Unforgettable Rides: 1986 l’Alpe d’Huez

Unforgettable Rides: 1986 l’Alpe d’Huez

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We tend to look at cycling through rose-tinted glasses; cycling-specific ones that not only give us a cheery outlook on the past, but ones that conveniently hold big black bars over the bits we prefer not to remember as they were because they don’t fit into the picture we’ve formed in our minds. One of the most interesting things about a community like Velominati is all the different viewpoints that come together regarding events past that help remind us of something approaching reality, built from an aggregation international of views. Perhaps even more interesting is how this experience also brings into sharp relief the evolution of the “facts” as we each have seen them at different points in our lives.

A prime example is of the discussion earlier this week regarding the Lenault battle in 1986. The American view predominantly held was that LeMond was short-changed by Hinault, while the Europeans (or at least the French) could see no reason Hinault should acquiesce the Tour should he be in a position to win it. Certainly not from an American. The Aussies, of course, feel Phil Anderson or, barring that, Phil Ligget or someone else named Phil – regardless of nationality – should have won it, and the Kiwis are no doubt still busy looking for a Tour contender who doesn’t ride a bike. At the time, I hated Hinault and characterized him as a cheating douchenozzle; these days, I regard him as one of the greatest examples of a complete rider and a model of what riders today should aspire to be.

The truth is, of course, somewhere in the middle and after we boil the ocean of the ’86 Tour, we’re left with two great riders on one team who were so closely matched they each could have won that year. But the promises made the year before and the reality of the race situation on the road were like water and oil, and by the time the race reached l’Alpe d’Huez, the team, the fans, and the countries had polarized towards one end or the other, each choosing the side that matched most closely the version of the facts that helped them feel more at ease with their loyalties.

As controversies have a tendency to, they overshadow one of the most unique rides to the top of l’Alpe d’Huez in the history of the great climb. In my memory, Hinault attacked on the descent from either the Col de la Croix de Fer or the Glandon. (Maybe he attacked at the base, as WikiPedia suggests, but I don’t remember it that way.) Only LeMond had an answer, and the teammates escaped together to ride the mythical 21 hairpins together. I can’t think of another time when two G.C. riders – let alone two teammates – outclassed everyone else in the race up this climb.

Up and up they rode together – the Badger in his distinct style and LeMan in his – with only their pain, their massive gears, their rocking shoulders, and their resentment for each other as company. Hand-in-hand they crossed the finish line as happy team mates, LeMond gifting the stage to his patron in the end. But beneath the surface boiled a fearsome rivalry and within minutes Hinault and LeMond’s dashing alter-ego, LeMelvis, traded blows in the press. And with that, the great ride was almost immediately eclipsed by polemics.

In the end, LeMond overcame a tampered-with TT bike to win the Tour and Hinault retired as arguably the most successful Tour de France rider at the time. The record is set but the facts become more malleable with time. The rest we see with our rose-tinted glasses.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oIkVNykuuE[/youtube]

// Unforgettable Rides

  1. @minion
    It’s a Roland Della Santa badged as Huffy the same as Hampsten’s Slawta Landshark was for the Amurican co-sponsors of the Team.

  2. Sorry, that was supposed to be addressed to Frank wtf.

  3. Oh, and in ’84 and ’85 LVC rode Bernard Hinault badged bikes (that were built by various frame builders for the various riders but not Look), ’86 and ’87 they were aboard the first carbon Look bicycles. I’m pretty sure the carbon Looks were saved for the big races and the rest of the year – especially US races – they used the “Huffys”.

  4. @frank
    And who would have guessed Celestial Seasonings was a sponsor?

  5. I’ve been on self-imposed study exile for a couple of days while I finished exams.
    This thread contains some excellent work by all, I’m distraught to have missed the fun.
    My LVC jersey is a favorite, a lucky buy that came along at the same time as I was reading In High Gear by Samuel Abt, a sweet recounting of some of the big names/races of the ’80s that cemented LeMond and Hinault as Giants in my little new-to-cycling conscience. Great essay Frank, great work all.

