Guest Article: Urs Freuler- The Ultimate Cyclo-tash

Urs, Atala Kit, Sprinters Jersey. Perfection
Urs, Atala Kit, Sprinters Jersey. Perfection

Somehow Movember and Vajanuary have slipped out of our grasp without too much fanfare. It’s never too late to pay homage to a ‘stash and a rider such as Urs Freuler. Our trusty cycling historian @wiscot has once again stepped up and delivered, many thanks. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

Rule #50 exists for a reason: facial hair and cycling are a dangerous combination, fraught with perilous decisions – and outcomes. Should I do full beard, goatee, moustache or designer stubble? Can I grow one quickly? Will it look good? Will I be the object of much ridicule? Will there be grey in there? Will it strike fear and terror into my opponents’ hearts and legs? In the days of yore before today’s seemingly ubiquitous stubble, few pro riders sported facial hair. (The Prophet was always smooth in more ways than one). In a sport where necessity demands identical kit and gear, it takes a brave man to step away from his peers and assert a degree of individuality and grow facial hair. Currently, and most obviously, Brad Wiggins asserts his personality with sideburns and unkempt mop, maintaining the grand English tradition of eccentricity, but often looks, well, like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Certainly a look of questionable appeal.

Taking these variations into consideration, let’s review the hirsute options:

The sideburns. Currently owned and benchmaked by the first Brit to win the Tour. His career path has been unconventional in trajectory, yet strewn with success. All imitators will be judged by the Brad-standard. Exemption duly given.

The cyclo-beard is rarely seen; in fact the only bearded cyclist picture I’ve ever seen was 1982 Milan-San Remo winner Marc Gomez sporting full face fuzz during a winter cyclo-cross event in France. Off-season. Pick-up event in France. Exemption duly given.

Marco Pantani owns the cyclo-goatee. All others imitate him – and usually fail. Il Pirata was Italian and therefore possessed style genes unavailable to most of us. Exemption duly given.

The cyclo-stubble. Sported by many a rider, notably, and successfully by Mark Cavendish. 23 Tour wins permit indulgences. Exemption given. However, it must be meticulously maintained to avoid looking like Roberto Ferrari in this year’s Giro. The latter’s face fuzz just looked like a half-assed beard. No exemption given. Fail.

The cyclo-tash is a more common beast, but almost as rare as Lance Armstrong allowing a teammate to win and as tricky to pull off as a Ricco blood transfusion. Lech Piaseki, John Eustace, Luc Roosen, Dave Zabriskie, Steven Cozza, Tom Ritchey and Danny Clark all wore moustaches with varying degrees of aplomb. (Cozza and Zabriskie’s moustaches have been sporadic and often comedic; Clark’s and Richey’s were, however outstanding and matched their undisputed hard-man reputations). However, the undisputed king of the cyclo-tash was/is Swiss rider Urs Freuler, super-fast sprinter and trackman of the 80s, who not only rocked the crumb-catcher, but could generally be regarded as one of the cycling studs of his era. With a ‘tash that both Freddie Mercury and Tom Selleck would envy, he proudly wore it throughout his career, exuding an aura of movie-star good looks and ability that few matched then – or now. (Can you imagine being a neo-pro and lining up for a race next to Urs? That kit, that physique, that Swiss multi-linguistic ability, that ‘tash. Bingo, you’re instantly feeling inferior).

The facts to support the hypothesis that Urs owned the greatest cyclo-tash ever are many. To wit:

The name Urs: a studly name if ever there was one; with a manly name you can go where others fear. (Can you really imagine Andy Schleck or Alberto Contador with a ‘tash?)

The height: tall, tall, tall – clearly the ‘tash is not serving as compensation for being vertically-challenged; indeed, many of his bikes featured monstrous headtubes that extended above the crossbar in order to avoid flex and keep the frame somewhat stiff.

The multiple wins of high caliber: World Champion in the Points race 8 times, World Champion in the Keirin 2 times, 15 stages of the Giro d’Italia, the Points classification in the 1984 Giro d’Italia and 1 stage of the Tour de France. In all, 71 career victories.

The kit: his greatest victories were obtained in the splendid Atala gear of silver and blue stripes he wore from 1981-87.

