Guest Article: Anatomy of a Photo-1994 Paris-Roubaix

Guest Article: Anatomy of a Photo-1994 Paris-Roubaix

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Duck and cover! Our guest article series rolls on with @scaler911’s Anatomy of a Photo. Photo, words, enough said.

Yours in Cycling,

Gianni

Ah, The Queen of Classics. Hell of the North. L’enfer du Nord. Call it what you will, every spring we Velominati cherish this monument. Every April the course is set to put the pain to all who brave this glorious classic. The weather can be sunny, making things dusty – or rainy, making it a slippery, muddy mess. In the words of Orangeman Theo de Rooij, “It’s a bollocks, this race! You’re working like an animal, you don’t have time to piss, you wet your pants. You’re riding in mud like this, you’re slipping…it’s a pile of shit.” When asked if he would do it again, he replied, “Sure, it’s the most beautiful race in the world.”

In 1994, Frenchman Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle was returning to go for a hat-trick. The weather was horrible, raining, cold. The course was shit. 14K in, the rain turned to snow. An attack went off, but that was not to last. The peloton came to life and caught the lone break-away man and an elite selection was made in the revered Arenberg Forest. Duclos-Lassalle suffered a puncture during one of several large crashes in the bunch and lost contact.

From behind, Duclos-Lassalle, Johann Museeuw, and new guy Andrei Tchmil caught the lead group. With 63K to go, Tchmil attacked hard and rode away to victory, becoming the first Eastern block winner of PR.

But what is compelling to me is the photo of Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle and hardman Johann Museeuw chasing. In addition to a fantastic study in the V, notice the steeds: Rockshock-equipped road bikes all around including Johan’s Bianchi. It turns out that that Celeste wonder was a $20,000, one-off, fully suspended road machine that saw exactly one race. The cost, weight and UCI rule change prohibited any further development of those monstrosities. Thank Merckx, those were strange times my fellow VM, strange times indeed.

Check out the chainrings: 53 x 51?

// Anatomy of a Photo // Guest Article

  1. Just because this photo is BADASS. Its got cobbles, its got shinny bits, its got a rockshock front fork, it got the V-locus, its got a hair net and loads of V. This picture has everything!

  2. Strong work @scaler.

  3. @RedRanger
    and check the chain slack. QR’s proper, computer right. Nice shot indeed.

  4. To me there’s something just plain wrong about suspension on road bikes. That Bianchi is just plain fugly!

    There were guys riding through Arenberg on FS mtbs when we were there this year. Floating along on a carpet of air, it’s almost the inverse of Rule V.

  5. @936adl
    You’re totally right, it is ugly. But the bike to a pro is just a tool to do a job, and they were just trying to improve their tools to get a tough job done more efficiently. It turned out they were wrong, but if the technology had worked (and the UCI didn’t step in!) you can bet that sentimentality about the purity of the bicycle form would have disappeared under an avalanche of springs and pivots.

  6. Scaler if you only wrote articles about PR I would be happy – something about that race and the men who win it. Of all the classics it ups the ante and there is no hiding.

  7. The image of those gold colored rock shox makes me feel real old. My buddies and I had various versions of their and competitors suspension systems on our mtn bikes. It is amazing how far suspension technology has come in 20 years.

    @Oli: Totally Agree: If floating on air through Arenberg is what it takes to win PR, and it is legal, by all means go for it.

    The lead picture of this article reminded me of how awesome disc brakes are on the mountain bike. While I am 99% against disc brakes on road bikes (I reserve the 1% in perpetuity in case I ever crash due to lack of breaking power or slick rims/etc), I fear this will be a huge new area of investment /growth at the grass roots levels of cycling. To me the aesthetics of this will be jarring on otherwise beautiful bikes.

  8. @Oli
    Fair comment, but I take the view that if it looks right, then it almost certainly is.

    The monuments of our sport should be won by hardmen, and not by technology. IMHO of course.

  9. @936adl
    i agree, there is something just wrong about having FS bikes on such hallowed ground.

