Cyclisme - Archive - Laurent Fignon

Respect the Jersey

Respect the Jersey

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Domination, at least from the spectator’s point of view, can quickly wring the suspense and excitement out of watching an event. In most cases, the sporting events we look back on most fondly are those most closely fought; even in recalling my own competitions, those where my winning margin was smallest feature most prominently in my memories. The smart money says Greg LeMond feels the same way.

Cycling is a difficult sport to spectate, or has been in the past. Point-to-point races covering hundreds of kilometers are hardly friendly to an audience who waits for hours at the roadside only to watch a colorful blur speed by. The modern days of start-to-finish coverage that you can watch on your mobile while driving to work, sitting on a conference call, drinking a cup of coffee, texting a friend, eating a sandwich and raging at inattentive drivers are a relatively new innovation; in the past, the races were documented only by journalists who may or may not have been in attendance of the event. The sole purpose of holding a bicycle race was often to sell newspapers, and in accordance with that goal, the journalists did what they needed to in order make the racing sound interesting. In other words, they lied like their pants were on fire.

Nevertheless, the feats documented were herculean. They built the leader and championship jerseys of our sport – the jerseys reserved for the elite of the elite – into sacred fleeces handed down from the very heights of Mount Velomis. These were jerseys that the hardest and most respected names of our sport drew unimaginable overdraft fees from the V-Bank in order to earn.

Certainly, this is why Rule #16 exists; we mortals have no business sullying such holy garments, however good our intentions may be. But the modern Pros claim their adherence to Rule #16 through their actions when offered the privilege to briefly bear its burden; invariably, they will dig deeper than ever before to stay within contention to honor their jersey. On some days, these jerseys give them wings while on other days, the jersey’s weight may prove too much.

Watching Froome lead the Tour from Stage 8 onwards challenged my interest in the event; his show of dominance on Ventoux did so even more. But with his final attack on the climb to Annecy-Semnoz, with nothing left in the tank, I recognized as a show of honor – of respect for the jersey. Of panache. He had no need to win that stage, and he had no realistic means to do so under those circumstances, given that his legs had already left him on the slopes of l’Alpe d’Huez.

But honor drove him to try – honor fueled by a respect for the Maillot Jaune. It would have been glorious for him to win the final climb of the Tour in the leader’s jersey, but attacking and failing is what earned him at least one more fan.

There’s no such thing as a failure who keeps trying
Coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace

– John C. Popper, Blues Traveler

 

// Etiquette // Folklore // Nostalgia // Racing // The Rules

  1. @VeloVita

    @frank

    @Jamie

    Great post Frank and well timed. Like a lot of other Velonomati, I was dissapointed with your previous attack on Froome. Don’t let the fame off the book spoil things.

    When did I attack Froome? I just said he looked like shit on the bike. Which he does. Its not even an opinion, its been proven mathematically at this point.

    I have to agree here. I watched every stage and never saw Frank attack Froome – in fact I didn’t even realise he rode the Tour. This lack of visibility must mean he was riding for either Cofidis or Lampre.

    Or Sojasun, they too wore the invisible kit.

  2. @Bianchi Denti

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @frank

    And, here’s what Hinault does to Rule #16 (see, I got it right this time) violators.

    Just another coup de Blaireau.

    Ironically the FDJ rider had won the stage. But Hinault just cannot stand white bibs!

    And why should he have to? He’s the Patron, for fuck’s sake. If you’re on his podium, you dress properly: black bibs,  khakis, or a suit. Autrement, va te faire foutre. 

  3. My son is so mad about Chris Froome after watching the Tour, that he is even trying to make shadows of the Spider as he rides along, bless him – whatever, he got 4th at our club Crit for U10s, so I’m all for a bit of hero worshipping!

  4. @Dr C

    My son is so mad about Chris Froome after watching the Tour, that he is even trying to make shadows of the Spider as he rides along, bless him – whatever, he got 4th at our club Crit for U10s, so I’m all for a bit of hero worshipping!

    Strong work there, Son of C. And on a cross bike too. Training for Paris Roubaix 2025?

  5. @frank

    @Scott Martin

    While I respect the respect the jersey rule I don’t really see it as much different than somebody wearing their favorite baseball/football players jersey

    Except football and baseball suck.

