Anatomy Of A Photo: Professeur Pavé

Anatomy Of A Photo: Professeur Pavé

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Despite being a bald, visually challenged Velominatus, I envy only one other man from the peloton past. The only man who could pull off the historically near-impossible chrome-dome/ponytail combination, and couple it with a pair of wire-rimmed reading glasses yet still manage to exude a lethal concoction of Gallic style, hardness and pure V that could defeat opponents with its very presence.

Even the cobbles here in the 89 Paris-Roubaix are being blown dry by the force of The Professor’s big ring whirlpool, floating millimeters above the surface and forcing the rider he’s just passed into a muddy pit of broken stones while he continues his assault down the middle, on the crown.

Though he rode for teams with some of the most unflattering kits ever, The Professor always managed to look immaculate. This is just another example. He was a template for The Rules long before any notion of them was ever dreamed of. Except of course Rule #36, which he naturally transcends and earns him an automatic pass on account of his sheer badassness.

I’m tempted to dig out my very first pair of prescription specs, similar to these and which I would’ve acquired around that time, and rock them in honour of Le Prof on our Roubaix ride on Keepers Tour 13 next April. The ponytail, well I’d be wise to not attempt that one…

// Anatomy of a Photo // Keepers Tour // The Rules

  1. Those are some Murder-fucking crank arms in the photo above (177mm) ?

  2. (177.5mm)

  3. Fact of Unknown Origins (forums.roadbikereview.com)

    Jacques Anquetil 175mm
    Lance Armstrong — (negligible)
    Magnus Backstedt 177.5mm
    Chris Boardman 170mm
    Santiago Botero 172.5mm
    Angel Casero 175mm
    Mario Cipollini 172.5mm
    Fausto Coppi 171mm
    Malcolm Elliott 172.5mm
    Tyler Hamilton 172.5mm
    Bernard Hinault 172.5mm
    Miguel Indurian 180mm (190mm for second Hour record!)
    Laurent Jalabert 172.5mm
    Greg Lemond 175mm
    Brad McGee 175mm
    Robbie McEwen 175mm
    Eddy Merckx 175mm
    David Millar 175mm (180mm in TT)
    Francesco Moser 175mm
    Marty Northstein 167.5mm in Keirin (170mm in kilo)
    Graham Obree 175mm
    Marco Pantani 170mm (180mm in mountains)
    David Rebellin 172.5mm
    Roger Riviere 175mm
    Jean Robic 170mm
    Tony Rominger 172.5mm (175mm for Hour record)
    Oscar Sevilla 175mm
    Jan Ullrich 177.5mm
    Rik Verbrugghe 175mm
    Erik Zabel 172.5mm
    Alex Zulle 175mm (180mm in mountains)

  4. @unversio Pantani 180mm in the mountains! No wonder the little fella was standing up all the time

  5. @frank Maybe not a pony tail, but you could dare to wear one of these Velominati (Brancale) accessories. If you can have these re-produced, then I will certainly buy one for a Cycling Lounge that I am building in the garage.

    And will wear it (occasionally).

  6. @unversio

    +1 to that!  I would love one of those!

  7. @unversio the C-record set, still awesome. And I still got it. Weird to see the computer halfway the wheel. Fignon must have had great glasses to see his distance on it!

  8. All in French but no less awesome. In fact, no translation necessary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ewL8iuQG8&feature=related

  9. @Nate

    @frank

    @Georges

    Since you’re bringing the subject of “The Professor”, I was really surprised to read in his biography (Nous etions jeunes et insouciants – We were young and carefree) the following (loosely translated):

    “Contrairement a la plupart des autres géants de la route, on ne m’a jamais affuble d’un surnom. Du début a la fin, qu’on m’ait aime ou non, qu’on ait été impressionné par mes exploits ou non, qu’on ait vu ou refuse de voir en moi un champion d’exception, je suis reste Laurent Fignon. Rien que Laurent Fignon. Moi et rien d’autre en somme.”

    “Unlike most of the other giants of the road, I never dons a nickname. From start to finish, whether I was liked or not, whether one has been impressed by my deeds or not, whether one has seen or refused to see me as a champion of exception, I was still Laurent Fignon. Just Laurent Fignon. Me and nothing else really.”

