Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Cycling Year 1990

This post is inspired by a book called The Cycling Year. It chronicles the events of the 1990 cycling season. The words come courtesy of Phil Liggett, John Wilcockson and Rupert Guinness and are equally matched by the stunning photos, captured by Graham Watson and Cor Vos.

It is only when you stare long and hard at a photograph that you see the details, the little things that while not making the photo a point of interest, do at least get your mind wondering.

Whilst the smaller things are some what lost in the hazy images attached, I can at least add a few words to my favourites, which will hopefully jog memories of riders, victories and bikes...

The front cover shows Greg LeMond on the Champs-Elysees, on the verge of capturing his third tour victory. Whilst this is a historic sporting moment, there two things I can't stop thinking about.

His track mit's, have the initials R.P, on the leather palm, inked with a permanent marker pen. It always instills the same image in my mind, one where Ronan Pensec is scrambling around, pre stage, looking for the one set of gloves that haven't been soiled and made grimey from a grand tour...

Secondly are his shoes, the Brancale logo's, the bright neon branding hide a set of shoes that aren't just broken in but just plain broken. My thoughts are then transfered to the stories of LeMond getting his personal soigneur / helper Otto to put the shoes in an oven to dry them out, on a particularly wet Giro . A long day and other duties for Otto meant the shoes were left to cook slightly longer than was required, leaving the shoes whilst dry, also mildly singed and smouldering.

The next image is that of Erik Van Lanker on his way to Victory in L-B-L. This is a favourite on a few fronts. Firstly the Panasonic - Sportlife team kit is one of my favourites and its the only time neon has been put to good effect. Once again my eyes are drawn to other details within the picture. This is 1990, Edvig Van Hooydonk hasn't thought about chopping up his tights to make 3/4's and convential knee warmers have yet to catch on. Erik has medical wrap style bandages, around both knees to protect him from the cold. This is a point of interest in itself but its the safety pins which are holding the things up, that make me smile. Silicon grippers found on today's "warmers" should be appreciated if only for Erik and his safety pins.

The Avocet 30 computer on his bars. Perhaps it is this tiny detail that ages this image, the technical features extented only to that of a top speed. When compared to SRM, Power Tap the unit seems somewhat lacking. But for me cycling has never been about watts / power and every time I see an Avocet, it makes me want to dig out my old computer from the garage drawer and put it on my bike. Top speed is the figure that makes you smile, so why do you need anything else?

The final image is that of Giles Delion, a huge talent, winning the Tour of Lombardy. It is the pure joy on his face that makes this photo. Captured just as he's about to lift his arms up, in victory salute. It is that pause, pre salute that captures the finest moment of Delion's career, that makes this shot. I have no doubt, the feeling has lasted and the memory is as strong as ever for Dellion. The Suntour Superbe Pro groupo, TVT frameset, Time Equipe pedals are the things that have been cast into history. Whatever happened to TVT?

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