This machine kills cobbles

Riding Ugly: Damien Gaudin

Riding Ugly: Damien Gaudin

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The simple art of riding a bicycle can be undertaken in many ways. Watching the stylish commuters of Amsterdam going about their business in the most Casually Deliberate way makes you wonder if indeed anyone is actually going about any business at all. I don’t know how anything ever gets done in that city; everyone seems to be on their way to the coffee shop or on the way somewhere else from the coffee shop or just generally moving about with no actual destination or modus operandi to speak of. Sometimes the only indication that these aren’t Dutch zombies riding around the city is their abilty to smoke and text while riding, something I’ve never seen a zombie do successfully.

The French are also renown for the laidbackness, and while the volume of Gallic bicycle commuters is nowhere near the levels of the Dutch, they still can lay down some serious Cas Del around the rues. And god knows what those women are talking about on their phones while cruising along, but it still sounds sexy as hell to me. A good reason not to learn the language, as they could be just ordering a pizza, and to hear that accent reeling off a list of meaty toppings would spoil the fantasy, I’m afraid.

Which makes me wonder if Damien Gaudin is in fact French. I’m sure he’s got a voice like honey over velvet, skin as smooth as polished alabaster and eyes you could swim in, but boy, he sure does make a meal of riding his bike. Oh, he can ride it fast for a long time, for sure, but he looks like he’s trying to rip the headtube from the frame with his own bare hands kilometre after kilometre. Bottom brackets must cringe when they see the 189cm, 79kg figure approaching, and his time trial bike is thankful it only has to endure the punishment over a short distance.

With shoulders more often seen on a footballer than the snake-like ones of most cyclists, and knees and feet more at home caving in someone’s skull in a bar brawl, Gaudin is a picture of raw power on the bike the likes the French haven’t produced since The Badger ruled the peloton. While Msr Gaudin exudes none of the supple stroke or total Rule #5 class that Le Blaireau oozed, he may well have a post-racing career pushing people off podiums just like his country’s national icon.

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// Riding Ugly

  1. @ChrisO

    No doubt we all like to imagine we have Magnificent Strokes applied with souplesse – Gaudin probably thinks he is the new Coppi.

    I have to confess I have had suspicions for some time that my own style was not fluid dynamics in human form. Being compared to Ludo Dierckxsens (there’s one more ‘s’ in that name than I always think there should be) was a strong hint.

    Only recently I was on a long ride with just two other people, one of whom was sitting in anyway (by arrangement) so me and the other chap were spending long spells behind each other. As we had a water stop he said, casual-like, “Do you have lower back problems ?”

    Treating this as some sort of deduction worthy of Sherlock Homes I said “Actually yes, how could you tell ?”.

    “Well your left knee comes in at the top and your left ankle twists at the bottom. Your right leg goes out, your upper body is skewed over and you sit to one side on your saddle.”

    I spent the rest of the ride wondering if Quasimodo ever rode a bike, and whether people would compare him favourably to me.

    After a crappy morning on work related matters, that made me snort my tea out of my nose!  I will never quite visualise @ChrisO (having never met you) again without some kind of comical quasimodo sur le plaque image in my mind.

    Cheered me up hugely even if it does not help your back….Cheers!

  2. Gaudin was quality in Paris-Roubaix. To relieve the drudgery of a long ride on Beach Rd here in Melbourne my training partner and I will sometimes pass each other faux rogering an invisible lass on our bikes. Gaudin looks likes he’s both fucking and being fucked simultaneously whilst he’s riding.

  3. Nice work, Brett! I’ve actually been thinking about how hulking he seems the past few weeks during races. He’s a monster for sure. I would like to ask him to zip up his jersey & flip down his brim, but he might put me in a headlock with the guns.

    And he’s not the only one in the past few weeks with the brim flipped.

    Also, how about Offredo’s crash into the traffic island? Ouch, that was at a high speed and he didn’t see it until the last second. (Paris-Roubaix, I think but with all the races lately things are a bit of a blur. But, I know he crashed hard).

  4. @Ron He was luck not to hurt himself seriously with that.

  5. Don’t know much about this Gaudin chap other than what I saw in Paris-Roubaix. While casually watching, I happened to look up and take full note of this Green clad monster flailing away at the pedals over one of the later cobbled sections. I was in shock watching this guy… legs and arms all over the place but absolutely haulin’ ass… like a cartoon character with cobbles, riders and debris flying around in his wake. Somebody get this guy a coach or at least a stylist.

  6. I wonder how tall he is, he almost looks to big for the bike he is riding in those videos.

  7. “A good reason not to learn the language, as they could be just ordering a pizza for all I know, and to hear that accent reeling off a list of meaty toppings would spoil the fantasy, I’m afraid.”

    I’m not so sure this is true.

