Badass. Just...badass.

Badass. Just...badass.

The Curse of Hell

by / / 57 posts

Northern Europe is supposed to have crap weather in the Spring. By crap, of course, I mean wet. I call bullshit on that, because the last time I saw rain fall in Hell, it was 2002.

In 2002, Outdoor Life Network aired an hour-long broadcast on the history of Paris-Roubaix before airing full live coverage of the race. When the race came on, everything was covered in mud, even the lens on the television camera was spattered. The VMH and I looked at each other and said, “Why is it always raining during this race?”

So there you have it. I take full responsibility for causing every Roubaix since to be cursed by dryness. I’ve been doing rain dances, head-stands and seances every year since with absolutely no improvement in racing conditions. So this year, I’m trying another tactic.

hope its dry this year. Mud is messy and I bet wet cobbles are downright unpleasant to ride on. They’re probably slippery too, and slippery roads can be dangerous. Just ask Fabian Cancellara. And muddy riders? They don’t look very tidy, now, do they? What would the sponsors say about that?

That settles it; it would be downright irresponsible to allow Paris-Roubaix to be held in Rule #9 conditions. Good thing, then, that its always dry.

// Defining Moments // Keepers Tour // Nostalgia // Rantings from the V-Bunker // The Hardmen

  1. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle — Rock Shox

    cadenced.tumblr.com

  2. That makes it 13 years since too…………………..

  3. or this

  4. Wiggins will be praying for rain. He doesn’t fare too well when things get slippy . . .

    “Who’s to blame?” Man, I thought that was highlights from some future UCI Truth and Reconciliation commission. Lots of fingers being pointed and at the end of the day, some poor sod of a janitor will get the sack.

    History lesson? I’ll take the bait. The rider is Gilbert Duclos Lassalle, commonly and affectionately known as “Duclos.”. French through and through, he always rode for home teams and had a crazy long career – 1977 to 1995. In other words, from the early Hinault years to COTHO. A super solid rider with a barrel chest, he won one day races and short stage races. He was too big and heavy to do real action at the Tour.

    He had a good record at Paris-Roubaix finishing 2nd in 1980 to Francesco Moser and 2nd in 1983 to Hennie Kuiper. No shame there.Then there came a drought of almost 10 years until his back-to-back wins in 1992 and 93. They couldn’t have been more different. In 92 he won solo, beating Olaf Ludwig by almost a full lap of the velodrome, pursued by a massive bunch.

    The following year it was a matter of mere inches that he beat Franco Ballerini in a two up sprint after the duo had stayed away in the final kilometers as the race organizers took the race around some of the less attractive industrial areas of the city. Ballerini grew increasingly frustrated with the wily Frenchman who basically sat on the Italian’s wheel for most of the last five kms. Upon entering the hallowed velodrome, Ballerini soft-pedalled the first lap, hoping to force Duclos into the lead. Nothing doing. Duclos only came to the front to lead out the sprint. So close was it that Ballerini immediately threw up his arm in victory and continued to celebrate a lap of honor until the actual result could be determined. Duclos stood on the top step, cobblestone trophy and huge bouquet in his arms. Only one Frenchman has won since – the journeyman Frederic Guesdon in 1997.

    Will the French drought continue? Will the rain drought? We shall see.

  5. I just read GDL’s story in the excellent book – Paris-Roubaix A Journey Through Hell and had a tear in the eye by the end of it, it’s such a good story of perseverance and eventual triumph. In ’92 he had to battle his mind riding alone at the head of the field in front of Olaf Ludwig, with the solitude and the extreme length of the day. He pulled it together when the following rider got to within 30’s and used time information from the photographers and other allies to match his pace in awesome tactical display to the finish

  6. Update: the featured picture is from 1994 which was a muddy one. It must have been taken relatively early in the race given the amount of mud on Duclos. It got really sloppy later. 1993 was dry and dusty. In 1994 in a cruel twist of fate, Duclos and Ballerini were in a solid break of 5 when both punctured. No team car or service cars were anywhere in sight. Both rode on the rim for more than a kilometer until the neutral Mavic moto showed up. Guess who got taken care of first? Duclos. Despite this Ballerini finished third behind winner Tchmil and second place Baldato. Sean Yates was fifth. Duclos seventh.

