Cyclingheroes: What do you remember from the 1968 Tour de France
and how was your reception in the Netherlands?
Jan Janssen: In cycling winning the
Tour is the greatest victory of all. The reception in the Netherlands was great but all those receptions after the Tour weren't
that important to me. It was nice to receive so many compliments but I was an athlete, for me it was more important to prepare
for the next race. To be honest... After the Tour I was only thinking about the next race.
Cyclingheroes: The Tour was much longer
in the sixties...
Jan Janssen: Yes it was about 1200
kilometres longer. We had to race a route which was about 4500 – 4700 kilometres. The Tour was three days longer and
the stages were also much longer. Sometimes the roads were really bad. Everything has changed. Me, Anquetil and Poulidor had
bikes of the same quality.
Cyclingheroes: Did riders already specialize
on specific races like the Tour in the sixties?
Jan Janssen: No we didn't specialize
at all. We raced from February 1 until the end of October. We started with races at the Cote d'Azur, then we did the spring
classics and after that we did stage races like Midi Libre, Tour de Suisse and of course the Tour de france and the Vuelta.
After that the fall classics and the World Championships. Many riders have about 60 racing days nowadays, we raced between
110 and 115 days. Additionally I did between 40 and 45 crits after the Tour de france. I raced for a French team so one day
I had a crit near Brest [France, editor] and then I drove 1000 kilometres by car during the night and started the next day
at the 8 van Chaam [Nethrlands, editor].
Nowadays a team is actually having two teams, one for the classics
and one for the major stage races. In the old days that was impossible. The budgets were much smaller so we had to race everything.
I had to quit as I was 32 years old, I had enough, just couldn't do it anymore. Nowadays a lot of riders can race much longer.
Cyclingheroes: Your palmares are quiete
impressive but most people only remember your Tour victory...
Jan Janssen: In Belgium people often
say, 'hé that's Jan Janssen he was world champion'. But of course my Tour win is something people remember most. The
Tour is THE race. Most people don't care that I also won races like Paris-Roubaix or the Vuelta. In the Netherlands there
are only two riders who won the Tour [Jan Janssen in 1968, Joop Zoetemelk in 1980, editor]. For most people in the Netherlands
the other victories don't count but as a Tour winner you are a celebrity for all times.