    Under no circumstances should a grown person ever wear the replica football/baseball/basketball/hockey jersey of a professional or college team, particularly, heaven forbid, to one of said team’s games. Cretins and mouth-breathers excepted, of course.

  6. @Souleur I’m thinking that Jan might have been if not for COTHO.  Still, even without that look at his palm ares and that is nothing to sneeze at.  It’s very hard to determine where the physical and mental intersect and where a rider transcends his limitations.  In part that is what makes it such a fascinating subject for if we knew when and how, we could repeat it endlessly.  Part of the reason I brought up military elite unit selection is that they have studied it for years.  Trying to determine in who is worthy to invest millions of dollars worth of training is no small decision.  In short they’ve determined there is no better method than putting candidates through the crucible of performance.  Cycling is no different in this regard.  All the physiological testing means nothing without the grinta, the will to push oneself to superhuman efforts.  It is that elusive ephemeral quality that separates the champions… Or even the superdomestiques such as Jens who can bury themselves for the team.  So many in the peloton who while not famous are widely respected for that very ability.

    so maybe it isn’t one event, but a culmination of events that give one insight and confirmation of that ability.  In that respect, wearing the maillot can still be a transcendent event in ones career.  I would maintain that a competent and supportive coach and DS are essential to recognize and build on that foundation or the moment passes u recognized.

    #16-  I don’t know about the Simplex derailleur and tOne straps.  I just know that jumper looks damn PRO!

  7. @Spun Up exceptions granted for my believed Georgia Dawgs!  Go Dawgs sic ‘em woof woof!  Mouth breathers indeed!  I’ll invite you to Athens to experience the Saturday afternoon perfection that is SEC football.

  8. @Dr C

    My son is so mad about Chris Froome after watching the Tour, that he is even trying to make shadows of the Spider as he rides along, bless him – whatever, he got 4th at our club Crit for U10s, so I’m all for a bit of hero worshipping!

    Strong work, old chap. That looks like an Isla Bike, just got one for my 12yo. The 10yo is being arsey with me now because I haven’t got one for him yet. And my wife is beginning to claim that I’ve created a clan of little cyclists to take my side.

  9. @TBONE

    Who’s Jan Ulrich? Unless of course you mean Ullrich.

    That joke stopped being funny several months ago. Maybe longer.

    @TBONE

    @Souleur

    when your right Frank, your right. Its been proven over and over again. In a few years, we’ll be looking back with a snarky grin talking about ‘that Froome’ and his spider like style.

    What about when Frank is on your left?

    That joke, on the other hand, is hilarious.

  10. @Spun Up@Elric

    You both must have mistaken this website for another one that sucks more. I seriously have no idea what you’re on about.

    @Dr C

    The path to enlightenment must start soon, and it is only through straying off the path that we may find our true calling. At his age, hero worship and emulation is the best way to get passionate about the sport.

    Luckily, at that age, the TdF winners I emulated all Looked Fantastic and had Magnificent Strokes. Some day, Froome will have to square with the legacy of an entire generation of riders who are unable to make the Spider Hump work as well for them as he did.

  11. @Elric I’ve had my eye on that same Cinzano zip up jacket for some time, my take on it is that it’s a piece of kit for race viewing or other velo related pursuits that aren’t riding…

  12. @frank I take it this is before you spent a season with one hand on the tops & one on the drops emulating that photo of Fignon then?

  13. @Elric

    @Spun Up exceptions granted for my believed Georgia Dawgs! Go Dawgs sic ‘em woof woof! Mouth breathers indeed! I’ll invite you to Athens to experience the Saturday afternoon perfection that is SEC football.

    I live in Arkansas. We’ve been embarrassing the SEC since 1993! I don’t care if you are Between the Hedges, unless you’re 9-years-old, no jersey.

  14. @frank

    @Spun Up, @Elric

    You both must have mistaken this website for another one that sucks more. I seriously have no idea what you’re on about.

    Fair point, sir, but until you stop fucking about and unveil the pictures of the new steed, we’re all just killing time around here anyway.