    Ballerini finally got his win in 1995.

  7. @wiscot

    Wiggins will be praying for rain. He doesn’t fare too well when things get slippy . . .

    Yes, I’ll be praying for rain. I want someone to win who is truly a good rider in wet slippery conditions, not Twiggo or Fabs. Big puddles, mud everywhere, cold, skinny climbers hopping into team cars before the cobbles even start. I want it all.

  8. @Gianni

    @wiscot

    Wiggins will be praying for rain. He doesn’t fare too well when things get slippy . . .

    Yes, I’ll be praying for rain. I want someone to win who is truly a good rider in wet slippery conditions, not Twiggo or Fabs. Big puddles, mud everywhere, cold, skinny climbers hopping into team cars before the cobbles even start. I want it all.

    Yes this.

  9. @Ron

    That dude (cue the scolding, but I’ll take it as it’ll also bring a wiscot history lesson!) was just riding through those conditions like a maniac so he could get enough mud on his bars and obscure the splatter-effect tape.

    Easy on the splatter tape. I’d never buy that shit unless I was held at gunpoint, but that was the shit in 1993.

  10. It always rains (or currently snows) the day after I wash my car. I get this powerful urge to wash the thing, then… fack.

    So, just ship me and my voiture to said location and I’ll see what I can do

  11. Is that a Belgian Base Layer Duclos is wearing?

    (Thanks Wiscot. Exemplary as usual.)

  12. Simple solution: Have Rob McKenna attend the race.

  13. A bit of rain in Tuscany this w/e would be nice too…

  14. @wiscot

    1994 was indeed an epic edition, I was in Hossegor watching it on French TV and I didn’t have much idea what was going on what with the snow/rain, murky live feed, unintelligible commentry and every rider wearing the same sharny broon kit. Andre Tchmil attacked with 63km to go and held on for the win although Johan Museeuw got tantalisingly close to catching him, in the end only 48 badass motherfuckers finished.

  15. @eenies

    yes, and Museeuw was on a one-off Bianchi rig with special Diadora pedals. He flatted and couldn’t become separated from the bike. I think that was the last we ever saw of that Bianchi or those pedals.

  16. @ColoradoNate

    Simple solution: Have Rob McKenna attend the race.

    Rain Types #5 and #9 perchance?

  17. @frank

    @Ron

    That dude (cue the scolding, but I’ll take it as it’ll also bring a wiscot history lesson!) was just riding through those conditions like a maniac so he could get enough mud on his bars and obscure the splatter-effect tape.

    Easy on the splatter tape. I’d never buy that shit unless I was held at gunpoint, but that was the shit in 1993.

    I now am envisioning a comedy skit where a tall, lanky, kitted up cyclist is indeed held at gunpoint by a few bad guys from central casting (maybe early days Rutger Hauer) and forced to decide between fi'zi:k microtex and Cinelli Splash.

    I should also shut up, as I was a full decade from embracing road cycling when the Splash was at its peak. Who am I to mock.

  18. Yes, wiscot, thank you! Very great installment from you. I absolutely cannot fathom the mental fortitude to get that close twice in the early 80s…and not get a win until a decade later. My goodness. To put in all those years of training, hoping, staying in top form, living like a monk, treating your body well. What a story!

  19. Said Museeuw Bianchi……………..

  20. @Teocalli

    Said Museeuw Bianchi……………..

    This is classic. A full suspension road rig missing only one thing… the disc brakes. Probably 11 kilo’s of bike there. When it comes to road bikes, it’s the cobbles that rep the one discipline if ya will, where opportunity exists to really improve the bike or more specifically, the ride. Not that anyone will go considerably faster (?) but the ride could still be greatly improved I’m guessing.

  21. @Teocalli

    It ain’t all that often that I laugh out loud, but for some reason, this photo has me in stitches. Mother of god. Funny thing is, but for the cockups such as Museeuw experienced, that could have become a major evolutionary branch, rather than a dead end… Makes me wonder what we’ll think of our current mountain bikes, in twenty years.

