As Frank mentioned in his response to the Evanescent Riders piece on Pascal Lino, there is a modicum of research that accompanies the relics of my memory to bring the riders and races of the 90s back to life. Whilst trawling the interwebs for usable images, I came across this awesome shot of our latest subject matter from the 1990 Tour de France.
Usually, poaching an image is pretty simple, and while we try to credit the source wherever possible, sometimes there is just no information available and we take our chances and post away, fearing the knock of the Copyright Reaper on the door of The V Chapel at any moment. But to secure this particular image, there was no way we were getting it from the Flickr account of its owner without going through the proper channels. An email exchange ensued, and with no fanfare or drama we had our photo, and the back-story of how it came about.
Canadian Michael Hinkins was backpacking through Europe in 1990, and managed to witness a couple of Tour stages, including the Stage 12 Time Trial. He takes up the tale:
I started the day in Fontaine watching the riders leave the start, and looked around the pit area. I met a group of fellow Canadians who were doing a cycling tour and hitched a ride with their support van to a small village part way along the route. Unfortunately, I have no idea of the village name, though looking at a map it could have been Lans en Vercors. I took a few photos as the riders raced through the village (this is one) and then wandered past the village into the adjacent farm lands just in time to catch Greg LeMond (I think he was 3 in GC at the time). Ronan Pensec was wearing the Maillot Jaune at the start of the day. [For the record, Erik Breukink won the stage from Delgado and Indurain, with Lino in 59th.
At the end of the stage I had no idea where I was but managed to hitch a ride back to Fontaine. Being the days of film, I had no idea what the photos were going to be like and it wasn’t until about 3 weeks later when I was in Stuttgart, were there was a Kodak lab, that I had the film processed and was able to check the images.
We think you’ll agree that he got a great shot with this one. The feeling of pure speed, the sense of a hot day as Lino squeezes the last liquid from his bidon, and of course the great symmetry between rider and machine, and the equipment choices of the era.
No fancy carbon fibre aerofoil bikes, just a simple steel frame with a radically forward-sloping top tube, a shorter fork for the 650c front wheel, and a strategically bent seat tube and ultra-short chainstays to tuck the rear wheel in as far as possible under the rider. Standard road bars shod with an early example of aero bars, positioned so high that any wind-cheating advantage given by the low front end is almost seemingly nullified. No helmet, no gloves, cool shoes (Time, Carnac?), big shades (Oakley, Carrera?), Rolls saddle, skinsuit, matching yellow socks; the look is pure pro, pure class, pure awesome.