Jan 30, 2010

Flying the Maple Leaf at the Tour.

Steve Bauer introducing Team SpiderTech and
auctioning off his 11th Tdf yellow jersey this past Thursday.

Wait a minute. Can it be true? Did I hear right? Steve Bauer has championed Canadian Billionaire Jim Balsillie (BlackBerry founder) to help in sponsoring a Canadian team to compete in the Tour de France.

Although it will take time and lots of money, Bauer is sounding more encouraged. Last Thursday the former great cyclist announced a new Canadian professional cycling team, Team SpyderTech. And the goal is simple to have the team line up at the 2013 Tour. Money and corporate backing was always the thorn in Bauer's side. Now with Balsillie on side and with his corporate connections, Bauer's dream is moving towards reality.

I'm as excited as Bauer that Canada will have a team, one day soon, for the Tour. And Bauer knows what it takes to ride in the Tour. He won 14 yellow jerseys, finished fourth in 1988. He silvered at the 1984 LA Olympics. And that same year took a fine bronze at the World Championship road race in Barcelona. He startled the Europeans at their own game ... his career started.

And, what better way to showcase Team SpyderTech than right here this fall. The UCI ProTour is coming to Quebec City (Sept. 10th) & Montréal (Sept. 12th).

Race organizer Serge Arsenault said it best, "Canada needs Steve Bauer, he's the only guy who can bring to Canada a top team at the top level. That's our leader."

Quick, someone pinch me!

Jan 29, 2010

"This is like pigs at play!"

The 'pigs' in mud...
Kuiper hitting the deck!

Those were the words used by Bernard Hinault to describe his own hell, Paris-Roubaix. This was 1981 and the early start to the season was very good for the Frenchman. He had just won the Amstel Gold Race and the Criterium International. And wearing the rainbow jersey he won in Sallanches a year earlier signaled that he still had much to prove. The French media & fans wanted a big win to make his world championship title meaningful. And how, it was 25 long years since Louison Bobet triumphed over the pave.

He always hated the Queen of the Classics and made it known. "It has too many pitfalls, too many motorcycles, and too much dust," bemoaned the Frenchman. It was a muddy affair and after falling a number of times he regained his composure and even kicked a poor dog who got in his way. He entered the velodrome determined to win and found himself turned track racer up against the likes of strong men De Vlaeminck, Moser, Demeyer, Kuiper & Van Calster. The six men began to sprint and Hinault was too strong beating the classic men to the line.

That day the victorious Badger took a bite and won his only Paris-Roubaix and proved that his new stripes were ...very well earned!

Daniel Willems dances on the mud.
Both from: The Fabulous World of Cycling.

Jan 27, 2010

Inside the crazy Tour with an Ale!

It's not sooo crazy after this beer!

While living in Laval Quebec, back in 2003, I picked up this very informative account of the Tour. Entitled, La Folie du Tour 1903-2003, it coincided with the centennial celebration with Lance Armstrong winning a record tying fifth Tour.

The beer is a rich brown ale called, Black Toque IPA from Phillips brewery, in Victoria BC. Hints of chocolate (that's what I tasted) in a 6.5 % warm blanket sent me in a comfort zone. It's simply delicious. I've tried a few products from Phillips and they're among my favorites.

I love this image...
The sign in at the Dinan-Brest stage, 1927 Tour.

This excellent magazine is divided into three relevant sections: La course du siecle, Ennemis intimes & La societe du Tour dotted with rare images. As we all know, the French love their Tour and here in this magazine it shows.

With help from Carolle, she'll be helping me translate these interesting articles and over time I'll present them on my blog!

Jan 25, 2010

The Flight of the Phoenix

The birth of the young Phoenix...
1966 Tour de France.

Felice Gimondi was the connoisseur of cycling. Worshiped and revered for his long & classy career, he was adored by the Italian fans.

He won the 1964 Tour de l'Avenir, the amateur version of the Tour. The following year he turned professional and finished the Giro in 3rd place. A remarkable result for his first pro year. He entered the 1965 Tour as a last minute addition to a depleted Salvarani team. His team coach was confident that he could ride two Tours in the same year. He knew the ability of this young rider.

The twenty-two year old Gimondi attacked on the sacred cobblestones on stage two to Roubaix. Having no trouble over the pave, his second place showed great promise. On the next stage to Rouen he won it and took the yellow jersey. And to seal the deal, he won the final TT into Paris. And so the Tour was his on his first attempt.

Gimondi was made for the long drawn out Tours but he was also made for the harshness of Paris-Roubaix. Unusual for a non Flemish rider. In the 1966 edition, he easily conquered the pave to solo to victory. That same year this versatile rider secured a second Monument classic and won the Tour of Lombardy...

...where he also won the hearts of the Tifosi who made him their new campionissimo!