  22. Here is a good description at PezCycling of that bike and the race. Thanks @Teocalli, I really dig that bike. And just in case I didn’t hyperlink correctly:

    http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/features/retrofile-roubaix-meets-dual-suspension/#.VPsL4VoUN94

  23. @jb

    @Teocalli

    It ain’t all that often that I laugh out loud, but for some reason, this photo has me in stitches. Mother of god. Funny thing is, but for the cockups such as Museeuw experienced, that could have become a major evolutionary branch, rather than a dead end… Makes me wonder what we’ll think of our current mountain bikes, in twenty years.

    That’s interesting thought yes. The last five years have seen super improvements in mtn bikes: weight and suspension. My current full suspension 29er rig is just under 24 lbs and that’s w/o carbon cockpit, seat tube and top of line components. And with the rear shock technology employed, it climbs like a mtn goat without losing any traction over rocks and roots and still maybe zero loss to inefficiencies from squish when pedaling. Amazing. My daughter’s 650b hard tail race machine we built up at 21 lbs on XS frame. And we could have easily (though expensively) got it well under 20 lbs. And where weight’s not an issue, with what’s being done with suspension tech on the looney tune downhill bombing bikes??

    Don’t think similar is in store for road bikes? I’m guessing the engineering and technology is capable today of a full suspension road rig at close to the 15 lb weight limit. Might be one very expensive bike yes, but could be done. Obviously not necessary for regular roads. Good wheel/tire and pressure can manage any specific road surface. But for cobbles, fire roads, service roads, and even CX ? Plenty of opportunity.

  24. Speaking of curses, Gerrans broke his elbow in the Strade Bianche today – his first race back after breaking his collar bone.

  25. Strade Bianche Eroica Pro 2015 (photo by me).

  26. Strade Bianche Women Elite (photo by me).

  27. If you wonder the girl is Lisa Brennauer the German Champ.

  28. @JohnB

    Nothing like a bit of reverse psychology directed at Mother Nature.

    Hey, if it works for kids…

  29. @jeffrey s

    Stage 5 of last year’s TdF had some rain. It looked incredible.

    You’re going to want to go ahead and stay on the crown, I think.

  30. @unversio

    Seriously awesome front fork happening.

    I had been secretly hoping that Brett would install one on his Jaegher.

  31. @frank

    @unversio

    Seriously awesome front fork happening.

    I had been secretly hoping that Brett would install one on his Jaegher.

    Man, I’d love a Ruby fork… maybe on the Merckx rather than the Jaegher.

  32. @Pedale.Forchetta

    Strade Bianche Eroica Pro 2015 (photo by me).

    That is an awesome photo.

  33. @wilburrox

    @jb

    @Teocalli

    It ain’t all that often that I laugh out loud, but for some reason, this photo has me in stitches. Mother of god. Funny thing is, but for the cockups such as Museeuw experienced, that could have become a major evolutionary branch, rather than a dead end… Makes me wonder what we’ll think of our current mountain bikes, in twenty years.

    That’s interesting thought yes. The last five years have seen super improvements in mtn bikes: weight and suspension. My current full suspension 29er rig is just under 24 lbs and that’s w/o carbon cockpit, seat tube and top of line components. And with the rear shock technology employed, it climbs like a mtn goat without losing any traction over rocks and roots and still maybe zero loss to inefficiencies from squish when pedaling. Amazing. My daughter’s 650b hard tail race machine we built up at 21 lbs on XS frame. And we could have easily (though expensively) got it well under 20 lbs. And where weight’s not an issue, with what’s being done with suspension tech on the looney tune downhill bombing bikes??

    Don’t think similar is in store for road bikes? I’m guessing the engineering and technology is capable today of a full suspension road rig at close to the 15 lb weight limit. Might be one very expensive bike yes, but could be done. Obviously not necessary for regular roads. Good wheel/tire and pressure can manage any specific road surface. But for cobbles, fire roads, service roads, and even CX ? Plenty of opportunity.