Freuler was one of those rare cyclists who seemed to have it all and offers salutary lessons to all Velominati. You want evidence? Just look at pictures of the man: the sweet position, the perfect socks, the proper cap, the immaculate gear and the full Campagnolo gruppos on Italian steel. The stuff of desire and ill-fated emulation.

As if this wasn’t enough, he was fully Rule #5 and Rule #8 compliant: track in the 80s was way more competitive than today. In addition to the palmares listed above, he raced”•and won”•21 six day races with various partners against the likes of Patrick Sercu, Danny Clark, Tony Doyle, Rene Pijnen and other hardmen of the boards.

On the road he was a sprinter who, in his one and only Tour in 1981, was a mercenary for TI-Raleigh boss Peter Post who hired him to go for sprint wins; he also gave him full permission to quit before the mountains. On stage 7 into Bordeaux he won in awful conditions against stellar opposition such as Freddy Maertens and Eddy Plankaert; he duly quit the race before the mountains. Job done. Yet, in 1988, the year of the notorious Gavia stage of the Giro, he made it through the mountains to win Stage 21a, a feat that would have seen many other sprinters (and yes, I’m looking at you, Mario Cipollini) bail early. For a big sprinter to drag himself through that snowy hell, fixated on a late-race stage win, puts him in the Rules #5 and #9 Hall of Fame.

Freuler retired in 1995 and currently owns a bike shop in Zurich. If web-based evidence is anything to go by, he still rocks the cyclo-tash and is in such fine shape that he looks like he could swing the leg over and dish the V to riders half his age. Alas, today’s riders wear helmets and sunglasses which robs them of an opportunity to exert a measure of individuality. The 80s were really the last decade when riders were more clearly visible to the public and Freuler, with his moustache, asserted himself as a champion, looked like a man amongst boys, and singled himself out to an extent that we can only bow down in deference to his status of being one of the coolest riders ever.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/urs freuler/”/]

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87 Replies to “Guest Article: Urs Freuler- The Ultimate Cyclo-tash”

  1. It’s maybe a good thing that pro cyclists dont go for the NHL playoff beard thing during Le Tour, on the other hand, maybe it would be amusing.

  2. Crumb catcher? Reminds me of a Henry Rollins spoken word when he was describing a cop. Only he called it a cum catcher. Henceforth all mustaches are referred to as such.

  3. Sideburns? Twat Wiggo as benchmark? No.  These two guys are and will always be the benchmark.

  4. To add:  Aside from the Wiggo comment, a fine article on a worthy topic.  Urs is a fucking stud.

    On stubble, I would mention Faboo’s habit of rocking it for important TTs.  He probably has figured out that the stubble has aerodynamic benefits in breaking up boundary flow turbulance in the manner of dimples on an aero wheel.

  5. Laurence ten Dam was rocking a full set in last year’s tour.

    And,according to the Master (PJ Wodehouse) the upper lip walrus effect is known as a soup strainer in the civilised world.

  6. @Nate

    On stubble, I would mention Faboo’s habit of rocking it for important TTs. He probably has figured out that the stubble has aerodynamic benefits in breaking up boundary flow turbulance in the manner of dimples on an aero wheel.

    No. Spartacus simply adheres to Rule #50.

  7. @Steampunk

    @Nate

    On stubble, I would mention Faboo’s habit of rocking it for important TTs. He probably has figured out that the stubble has aerodynamic benefits in breaking up boundary flow turbulance in the manner of dimples on an aero wheel.

    No. Spartacus simply adheres to Rule #50.

    The two reasons are not necessarily mutually exclusive, are they?

  8. A good read and basis for reconsideration of, or at least an exception with basis to the absolutism of, Rule #50.  Let’s go back to the Golden Age of Cycling when sporting a – wait for it – handlebar moustache was the style.  100 years later we have Urs setting a standard in facial hair with a quality brush.  Today we might move past the juvenile ‘scruff’ to a finely crafted ‘stache being acceptable for those of us who can produce such.  Consistent with Rule #5, as applied to other endeavors, many a hard man sports a moustache.  At the core of it for me and my ‘stache (which will never come off) is the fact that I peeled a lip off in a major bike wreck years ago.  Moustache provides needed cover.  And haven’t been without one since.

  9. @Gianni  Vajanuary?  I’m gonna have to Google.

    Gotta give Danny Clark (80’s track beast) an honorable mention for his ‘stache.

