Anatomy of a Photo: Fausto Coppi

Anatomy of a Photo: Fausto Coppi

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A lot has been made lately of the fact that riders today are lacking a little bit of the V. It’s not so much a criticism of how they conduct themselves during a race (although that has also been called into question lately), but in their general demeanor towards their life as a cyclist.

It doesn’t surprise me much; historically, riders chose a life on the bike as an escape from their other occupational choice which typically involved hard manual labor in a dark pit or on a cold field whereas today’s riders generally come from more privileged backgrounds and find their way into this world from a life of relative luxury.

A life of hardship went beyond their working-class roots, it applied to their life on the bike as well.  They scaled the same passes we do today, except they did it over dirt roads aboard heavy, flexy bikes with relaxed geometries, wearing what amounted to little more than leather loafers. Hardness wasn’t something to aspire to; it was simply the way it was.

This is one of my favorite photos of a cyclist, and the bicycle is nowhere to be seen. From the look on his face, Coppi just ate himself a Schlecklette and, based on the gesture he’s making, is preparing to drop trou and shit ‘im right back out.

To put Cipollini’s sentiments above into Coppi’s words:

Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.

To todays generation of riders, I offer this advice: take no prisoners, fucktards.

// Anatomy of a Photo

  1. Haha!

  2. Too bad Cuddles has the tactical sense of a Schleck combined with the certainty of cracking of Levi Eggtimer.

  3. frank :
    Too bad Cuddles has the tactical sense of a Schleck combined with the certainty of cracking of Levi Eggtimer.

    As to the tactical sense of a Schleck, my only response is “like fuck he does, Fronk”. Please provide an example of said poor tactics? When in contention, I contend that Cadel plays his cards pretty well – refer his Worlds win (when Cance was strongest), his beautifully timed run at Fleche last year and a number of stage races like Romandie and T-A where he has won tightly contested GC races. Yes, he aint the most explosive of finishers, but I think he plays to this.

    Cracking is another thing – he has done it more than once and I love him for it because in a Reverse-Schleck (or is that an About-Schleck) he is not afraid to put himself to the sword.

    He has let himself down in the past with ordinary post-race comments, but he seems to have grown out of that.

    Is that the response you were fishing for?

  4. I’m with Marcus. I’m no big Cadel fan, but I think he usually rides pretty well considering his appalling team support and habitual bad luck.

  5. I’ll draft Marcus and Oli on this one. Frandy and Eggtimer combined lack the grinta and palmares Cuddles displayed practically last season alone. Not a fanboy either but he gets more respect from me than Frandy do and to even compare him to Levi is absurd.

  6. @Marcus, @Oli Brooke-White
    Tour de France ’07 on Alpe d’Huez, Fléche Wallonne ’07, ’08, ’09…not to mention the ’02 Giro. Really, until he had the bands, he never showed any tactical sense or the V; his biggest talent was complaining about being outnumbered and bitching at people about his dog – which was a class act. Don’t get me wrong – I actually like the guy, but lets not make him into something he’s not.

    I think you guys are remembering Cuddles last year and forgetting him before that – up until then, it was pretty abismal. Last year was awesome, though – Strade Biancha, Fléche, the Tour et al. Not enough to say he won’t relapse, though, based on a spotty season so far due to conditions outside his control. Which it typical, by the way.

    Lets not forget, though, that Frandy were the only riders in that whole fucking race willing to take Gilbert on; it was a Cancellara fiasco just waiting to happen and they went early and hard. Sure, they got cooked and Gilbert savored himself a Schlecklette, but those guys took the bull by the horns, and they’re the only ones in the race who did anything. It just happend the bull skewered them.

  7. @frank
    not forgetting at all – just think his past failures have been more about being outclassed than outmanouevred.

    As to your last para, I am confused. Are you now saying that the “tactical sense of a Schleck” isn’t so bad after all?

  8. Frank, you are blinded by your manlove – all those incidents bar the Giro bonk that you refer to were from Evans being outnumbered or out-legged, not tactical deficiencies. Tell me one time the Shlecks showed some tactical nous. One time.

  9. @frank

    “Really, until he had the bands, he never showed any tactical sense or The V”.

    Nice troll. Cadel! …. never showed any V. Great! Nearly got me ranting.

  10. @Oli Brooke-White
    “Tell me one time the Shlecks showed some tactical nous.” Didn’t they do quite a good job of assisting Papa Tiempo dash Cuddles’ maillot jaune ambitions on Alpe d’Huez in ’08? Can’t recall it in detail, but I thought they’d one-two’d Cuddles with a series of rhythm-breaking pace-changes while Carlito escaped up ahead. (Of course, even if I’m right, that might have been Bjarne’s tactical nous rather than Frandy’s …)

  11. @G’phant
    Pressure-wise, its a lot easier to launch attacks in support of a leader than to be the leader and attack oneself.