    I move that we place Saint Pedal’ at the gate of the Arenberg forest, all passer-byers from here on MUST be on a worthy ride, applying liberal amounts of V to the quads

  10. Damn, that lead photo is awesome. I truly hope to sometime be along that road with those fans, cheering as the riders bomb on by. Even the spectators are tops at Paris-Roubaix!

    I haven’t done much cobble riding, but have been riding a lot of cyclocross this year. It gives me an appreciation for how you need to keep your cadence high and take on the ruts, lest they boss you around.

    Nice one, scaler!

  11. @Scaler- well done. I guess I am a wuss, because I am not sure I could ride that course on a fully suspended 29″ mountain bike! Although, if I keep working the VMH she may let me go on the Keepers Tour in 2012… Whatever those chainrings actually are, they are huge and likely paired with a 10/21 or some other inhuman cassette.

  12. @Souleur

    @936adl
    i agree, there is something just wrong about having FS bikes on such hallowed ground.
    I move that we place Saint Pedal’ at the gate of the Arenberg forest, all passer-byers from here on MUST be on a worthy ride, applying liberal amounts of V to the quads

    Seconded!

  13. @scaler 911
    ” It turns out that that Celeste wonder was a $20,000, one-off, fully suspended road machine that saw exactly one race. The cost, weight and UCI rule change prohibited any further development of those monstrosities. Thank Merckx, those were strange times my fellow VM, strange times indeed.”

    I think this is a cover-up. That picture background looks an awful lot like your basement wall. Gonna have to do some investigative work next ride leaving from your joint. You shoulda put the powercranks on it though just to make it look that much more outlandish!

  14. @936adl
    Personally, I agree. I am such an adherent to the aesthetic of the bicycle that I don’t even like modern carbon bikes, I’d rather they were still riding classic steel machines. I was just pointing out that the pros are far more pragmatic than we proles who make our bike choices on looks.

  15. Is it just me, but spare a thought for those chains. Poor Duclos-Lassale’s in particular upon that Bianchi abomination has an almost perfect sine wave running through it, and the guy behind’s looks even more tortured. Bike chains are the unsung heroes, the domestiques if you will, of the hardman’s ‘tools’ (in @Oli’s language)

    @Scaler911 great article, and awesome phoo

  16. Photo, obviously. That’s the cab sauv talking

  17. Someone pointed me to these a few weeks back – if I had a bike to waste…

  18. Cool post. That was an interesting era. For the youngsters out there, that time was exploding with suspension changes in the mountain bike world, some of it applied to road bikes – for better or worse.

    I still could see a front suspension fork being useful for something like Paris-Roubaix, especially with today’s fork technology, now light years ahead of ’94. Carbon steerer and fork legs. Auto lock out technology from Fox, all now common place for mountain bikes.

    Then again, would rather not see that. Detracts from the history of the sport. Same deal with running a fork for cyclocross. No thanks. Let’s keep suspension for mountain bikes only.

    If interested, I posted a reprint of a ’94 Bicycle Guide article in my blog a few months ago – spotlighting suspension forks on road bikes. Some cool old pics and info…

    http://yoeddy.blogspot.com/2011/03/from-archives-road-bike-suspension.html

  19. I gotta say, even with the full-suspension, that Bianchi is (to me at least) very very pretty. I don’t think I’d ride it, of course… I’d just sit and stare at it with love one day and loathe the next.

  20. @Xyverz
    I agree, very good looking.

    @frank
    It would be interesting to see the weight of that fork. Even more interesting to put it on a bike and do singletrack.

  21. Here’s a full video of the 94 P-R…

  22. @brett
    There goes my evening…

  23. @Steampunk
    I just noticed G’rilla has already posted the link…

  24. @brett
    I know. I already spent an evening last week watching this. But can I really pass this up again? Spending the evening cleaning wheels with PR ’94 on (again).

  25. @Gianni

    I wonder who the third rider is (#21), with the black uvex helmet and tights? Tights, am I misreading the photo? That is very uncool.

    Gianni,
    that looks like Olaf Ludwig on an Eddy Merckx – Telekom team bike. The black Uvex helmet gave it away. Scary outfit, even scarier rider though!

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