Gitane cycles have their roots in 1925, when Marcel Brunelière opened a smithy and agricultural repair works at Machecoul in the Loire-Atlantique region of France. He began making parts for bicycles and the following year opened a further workshop to assemble bicycles for G.M.B and Marbru. Brunelière began making his own bicycles in 1930, choosing the name Gitane (gypsy woman). He added light motorcycles in the 1950s. The name changed to Micmo in 1960 but continued to sell Gitane bicycles. Nearly a third of Micmo was owned by Renault, the car-maker, which had acquired 30 per cent of the shares in 1974. In 1976 it bought the rest.
The arrival of a new director-general at the head of Renault in 1985, Georges Besse, led the company to sell Micmo to raise capital. Micmo continued and then in 1992 joined Peugeot and the Spanish company, BH, to form the Cycleurope group to compete with growing competition from Asia.
Renault sponsored a professional team in the 1970s and, since it owned Micmo, the company behind Gitane, made Gitane the co-sponsor. Riders on Gitanes included Lucien Van Impe, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon and Greg Lemond, all winners of the Tour de France.
Gitane sponsored mountain-bike teams in the 1990s.
Gitane returned to road cycling after several years' absence, backing La Française des Jeux and BigMat-Auber. It no longer sponsors professionals, although it does equip the postmen of France with delivery bikes.
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