I caught a fish this big!

I caught a fish this big!

Catching The Big Fish

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This post could also have been titled as an Anatomy of a Photo or Awesome Italian Guys-Guido Bontempi or The Hardmen.

As an Anatomy of a Photo…where do you start? All these sprinters and no one but Van Poppel is even wearing a helmet. What could go wrong? And back there is Sean Kelly, his thought bubble would be something like, ahhh for fuck’s sake, then a long string of unintelligible Carrick curses.

As an awesome Italian guy, Guido Bontempi could just flash this photo at the awesome guy hall of fame and walk in. He wore the Maillot Jaune, won multiple stage in all three grand tours and was a badass. I remember him as more of a passista than a pure sprinter. When I think back to his racing in the Tour and the limited coverage us in the USA were fed, two memories stand out. One was him in a break, either solo or with one other unfortunate soul and Bontempi, face flushed red with exertion, hammering and hammering away at the front. Hammering is not even a strong enough word for what he was doing. If they had power meters back then he would have broken his. The other was a Tour finish where he was up against some faster finishers so he just opened up a sprint from 800 meters out and just powered his way to the line. The pure fast-twitch riders just couldn’t burn it from that far out. It was an amazing show of bravado.

He also was not afraid to go up to Belgium in the Spring and win Gent-Wevelgem a few times. These old school riders who battled in Belgium and Northern France in the Spring and then kept it going through the Vuelta and beyond, that is a good way to get into the Hardman category too.

My friend and owner of my old LBS used to do a phenomenal mime of a sprint finish using just a set of loose handle bars that were lying around the shop. There would be much throwing of bars back and forth, faster and faster, then the bars drop and the arms go up, hands outstretched, “I caught a fish this big!” Every time I see a sprint victory photo like this I can’t help but think of the big fish.

 

Epilogue: In researching this photo just now, I thought wikipedia had missed Bontempi’s 1987 Tour win, stage 7 from Épinal to Troyes. Maybe I should correct this? No, don’t bother Gianni. Bontempi failed doping control at the end of this stage and the win went to Manuel-Jorge Dominguez. FFS, do I scrap the whole article? Oh cycling, you are a cruel mistress. If I scrapped this one I’d have to scrap a lot more than this one. I still say he is a badass, for these glasses alone.

// Anatomy of a Photo // Awesome Italian Guys // The Hardmen

  1. Paris Brussels 1986. Bontempi first. Daylight second. From memory this was a long sprint rather than a late breakaway. Bontempi was reputed to sprint using a 13t rather than the 12t of his pursuers of the era…

  2. The colorful jerseys, the awesome Witte shades, the slightly loose jersey, the black shorts, the lovely paintjobs on the bikes. My word, so much to warm the heart.

    Makes me a bit sad for the looming road season. Too many boring black kits, too many oddly shaped carbon bikes, not enough classic bend bars with level TTs.

    Deltas. I find that those on my Tommasini are great in the drops, but tougher from the hoods. Modulation is awesome when down low, not so great up top. However, my hands aren’t that big. Maybe I can’t reach the sweet spot of the lever from the tops? I’d also like to try them with new pads. Mine are from 1991.

  3. @Ccos

    The hyper masculine hands up victory salute saying “Fuck’n-A, I’m a winner” remains one of my favorite moments in this sport. On those rare occasions when they follow the pussification of men’s tennis and whip out a pacifier or do something else douchey, I get a little testy.

    Bontempi here looks absolutely fantastic.

    Agree, after an inhumanly long stage, it is worth it. Doing the same shit when scoring a 4 point fuck all on a wave in the ASP tour, it gets old real fast.

  4. Great read Gianni and Guido looks pretty damn cool as well

  5. Looking at his shorts, he may have forgotten to jettison a vial of something helpful…

  6. Nice one Gianni!

    Quote: “The other was a Tour finish where he was up against some faster finishers so he just opened up a sprint from 800 meters out and just powered his way to the line…”. Unquote.

