Roger Rivière started his career in the velodrome. In 1955 he beat Jacques Anquetil in the national pursuit championship at the Parc des Princes. Two years later, after winning the world pursuit title, he turned pro for St. Raphaël, riding with the likes of Anquetil and Rudi Altig. He won the world pursuit championship again in 1958 and became the first rider to exceed 47kmh on the track.
In the 1960 Tour, Rivière was set to take the yellow jersey on a stage to Avignon when he flew off the road on a descent, breaking his back. He blamed the team mechanic and faulty brakes yet Palfium, a morphine like substance, was found in his jersey pockets. He was 24 years old. The man from St. Etienne won five Tour stages, three world pursuit titles and set the world hour record twice before his career was tragically cut short.