  15. @Spun Up true…Herschel’s jersey must be framed on a wall within arms reach of the kegerator.

    frank-  I feel for you having such a limited, albeit very deep range of interests.  Here in the south, you don’t follow Georgia football, it owns you.  I when I lived in Athens I actually had to leave town to ride on game weekends or go mtb.  It is bigger than life, sort of like the Death Star.

    and where is the new ride anyway?

  16. @Spun Up

    @frank

    @Spun Up, @Elric

    You both must have mistaken this website for another one that sucks more. I seriously have no idea what you’re on about.

    Fair point, sir, but until you stop fucking about and unveil the pictures of the new steed, we’re all just killing time around here anyway.

    Somehow you two have summed up the reason this place is so interesting in a couple of phrases of raw, perfect prose.  Even taken out of context, I would enjoy this exchange.

  17. Getting back just briefly to my ‘related to, but admittedly a bit off topic photo of Andre Mahe’, I have to confess that a far stronger ‘rule’ exists in my mind, which is: respect the photo. Much like Frank’s ‘hand on top, hand on drop’ reasonable facsimile of Laurent Fignon, Mahe’s at-the-fucking-limit-and-then-some off the saddle effort has inspired me to crank into the wind sur le plaque in the 53-12 out of the saddle until my hands became too numb to shift to something easier. It sure feels like good training, and if there’s even the slightest chance I could develop calves that ripple violently enough to break the sound barrier, Yeager my ass up.

    I’m fucking stupid that way, but it looks impressive and I’ve yet to be passed while emulating Saint Mahe’s sepia toned mortification of the flesh, therefore it’s gotta be worthy of my humble supplications. I rest my dubious case.

  18. @TBONE People standing on my left always strike me as being somewhat sinistra.

  19. @frank

    @Souleur

    when your right Frank, your right. Its been proven over and over again. In a few years, we’ll be looking back with a snarky grin talking about ‘that Froome’ and his spider like style.

    What about when Frank is on your left?

    That joke, on the other hand, is hilarious.

    but does two rights ever make a left, just because he lives in Seattle cannot be inclusive into this whole pun?

  20. @frank

    @Scott Martin

    While I respect the respect the jersey rule I don’t really see it as much different than somebody wearing their favorite baseball/football players jersey

    Except football and baseball suck.

    A-Merckx to that. Baseball. I’m proud to say I’ve never watched a full 9 innings in my life. What a fucking bore. Perfect American sport, takes forever, encourages laziness, even the players sit around for half the game, many are fat, and you can put a number, and thus a price on ever single fucking thing that happens.

    Football. The NFL is a fucking joke. How many guys in that league are doping? And how rigid and corporate is it? Then you can toss in lifetime brain damage from playing. Fuck couples who walk around on Sunday in matching jerseys.

  21. @frank

    @TBONE

    Who’s Jan Ulrich? Unless of course you mean Ullrich.

    That joke stopped being funny several months ago. Maybe longer.

    @TBONE

    I’ve been making that joke since before it was cool.

  22. @Ron

    Football. The NFL is a fucking joke. How many guys in that league are doping?

    Come to a CFL game if you want a good laugh. No one is doping in that league because they’re too fucking poor.

  23. @Chris

    The Islabikes are great – if you look after them they seem to get the same price on Ebay as you bought them for – I couldn’t get a secondhand Luath 26 for less than £310, no matter what it’s condition, they are £400 new, and the Beinn 24 my daughter rides retails £360 and you can’t get them 2nd for less than £280 on Ebay – bonkers!

    Sadly my wife has now taken up cycling and I can’t get out as much as I used to, so the only option is to brainwash them with TdF footage, and get them out there too – both racing now, just need them to get a bit larger so I can getting a better draft from them

    @Bianchi Denti

    If he ever rides P-R, it won’t have been because I suggested it!

    @frank

    It’ll be interesting to see how many riders of the next generation have sore backs trying to ride like the Spider??

  24. I’m only going to wear plan jerseys or one from the LBS that I frequent.

  25. Chaqueta larga shrug blanco, falda encantadora del diseño de costura dulce hace que esta chaqueta es toque más lúdico. Diseño hendidura natural, era delgado y elegante. Qué tomar el vestido de encaje rojo, con medias negras y botas de felpa, hermosas.

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