    I remember reading an article in the late 80’s about a phenomenon which Dutch journalists (among others, no doubt) referred to as the emergence of ‘a new type of racing cyclist: the ‘finisher” (i.e. as opposed to the ‘sprinter’).

    Jan Raas and, in particular, Gerrie Knetemann were often held up as examples of this breed: they were the kind of riders who would not indulge in ‘sprinting tactics’ (i.e. sussing each other out, sometimes to the point of nearly performing a ‘sûr place’ within sight of the finish line). Instead, they would simply open the throttle several hundreds of meters prior to the finish line, and never look back…

    The interesting thing was, that a lot of the guys who were quite good at this were in fact accomplished time trial experts, rather than ‘pure’ sprinters. Kinda makes sense, I suppose…

  7. Sjeez – I’m older than I think. Said article was probably published in the EARLY eighties or even the late seventies: Jan Raas became World Champion in 1979; Knetemann in 1978. *Sigh…*

  8. @Ccos

    The hyper masculine hands up victory salute saying “Fuck’n-A, I’m a winner” remains one of my favorite moments in this sport. On those rare occasions when they follow the pussification of men’s tennis and whip out a pacifier or do something else douchey, I get a little testy.

    Bontempi here looks absolutely fantastic.

    Yep, I don’t see Jan Raas or Bontempi whipping out a pacifier and putting it in their mouths. I’m sure cavemen were doing the exact same gesture standing over a killed beast. There is something very atavistic about the arms up, head up, victory is mine.

    Getting a little testy is the correct reaction.

  9. @osbk67

    Paris Brussels 1986. Bontempi first. Daylight second. From memory this was a long sprint rather than a late breakaway. Bontempi was reputed to sprint using a 13t rather than the 12t of his pursuers of the era…

    Great photo! I wonder if that is Kelly again, in the yellow KAS kit, cursing again. That is quite a bit of daylight in between.

  10. @Ron

    I’d also like to try them with new pads. Mine are from 1991.

    heheee, yeah, they are probably as hard as marble by now. The Tommasini deserves it. That is classy, getting those brakes on your Italian steed.

  11. @Gianni

    @DCR

    Were the delta brakes that weak? As bad as my carbon wheels in the driving rain? The delta brakes may have sucked but were the best looking brakes ever. And sprinters never use brakes anyway.

    It was more so stopping after the sprint. With the press and team support on the other side of the line there have been some nasty crashes. And they did suck, but it may be slightly exaggerated. Oh and they where VERY sexy brakes.

  12. @Gianni

    @Ron

    I’d also like to try them with new pads. Mine are from 1991.

    heheee, yeah, they are probably as hard as marble by now. The Tommasini deserves it. That is classy, getting those brakes on your Italian steed.

    Speaking of classy… everyone I can see has white bare tape, white socks, and black bib shorts. They certainly did things right back then. Every time I see the red shorts of cofidis or blue shorts of astana I cant help but cringe. There was no reason to change things…

  13. @Gianni

    Yep, Kelly second, Johan Capiot third, Vanderaerden fourth, Pierino Gavazzi fifth, Bugno sixth. Frank Hoste, also a top sprinter at the time, had an off day and could only manage 11th…

  14. battled in Belgium and Northern France in the Spring and then kept it going through the Vuelta

    Back then the Vuelta was in April. He did win the Tre Valli Varesine, though, and that was in mid August.

    Speaking of classy… everyone I can see has white bare tape, white socks, and black bib shorts. They certainly did things right back then.

    Yep

    Yep, Kelly second, Johan Capiot third, Vanderaerden fourth, Pierino Gavazzi fifth, Bugno sixth.

    Johan Capiot. Famous for winning Paris-Tours with unshaved legs.

  15. I used to have a pair of those Rudy Project sunglasses. I lost them while mountain biking, after putting them in my jersey around sunset. I took that as a sign from Merckx that I should not venture on to the dirt unless on a cyclocross bike, or on pavé.

  16. Heino caught such a big one today he couldn’t even lift it above his head! So stoked to see him in the green & gold for the coming year.