  10. That frame is freaking me out; not just extended headtube but seattube as well. Urs is riding a way smaller frame than what was considered appropo. Pioneer indeed!

  11. @G’rilla

    @Jeff in PetroMetro I think he meant http://decembeaver.com/

    I’ve actually gotten a shit ton of milage out of that since you first posted it. Funny, but a horrible idea methinks.

    @wiscot: great article dude! I went for the movember ‘stache, and was told in no uncertain terms that I a: looked like a pedophile, and b: if I didn’t shave it off, it would be a lonely month.

    Not many can pull off the lip caterpillar without looking like a douchenozzle.

  12. Fuck everybody. The worst thing in the universe is me without facial hair. Oh wait, there ‘is’ one worse thing: watching my ass crack through my worn out non-bibs slowly recede as I ride you off my wheel while your fucked over brain frazzes out trying to recall which rule I’m breaking by shamelessly sporting a frame pump. Maybe I’ll start riding with two, and add another EPMS so my bike looks like it has two balls and two cocks. Just like me. Har har.

  13. @starclimber

    Fuck everybody. The worst thing in the universe is me without facial hair. Oh wait, there ‘is’ one worse thing: watching my ass crack through my worn out non-bibs slowly recede as I ride you off my wheel while your fucked over brain frazzes out trying to recall which rule I’m breaking by shamelessly sporting a frame pump. Maybe I’ll start riding with two, and add another EPMS so my bike looks like it has two balls and two cocks. Just like me. Har har.

    Strong work.

    Strong, mystifying work.

  14. If facial hair, pedal power, and panache were numerically summable, few would out-point our very own STEAMPUNK (here discussing troop movements at Gettysburg):

  15. As someone who has Urs as their avatar, this is a nice homage to an idol of mine wiscot, thank you! Urs in that Atala kit which was/is one of the best ever IMO as well….be still my beating heart….

  16. Talking about facial hair – Sean Eadie

    Albeit a track rider, that waayyy too much face hair!

    Danny Clark’s mo reminds me of someone who appeared in a VB ad.

  17. Nicely done @wiscot, I like the way you put pen to paper so to speak.  I rarely do more than take the worst off with unguarded clippers, that’s how my lady likes it and I’ve always gotten a rash shaving.  Also, when you scrape the top layer of skin off with the razor your body uses energy repairing itself that would be better used turning pedals.

  18. @Blah

    @starclimber

    Fuck everybody. The worst thing in the universe is me without facial hair. Oh wait, there ‘is’ one worse thing: watching my ass crack through my worn out non-bibs slowly recede as I ride you off my wheel while your fucked over brain frazzes out trying to recall which rule I’m breaking by shamelessly sporting a frame pump. Maybe I’ll start riding with two, and add another EPMS so my bike looks like it has two balls and two cocks. Just like me. Har har.

    Strong work.

    Strong, mystifying work.

    Troll, or not troll?  Discuss.

  19. @Nate

    @Blah

    @starclimber

    Fuck everybody. The worst thing in the universe is me without facial hair. Oh wait, there ‘is’ one worse thing: watching my ass crack through my worn out non-bibs slowly recede as I ride you off my wheel while your fucked over brain frazzes out trying to recall which rule I’m breaking by shamelessly sporting a frame pump. Maybe I’ll start riding with two, and add another EPMS so my bike looks like it has two balls and two cocks. Just like me. Har har.

    Strong work.

    Strong, mystifying work.

    Troll, or not troll? Discuss.

    He is a Level 3, so it is tough to determine.  A 4 would have been a big sign.

  20. @Nate

    @Blah

    @starclimber

    Fuck everybody. The worst thing in the universe is me without facial hair. Oh wait, there ‘is’ one worse thing: watching my ass crack through my worn out non-bibs slowly recede as I ride you off my wheel while your fucked over brain frazzes out trying to recall which rule I’m breaking by shamelessly sporting a frame pump. Maybe I’ll start riding with two, and add another EPMS so my bike looks like it has two balls and two cocks. Just like me. Har har.

    Strong work.

    Strong, mystifying work.

    Troll, or not troll? Discuss.

    Troll. Maybe. Hard to say, haven’t seen that kinda post from @starclimber before. Not judging at all, just an observation.