    When you are attacking in support you are allowed/excused if you eventually tail off the back. Different story if your attack is meant to be the race-winning move.

    So on that basis, the “fluffing” that the Schlecks did for Sastre that day doesn’t count.

    I think that Bjarne must be directing our posts on Frank. He is getting hit by multiple attacks just like Cadel was on the Alpe!

  12. If Cadel wins I’ll finally take out Oz citizenship.

    Or claim him as a kiwi.

  13. @Oli Brooke-White
    In 2006 Fränk Schleck beat Cunego up the Alpe d’Huez. Tell me how you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint without tactics, especially if your name is Fränk Schleck.

  14. Netraam :
    Tell me how you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint without tactics, especially if your name is Fränk Schleck.

    EUR 5,000 ?

  15. Kiwicyclist :
    If Cadel wins I’ll finally take out Oz citizenship.
    Or claim him as a kiwi.

    Don’t bother – you have already been blackballed.

    Netraam :
    @Oli Brooke-WhiteIn 2006 Fränk Schleck beat Cunego up the Alpe d’Huez. Tell me how you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint without tactics, especially if your name is Fränk Schleck.

    How do you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint? Easiest thing is to tell Damiano that he is racing in the Tour de France. That usually brings out a shit performance from him. Alternatively you just ride him off your wheel on the Strade Bianchi.

  16. G’phant:

    Netraam :
    Tell me how you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint without tactics, especially if your name is Fränk Schleck.

    EUR 5,000 ?

    Haha! I’m going with this theory! As for Sastre’s Alpe win, that was totally Riis’s doing – I don’t think even Carlos thought he’d be the one winning until he had the gap.

  17. G’phant:

    Netraam :
    Tell me how you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint without tactics, especially if your name is Fränk Schleck.

    EUR 5,000 ?

    That, sir, was funny enough to make me laugh out loud in the library.
    Well played.

  18. Oli Brooke-White :
    considering his appalling team support

    I think the lack of team support was a myth or a crutch for Cuddles. If he felt he wasn’t getting enough support (in a Belgian team, i.e., a team that must have had one eye on the classics, even if their returns on the same were pretty miserable while Cuddles was on the team) he should have left. I haven’t checked but I think he renewed with Lotto on a number of occasions while not winning the Tour. I am a Cuddles fan, it just helps not to listen to anything he says especially after he loses.

    PG Tips was monstrously strong at LBL. When he saw that Schleck A was about to wind it up on the Cote de Saint Nicolas, PG Tips turned it on himself, to the extent that he shelled Schleck B and Schleck A was forced to conclude that having a go wasn’t such a great idea. I still think Schlecks A and B should have attacked PG Tips in turns and continuously from the bottom of the St Nick all the way to Ans, at least one of them would still have stood on the podium. But points count and I I think you have to assume that they were both well and truly cooked. Both Schleck B’s Amstel win and Schleck A’s LBL win came as a result of making a solo break away more than 10km from the finish (I seem to recall – or did Schleck B go over the Keutenberg, which is just inside that distance) which is kind of a less tactically challenging situation to have to deal with than working out what to do when you carry the strongest man in the race to the finish line.

  19. @Nof Landrien
    ‘PG Tips’. Very good. And most apt – he was so strong he could’ve stopped for a cuppa and still won..

  20. Nof Landrien:

    Oli Brooke-White :
    considering his appalling team support

    I think the lack of team support was a myth or a crutch for Cuddles. If he felt he wasn’t getting enough support (in a Belgian team, i.e., a team that must have had one eye on the classics, even if their returns on the same were pretty miserable while Cuddles was on the team) he should have left.

    I agree he was arguably silly to re-sign with Lotto, but the facts are that he never had team mates around when the crunch really came and he was usually isolated. He was clearly a genuine podium contender who wasn’t well backed up – there were plenty of good riders in the team over the years (Aerts, JVS, Lloyd, Popvych, Van Den Broeck, Horner, etc.) but none of them could (or would?) be there when it counted, unlike the teams of the other genuine contenders like the Astanas, CSCs or Discoverys. Not to mention that sometimes his harshest public critic was his own DS! To me this means he didn’t have team support, how would you say that is a myth?

  21. I knew Thor was a little bitch. he always finds an excuse. sorry to go OT but this pissed me off for the dis- service it does to the rainbow jersey.