The flight of the Phoenix...
1966 Paris-Roubaix.

The new campionissimo!

Jan 23, 2010

King Kelly

Who do you think of when it comes to the Classics?

I think of Sean Kelly. A devout cyclist maintaining that air of professionalism in the church of cycle racing. His monk like attitude won him nine monument classics and 193 races in total!

Jan 22, 2010

Sky High.

Cruisin' for a bruisin'
Van der Flecha & Barry (red jersey) warming up
to a new season!

The new Team Sky cycling team is making an impression ... on me.

Ever since becoming a news item with their win at the Cancer Classic down under, Team Sky has stormed out with an impressive one, two.

One: they place two black and blue men, Henderson and Sutton, right into the winning limelight. And, two for their minimalist jersey. Granted for their financial backing is probably the largest of all Pro tour teams. I like the retro look, one name simply emblazoned on the front.

The black n' blue!

And money equals power. The team bus is high tech and eye catching capable of extending some 3 meters more than normal. Getting the edge over their opponents is crucial. Their race radios have gone through careful military testing to scramble anyone trying to listen in on critical tactics. The Pinarello Dogmas are reportedly lighter, with less paint. The weight savings is important especially going uphill. And notably, to create the first British winner of the Tour within five years. Add a hungry Bradley Wiggins and some young talent it's quite possible.

As the team is gaining in pro cycling acceptance they'll need wins. As the classics draw closer, the team has potential for victory; Loftvist, Boasson Hagen & Van der Flecha. Throw in veterans Arveson & Barry in the mix and you can see why there's more wins on Sky's horizon!

Jan 20, 2010

Promener Son Chien

1990 L'Alpe D'Huez...
Hampsten going onto finish in seventh.

The French have an expression, promener son chien roughly translates walking your dog.

I'm reading the very interesting book, Le Tour de Foglia by journalist Pierre Foglia. An unabashed account of Tour riders during his coverage from 1992-2003. It's upfront in your face writing without the sugar coating. Certainly the world of cycle racing is far from perfect, and Foglia paints some of the riders with an unheroic brush.

The French are proud of their Tour de France, for the cyclists to suffer and give one self is tantamount to glory. It's everything French, n'est-ce pas? For this is the nation known to be in the fore front of modern ideas & modern politics. The French admire the fighter the also ran. Look at Raymond Poulidor the eternal second. Even five time winner, Jacques Anquetil took a back seat to the more likeable Poulidor.

Andy Hampsten was better known as the Velcro (able to stick onto a fast moving wheel), an opportunist, an average rouleur & a very good grimpeur. As he scaled up the L'Alpe d'Huez in 1992 he did so, promener son chien! He escaped with a small group and made it seem so easy soloing to the finish line. The hard work ethic the French believe in didn't appear to be there. People were expecting hard work. And he was nonchalant when officials wanted to help him afterwards with his bike... he said No!

In fact, Hampsten made it looked so effortless that people believed that he didn't give the rightful homage the famous stage deserves. Everyone was disappointed that L'Alpe D'Huez was won by an American who just treated the mythic mountain ...like a Sunday ride!

Jan 18, 2010

Classic Damage.

Maertens storms to another win...
this time at Paris-Tours, 1975.

I'm looking forward to the start of the new season and new squad BMC Racing Team seems loaded with three prominent guys to do some classic damage. That's George Hincapie (Gent-Wevelgem 2001), Marcus Burghardt (Gent-Wevelgem 2007) & Alessandro Ballan (Tour of Flanders 2007). On a given day, with a little luck, one of these three specialist can win.

One cyclist that had huge talent was the great Belgian sprinter, Freddy Maertens. He stormed to win the 1977 Vuelta including 13 stages, two world championships, & three green jerseys. He tore through numerous classics but oddly never won any of the five Monument one-day races. During his day, he was probably the finest sprinter. But he pushed high gears, perhaps burning him out to retire way too early at only 29 years old.

A new season has begun. Along with new transfers and new teams there's classic excitement in the air!

Now with BMC, can Ballan repeat at the Ronde?

Jan 16, 2010

One horse race

Merckx is in the back this time!
From: Fabulous World of Cycling.

I believe this image is from the 1975 Tour and this horse wanted to be part of the peloton ... as the rider's looked nervously on!

Jan 14, 2010

What's in the fridge: A drink to the Golden Age.

The chainring mixes well with the dark roast and book!

Coffee's bean around since the fifthteenth century, pardon the pun. As we all know a good cup of coffee is synonymous with cycling. How often have we all gone out for a ride and stopped for a pitstop at a roadside cafe! Much of it is to slow down (for a moment), chat and get that nice cup or two down. It's a refresher. I'm enjoying this excellent dark roast called, 'Hoodoo Jo' from Kicking Horse Coffee out of Invermere, British Columbia. And to relax with I'm including the fine book, 'Cycling's Golden Age: Heroes of the Postwar Era, 1946-1967.'

