Anatomy of a Photo: Evanescent Riders of the 90s

Anatomy of a Photo: Evanescent Riders of the 90s

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I can’t decide if Tony Rominger was an Evanescent Rider or not. After all, his wins range from 1988 all the way to 1996, which technically means the word “evanescent” doesn’t seem to fit. That said, after a successful streak in the Vuelta, he suddenly discovered a “cure” for his allergies which previously kept him from performing at the Tour de France in July. I can’t help but notice that the most successful era of his career was in perfect alignment with the EPO sweet-spot of  the early to mid nineties.

I also can’t decide if Rominger was cool or not. He rode one of my favorite bikes of all time – the twin-downtube Colnago Bitubo – and had an enviably Magnificent Stroke. At the same time, he was somehow a bit ungainly on the bike and was always had something amuck with how he looked; the jersey a bit too big, the sleeves on his dotty jumper cut too crooked, or his cycling cap too askew.

In any case, this photo has a nice composition of classically doped-up riders, flattening out the Pla d’Adet like only jet fuel can. I spy with my little eye the unmistakable nose piece on Zenon Jaskula‘s Briko Shots, and I think that might be Claudio Cappuccino hiding behind his right shoulder. Not sure who the bloke is in the red with the hairnet, but he looks familiar as does the gregario with Big Ring Leg on the front.

The most surprising bit of this photo is that it appears that Armstrong smoked them all and had time to come back down the mountain to snap a few pictures. Who ever said he couldn’t climb pre-cancer?

// Anatomy of a Photo // Evanescent Riders

  1. I always thought Rominger skated by on the doping allegations, he came in rather quickly and dropped out when things got nasty. All the while setting records on tour climbs.

  2. @michael
    I totally know what you’re saying, but his results tell a different story; 1988-1996 is nothing to scoff at. That said, his two month peak was from definitely from 1993-1994.

    He’s also been disavowed from several riders as the whole CERA thing rolled through. Speculation spins a fascinating tale…

  3. The main thing about Tony is that he looks like a really nice guy too.

    8 years is a pretty good career for someone coming in late (27?). This sport is pretty hard on the bodies of professionals. Reading up on Tony, I learned that Moser set the hour record at 42 years of age which leaves me some hope.

  4. I just found this

    “Rominger worked under the training guidance of Michele Ferrari throughout his career”

    here

  5. That is a bad-ass photo. Some poor Spanish bastard about to distend his left one, Rominger looking as if he’s going to explode at any moment, and Mig, well, you know he’s going pretty fucking hard if he’s out of the saddle. Jaskula, a true evanescent. Rominger was a little more.

    Armstrong’s thinking “man, there’s no way I could ever climb like these guys… or is there?”

  6. Simple Rominger was not cool. His shades were shit, his shoes were shit and he wore his cap in a shit way. He was only cool once and that was when he won Lombardy in the piss-pouring rain. That day he was fully badass. I think it was ’92. He was riding a cool bike that year at Lombardy though, the twin downtube Colnago Bi-carbo*

    As Frank points out, his big wins and cure-for-asthma/heat/allergy to the tour de France coincides very coveniently with the EPO years as well as his working with Ferrari – his name was found in Ferrari’s doping records. Remember his hour record?**

    And Rominger was/is a rider agent. Seem to remember his name cropping up in association with riders caught doping – Vino/Kashenkin?

    *sadly I did all that from memory
    **personally I don’t think it takes a genius to work out the secret of his sucess, but then I am a “true believer”

  7. Is that the bald bean of Bjarne Riis behind Indurain’s left shoulder?

  8. Is that the bald bean of Bjarne Riis behind Indurain’s left shoulder?

  9. Found that picture of Rominger from ’92. Memory failed slightly as he didn’t look badass at all. He looked shit, apart from his glasses. Forgot he wore Oakley for a while, could only remember the Bolle’s

  10. @Cinghale

    Is that the bald bean of Bjarne Riis behind Indurain’s left shoulder?

    By Jove, I think it is!! And that makes the other guy also an Ariostea guy…narrows it down to eight possible riders. Must check roster.

    Who is the guy on the front?

  11. @Jarvis

    Found that picture of Rominger from ’92. Memory failed slightly as he didn’t look badass at all. He looked shit, apart from his glasses. Forgot he wore Oakley for a while, could only remember the Bolle’s

    I don’t think he ever wore Bolle’s – he was one of the riders sporting those weird Adidas shades that looked a little like Bolle and a little like Oakleys. Shit glasses, that’s for sure.

    You can see the adidas logo here in this picture from the post:

  12. Oli! We need you!

    Yep, Barny is definitely there; I thought you’d mentioned that Frank, but I didn’t really read the text for the first hour of staring at the photo.