  6. zalamanda:
    @sgt…tsk! tsk! tsk! you should be made to ride a sit-up-and-beg with a pointy cap with a D on it. @Oli cheers for the info about the shitty shirt. It’s no wonder it disappeared. As far as kool kits go Ole Ritter’s Benotto in the Impossible Hour is the dogs bollocks.

    Or you could go one step further…

  7. @Cyclops

    Of course you all know that I’m gonna need a La Vie Claire Mondrian kit now to go with my LOOK.

    And these of course would be the only acceptable shoes to wear;

    I’m still kicking myself that I gave my pair away 10 years ago…

  8. Gah/Bleh, ponytails on dudes is just plain wrong. I’d doubt very much that an Italian cyclist would ever sport one, and they (Italians) have the last word on style. At least, that’s what I thought was agreed on by Velominati!

    I will eat my words however if someone can post a photo to the contrary.

    @cyclops, gave them away!!! that’s a shame but don’t beat yourself up too much, after a bad accident on my BMX in ’86 I took my bike apart and sold all the bits to concentrate on skateboarding. I’d love to still have my SE Racing Quadangle but it never made the sweet sound my roadbike’s tyres make as I pedal it along the country roads of Scotland. It’s a sound so pleasing and puts such a massive smile on my face, I wish I’d discovered road cycling years ago.

  9. Forgot to mention, I have ALWAYS been completely fascinated by Le Tour and have always watched as much of it as possible on British TV.

  10. snoov:
    Gah/Bleh, ponytails on dudes is just plain wrong. I’d doubt very much that an Italian cyclist would ever sport one, and they (Italians) have the last word on style. At least, that’s what I thought was agreed on by Velominati!
    I will eat my words however if someone can post a photo to the contrary.

    Well, ok. Here’s Fabio Baldato, and there are and have been many others.

  11. @Oli

    Munch, I still think it’s wrong, chew, but my words aren’t as tart as I expected :)

  12. Case fucking closed…

  13. @sgt
    it’s even better when you drop a cycleway hero on a hill. It winds them up no end.

  14. @CJ
    you tease! it must be fate as that’s my size!!! anyhow you Yanks never export machines like that, preferring to Bogart them. cool pic tho.

  15. mouse :
    @Markp Ah, the Castorama kit. The first step on the slippery slope that led to this;

    Gotta love the back pockets.

    Saw a guy yesterday at the end of my ride rocking a pair of these bibs (not the full kit). While not compliant with Rules #14, #15 and #17, I had to compliment him for audaciously rolling out in such an icon of the sport’s history.

  16. @Nate
    I had to compliment him for audaciously rolling out in such an icon of the sport’s history.

    One day people will be posting that about the V-kit.

  17. Baum, a local (and an exceptional one at that) frame builder here in Victoria Australia taking the La Vie Claire team kit / Mondrian art to a new level.

  18. Baum Corretto is my dream machine… I love the green, or the Gulf paint. So Hot. Or maybe a custom V orange/black scheme…

  19. @Markp Damn, you’ve got me started now!

    Ti goodness…

    Or a nice steel Ristretto…

  20. @Brett

    Case fucking closed…

    Are you kidding? I don’t watch much soccer at all but I remember that guy and he would eat you alive without blinking because he was bored.

  21. @Markp

    Baum, a local (and an exceptional one at that) frame builder here in Victoria Australia taking the La Vie Claire team kit / Mondrian art to a new level.

    Huh, how strange…going through the back catalogue to ease the boredom at work & this Baum gets pointed out in the la Vie Claire convo. Saw it in the flesh yesterday heading up in the Adelaide Hills with the rider getting some proper Rule #9 work in battling cross winds to make a Dutchman proud.

  22. @Oli

    @Brett
    What do you mean “bad glasses”??