    Would have to be really rough to pay dividends for the loss of power transfer. The full squish mtbs are getting better, but rely on lockouts for climbing most often, and a lot of XC racing on MTB is still hardtail, just for the power transfer aspect. I reckon anyway.. but I do love technology pushing the envelope as well, so very willing to be proven wrong. Who’s to say in future a super lightweight fully electronic active suspension like F1 of the early 90’s couldn’t work on a rough trail roadbike?

  34. @Ccos

    It always rains (or currently snows) the day after I wash my car. I get this powerful urge to wash the thing, then… fack.

    So, just ship me and my voiture to said location and I’ll see what I can do

    Agree, and you beat me to the comment.

    Currently Im about to wash our black car as its dusty and looks crap when its dusty.

    So I fully expect 20-30 mm of rain now.

    How about we ship both cars over and it might be wet AND snowing at PR this year

  35. @wiscot

    Update: the featured picture is from 1994 which was a muddy one. It must have been taken relatively early in the race given the amount of mud on Duclos. It got really sloppy later. 1993 was dry and dusty. In 1994 in a cruel twist of fate, Duclos and Ballerini were in a solid break of 5 when both punctured. No team car or service cars were anywhere in sight. Both rode on the rim for more than a kilometer until the neutral Mavic moto showed up. Guess who got taken care of first? Duclos. Despite this Ballerini finished third behind winner Tchmil and second place Baldato. Sean Yates was fifth. Duclos seventh.

    Ballerini finally got his win in 1995.

    I live for your history lessons man.

  36. @Pedale.Forchetta

    If you wonder the girl is Lisa Brennauer the German Champ.

    Gotta love Velocio-SRAM and MTN-Qhubeka. Cobbles? Gravel? Fuck yeah, we’re riding aero bikes. The new S5 can, I believe, fit 28mm tyres. No excuses now.

  37. I think I’m going to wash my car every day for the next month. All my bikes…. and the dog… maybe the cat too. Possibly pressure wash the siding too.

  38. @wiscot

    Both of them looked so fantastic on the bike, and Ballerini’s Bianchi had the softride stem, which under the circumstances probably offered a better ride than the Rock Shox did, because it could absorb smaller bumps whereas the RS of those days really only absorbed the bitter bumps.

    But I can not conceive how horrible is must have been to sprint on the velodrome using that stem…probably cost him the race in the end!

  39. @Rigid

    I just read GDL’s story in the excellent book – Paris-Roubaix A Journey Through Hell and had a tear in the eye by the end of it, it’s such a good story of perseverance and eventual triumph. In ’92 he had to battle his mind riding alone at the head of the field in front of Olaf Ludwig, with the solitude and the extreme length of the day. He pulled it together when the following rider got to within 30’s and used time information from the photographers and other allies to match his pace in awesome tactical display to the finish

    That was one of the first videos I had that wasn’t a Tour de France, I don’t know how many times I must have watched that…but it has to be in the hundreds. Such a great race.

    @wiscot

    Update: the featured picture is from 1994 which was a muddy one. It must have been taken relatively early in the race given the amount of mud on Duclos. It got really sloppy later. 1993 was dry and dusty. In 1994 in a cruel twist of fate, Duclos and Ballerini were in a solid break of 5 when both punctured. No team car or service cars were anywhere in sight. Both rode on the rim for more than a kilometer until the neutral Mavic moto showed up. Guess who got taken care of first? Duclos. Despite this Ballerini finished third behind winner Tchmil and second place Baldato. Sean Yates was fifth. Duclos seventh.

    Ballerini finally got his win in 1995.

    Another note is that Ballerini vowed never to ride the race again after loosing to Gibus, but wound up having a long, lovely relationship with the race.

  40. @Teocalli

    Said Museeuw Bianchi……………..

    He told us it was like riding a throne.

  41. @wilburrox

    @jb

    @Teocalli

    It ain’t all that often that I laugh out loud, but for some reason, this photo has me in stitches. Mother of god. Funny thing is, but for the cockups such as Museeuw experienced, that could have become a major evolutionary branch, rather than a dead end… Makes me wonder what we’ll think of our current mountain bikes, in twenty years.