  22. @RedRanger
    And here it is again: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/hushovd-to-renegotiate-contract-in-july

    As I said after Roubaix, it pains me, but I’m over the God of Asunder.

  23. @Marko

    They are kinda hard comments to get over if you are JV/Cervelo. Some noise in the press is usual negotiating tactics, but Thor’s comments are more than the usual having your agent say that you are unhappy and always wanted to play in Spain.

    I am amused by his agent’s comment that “Hushovd … wanted better results during the spring”. No shit sherlock. Shoulda ridden harder maybe?

    And Thor’s comments criticising Vaughters’ tactical approach. “It was not determined enough. We were not concrete enough on how to work and who we were racing for in each race. I think there should be a clear strategy before the start, and none of that ‘the best rider on the day is the one we will race for.’ That only causes uncertainty,”. Has he been spending time on Cyclosm?

  24. @Oli Brooke-White
    I think there is no doubt cuddles lacked support but I do think some level of blame lies at his feet for not inspiring his men. His big mistake was first going to Telekom and then not going with CSC pre sastre/schlecks when Bjarne wanted him… But he has fought back well…

  25. @RedRanger
    Huh, getting bitchy indeed. Even the writer of this piece seems to put him in his place in the last paragraph in reference to his P-R performance:

    Had Hushovd stayed with Cancellara in that final attack, his argument that he could have won would have been a more convincing one.

    Plus I gotta say, maybe it’s from an early season ‘post holiday feasting’ race, but the photo they chose isn’t exactly flattering in the belly area.

    Cuddles definitely showed more class in the bands the prior year, especially giving it all he had against Basso and Nibs in the Giro.

  26. In 2008 I remember going crazy at the TV when Cadel’s best hope for support, Popovych went all the way in the break on Stage 16. The next day he was AWOL when Cadel got worked over by the Schlecks and lost all that time to Sastre on Alpe d’Huez. Cost him the Tour in my opinion.

    In 2009 it was Van den Broeck’s turn – going up the road on Stage 15 while his team leader lost something like 3 minutes in the GC. I think that was a DS call but not sure.

    There’s no question that he wasn’t well supported. But there’s a lot to be said about being an appointed leader and actually being a leader. He’s got better at faking social skills now so maybe the crew at BMC will lay it on the line for him…

  27. Nice piece frank.

    this “Hardness wasn’t something to aspire to; it was simply the way it was.” sums up for me the difference in era’s.

    Does anyone else feel that the commercialisation of the sport, while necessary in allowing it to develop and morph into what it is today, has also played a part in the decline of the Hardman?

    Oh yeah, I’m in – cuddles, cuddles, cuddles

  28. But what is that paddle thing in jacket man’s pocket?

  29. @frank
    C’mon man, just compare their palmares. Being the TT champion of Luxemburg, wearing yellow for a few days, and being gifted a few stages in the tour doesn’t stack up to what Cadel has done. Yes, Cadel is/was probably capable of more but he’s way more accomplished and way more fun to watch race.

    The Schlecks are hyped up a bit and now with team management responsibilities on top of team leadership responsibilities they need results that haven’t happened. The most fun I’ve had watching Andy race was stage 3 last year when he made the selection on the pave, thanks to Faboo. But who else was there on his own? Yup, Cuddles.

  30. @Marko
    Three Grand Tour second places, the biggest classic win, Amstel, and stage wins is quite a list (both brothers wore yellow, btw). Sorry, but Cuddles doesn’t have anything more than that, despite a much longer career. I’m not saying the Schlecks are tactical geniuses – if they were there would be more wins. I’m just saying that if anything, the Schlecks/Cuddles are rowing the same boat…

  31. @frank
    Lets not forget Andy has a LBL win under his belt.

  32. @Marko

    @Mikeweb
    A couple of weeks ago there was a article where he was bemoaning his AGR2 days. He was also saying it was the team that held him back. Thor needs to be re-educated in The V.

  33. great foto Frank!

    sorry for the belated entry, work is killin me.

    I look at this and see a man who is pissed beyond measure. other passer byers asking ‘what happened’…he doesn’t even hear them. He’s pissed. Missed opportunity, perhaps Gino cooked him, perhaps he had a mechanical, whatever… it mattered none because he’s pissed, didn’t hit pay dirt and won’t be taking anything home despite the suffering…and missed opportunity.

    when those MEN didn’t win, they didn’t eat.

    Beautiful foto, i have never seen that one frank.