  21. Further to that, I’ve been sick for 2 solid weeks, the one ride I had last Saturday resulted in complete relapse/worsening of this fucking plague, and every morning I wake up feeling like my eyeballs have been shoved into my frontal lobes. On top of this, the ‘one’ time I shave clean just to see what I look like after all these years with fur and I get comments from the cute chicks at work like ‘Oh my god, I can’t look at you!!!’ and ‘your face is just wrong without a moustache’ and so on. So not a troll, just some frustration and anger and resentment and depression. Voila.

  22. @Nate

    @Blah

    @starclimber

    Fuck everybody. The worst thing in the universe is me without facial hair. Oh wait, there ‘is’ one worse thing: watching my ass crack through my worn out non-bibs slowly recede as I ride you off my wheel while your fucked over brain frazzes out trying to recall which rule I’m breaking by shamelessly sporting a frame pump. Maybe I’ll start riding with two, and add another EPMS so my bike looks like it has two balls and two cocks. Just like me. Har har.

    Strong work.

    Strong, mystifying work.

    Troll, or not troll? Discuss.

  23. @starclimber

    Still hungover. Discuss.

    Winter, plague, hangovers, uncovering the fur face to ridicule, these are all good reasons to lash out. Hell, any two of those are. Especially the sickness thing. If winter is not bad then being left a weak, wan, pussy after a multi week near death battle with influenza, that does suck.  Lash away. It’s good for you.

  24. My goodness, that Castelli advert is breathtaking! Italian jersey, head band, mustache, and two babes. Wow!

    Nice work, wiscot. However, regarding this: “it takes a brave man to step away from his peers and assert a degree of individuality and grow facial hair” and I know you are talking about the PRO peloton and cyclists but these days I think it takes a brave man to stand his ground and not assume the uniform of silly glasses, a bad haircut, ill-fitting pants, and a beard.

    Thankfully I have no shot at ever growing a beard so I won’t have to contemplate this.

  25. @starclimber

    Further to that, I’ve been sick for 2 solid weeks, the one ride I had last Saturday resulted in complete relapse/worsening of this fucking plague, and every morning I wake up feeling like my eyeballs have been shoved into my frontal lobes. On top of this, the ‘one’ time I shave clean just to see what I look like after all these years with fur and I get comments from the cute chicks at work like ‘Oh my god, I can’t look at you!!!’ and ‘your face is just wrong without a moustache’ and so on. So not a troll, just some frustration and anger and resentment and depression. Voila.

    OK, I think not troll.  Get better soon.  Fuck, I had walking pneumonia two years ago.  Wife and me both sick for a month, with 1 and 3 year old boys jumping all over us.  Miraculously neither of them got sick.  The only thing that got me through the ordeal was copious consumption of hot toddies.  It took me four months to get any semblance of form on the bike back after that.  The second ride back, I wadded it up on some loose gravel in a corner and ended up with 22 stitches in my chin.

  26. @xyxax

    If facial hair, pedal power, and panache were numerically summable, few would out-point our very own STEAMPUNK (here discussing troop movements at Gettysburg):

    Flavour-saver??

  27. this is what I call a proper tache while laying down plenty of V. he’s so hard his hair is still in place

  28. @freddy And the credit for rocking the world’s first aero-hair. That thing looks sleeker than the Team GB custom jobs…

  29. Great article @Wiscot.

    Travis Brown was one of the first pros to rock the fashion sideburns back in the early 90s… he also took a lot of the credit/blame for black socks. Mountain biking was overun with sideburns and sculpted facial hair in the early/mid 90s. (Can’t find a decent photo of the burns, but he featured on the cover of Mountain Bike mag at the time and the story was focussed on his facial hair, socks and style…)

    He’s also done some tache work over the years…

    And of course Ned always rocked a Urs-esque tache…

    Interestingly, both the tache and the mole have now disappeared…

  30. Nice piece wiscot. In terms of riders with a bit of originality, I still have high hopes for John Tiernan Locke. He used to work in my local bike shop, did a 60 mile round trip daily regardless of weather and rocks it in helmet, no eyewear, no mitts, pure old skool cool. Check him out in this years World’s road race climbing with the best, white ladies present and correct!

  31. Shame on your ‘Muricans for not mentioning that paragon of Cold War US-Russia relations, Sergei Belov! And we all know he really did understand English.

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