  8. I’m going to guess that Gaudin, like le Blaireau, is Breton.

  9. @RedRanger

    I wonder how tall he is, he almost looks to big for the bike he is riding in those videos.

    1.9 m, does look like too small a bike for the Muscleman

    @Nate

    I’m going to guess that Gaudin, like le Blaireau, is Breton.

    From the Maine-et-Loire departement, just south of Brittany

  10. @Nate

    I’m going to guess that Gaudin, like le Blaireau, is Breton.

    Let me google that for you: non. (But close).

  11. The other exciting takeaway here is that he seems to have figured out this road thing with a series of good results this spring (1st in the prologue @ Paris-Nice, too). Pursuit specialist with an impressive palmarès, but it will be neat to see if he can go from strength to strength in the coming years…

  12. @Chris

    @Ron He was luck not to hurt himself seriously with that.

    Painful to watch. I was thinking “busted jaw, left-side A-C separation and rotator cuff, cracked ribs…”  Ow.

  13. For the metric impaired (such as myself), 1.9m is roughly 6’2″, 79kg is about 175lbs. Not a hulking monster in many other sports, but certainly so in cycling.

    Faboo is roughly an inch shorter and 5lbs heavier for comparison. Those extra five lbs must be the key to the smooth stroke, cause Faboo looks like butter. Damien looks a bit like the accountant who rented a jack hammer for the weekend. Way more power than he is capable of controlling. He is a young 26 years old, so he may yet settle into his own.

    For what its worth, I was in awe as he poured out the watts during the Paris-Roubaix.

  14. A voice like honey, non, certainly not as smooth as jaja

  15. The guy shits more guts than any of us already have. His was the ride of the race outside of Faboo. No i say, do not get him to change his style. This makes races interesting, lest we all end up watching riders spin courses without facial expression, movement or anguish.

    I hope even more riders come through like him, he was riding from the heart and in the red, appearances and form of stroke bedamned!

  16. @Beers Hear, Hear. He might not have style but he’s got bags of character.

  17. Nice catch Brett. As I watched him smash a giant gear in P-R I was sure he couldn’t keep that up very long. But he did. How can someone turn such a big gear on the cobbles, and look so bad doing it? In the other videos he looks smoother. As with most things, one’s form falls apart at huge intensity and P-R certainly demands huge intensity.

    Good on him. Though we all want to look good on the bike, we all would rather be able to bridge up to the next group in P-R. And he is easily identifiable in the peloton with those knees sticking out.

  18. @Gianni

    …he is easily identifiable in the peloton with those knees sticking out.

    and elbows…

  19. Talking about riding ugly- this weekend is the Portland tour” de ronde.” 2 days, each 48miles and 8000′ climbing. Rondepdx.com for details. a truly unpleasant beast of ride. Happy trails.

  20. @Beers

    The guy shits more guts than any of us already have. His was the ride of the race outside of Faboo. No i say, do not get him to change his style. This makes races interesting, lest we all end up watching riders spin courses without facial expression, movement or anguish.

    I hope even more riders come through like him, he was riding from the heart and in the red, appearances and form of stroke bedamned!

    So true. At the professional level in the “sport” which I compete, most players have such similar “strokes” that they are virtually indistinguishable from one to the next. Elegant and aesthetic to be sure, but similar. However, there is one self-trained “player” who, by all accounts, has a very unaesthetic “stroke” that is powerful and somewhat magic as to its effect on the trajectory (vertical and horizontal) of the ball. For example, arcing sideways, some fifty yards, around a tree to win a rather significant tournament.

    This magic would likely be impossible to achieve were it not for the atypically obtained ability, resulting in both unconventional physical and mental faculty. Certainly makes for a more compelling spectator experience.

  21. You all know he’s also Le Lanterne Verte, right?

    Are those solar panels in his TT helmet?

  22. Surely Chris Froome gets a shout for riding dirty? Never looks comfortable. Elbows out like he is trying to barge his way though a road packed with bovine cattle. Yet the man is a mountian monster and seems to find power in guns the size of match sticks when some of the hardest are flagging!

  23. nice writeup. in fact, while watching PR this year I nearly spit out my coffee when I heard David Harmon say “and there’s Gaudin…pedaling like a bag of spanners.”  excellent.  he had commented earlier that Guadin’s style is “the complete opposite of supplesse” or something to that effect.  nothing like the announcers goonin’ on ya while you’re making a serious go at winning Paris Roubaix!

  24. Surely I am not the only one to notice the uncanny resemblance of his style to a preying mantis swaying as it prepares to unleash a deadly strike am I?

  25. inrng mentioned that he resembles a man with a shovel when he rides. either that or your analogy of him ripping off the headtube with his hands work just the same. still, he’s one of many frenchies to watch. now that EPO is no-moe, french and colombian racers resume adding spark to races. about time, if you ask me.

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