  17. Also, the eagle eyed among may notice he was very lucky the finish line was where it was. That chain isn’t propelling him any further…

  18. @Mikael Liddy

    It’s not the first time I’ve seen a chain come off on a finish sprint. In smallest cogs many drivetrains are actually quite crosschained, and throwing your bike forwards can cause the chain to go slack. That’s enough to thrown a chain to the outside…

  19. @Mikael Liddy

    Also, the eagle eyed among may notice he was very lucky the finish line was where it was. That chain isn’t propelling him any further…

    I thought I was seeing things! Very lucky indeed.

  20. @Mikael Liddy

    Also, the eagle eyed among may notice he was very lucky the finish line was where it was. That chain isn’t propelling him any further…

    Good pick up. pretty cool finish

  21. @Gianni I still have that jersey on my closet though I’ve outgrown it. ;)

  22. @Barracuda yup, some textbook work from the experienced head. Let the young kid take off & overrun him in to the head wind.

    <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/MDOBdc4FtTw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

  23. Gah, Monday mornings are not my friend.

  24. From Haussler profile, love the hardman finish with the bent bars after crash

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx6zJbU4M3o#t=39

  25. @Ron

    The colorful jerseys, the awesome Witte shades, the slightly loose jersey, the black shorts, the lovely paintjobs on the bikes. My word, so much to warm the heart.

    Makes me a bit sad for the looming road season. Too many boring black kits, too many oddly shaped carbon bikes, not enough classic bend bars with level TTs.

    Deltas. I find that those on my Tommasini are great in the drops, but tougher from the hoods. Modulation is awesome when down low, not so great up top. However, my hands aren’t that big. Maybe I can’t reach the sweet spot of the lever from the tops? I’d also like to try them with new pads. Mine are from 1991.

    Riding a Battaglin, one of my favorites that I have not ridden in a while, not that I do it any justice by comparison. The red white and blue color scheme still looks great today.

  26. @Mark he was obviously reasonably confident of his form leading in to yesterday…Cuore had already put this together.

  27. @Mikael Liddy

    Heino caught such a big one today he couldn’t even lift it above his head! So stoked to see him in the green & gold for the coming year.

    Haha very good. I thought “What? No big fish?” when he crossed the line but I like your interpretation better.

  28. @Gianni

    I’m sure cavemen were doing the exact same gesture standing over a killed beast. There is something very atavistic about the arms up, head up, victory is mine.Getting a little testy is the correct reaction.

    A few years back I was in a seminar and the lady talking was going on about how to be confident. I was dozing but she got my attention when she mentioned testosterone was “confidence enhancing” and the body can be easily induced to release said hormone at will. She mentioned something about humans doing the “a fish this big” pose for millennia. Apparently, some sort of scientific study has shown that through evolution, doing the “a fish this big” pose and telling yourself things like “I am a winner” “I have won” “Yesssss” can induce a testosterone release. Cool I thought. I now do it for a good hour and a half hour after every training ride for a legal boost.

  29. @Mikael Liddy

    @Mark he was obviously reasonably confident of his form leading in to yesterday…Cuore had already put this together.

    I hope Frank gives Heinrich Hausler’s Haircut a Green and Gold jersey for the year. The dude deserves it for sticking with him all these years he has been shit! I was lucky enough to be at the race, what an awesome day it was. HH looked calm all day but his chase back on on the last lap was great riding, good to see him nail one. As for Caleb, we have a classics rider there I think, dude can climb and sprint.

  30. @Daccordi Rider yup, Coppi’s quote came to mind after watching Caleb attack over the hill & drive a few times on the way down. Watch the last half of the lap once Heino tacks back on the front group, his nose doesn’t see the wind again.

  31. @Mikael Liddy

    Yep, gutsy by Ewan to have a crack on the climb though. Can’t beat experience.

  32. HH’s power figures were impressive also @Mikael Liddy @Daccordi Rider

  33. Have to admit I did a double take when I saw the headline “Haussler out-kicks Ewan” . Not many can do that, which I guess is what Ewan was banking on when he opened up.