I'm breaking from my usual favorite pairing of book & libation, and I believe a drink can be any thing you savour ... thus the coffee.

The Horton collection is prominent in it's wonderful reminder of cycling memorabilia from Cycling's Golden Age. Coming from the dark period of World War II and into the new era of cycling. The riders' have become noble champions.

Together with this fine coffee ... the stuff of legends!

Jan 12, 2010

Steve Bauer's Stealth Bike.

At the 1993 Paris-Roubaix, Steve Bauer unveiled his secret weapon …the stealth bike. He actually created this odd looking bike to battle the pave of Roubaix.

It was made of steel and had an unusual seat tube angle. It made Bauer look like he was fighting to stay on the bike. I did some research and found that a special seat had to be constructed with a high back to prevent him from slipping back. The bike looks awkward with a very long chain to a very long wheelbase.

Bauer’s odd bike garnered surprised looks and giggles from the peloton & press. I’m reading an entertaining book, Le Tour De Foglia by journalist Pierre Foglia. At the 1993 Tour, after the first ITT stage Bauer looked like he found his form. He was 29th, 33 seconds behind Miguel Indurain. A good spot for the veteran Bauer to be in.

Journalists were expecting to see Bauer with his new stealth bike. But he rode well with a normal bike at the ITT. “Where’s your funny bike, Steve?” asked the press. “I abandon my funny bike after the first week of the Giro. It wasn’t giving me enough mobility, so you won’t be seeing it anymore,” said Bauer.

You have to give him credit, he tried his Paris-Roubiax experiment and came in 21st behind the winner Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle. The Frenchman won for the second year in a row ...with MTB Rockshox suspension forks.

Jan 10, 2010

The talented Marc Gomez.

it proved to be a great year for the bespectacled Marc Gomez!

One of those unassuming riders to both blend in & stand out was Marc Gomez. He was well known in the eighties providing support for outfits such as Wolber & La Vie Clair. I remember him for his tear drop shape eye glasses. Not too many riders wore glasses back then, he stood out.

What distinguishes himself is being able to win on a given day or disappear in his duties as domestique. He won smaller races but he won a big classic where few ever could; Milan San Remo. The prestigious La Classica di Primavera is the longest one day race going to an extreme 298 kms. And the French had their say at the first San Remo, in 1907 when Lucien Petit-Breton won.

And what was remarkable is that he won the famous race soloing to the finish line 10 seconds in front of fellow countryman Alain Bondue. An understated champion!

Plenty of time & space to celebrate...
1982 Milan San Remo.

Jan 9, 2010

Tom Morris & Marinoni.

Tom Morris getting ready on his Marinoni,
Montréal 1976 Olympics road race.

Tom Morris, originally from Scotland, rode for Canada at the 1972 & 1976 Olympics. He competed in Munich and finish that road race but DNF at Montréal. He was part of the 100 km team time trial finishing 16th. That's Morris on top of a good looking Marinoni at the Montréal Olympics. Marinoni started building bikes in 1974. And word quickly got around of his excellent quality. In 1976 he supplied team members with his steel bikes and he instantly developed a loyal following.

I love the old pedals/clips, Adidas shoes & hairnet. A cycling throwback to a simpler time!

Jan 7, 2010

A Frenchman in Paris-Roubaix

His first in 1992...

Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle spent nineteen years in the service as a professional cyclist. But, notably his favorite race was Paris-Roubaix. He was a rider made for tough one day races. He careen through his beloved cobblestones seventeen times. A reflection on his tenacity and patience.

The Press played it well...
"What would happen if he did it again?"
"He did it!"

Two second place finishes warmed him up to his love and obsession for this classic. The 1980 race was his beginning battling Francesco Moser. The attacking Italian was too strong. And Duclos finished nearly two minutes behind but knowing he was getting close. Closer again, another second this time in 1983 behind the Dutchman, Hennie Kuiper.

His fourteenth attempt made this Frenchman more lovable. His solo attack beat back the threat by Olaf Ludwig. He made it special winning it alone. And the French fans were singing the praises of another son winning 'their' race. The 1990's seem a good start for French cycling, Marc Madiot won in 1990 and now Duclos-Lassalle returned and proved that he could race to win this great classic.

Never keep a good man down as Duclos-Lassalle came back the next year looking worthy once again. He was getting better as time made a hint to his advancing age. He was ready, and once more he found himself suited to this great race. Only one man, a young sprinter tried to impede his advance. Franco Ballerini was a consummate sprinter and together with Duclos played games entering the velodrome. Then all hell started, a track sprint was unleashed by both men as they stormed towards the finish line. It's as exciting as it gets as both men threw their bikes...