  34. frank :
    @MarkoThree Grand Tour second places, the biggest classic win, Amstel, and stage wins is quite a list (both brothers wore yellow, btw). Sorry, but Cuddles doesn’t have anything more than that, despite a much longer career. I’m not saying the Schlecks are tactical geniuses – if they were there would be more wins. I’m just saying that if anything, the Schlecks/Cuddles are rowing the same boat…

    Not to be too argumentative but Cuddles has the rainbow bands on his sleeve. And when did Andy win Flanders or Paris-Roubaix (you said something about winning the “biggest classic, right? :)

  35. @Buck Rogers
    He has a LBL win in 2009. That is pretty big.

  36. @SupermanSam
    GREAT photo! I had not seen that one! Thanks for posting it!

  37. RedRanger :
    @Buck RogersHe has a LBL win in 2009. That is pretty big.

    Yes, I know that. My point is that Flanders and P-R, in my opinion, are the #1 & #2 (in no particular order) “biggest classics”. Mostly said in jest as it would be a worthy thread to discuss which ONE classic is the “biggest” to win. L-B-L might be the oldest but I would rather have a Flanders or P-R win than 2+ L-B-L wins!

  38. @Buck Rogers

    Not to be too argumentative but Cuddles has the rainbow bands on his sleeve. And when did Andy win Flanders or Paris-Roubaix (you said something about winning the “biggest classic, right? :)

    That would be Liege; La Doyenne. Cuddles won the Worlds, but so did Ballan, Astarloa, Vainsteins, Brochard, Leblanc, and Dhaenens. Winning the bands doesn’t make you a good rider. Riding the way he did last year while wearing the bands does. And he put in quite a ride today.

    At the end of the day, both Andy and Cuddles are riders with potential who have not yet reached it. They both have good results under the belt and both are lacking the goods to really put their name on the map.

    Beyond that, it’s a pissing match between mancrushes and nationalists who are eager for a GT win; both parties try to turn a good rider into something they’re not. That is all.

  39. Not to add fuel to the Schleck/Cuddles debate here (though it is an interesting two-on-two discussion (good C, bad C)), but do any conspiracy theorists see money being exchanged at LBL for the Schleck-express to the line for Gilbert?

  40. @Buck Rogers

    Yes, I know that. My point is that Flanders and P-R, in my opinion, are the #1 & #2 (in no particular order) “biggest classics”. Mostly said in jest as it would be a worthy thread to discuss which ONE classic is the “biggest” to win. L-B-L might be the oldest but I would rather have a Flanders or P-R win than 2+ L-B-L wins!

    I agree with you, but I think conventionally LBL is considered the most prestigious race, though I would take RVV or PR any day and think they’re much better/cooler/harder races.

    LBL arguably has the most competitive field, with far more riders who compete for the win, as compared to RVV and PR in particular, which only suits a small number or riders.

  41. G’phant:

    Netraam :
    Tell me how you beat Cunego in an uphill sprint without tactics, especially if your name is Fränk Schleck.

    EUR 5,000 ?

    Masterclass. Funny as fuck. Cunego could do a handstand and steer with his feet while pedaling with his hands and beat Fränk in a sprint.

    Note: Fränk attacked way before the sprint; he left him behind on the slopes a few kms from the line. Cunego ain’t that kinda climber. The cash payment I’m sure helped, but avoiding the sprint helped make it more believable.

  42. @frank
    Yeah, I was just throwing some gas on the fire to enliven things a bit! But Cuddles not only has the bands, he has two GT second place finishes as well, unlike “Ballan, Astarloa, Vainsteins, Brochard, Leblanc, and Dhaenens.” (Just a little more fuel :)

    Time for a RIDE, BABY!!! See you in 3 hours.

  43. Speaking of Cuddles

    Something I whipped up in Photoshop a few months back.

  44. holy crap…

  45. @Cyclops
    Well Cuddles does have a thing for doggie’s….

  46. But the cock ring is on the wrong appendage??

  47. @Oli Brooke-White
    AHHHHH, MY EYES!!!!! This thread has gone SOOOOOO WRONGGGGG on so many levels!!!

  48. Is there a huge stitched gash running on the inside of Coppi’s left leg in this photo? I wonder if some recent fall or injury explains why he is striding in a coat instead of with a bike. The guns and attitude conveyed in the photo are a wonder to behold. Any idea when and where the photo was taken?

  49. @David
    No gash. That’s V-juice from firing off his glorious guns. It happens, sometimes.

  50. I’m thinking Hoogerland displayed plenty of The V today. Thrown into a barbed wire fence at 60km/h and still finished the stage? That’s an application of rule V even Coppi would appreciate.

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