    And what zalamanda is referring to is not the Mondrian jersey but the Tour de France “Combine” jersey, a short-lived prize that was supposed to signify the best overall rider within all the classifications (GC, mountains and points). The jersey was scrapped after ’89 as part of Jean-Marie LeBlanc’s rationalisation of the baffling array of competitions within the Tour.

    This thread got resurrected by @Mikael Liddy and to put off the awful moment of having to start work again on a Monday I took a look through the last page worth of comments and found this picture from @Oli. If I recall its Charly Mottet – it was used in an ad in a cycling mag back in the day and I always thought it was one of the iconic cycling pictures but could never find it on the interweb – this is either because: I’m not as clever as I thought I was on the interweb or; because not many other people thought this picture was the tits.

    Anyway – now I’ve found it I can go back down the mine happy.

  23. @the Engine

    @Oli

    @Brett
    What do you mean “bad glasses”??

    And what zalamanda is referring to is not the Mondrian jersey but the Tour de France “Combine” jersey, a short-lived prize that was supposed to signify the best overall rider within all the classifications (GC, mountains and points). The jersey was scrapped after ’89 as part of Jean-Marie LeBlanc’s rationalisation of the baffling array of competitions within the Tour.

    This thread got resurrected by @Mikael Liddy and to put off the awful moment of having to start work again on a Monday I took a look through the last page worth of comments and found this picture from @Oli. If I recall its Charly Mottet – it was used in an ad in a cycling mag back in the day and I always thought it was one of the iconic cycling pictures but could never find it on the interweb – this is either because: I’m not as clever as I thought I was on the interweb or; because not many other people thought this picture was the tits.

    Anyway – now I’ve found it I can go back down the mine happy.

    Awesome TT that one up Mt.V! It’s Jean-François Bernard. Mottet has more of a roundish head and wore Rudy’s

  24. @sthilzy

    @the Engine

    @Oli

    @Brett
    What do you mean “bad glasses”??

    And what zalamanda is referring to is not the Mondrian jersey but the Tour de France “Combine” jersey, a short-lived prize that was supposed to signify the best overall rider within all the classifications (GC, mountains and points). The jersey was scrapped after ’89 as part of Jean-Marie LeBlanc’s rationalisation of the baffling array of competitions within the Tour.

    This thread got resurrected by @Mikael Liddy and to put off the awful moment of having to start work again on a Monday I took a look through the last page worth of comments and found this picture from @Oli. If I recall its Charly Mottet – it was used in an ad in a cycling mag back in the day and I always thought it was one of the iconic cycling pictures but could never find it on the interweb – this is either because: I’m not as clever as I thought I was on the interweb or; because not many other people thought this picture was the tits.

    Anyway – now I’ve found it I can go back down the mine happy.

    Awesome TT that one up Mt.V! It’s Jean-François Bernard. Mottet has more of a roundish head and wore Rudy’s

    Man, I need to pen a piece about JFB. Great rider who did well but alas had WAY too much pressure to succeed Hinault and Fignon. Loved that Ventoux TT – 100% V the whole way and so focussed he left a huge blob of spittle on his heft leg of his shorts.

  25. @frank

    @Oli
    Not to pull an Oli, but wrong gloves.

    By the way, WTF is he doing on a Huffy? I thought LVC were riding Hinault-branded Looks? Or is that a Hinault-branded Look re-branded as a Huffy-branded Serrota that’s actually a Look because he’s racing in Cali? This feels very existential. Maybe we’re halfway between somewhere and nowhere, having eaten more than nothing but less than something?

    @frank Dredging this back up since the article popped up on the “Recent & Random Articles” feed, LeMond had a separate endorsement with Huffy to race bicycles under their badge when he raced in the United States.  I have no doubt that it’s truly a Della Santa under the paint (or something similar).  Another key is the “Celestial Seasonings” panel in the Mondrian jersey; this is likely during the ’85 or ’86 Coors Classic.  My guess would be the ’85 edition of the race.  I vaguely remember that 7-11 was on “Huffys” by 1986 and that LeMond rode something else…

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