Marie-Rose Gaillard


July 5, 2022

Marie-Rose Gaillard (19 August 1944 – 18 June 2022) was a Belgian cyclist. She was active from 1960 to 1966. Her most important achievement was the world title on the road which she won in 1962. After her career she founded a cycling club of which Philippe Gilbert will be the most famous member.



It was Jean Henrard, who was the regular mechanic of a cycling club in Dolhain in the 1950s, who incited Gaillard to race. She herself did not know that women could also participate in cycling. Finally, when she was sixteen in 1960, she started a cycling race in Visé for the first time.


In 1961, Gaillard finished fourteenth at the U23 World Championships in the Isle of Man. Gaillard won the 1962 World Road Championship at the age of 18, the youngest of the pack, after being called up for the first time. The Belgian team consisted for the rest of Liliane Cleiren, Simonne Elegeest, Marie-Thérèse Naessens, Yvonne Reynders and Louisa Smits. In Salò, Italy, the competition mainly focused on her compatriot, the outgoing champion Yvonne Reynders, who won in 1959 and 1961. This allowed Gaillard to stay ahead solo and still had a two and a half minute lead at the finish. Reynders then won the sprint of a group with Marie-Thérèse Naessens in third and Russian Aina Puronen in fourth. So a completely Belgian stage. According to Reynders, the lot was sold because she herself had offered to Gaillard that she would wear out the opposition so that Gaillard could win more easily. Another explanation for her surprising victory was her special descent technique in which she placed one hand on her back to reduce air resistance. A year later at the world championship in Ronse, in her own country, Gaillard finished tenth. Her compatriots Reynders and Rosa Sels won gold and silver. At the 1964 World Cup in Sallanches in the French Alps, gold and silver went to the Soviet women. Gaillard was fourth behind Sels who took the bronze. In 1966 Gaillard won the Belgian Championship. Reynders won her fourth rainbow jersey at the world championship at the Nürburgring. Gaillard was eighth by finishing second in the peloton sprint more than two minutes from the leading group, while she was secretly two months pregnant.

Post Career

First, after her career, Gaillard opened a dry cleaner in Outremeuse. Later she moved to Aywaille where she founded the cycling club VC Ourthe/Amblève. This club was mainly active as an organizer of cycling races and had only two riders, including the then fifteen-year-old Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert. She taught him the first tricks of the trade. The bond between the two was good, because Gilbert even called her "ma tante" even though there is no family connection between the two.


1962 World champion on the road in Salò1963 10th World Road Championship in Ronse1964 4th World Road Championship in Sallanches1965 19th World Road Championship in Spain 1966 Belgian champion on the road 8th Nürburgring Road World Championship