If you type into Google, ‘Tour de Corse Cycliste’ you’ll find 112,000 results largely about a bike race with an even greater heritage and which first ran in 1920. That first race was won by the very aptly named Napoleon Paoli - yes the very same man who later that season crashed into a donkey during the Tour de France. I say aptly named because of course Napoleon was born in Ajaccio and Pasquale Paoli was a revered Corsican revolutionary and author of the state constitution which he wrote in Italian. Paoli the revolutionary was exiled to London in 1795, died in 1807 and is interned in St Pancras churchyard. The last seen of Napoleon Paoli he was disappearing into the distance astride said donkey and later abandoned the tour after being hit on the head by a rock – all true!
Since 1920 the Tour de Corse Cycliste has been run 36 times. The 37th edition will roll out from Bastia on the 23 May for four days of racing over 516km. Notable past winners have included Bernard Hinault in 1982 and, in the preceding year, Stephen Roche. It was Roche’s first pro victory and he beat Hinault in the process. No surprise then that the ‘Badger’ should come back a year later and right the wrong, as well of course as winning the Tour de France in ‘81 and ‘82. Stephen followed his win in Corsica with victory in the Paris-Nice and the rest as they say, is history.