Ballerini thought he won. Oh it was so close. Duclos-Lasalle won by centimeters. He won twice that day, his second consecutive Paris-Roubaix & the oldest winner ... 38 years and 8 months!

His immortal double in 1993!

Jan 6, 2010

Inside the fridge & a blended Scot.

This particular Scot(ch) blends well with this Rouleur!

I don't usually have Inside the fridge posts back to back but there's always the first time...

One of the finer issues of Rouleur is Issue 13 - if the cover doesn't give you a hint what's inside then may I suggest another dram of Catto's Scotch Whisky? An excellent gift from Guy of Le Grimpeur! It's a good one, both that is, Rouleur concentrates on the enigmatic Robert Millar, the notable flying Scot at the 1984 Tour de France. And what's exciting is that he is the only English speaking rider to ever win the king of the mountains classification.

Wild rumours of Millar living as a woman prompted Journalists to go looking for him. Without much luck. The grimpeur went underground and away from the limelight. Only to re-surface at the 2002 Commonwealth Games to help the Scottish cycling team. He rode the road course with the road team and reportedly stripped off his jersey to prove his maleness. Then, we can be thankful, returning to the cycling world writing an excellent article for Rouleur.

I'm having another dram and I hope ...he's back in the cycling fold!

Jan 4, 2010

What's in the fridge: A taste of Hell.

Hell tasted so good with this craft brewed amber ale called...
Crooked Coast!

One of my favorite books is Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell. The visual feast is the myriad of incredible images showing casing this amazing race.

Just like the phrase; 'Hell of the North,' invokes so much hardship mere mortals wouldn't want to tread. The primitive cobblestones of northern France provide a bone jawing dance for both bike & rider. For a better part of the long race, nature has her way and only teases each rider towards the finish line. The weather is a harbinger of hell changing the course muddy due to the wind, rain & snow. Or, a dust choking, blinding veil for the unlucky riders. L'Equipe writers and fans give each image a thought provoking glimpse. A pleasurable balance offering an important history of many great racers and their glorious deeds ...in a fine book!

Jan 3, 2010

Feeling blue for Marinoni.

Here are the two samples off Marinoni's site,
Is it the Medium Blue?...

I'm planning to buy my new Marinoni this Spring. I've been talking about it for some time now, right? I figure that Spring will be a great time to start again. I was out riding today and feeling a little blue...

The medium blue...
Without the flames.

Not the depressing state, but the color. I don't know which of these shades to go with. I've narrow it down to medium blue & royal blue. So, I'm asking you all out there to please give me your feedback. It's appreciated. You know I'm a somewhat retro type that loves the old school colors of the fifties, sixties and seventies. Blue is it. Also, I plan to have the old school white banding on the down tube & seat tube with the old 'Marinoni' script.

In keeping with the blue theme...

I'm riding with my brand new Prendas blue oversocks and I love them. The other day it was cold and partly drizzling and I had on my clear plastic rain jacket with the oversocks. I stopped at an intersection and as I jumped on my pedals to go, a young guy said to me, "Nice swag!"

I may not know all the hip urban words out there but I know this one. It made my ride!

... or Royal Blue?

Jan 2, 2010

Cycling Caps: January Free Shipping.

Just some of Galstudio's excellent cycling caps for sale.

Thinking about buying a cycling cap? Now's the time...

Carolle, over at Galstudio, has 49 fine cycling caps now with free shipping for the entire month of January!

Jan 1, 2010

Hell of a nice place.

Steve Bauer (Weimann-La Suisse) knew how to suffer in hell.

Dirty, grim, exciting, tough, dramatic & beautiful are some of the superlatives I use for the oldest one day classic around. I prefer the nickname the best ... Hell of the North.

What's hell without the Gypsy?

It's my favorite all time race and I look forward to that fateful Sunday in April. My appeal is simple, rider & bike against the elements. A little like David vs Goliath. Where Goliath is ever present beating up on so many David's. But after some 56 kilometers of treacherous roadway one lucky rider emerges to win the battle.

Organizers saw the aftermath from the First World War shelling. The decimated roads was a certain hell and the pave was born. Thrown in dung coated soil eventually covering the riders provides that warm place in hell.

Hincapie came close in 2005.

The only Irishman to master it so far is Sean Kelly, twice that is. Britain's Barry Hoban finished third in 1972. American George Hincapie was close coming in second in 2005. Australian Stuart O'Grady slapped hell in the nose winning it in 2007. But the closest by a centimeter was the photo finish of Steve Bauer and Eddy Planckaert in 1990. If hell had an extended hand, it lashed out at Bauer. "To come so close and not win. That hurt more than anything," said Bauer. Welcome to hell.

Merckx beat back hell in 1968.

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