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Weekend Competition: The Hardmen

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As I said last week when we announced the new book, The Hardmen, we had a much harder time of it writing this one than we did with The Rules. There are a variety of reasons why this is true, not least the fact that we had to actually choose which Hardmen to include in the book, a bigger chore than it might seem. Some of them were pretty obvious, some were pretty obscure, but mostly it was simply a difficult chore to narrow down the list to something we could fit in a single book without turning it into War and Peace.

Not to mention that we were basically working from memory, for our oft-stated Anti-Research Policies.

Given that, there are some major omissions, whether deliberate or otherwise. Maybe we simply didn’t like a particular rider, hardness notwithstanding (Pharsmstrong). Maybe we loved a rider and we acknowledged their hardness, but the hardness was so universal that we couldn’t zero in on a particular ride that would make the book (Boonen). Other riders featured more than once because they were so universally hard but still managed to drop majorly epic rides in often enough that we simply couldn’t keep from adding a few of their stories (Kelly, Merckx).

With that, I give you your weekend assignment: which is the most glaring omission from the book, and why? But here’s the catch: you have to be specific on which rider, and you have to be specific on preciesely which ride/action merits inclusion. Vote for your favorite omission by using the (new) like button*. If you’d like to add your own notes to someone else’s entry, just respond inline as usual. Top three omissions** will receive a free copy of The Hardmen, signed by all three authors (this will take a little time as we have to ship them around the world.)

* I have resisted adding a Like button to posts since Velominati’s inception in 2009, feeling strongly that if you have something to say, you should take the time to say it rather than anonymously tapping a like button. However, given my own limited available time to commit to posting, I have come to appreciate the elegance of being able to recognize a post for its humor without needing to respond to it with something unimaginative like, “Ha!” I hold fast on my view that there will never be a “Dislike” button, as I firmly believe that while you are welcome to dislike something, you need to hold yourself accountable for your remarks.

** We reserve the right to override the voting system and choose the winner at our discretion.

// Contest // The Hardmen

  1. Geraint Thomas – Crashed in the opening stage of the 2013 Tour and fractured his pelvis, managed to complete the tour as the fracture wasn’t likely to get worse and the pain could be controlled. In the 2015 tour he was forced off the road by a crashing rider and hit a telegraph pole head first and disappeared down a bank. When he was interviewed at the finish line he made light of the knock to the head and was more concerned with the loss of his favourite sunglasses as they didn’t make that model anymore.

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  2. How about Bob Roll?

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  3. Right, I can see where it could be really hard to limit it but I was baffled not to find Le Professeur, LeMan, Coppi and Gimondi in the pages (but Virenque, Hansen and McEwen made it???). But in life it is so much easier to criticize and destroy than build and do (but Hansen???)

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  4. Just started reading it today as it arrived in yesterday’s mail. Gimme a second to digest the contents….

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  5. @Buck Rogers

    Right, I can see where it could be really hard to limit it but I was baffled not to find Le Professeur, LeMan, Coppi and Gimondi in the pages (but Virenque, Hansen and McEwen made it???). But in life it is so much easier to criticize and destroy than build and do (but Hansen???)

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    That’s absolutely why, for the conpetition, we’re asking you to come up with a specific example

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  6. @Charles Barilleaux

    How about Bob Roll?

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    Now this, I gotta hear.

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  7. Adam Hansen, stopped counting how many tours he has ridden in a row.

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  8. You need to go back further. Bobby Walthour (read Homans book on him), Frank Kramer, Major Taylor, the list is not complete without these really hard men.

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  9. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Right, I can see where it could be really hard to limit it but I was baffled not to find Le Professeur, LeMan, Coppi and Gimondi in the pages (but Virenque, Hansen and McEwen made it???). But in life it is so much easier to criticize and destroy than build and do (but Hansen???)

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    That’s absolutely why, for the conpetition, we’re asking you to come up with a specific example

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    Ahh, got it. For starters there’s one of the most famous Hardmen story ever with Fiorenzo Magni riding the Giro with a broken collarbone (and he did not have his unborn twin to help him, either!)

