The difference between Style and Fashion is that Fashion changes, but style is something that persists through the ages. You can’t buy it, and you either have it or you don’t. In other words, you can get all the best and expensive kit and still look complete crap if you don’t have Style. Conversely, you can wear the most crap kit possible and make it look good if you have the gift. That is why photos of Anquetil, the Prophet and Roger de Vlaeminck still blow our minds even though they are wearing completely outdated kit. This is also why Pantani could wear lycra jeans and Cipollini could wear a Zebra suit and make us contemplate trying our hands at it. (We should not.)
If there was an upside to the EPO era, it meant that a number of riders who had immaculate style may never have risen to the top of the fish bowl if it weren’t for EPO. Allegedly. Michele Bartoli was a prime example of a rider who was so doped up that he had plenty of bandwidth left for a complete and total commitment to Looking Fantastic at All Times. Allegedly. Let’s face facts (allegedly): the Mapei kit would have been lining the rubbish bin if it weren’t for riders like Bartoli and Frank Vandenbroucke. And Michele pioneered the mini-frame with long, slammed stem and a meter of seatpin.
I think we all agree that doping is wrong, but it doesn’t feel so wrong when they looked so good. We owe him a weighty debt for his contribution.
Shameless Plug: come down to the Rouleur Classic this week to listen to me cover this topic in greater detail. And then head to the pub with me afterward to hear me do it louder. My speaking schedule is as follows:
- Thursday 19th – 22:00: Host Ned Boulting and I will talk about Style.
- Friday 20th – 19:15: Host: Matt Barbet and I will talk about what is Cycling means to us as a lifestyle.
- Saturday 21st – 13:30: Matt Stephens and I will discuss the dichotomy of being a profoundly innovative sport while at the same time being fiercely protective of our history and culture.