    Well done Haussler – pleased for him and I hope it augurs a good year for him.

  34. @Daccordi Rider

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Mark he was obviously reasonably confident of his form leading in to yesterday…Cuore had already put this together.

    I hope Frank gives Heinrich Hausler’s Haircut a Green and Gold jersey for the year. The dude deserves it for sticking with him all these years he has been shit! I was lucky enough to be at the race, what an awesome day it was. HH looked calm all day but his chase back on on the last lap was great riding, good to see him nail one. As for Caleb, we have a classics rider there I think, dude can climb and sprint.

    I agree. Honorary Green & Gold seems appropriate.

    Its been a long time between drinks for HH and given his preference for the classics and hardman tendencies like racing without gloves I think the Velominati should embrace his year as Aussie champ.

  35. @ChrisO

    Have to admit I did a double take when I saw the headline “Haussler out-kicks Ewan” . Not many can do that, which I guess is what Ewan was banking on when he opened up.

    Well done Haussler – pleased for him and I hope it augurs a good year for him.

    Ewan… Such huge expectations on such a tiny kid. The kid’s barely out of the Junior ranks, and yet we’ve been hearing of his coming for two years already. He might just find himself in Sagan’s spot – marked and outgunned in the Classics that seem to suit him so well. He does seem to have a knack for tactics though – a few days back he tagged onto Greg Henderson’s attack despite being the overwhelming bunch sprint favourite, and this turned out to be the winning move. He’s got more than a few eggs in more than one basket.

    Haussler is just the epitome of the casually deliberate, old-school cyclist. Too cool for gloves.

  36. Wow, Haussler put down the comb long enough to win something! I’m impressed.

    Not impressed with the Budget Forklifts kit or their shorn off knickers doubling as bibs. The gap between the Euro PROs and the continental dudes is massive. Look at the bushy haired dude on the podium. Looks like a caveman and he’s in a skinsuit. Looks like a race between PROs and some club guys.

    Ewan as a classics rider. Really? Is there any way a guy that small can put up with the punishment of those races? Seems like the big and stout guys do the best, even if not all that all, still usually the thicker built guys handle the distance, climbs, and cobbles better.

  37. And of course I’m joking. I know how hard it is to win at the top level. But, still seems like Haussler is so close, but just missing that little something to put him from the top 10 to the top step on a consistent level. I’m sure that win felt great, even with a saggy chain.

  38. @Ron

    Ewan as a classics rider. Really? Is there any way a guy that small can put up with the punishment of those races? Seems like the big and stout guys do the best, even if not all that all, still usually the thicker built guys handle the distance, climbs, and cobbles better.

    Not all classics have cobbles. Gerro isn’t exacly huge either and yet he’s managed to snag Milan-Sanremo and Liege-Bastogne-Liege – and Ewan sounds like a similar type. A lethal finishing sprint coupled with the capacity to survive the shorter climbs can take you far.

  39. @ErikdR

    Sjeez – I’m older than I think. Said article was probably published in the EARLY eighties or even the late seventies: Jan Raas became World Champion in 1979; Knetemann in 1978. *Sigh…*

    Did you remember all this history meaning the details of your comments, or do you have to research it all? Constantly amazed.

  40. I always liked Big Guido, but he rode against Kelly so I didn’t root for him all the time. Man, he was a bigger lad than I thought – I saw him listed at 185 cm and 80kg. That means we’re almost the same height but he’s a bit lighter.

    That Carrera bike/kit combo was one of the best, most synchronized ever.. You were a winner before the race started wearing that gear.

    @The Grande Fondue

    battled in Belgium and Northern France in the Spring and then kept it going through the Vuelta

    Back then the Vuelta was in April. He did win the Tre Valli Varesine, though, and that was in mid August.

    Speaking of classy… everyone I can see has white bare tape, white socks, and black bib shorts. They certainly did things right back then.

    Yep

    Yep, Kelly second, Johan Capiot third, Vanderaerden fourth, Pierino Gavazzi fifth, Bugno sixth.

    Johan Capiot. Famous for winning Paris-Tours with unshaved legs.