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  10. Fiorenzo Magni (aka The White Wolf/ The Tuscan of Flanders) – The man who won ‘De Ronde van Vlaanderen’ 3 times in a row and has won ‘Giro d’Italia’ 3 times. Magni was a cyclist who was known for is courage and stubbernness. He illustrated this perfectly in the Giro d’Italia in 1956 were he had fallen of his bike during the descent of the Volterra and broke his collarbone. He stood up, picked up his bike and finished the race. He went to the hospital where they examined him. He refused to retire and started the next day with an innertube wrapped around his handelbars so he could pull with his teeth on the bars to be able to go up the mountains and finish the Giro. He eventually managed to secure the second place in the general classification.

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  11. Bartoli was a Hardman many times but the specific intense that most stands out was when he was riding with hidden documents during the war to save Jewish lives. That is about as Hardcore as one can get since he would most likely have been literally shot if he were caught.

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  12. Mike Cotty. First he rode Raid Pyrenean. 685km 11k metres of ascent right across the pyrenees. But fuck that. Easy shit so Cotty rides Les Alpes, from Evian Les Bains to Nice, a distance of 666 kilometres with 17 mountain passes – including the Col de la Colombière, Madeleine, Glandon, Croix de Fer, Télégraphe, Galibier, Izoard, Vars, Bonette and Madone – with over 16,000 metres of elevation and five cols over 2,000 metres. Comparable to four mountain stages of the Tour de France or close to scaling Mount Everest (twicel Then this.. The road to Mont Blanc. That’s when shit got real.. 1,000km non-stop crossing of the Dolomites, Eastern Alps and Swiss Alps with 21 climbs and over 23,000 metres of elevation. Read his blog. Did this whilst setting off in driving rain and suffered hallucinations whilst riding. Fucking hard-core.

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  13. So yeah, I see the difficulties with coming up with specific rides for Leman and Le Professeur off the top of my head and I do not know my history well enough with Coppi and Gimondi. That’s a good point. Maybe you could have a supplemental chapter dealing with riders who just exuded Hardness their whole careers even though one cannot pinpoint a specific instance?

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  14. I was so going to jump on Beryl Burton as a usually-unsung heroine, but lo and behold she’s in there! Chapeau, Keepers. I think I’d have to nominate Tom Simpson for the 1965 World Championships with support crew; he and his teammates apparently had to steal food and drinks off other teams. What’s more, five weeks earlier, he broke his hand on stage 9 of the Tour, but he only stopped racing on stage 19 because the Tour doctor basically kicked him off the race and sent him to hospital for surgery and treatment for various related infections. Obviously, it was stupid to reach that point, but the fact he kept riding, and to win Worlds such a short time later!

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  15. Seriously? No Fiorenzo Magni and the 1956 Giro? Magni was 36, his last Giro. He had announced his retirement and was determined to finish. On Stage 12 from Grosetto to Livorno he fell on the Volterra descent, breaking his collarbone. They put an elastic bandage on it and his mechanic (Falerio Masi) padded the bars and he went through four pairs of shoes because he couldn’t brake. There were still ten stages (almost half the race) left. For the San Luca uphill time trial on Stage 16, he bit down on piece on inner tube tied to his bars as he couldn’t pull on the bars because of his injury. Then, on the Modena-Rapallo stage he fell and broke his upper arm.He passed out with the pain and was put in an ambulance. Coming to, Magni got off his stretcher and exited the ambulance. The bunch waited for him. Stage 19 went up the Stelvio, and Magni rode it well.. Then, on Stage 20 from Merano to Trento he finished in third place to Charly Gaul on the infamous Bondone stage held in apocalyptic snowy conditions when sixty riders retired. The Maglia Rosa retired. Gaul went from 16 minutes down to take the stage and the race. After the race they put a plaster cast on Magni who had his mechanic remove it with sheet metal shears so he could continue to train. Over the course of his career, Magni won three Giro titles and three Tours of Flanders. He considered his 2nd place n 1956 his greatest win. That’s a hardman.