    Anyone else noticed that? Did the Professor nickname stick later on or was he just not aware of it?

    Interesting; I don’t recall that passage from the book. I’ve always heard the nickname, Professor, but who knows if it came along later, or maybe only in the English-speaking public? He didn’t speak much English, so he could have missed it?

    Maybe it’s in the French edition and not the English translation. I think I read an interview with the translator who said he did some editing as well, dropping some passages for various reasons.

    Yeah, he did not like the nickname because he didn’t think it fit as he didn’t finish very much university. The English translation is one of the best French-English I have ever read (and I was a Canadian Army officer – a lot). I felt the beauty of French in the english. Maybe that’s just me.

  10. @Nate Yes, the passage I quoted was from the french edition of the book.

  11. So maybe the recent big news events in our beloved sport may have made me overly cynical, but having been a fan of Fignon for over 20 years now, and knowing what a beast he was in multiple disciplines on a road bike, and that he was doping during the peak of his career, I can’t help but ask – How does Greg Lemond come back from getting shot and almost dying, having an appendectomy and tendonitis during his rehab and beat the professor clean? And how does he set a record during that tour for average speed in a time trial that has managed to stand through the now proven doping tinged years of Lance and his ilk?

    Is this not a fair question?

  12. It’s a fair question, but we’ll never know unless he suddenly confesses so why not take him at his word? His attitude would suggest that he believes in clean cycling, so that’s good enough for me without contradictory evidence.

  13. @LA Dave a VO2 max of 92 as opposed to Pharmstrong’s 85 might have something to do with it…

  14. @LA Dave

    So maybe the recent big news events in our beloved sport may have made me overly cynical, but having been a fan of Fignon for over 20 years now, and knowing what a beast he was in multiple disciplines on a road bike, and that he was doping during the peak of his career, I can’t help but ask – How does Greg Lemond come back from getting shot and almost dying, having an appendectomy and tendonitis during his rehab and beat the professor clean? And how does he set a record during that tour for average speed in a time trial that has managed to stand through the now proven doping tinged years of Lance and his ilk?

    Is this not a fair question?

    Yeah, completely fair question and one that has always wiggled around in the back of my head.  I am  a true and dedicated die-hard LeMan fan since 1986 and have loved the guy ever since.  I can only justify it by the fact that he has the highest ever recorded VO2max in a cyclist (I think two nordic skiiers have recorded higher–Bjorn Daehlie and another guy) and the fact that no one was using EPO/HGH then (at least according to Fignon and everyone else that I have read).  There were people using steroids and amphetamines but I am pretty sure that he never used amphetamines.  Perhaps he used steroids, who knows?  His quads were massive at that tour.  But, for now, I give him the benefit of the doubt, and really believe that he didn’t. 

  15. @LA Dave

    That TT was only 25km, kinda short for a non-prologue.  How many similar length ones have there been?  Lemond was probably pretty motivated for that one as well.

  16. @DerHoggz,@Oli, @DerHoggz, @Mikael Liddy,

    I agree with you guys, and I hate that I feel compelled to have these thoughts, but it’s so hard (impossible?) not to. Especially when I look at that photo of the Professor crushing that Pave, he seems unbeatable steroids or not.

    For me I can honestly say that I don’t know of one of my cycling heroes that I would be willing to bet my house that they were 100% clean…and that’s a bit sad. (Although if I had to choose one, Hampsten would probably be the guy)

    Still love the sport, always will. I’ll be watching every cyclocross world cup this winter to hold me over until things get rolling with next years Tour Down Under. Holding out hope that all of this mess can lead to a new day of clean racing… Holding out hope, but not holding my breath.

  17. Forgive me if I fail to adequately make my point, but I’m a very distracted man of late and really don’t feel like dealing with this shit right now… that said I really feel I need to comment on this latest trend I’ve seen popping up lately over Lemond, his TT performances, and doping.

    LeMond was a sample size of 1 (n = 1). It’s difficult to quantify the sheer magnitude of the difference in performance potential between two professional endurance athletes where one measures out a relative VO2 of 90+ vs. the more commonly average (for a professional) in the mid-low 80’s. Assume all other variables being equal, like pedaling efficiency, equipment, biomechanics, diet, sleep, mental fortitude, etc… the higher relative VO2 will dominate.