    That’s interesting thought yes. The last five years have seen super improvements in mtn bikes: weight and suspension. My current full suspension 29er rig is just under 24 lbs and that’s w/o carbon cockpit, seat tube and top of line components. And with the rear shock technology employed, it climbs like a mtn goat without losing any traction over rocks and roots and still maybe zero loss to inefficiencies from squish when pedaling. Amazing. My daughter’s 650b hard tail race machine we built up at 21 lbs on XS frame. And we could have easily (though expensively) got it well under 20 lbs. And where weight’s not an issue, with what’s being done with suspension tech on the looney tune downhill bombing bikes??

    Don’t think similar is in store for road bikes? I’m guessing the engineering and technology is capable today of a full suspension road rig at close to the 15 lb weight limit. Might be one very expensive bike yes, but could be done. Obviously not necessary for regular roads. Good wheel/tire and pressure can manage any specific road surface. But for cobbles, fire roads, service roads, and even CX ? Plenty of opportunity.

    The main issue is that Roubaix is 250 km and “only” 50 km are on cobbles – so the fact that your bike doesn’t handle and ride well becomes a more important issue than the softening of the cobbles.

  42. Damn. Hell for Boonen?

  43. Nooooooo! I was having a bastard of a Monday already, now you are telling me Boonen might not be there to race against Sep and Fabian? Damnit!!

  44. Confirmed, Boonen is out of the Northern Classics. Fuck.

  45. Mega fuck on the Tommeke situation. My anticipation for the big northern classics has waned a bit. I know it shouldn’t just because of one rider, but I was so hoping Tommeke would get P-R #5. Big man seemed on form, home life was happy, EQS was having a good spring. Shit, shit, shit.

  46. @frank

    @wiscot

    Both of them looked so fantastic on the bike, and Ballerini’s Bianchi had the softride stem, which under the circumstances probably offered a better ride than the Rock Shox did, because it could absorb smaller bumps whereas the RS of those days really only absorbed the bitter bumps.

    But I can not conceive how horrible is must have been to sprint on the velodrome using that stem…probably cost him the race in the end!

    Good point. If Franco’s front end was a bit squishy in a flat out, mano-a-mano sprint on a hard surface, it could have cost him the millseconds between Gibus’s front wheel crossing the line and his. I also wonder if the weird frame geoetry at the front may have played a role? How close was it to his regular set-up?

    You rarely see pros the size of Gibus and Franco these days do you? They were solid.

  47. Jesus. How heavy were they? That’s an awful lot more torso than today’s classics guys.

  48. @wiscot

    @frank

    @wiscot

    Both of them looked so fantastic on the bike, and Ballerini’s Bianchi had the softride stem, which under the circumstances probably offered a better ride than the Rock Shox did, because it could absorb smaller bumps whereas the RS of those days really only absorbed the bitter bumps.

    But I can not conceive how horrible is must have been to sprint on the velodrome using that stem…probably cost him the race in the end!

    Good point. If Franco’s front end was a bit squishy in a flat out, mano-a-mano sprint on a hard surface, it could have cost him the millseconds between Gibus’s front wheel crossing the line and his. I also wonder if the weird frame geoetry at the front may have played a role? How close was it to his regular set-up?

    I remember the top tube sloping down significantly, so the frame was obviously custom. I’d imagine it was a pretty close fit.

    And the rock shox compressed too, but having ridden both designs (on a mtb) I can tell you the softride was much more noticeable out of the saddle.

    You rarely see pros the size of Gibus and Franco these days do you? They were solid.

    Yup. That’s what you need to look like to ride a bike if you don’t want to break every time you come off.

  49. @wiscot

    @frank

    @wiscot

    Both of them looked so fantastic on the bike, and Ballerini’s Bianchi had the softride stem, which under the circumstances probably offered a better ride than the Rock Shox did, because it could absorb smaller bumps whereas the RS of those days really only absorbed the bitter bumps.

    But I can not conceive how horrible is must have been to sprint on the velodrome using that stem…probably cost him the race in the end!

    You rarely see pros the size of Gibus and Franco these days do you? They were solid.

    And their jerseys fit perfectly, too. Not skin tight but closely fitted. This continues to be my favorite era from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

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