 and 1958, placed 8th in 1957 and won two more stages. Also, he won Bordeaux–Paris two more times, two national road titles, four national titles in the individual pursuit on the track, as well as three medals in the pursuit at the World Championships.

Nevertheless, he remained most famous for the two days in the 1951 Tour de France. To remember this event, a monument was placed on the mountain 50 years after the event, on 17 July 2001.

Wim van Est died in his hometown Sint Willebrord. His brothers Piet, Kees, Toon, Leen and Nico were also professional cyclists.[1]

Major results

1st Saarland Rundfahrt
1st Dutch Individual Pursuit Champion
1st Stage 5 Ronde van Nederland
3rd World Individual Pursuit Championships
1st Bordeaux–Paris
2nd World Individual Pursuit Championships
1st Stage 12 Tour de France
2nd Bordeaux–Paris
1st Dutch Individual Pursuit Champion
1st Overall Ronde van Nederland
1st Stage 4a
1st Stage 7
1st Nokere Koerse
1st Bordeaux–Paris
1st Dutch Individual Pursuit Champion
1st Tour of Flanders
1st Stage 1 Giro d'Italia
1st Stage 16 Tour de France
1st Stage 2b Dwars door Vlaanderen
2nd Gent–Wevelgem
2nd Bordeaux–Paris
1st Overall Ronde van Nederland
1st Stage 3
1st Stage 4
1st Stage 7
1st Stage 4b Tour de France
1st Overall Driedaagse van Antwerpen
2nd Bordeaux–Paris
1st Duth Individual Pursuit Champion
1st Stage 1b (TTT) Tour de France
2nd Overall Ronde van Nederland
1st Stage 2
1st Stage 7
3rd World Individual Pursuit Championships
1st Dutch Road Race Championship
1st Duth Motor-paced Champion
2nd Overall Ronde van Nederland
1st Stage 8a
3rd Overall Driedaagse van Antwerpen
1st Stage 2b (TTT)
1st Stage 3a
1st GP Stad Vilvoorde
2nd Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne
1st Dutch Road Race Championship
2nd Overall Ronde van Nederland
1st Stage 4
1st Stage 6
1st Duth Motor-paced Champion
1st Stage 7 Ronde van Nederland
1st Bordeaux–Paris

See also


  1. 1 2 Wim van Est. cyclingarchives.com
  2. The original Dutch slogan was "Zeventig meter viel ik diep, mijn hart stond stil maar mijn Pontiac liep"
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Sporting positions
Preceded by
Thijs Roks
Dutch National Road Race Champion
Succeeded by
Jef Lahaye
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