    Analyzing LeMond requires a complete analysis of his performance history (not just a snap shot of otherworldly performances)… only then can we see his linear performance progression for what it is. Legit. LeMond didn’t come out of nowhere… he was ripping through history like a freight train as a junior rider and on an undeniable path to immortality before real life bit him in the ass. LeMond is a true one-off in the purist sense of the phrase. Without the hunting accident, and the “no go” of 1985 it’s hard to argue against the reality of him being the first (if not only) man to have won more than five TdF races.

    The record setting TT was a perfect storm in favor of LeMond… It was short (24 km), net down hill, had a strong tailwind, and LeMond rode superior equipment. Factor in the relative VO2 of 90+ (which allows for faster recovery following repeated bouts of intense exercise) and it stands to reason that the man with that kind of physiology would eventually leave his mark on history.

    Cheating w/PED’s, advances in technology, and the ultra-rare race distance have allowed average professionals to creep closer, but at the end of the day, the average pro with the average pro relative VO2 can’t bridge a gap of the magnitude difference that exists between nearly 10 ml-kg… LeMond is the only rider to have those physiological numbers officially, and it makes perfect sense that he’s the only rider with a performance like the record setting TT so often used to make the argument that he must have doped.

    I believe LeMond is legit. The totality of his performances support that belief as does the science. A true one of a kind…

  18. Fignon wore a “skillet” like no other. A “Skillet” is similar to a mullet, but with non-stock (hairless) surface and a handle (ponytail).

  19. @JFT

    I believe LeMond is legit. The totality of his performances support that belief as does the science. A true one of a kind…

    – You make great points. I’m familiar with this info, it’s well documented and I have used it to convince myself (and some of my Lance touting friends/acquaintances) that there was nothing to his performances other than him being “Le Man”. But the same way I had always had that bad feeling about Lance and his wins, I simply can’t shake the doubt that exists, no matter how small the chance or how little I believe it (or want to).  And it’s not just him. When I was standing in line at Interbike this year waiting to get The Big Migs autograph (there’s only a few riders I would do that for, he’s one of them) I couldn’t help but wonder about him also. Such is life for cycling fans in these current times.

  20. @LA Dave

    @JFT

    I believe LeMond is legit. The totality of his performances support that belief as does the science. A true one of a kind…

    – You make great points. I’m familiar with this info, it’s well documented and I have used it to convince myself (and some of my Lance touting friends/acquaintances) that there was nothing to his performances other than him being “Le Man”. But the same way I had always had that bad feeling about Lance and his wins, I simply can’t shake the doubt that exists, no matter how small the chance or how little I believe it (or want to). And it’s not just him. When I was standing in line at Interbike this year waiting to get The Big Migs autograph (there’s only a few riders I would do that for, he’s one of them) I couldn’t help but wonder about him also. Such is life for cycling fans in these current times.

    I just cannot believe that you would sit in a press conference and point out the problems with doping and even espouse and effective way of testing for it, the way LeMan does in this press conference to Armstrongs face if you had any skeletons in the closet…that would just be suicidal.

    I have to say I believe him and what’s more the suggestions he makes about using baseline VO2 Max as a measure seems to make sense.  If it is genetic and does not alter with age then surely it is the purest test of all and sounds pretty much infallible….in addition he is proposing a solution that would actually catch himself out if it were taken up.  Balls of steel to face COTHO down in public, I bet LA was fucking fuming at this and wanted to gouge his eyes out…Chapeau Greg!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryH650Br8uI

     
  21. An interesting visual presentation of some data:

    More here: http://www.phys.washington.edu/users/savage/Cycling/LookingAtTheData/AIC.html

  22. funny tagline from The Race Radio’s twitter page:

    “Pro Cycling is like sausage, I love it but I don’t want to know how it is made.”

  23. @frank

    OK. While on the subject of Boonen (your fault, Bretto) – I hadn’t seen this one before.

    Yes, unfortunately these banners were all over the Q8 gas stations which, consequently, are all over Belgium.  I had to do a double take on my way home from work one day when I saw this.  Disturbing…

  24. @il ciclista medio

     
    Yes, he did. He called it ‘supercompensation’. He basically destroyed himself 48h before the race.
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