    The guy on the front, I’ll have a stab and say Unzaga. The other Ariostea, Roberto Conti? And I think our old mate Mr Lino may be sitting there, in a white Festina jersey and a ridiculous headband (or Brikos) on his noggin.

    But I’m probably waaay off.

    Far out, how cool is that double-downtube shit! Not very, but fuck it would be cool to find one of those…

  13. He didn’t look cool, he had no chin, but in all the photos I see of him, he looks like a really nice guy and likable fellow. He did have a magnificent stroke, I remember that much, but it is tainted by the strange bike positions of the time, seat low and way back, arms stretched out wasting energy in the triceps.

  14. Tony Rominger is toiling in his cap but Indurain is cool as a cucumber behind. For me this photo shows the divide. He was no Stephen Roche.

  15. @Jarvis
    The Lokbardy win really was a true highlight, he actually won it twice, the first time when he was with Chateau d’Ax. I always thought that was the coolest kit.

  16. @michael
    He had a significantly stretched out position; I’m looking around for good side-view shots of him, but I don’t see any on Google. But boy, what a smooth stroke. And his TT position was nothing to scoff at, either.

    @Brett
    That bi tube colnago was so incredibly cool. Check out these shots on Flickr of a bititan. I saw one of these on eBay in my size but skipped it for some idiotic reason. Still regret that one to this day.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ganzo_bici/3749669336/in/photostream/

  17. Don’t worry Frank, they rode like shit. They were flexy as hell and also prone to cracking. I heard that in NZ they had something like a 150% warranty return rate, meaning that even the replacement frames were breaking!

  18. Bolle/Adidas, all shit.

    Rominger is mates with Marc Biver, who was the guy who “ran” Astana in 2007. Certainly no innocent.

    Never noticed his lack of a chin – perhaps the “Chinless Wonder” moniker should be applied in the future. Add it to the lexicon along with Peter Van Petergem, our “Chisel-jawed Hero”

  19. Not only is L.A. in that pic, so is John McCain.

  20. @Marko
    Yep, it all makes sense. Armstrong is actually taking a pic of McCain’s wife, who reminds him of his mum.

  21. @Jarvis
    Curiously, he also is/was Cadel Evans’ agent.
    See e.g, http://www.roadcyclinguk.com/features/at-home-with-cadel-evans/2014.html

  22. Interesting article Frank, I wasn’t a fan of Rominger then he looked to me a rider of many promises and less results. At least he tried hard.
    I see on the photo the Ariostea jersey (the one of Riis) what a team!

  23. I thought this might have blown up during the World Cup in South Africa last year, but I think this might be the beginning of a doping scandal of pro cycling proportions. Over the past decade, the sport has changed dramatically, and football has seen its own rise of evanescent players. Skill has very definitely been relegated behind physical strength and fitness. Not wholly cycling related, but I’ve long suspected that doping has been rampant in football. And football could start a real domino effect through professional sports (although I expect the North American leagues will continue to isolate and insulate themselves as best they can). All of which could have an interesting impact on how cycling is viewed by the mainstream sporting world…

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  27. @Steampunk

    I thought this might have blown up during the World Cup in South Africa last year, but I think this might be the beginning of a doping scandal of pro cycling proportions. Over the past decade, the sport has changed dramatically, and football has seen its own rise of evanescent players. Skill has very definitely been relegated behind physical strength and fitness. Not wholly cycling related, but I’ve long suspected that doping has been rampant in football. And football could start a real domino effect through professional sports (although I expect the North American leagues will continue to isolate and insulate themselves as best they can). All of which could have an interesting impact on how cycling is viewed by the mainstream sporting world…

    You’re absolutely right. I read there were a bunch of footballer names in nthe Operation Puerto records but they seem to have remained hidden while cyclists got exposed. Hardly surprising as FIFA is way more corrupt and powerful than the UCI (see special courts for troublemakers at the SA World Cup) and the Machiavellian tactics of Sepp “who’ll dare run against me for my 4th term as President” Blatter.

    Cycling has suffered fairly, or unfairly, depending upon your point of view, because it actually has substantive (compared to other sports) doping controls. Tennis is rumored to be rife with doping and has basically no testing. When I get in conversations with folks who find out I’m a cyclist and the issue of drugs comes up and how cycling is full of dopers, I ask they how things would shake out at the end of an NFL, NBA, MLB game if chaperones rushed the field and took top players away for a drug test before they could go to the locker room. Think everyone would come out clean? Hell no.

    Mind you, got to give the Milwaukee Brewers credit for coming up with the “Hank, the cute stray dog” storyline in spring training to divert everyone’s attention from Ryan Braun and his lying over his drug bust. That was marketing genius.

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