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  16. Honourable mention for the late, great Mike Hall. His style of cycling doesn’t lend itself to adherence to the Rules (cf. saddle bags, aero bars), but he was indisputably one of the hardest guys on a bike out there, and his untimely death earlier this year when he was hit by a car during the Indian-Pacific Wheel Race was another reminder of how fragile we all are out there on the road. There’s a “ghost” pin on the TransAm tracker for his record time, and he’s in the lead. What a guy.

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  17. @Charles Barilleaux Good call. If I remember correctly, he was sick with a fever during the 1986 Tour de France and advised by doctors to abandon, but finished as 7-Eleven’s top place in Paris.

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  18. @Buck Rogers “Fuckin spot on, Bevin!” We have a winner.

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  19. I don’t have a copy of the book yet, much to my chagrin, so please forgive me if this example is already used in either of the ones for Sean Kelly. I recall reading that he had a saddle sore that blew up to the size of a golf ball while he was leading the Vuelta a España. Legend has it that he had the team doctor remove it at the hotel, before the start of a time trial. If true, that example should be in there! And then there were also the stories of how long he would abstain from sex before major races, prompting Paul Sherwen to speculate that Sean’s wife was still a virgin. (Insert pun about book title here.)

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  20. Thor Hushovd forgetting that he was a big guy, and attacking on stage 13 of the 2011 Tour. It was a mountain stage and he rode off the front, like a boss. If memory serves he also set the fastest kph that stage (111 kph)

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  21. @Neil Owens

    Mike Cotty. First he rode Raid Pyrenean. 685km 11k metres of ascent right across the pyrenees. But fuck that. Easy shit so Cotty rides Les Alpes, from Evian Les Bains to Nice, a distance of 666 kilometres with 17 mountain passes – including the Col de la Colombière, Madeleine, Glandon, Croix de Fer, Télégraphe, Galibier, Izoard, Vars, Bonette and Madone – with over 16,000 metres of elevation and five cols over 2,000 metres. Comparable to four mountain stages of the Tour de France or close to scaling Mount Everest (twicel Then this.. The road to Mont Blanc. That’s when shit got real.. 1,000km non-stop crossing of the Dolomites, Eastern Alps and Swiss Alps with 21 climbs and over 23,000 metres of elevation. Read his blog. Did this whilst setting off in driving rain and suffered hallucinations whilst riding. Fucking hard-core.

    a bit of creative smarts to think of Cotty, here. these rides are indeed quite incredible. Cotty’s a stud, world tour or no world tour. his Col Collective YouTube channel is also superb.

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  22. @Cary Yep, the Hardmen book doesn’t just include professional riders. Cotty deserves a mention. The video of his Mont Blanc ride is incredible. Excruciating watching him struggle up the stelvio. Any one who experiences hallucinations whilst partaking in a bike ride deserves a mention. One tough guy.

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  23. Jonny Hoogerland, TdF 2011, stage 9 “run over” by a car flung into the field, tangled up in barbwire on the way. Brushes of the dust and continue to the finish line to receive the polka dot jersey

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  24. John Howard! Set land speed record of 152.2 miles per hour (245 km/h) while motor-pacing in 1985 (record stood for 10 years) And, and, and: Gold medal in the 1971 Pan American Games road race in Cali, Colombia 4-time U.S. National Road Cycling champion (1968, 1972, 1973 and 1975) Won the first two editions of the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic in 1975 and 1976 1982, one of four competitors in the inaugural Race Across America RAAM, eventually finishing second Won the fourth Hawaii Ironman (which you Will excuse against Rule #42)

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  25. Eugene Christophe

    Copied and pasted from Wikipedia:

    1913 and the Tourmalet incident[edit]

    Eugène Christophe in trouble on the road.

    In 1913 Christophe was well placed to win when a mechanical failure cost him the race. He rode the first part, from Paris to Cherbourg and then down the coast to the Pyrenees cautiously.[1] He was in second place when the race stopped in Bayonne on the night before the first day in the mountains, when the course featured a succession of cols: the Oschquis, Aubisque, Soulor, Gourette, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde. The field set off at 3am with Christophe 4m 5s behind Odile Defraye, of Belgium.

