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French lottery boost for chapel dedicated to cyclists

Notre Dame des Cyclistes listed among 121 French monuments to get restoration funds from this year's Heritage Lottery

A chapel dedicated to cyclists - and full of cycling memorabilia, including jerseys worn by many Tour de France riders - is one of 121 French monuments to receive renovation funding in this year's Heritage Lottery.

Inside the unusual chapel in Labastide-d'Armagnac, Landes, parts of which date back to the 11th century, visitors will find hundreds of cyclists’ jerseys on the wall, as well as a cycle that was ridden in the first Tour de France.

Every year 20,000 people visit Notre Dame des Cyclistes, where they will see jerseys donated by noted cyclists such as Jacques Anquetil, André Darrigade and Raymond Poulidor. There is even a yellow jersey once worn by disgraced racer Lance Armstrong among the collection.

The chapel's glass was created by another French cyclist Henry Anglade, who competed in 10 Tours, finishing second in 1959. 

The Tour has stopped off in the village four times since its first visit in 1984. In 1989, a stage started from the village and the peloton returned in 1995, 2000, and 2017.

However, the chapel has not been renovated for more than 30 years. Untreated damp has badly damaged the walls and the floor. The cost of the work is estimated at €100,000.

Last year, the Loto du Patrimoine, a lottery especially made to restore buildings that are part of France’s heritage, raised some €22million for important restoration and preservation work.

This year, the lottery takes place on July 14.

The members of the association Les Amis de Notre Dame des Cyclistes, who take care of the chapel, hope that restoration funds from the Fondation du Patrimoine will mean they can put more jerseys and cycles on display.

President Claude Nadeau said: “I still have at least 200 hundred jerseys in boxes that I can’t hang on the walls. They deserve to be put on display in good conditions.

“It would be great if we get enough to money to build another building next to the chapel to show them all.”

The chapel – which had long been abandoned - was turned into a cycling sanctuary ‘for the protection of cyclists’ by then-priest Joseph Massie, in 1959.

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