    Unshaved legs? Just how unshaved? minor stubble or sasquatch? The latter would be grounds for a DQ or a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.

  41. @Ron

    Wow, Haussler put down the comb long enough to win something! I’m impressed.

    Not impressed with the Budget Forklifts kit or their shorn off knickers doubling as bibs. The gap between the Euro PROs and the continental dudes is massive. Look at the bushy haired dude on the podium. Looks like a caveman and he’s in a skinsuit. Looks like a race between PROs and some club guys.

    Ewan as a classics rider. Really? Is there any way a guy that small can put up with the punishment of those races? Seems like the big and stout guys do the best, even if not all that all, still usually the thicker built guys handle the distance, climbs, and cobbles better.

    The Caveman is Neil Van der Ploeg who (along with his brother) seems to switch between MTB (world cup level) and road with relative ease. The beard does look incongruous but he still finished on the podium ahead of a lot of WT pros including Cadel, Richie, Durbo..

    Is it mere coincidence that Brett has just posted on the topic of shaving? Beards are a strange business, rarely understood.

  42. @Mikael Liddy

    Gah, Monday mornings are not my friend

    Having watched Haussler with despair for the last year or two, I really enjoyed watching this win and have pored over the finishing kilometres of the race many times already. Watch Hausslers rear wheel as he kicks past Ewan in the overhead footage. It visibly flexes with each pedal stroke, huge amount of effort going down. No wonder his chain gave up. Ewan is a class sprinter who just owned the Bay Crits last week and yet at the Nationals, Haussler trounced him. Most of the analysis says that Ewan burned too many matches over the final lap by covering breaks and then making one himself. Probably true but that’s racing and Hausslers effort was superbly timed, superbly delivered.

  43. I’m calling it now… Haussler to win a Classic this Spring. Let’s say Gent-Wevelgem.

  44. I’m with you, after a few years in the wilderness with heartbreak (all those seconds at ATOC behind Sagan….) he is finally back on the pace. Has already confirmed that he’s focused on the classics, not riding Le Tour and seems to have the backing of a strong and balanced team/management. Why not GW? LBL or MSR even.

    http://cyclingtips.com.au/2015/01/heinrich-haussler-im-ready-to-race/

    .

  45. Apologies for the serial postings…..little too much coffee this morning….

  46. @PT

    Apologies for the serial postings…..little too much coffee this morning….

    Little too much or much too little?

  47. @brett
    I shall have to think about that a little. Over an espresso of course. Just a little one.

  48. @wiscot

    Yep, Kelly second, Johan Capiot third, Vanderaerden fourth, Pierino Gavazzi fifth, Bugno sixth.

    Johan Capiot. Famous for winning Paris-Tours with unshaved legs.

    Unshaved legs? Just how unshaved? minor stubble or sasquatch? The latter would be grounds for a DQ or a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.

    The way I’ve heard the story is that he never shaved them at all.

  49. @The Grande Fondue

    @wiscot

    Yep, Kelly second, Johan Capiot third, Vanderaerden fourth, Pierino Gavazzi fifth, Bugno sixth.

    Johan Capiot. Famous for winning Paris-Tours with unshaved legs.

    Unshaved legs? Just how unshaved? minor stubble or sasquatch? The latter would be grounds for a DQ or a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.

    The way I’ve heard the story is that he never shaved them at all.

    That’s just . . . disgusting.

  50. @brett

    I’m calling it now… Haussler to win a Classic this Spring. Let’s say Gent-Wevelgem.

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking that this whole winter as well. The guy is due. And he’s on form this year

    @Ron

    Ewan as a classics rider. Really? Is there any way a guy that small can put up with the punishment of those races? Seems like the big and stout guys do the best, even if not all that all, still usually the thicker built guys handle the distance, climbs, and cobbles better.

    I could see Ewan doing well in the Ardennes, his punchiness was on display at the Bay Crits the last few years, and if that translates to short accelerating climbs, then he might be a shot. I agree that the cobbles are probably not suited for him.

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