    Christophe rode for Peugeot and his team attacked from the start to demoralise the rival Alcyon riders and, in particular, Defraye. It worked. Defraye was 11 minutes behind at Oloron-Ste-Marie, 14 in Eaux-Bonnes, 60 at Argelès. He dropped out at Barèges, at the foot of the Tourmalet, the highest pass in the Pyrenees. Christophe dropped all the field except another Belgian, Philippe Thys, who followed at a few hundred metres. Thys was of no danger, however, because he had lost too much time earlier. The two were five minutes ahead of the rest.

    Christophe stopped at the top of the mountain, reversed his back wheel to pick a higher gear[2]

    Christophe said:

    I plunged full speed towards the valley. According to Henri Desgrange‘s calculation,[3] I was then heading the general classification with a lead of 18 minutes. So, I was going full speed. All of a sudden, about ten kilometres from Ste-Marie-de-Campan down in the valley, I feel that something is wrong with my handlebars. I cannot steer my bike any more. I pull on my brakes and I stop. I see my forks are broken. Well, I tell you now that my forks were broken but I wouldn’t say it at the time because it was bad publicity for my sponsor.
    And there I was left alone on the road. When I say the road, I should say the path. All the riders I had dropped during the climb soon caught me up. I was weeping with anger. I remember I heard my friend Petit-Breton shouting as he saw me, ‘Ah, Cri-Cri, poor old lad.’[4] I was getting angry. As I walked down, I was looking for a short cut. I thought maybe one of those pack trails would lead me straight to Ste-Marie-de-Campan. But I was weeping so badly that I couldn’t see anything. With my bike on my shoulder, I walked for more than ten kilometres. On arriving in the village at Ste-Marie-de-Campan, I met a young girl who led me to the blacksmith on the other side of the village. His name was Monsieur Lecomte.[1][5]

    It took two hours to reach the forge. Lecomte offered to weld the broken forks back together but a race official and managers of rival teams would not allow it. A rider, said the rules, was responsible for his own repairs and outside assistance was prohibited. Christophe set about the repair as Lecomte told him what to do. It took three hours and the race judge penalised him 10 minutes – reduced later to three – because Christophe had allowed a seven-year-old boy, Corni, to pump the bellows for him.[1] Filling his pockets with bread, Christophe set off over two more mountains and eventually finished the tour in seventh place.[6] The building on the site of the forge has a plaque commemorating the episode.

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  26. Johnny Hoogerland TdF 2011, stage 9

    • Run over by TV car
    • flung in to a barbed wire,
    • brushes off the dust
    • contiues to claim the polka dot jersey
    • Hardman
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    • Eric Breukink won the famed Gavia stage. He is the forgotten hardman of the 1988 Go to.
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  27. @Erik Giro. Stupid autocorrect.

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  28. Wayne Randle. Ask any British roadman of the 80’s/90’s. That man was Nails.

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  29. Tom Simpson. Literally rode himself to death. Doesn’t get harder than that.

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  30. Add this lady to the “Hardwomen’ Section Annemiek van Vleuten Do I need to elaborate ?

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  31. Raymond Poulidor; 1961 MSR; 1964 TDF

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  32. Johnny Hoogerland was in the lead group of stage 9 of the 2011 TDF when he was hit by a psycho TV car driver and launched into a barbed wire fence where he hung suspended by the razor sharp points until he could be helped free, riding kit and skin both in tatters. He finished the stage and was promptly laced up with 33 stitches but soldiered on to Paris, even continuing to fight for the polka dot jersey. Along with Fiorenzo Magni’s legendary performance in 1956 I can think of few more deserving riders/performances of the “Hardman” moniker. ATMO.

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  33. Luis Ocana – about the only rider who did not accept that they were racing for second against The Prophet. His ride on the Orcieres-Merlette stage in the 1971 TdF and this in 1969…..though admittedly he probably didn’t know much about the latter.

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