With 18 years to look back on something, and 14 years to think about the entirety of the 1990’s Tours, this is the moment that sticks out to me. I remember watching this live and it is just as chilling now as it was then.
1990 had some goodies, Indurain and Lemond get away on the way to Luz Ardiden. Next year Bungo dismounts his bike barely breathing after winning Alped’Huez. 1992 had Chiapucci at Sestrieres riding through a tunnel of fans for the emotional win. The early 90’s were full of good Indurain moments, non-time trial moments like the Liege stage where he towed Bruyneel to the line in a bit of a surprise move and show of power and the unforgettable ride in the fog to Hautecam were the plucky Frenchman no doubt motivated by not having the housewife’s favorite in tow sprinted around for the stage win. All of this is withholding the tragedy of Fabio Casartelli’s crash and death is in a category of itself.
It would be easy to go on and on about the memorable moments by riders with pharmaceutical assistance, Ugrumov’s stage wins and the rise of Pantani. As a side note, the mid 1990’s saw some remarkable performances from bald men.
Of all of these moments, the 1996 stage to Hautecam stands out in my mind. We all know Bjarne was Mr. 60%, or something like that. This was before the super organized team employing the most systematic doping regime ever in the history of the world ever (whatever). Bjarne Riis makes the best riders of that race look slow. Take a roll call of who is in that group, Indurain, he had only won the race 5 time before, Olano, current World Champion, Luke Leblanc, soon to be World Champion, Lauren Brochard, 1997 World Champion, doped climbers Peter Luttenburger, Dufaux, Virenque, Leonardo Pepoli, Former Hour Record holder Tony Rominger, Berzin, Escartin, , Ulrich…lest we forget Zulle blowing it before the climb kicked up in earnest.
Yes, all of these riders have something in common other than they all rode the 1996 Tour. It is a roll call of the major players of the mid 1990’s tours. In yellow, calling his shot, certainly the marked man and Bjarne in control makes them look second class.
What still strikes me the most is the figure of Bjarne, gaunt, tall, confident, turning a huge gear. Its strange how someone looking so gaunt could have such strength, out of this world really. It almost seems cartoonish, or like pro wrestling in a way. Obviously in light of the subsequent unraveling of pro cycling’s credibility we have clues that these are super human efforts and results aided by more than bread and water. But still, these are images etched in my brain that have made the biggest impression, even 18 years later.
I am convinced that Vinokourov is Rolf from the Sound of Music. I mentioned this to my wife whilst watching this movie with her and she thought I was crazy and proceeded to get mad at me for always bringing cycling into every conversation we have. How can we be sure that Vino is Vino and not some child movie star or descendant thereof, perhaps he’s a vampire and will never age, which would explain his blood doping suspension a few years back. Just look at them. They look IDENTICAL.
*** errors and omissions:
– We apologize for the sometimes garbled audio feed. We continue to work on polishing the production level but this podcast had an occasional audio feed issue
-We are aware there is a riders’ union
-We are aware of the inconsistency of some of our content and rider commentary with the Olympic winner and other issues discussed in the podcast. ***
Much has happened since our last podcast, 5 new iphones have been released, the world knows a new boy band and we have both probably gotten 1/16″ shorter. None the less, the Two Johns are back and podcasting! The promise of another cyclocross season has got us all a chatter talking about Kingswood TT’s, equipment and a bigger than ever. The podcast starts off covering some of the events that transpired since our last podcast. We wind up griping about how modern bikes don’t meet the quality of previous eras…
Think you’ve got the pipes to announce one of the OVCX races? Want to be a part of the excitement that is the Gun Club Cyclocross race on October 14? Are you willing and able to announce the entire day? Call 513-253-0180 and give me 1 to 2 minutes of your best Dave Towle. I’ll select the winner about 2 weeks before the event.
If you are selected I’ll pay you $100 for the day’s announcing plus breakfast, lunch, and I may even let you shoot the shotgun to start one of the races.
Jim Startt is a former teammate and old friend. He has lived in Paris for over 20 years covering pro cycling. His iconic photographs have appeared in many cycling publications, in books, and online. He has published numerous books on the sport and of his pictures. He’s Bicycling Magazine’s European Correspondent. I sat down with him at a Paris cafe to talk to him about his work and the Tour de France.