Evanescent Riders of the 90s: Laurent Dufaux

dufaux1
Classic Larry.

The Skype conversation went like this:

Brett: “Remember Laurent Dufaux?”

Frank: “How can I forget? Twat.”

Brett: “What was that fucker on?  Always hanging on in the Alps, suffering like a dog but never once did he attack. Ever. Just always hanging on.”

And that was all that was said on the matter.

Our little Swiss friend seemed to be around in the peloton forever; he was there in the days of Indurain and Pantani. He was there when Ullrich and Riis ruled the roost. And he was still there when Gunderson was lording it over everyone. He hung out in teams such as ONCE, Festina, Saeco and QuickStep with the likes of Richárd, Aldag, Jalabert, Bruyneel, Virenque, Stephens, Zulle, Frigo, Mazzoleni, Pellizotti, Rogers and Museeuw, a fine collective of shadiness indeed. Yet he always flew just that little bit under the radar, perennially lurking at the back, in the shadows. At least that’s how I remember him racing his bike.

Little Laurie could easily qualify for a Riding Ugly post, with his  lurching, out of the saddle style, mouth agape, cheeks of a blowfish, face contorted like a twisted sandshoe as he grovelled up the big mountain passes just behind the main protagonists, shortly before popping out the back and losing just enough time to put him ever so slightly out of contention for a podium spot. Sometimes, he’d manage to stay hidden in the group and spring out at the last minute and take everyone by surprise to nab a stage win.

Larry led his life by the smallest of margins, a ‘so near yet so far’ kind of guy if ever there was one. He was generally Rule Compliant (except for the rampant doping, obviously), Survived on V for the duration of his career, and came out the other side with his reputation relatively intact. And for that, we salute him.

If only we could find him.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/brettok@velominati.com/dufaux/”/]

Larry’s palmares here…

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34 Replies to “Evanescent Riders of the 90s: Laurent Dufaux”

  1. I really liked Raul Alcala when I was a youngster. That pic sums him up. Rule compliant and bad-ass in the mountains.  Must admit, I had forgotten poor DuFaux until just now.

  2. Every era in cycling history has its dark side. Hell, just read the Freddy Maertens interview that was posted a week or so ago. Most of this we choose to ignore and concentrate on the good stuff – the great races, riders, bikes, team kits, equipment, but in a few years how will we look back on the 90s? Will there be a shred of fondness that doesn’t tiptoe into mirth/cynicism at the rampant doping, bad kits, bad hair and general dodgyness? Instead of Evanescent Riders, will it be the Evanescent Decade?

  3. “Sixteen years after retiring from the sport for the first time, Mexican Raul Alcala has shown he’s remained fit at 46 years of age by winning his national time trial championships.” — velonation

  4. Anyone winning a race with red/gold striped bartape should be demoted.

    Man, that stuff is fucking horrible.

  5. @unversio

    @wiscot My earliest road race memories are of Raul chasing down, taking stabs at LeMond and Fignon in 1989.

    My first memory of Raul, aside from his stint in polka dots, was him looking immaculate on his way into Spa to win a stage in the ’89 Tour. Classy rider.

  6. Looking for shots of Theirry, I found this little set of gems.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2013.12.04.15.11.25/1//”/]

  7. @Ron

    Anyone winning a race with red/gold striped bartape should be demoted.

    Man, that stuff is fucking horrible.

    Relegated to the back.

  8. Evanescent indeed.  While reading the article, I had no recollection of Dufaux and could not place him.  At least not until I saw photo 16 of 16 in the gallery: the Festina press conference with Virenque.  How could I forget the forlorn puppy dog?

    (Note there seems to be no thumbnail image of photo 16.  You have to click the arrow on the right side when you hover over picture 15.  Not the arrow next to the thumbnails.)

  9. Man I need to get on the fucking gear. Seems to be the best way to be venerated after retirement, especially now that Rapha’s hocking clothes with der Kaiser.

  10. @minion

    Man I need to get on the fucking gear. Seems to be the best way to be venerated after retirement, especially now that Rapha’s hocking clothes with der Kaiser.

    They’ve always had a soft spot for him, like many people on this site.

    I’ve got a Rapha ‘country’ jersey German edition from maybe three or four years ago and the little blurb on the inside pocket is a paean to Der Kaiser.

    I think all he’s doing is acting as a brand ambassador for them, wearing their kit. Unless you think nobody associated with doping should be able to earn any part of their living in connection with cycling then it’s hard to argue against. If he had a negative image they wouldn’t use him.

  11. I should add BTW that I bought it mainly because it was in a sale and I like Rapha stuff generally, not personally as a homage to Jan.

    I generally find it hard to feel much adulation for any of the ‘top’ riders of that era – I wouldn’t force them all out but if they haven’t been up front about the whole thing and acknowledged the problem (and I don’t think Ullrich has) then I am indifferent to them.

  12. @ChrisO I am the opposite. Always a sucker for nostalgia and rogues, these guys fit the bill completely. Really enjoyed Rendells book on Pantani too. Seems to me, the whole history of the sport involves some shady activities, was even the soigneurs job to find an an edge or advantage somewhere. As Frank has always said, still the dogs bollox to watch these guys go uphill (Maybe not Franks exact words).

  13. Regardless of winning or not….if he were judged by the company he kept, he would be a superstar!  There are some big names in that post…

  14. @ChrisO

    @minion

    Man I need to get on the fucking gear. Seems to be the best way to be venerated after retirement, especially now that Rapha’s hocking clothes with der Kaiser.

    They’ve always had a soft spot for him, like many people on this site.

    Interesting point that came out reading Wheelmen is that the Festina Affair scared the crap out of Ullrich and he raced largely without the use of blood boosters or blood manipulation until 2003 when he finally got tired of getting spanked my Pharmstrong and recommitted to le métier.

  15. @frank

    @ChrisO

    @minion

    Man I need to get on the fucking gear. Seems to be the best way to be venerated after retirement, especially now that Rapha’s hocking clothes with der Kaiser.

    They’ve always had a soft spot for him, like many people on this site.

    What like this?

  16. @Deakus

    Regardless of winning or not….if he were judged by the company he kept, he would be a superstar! There are some big names in that post…

    To be fair to Larry, he did win some big races; the Dauphine twice, Route du Sud twice, Midi Libre, and that big mountain stage into Pamplona in le Tour 96. The photo of him beating Ullrich is the Championship of Zurich World Cup race in 2000. He had a bit of a sprint on him too…

  17. @brett

    I think I remember him winning a stage in Le Tour, wearing his red Saeco kit (?), and thinking, it’s about time you won something FFS.

    And if anyone wants to be like Jan, wear that nice simple celeste bianchi jersey and make sure your legs are as awesome as his. That would be a worthy life goal.

  18. Great thread, lots of good examples of the V. I have seen Mr. Dufaux a bunch this cyclocross season in Switzerland now that his son has entered the junior ranks. He is still keeping it classy. If I can find the balls to talk to him, I will let him know about the post.

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