Anatomy of a Photo: 1995 World Championship road race

Attitude at altitude; Il Pirata puts the lid on the hurt box

When I first feasted my eyes on this photo over at, it was the steely stare of Il Pirata that commanded my attention. That look says it all; “I’m suffering like a dog, the altitude is fucking with my mind, my lungs and my vision, but there’s rocket fuel coursing through my veins and I’m gonna grind these bastardos into powder as fine as the Colombian fare I’ll be sampling later.” Or maybe that’s just me…

It took me about five minutes to decipher the where, when and who of this photo. The jerseys threw me momentarily, before realising quickly that it was, of course, the Worlds. The rider second wheel had me too, especially as he is sporting the number 1 plate, usually reserved for the winner of the previous edition of the race. But no Colombian had won the title as far as I knew, so the only other explanation would be he was from the host country. Duitama. 1995. Ah yes. So who was a rider who could mix it with these guys, and carry the weight of expectation and hope that such a small country would bestow upon his slim shoulders? It could only be the somewhat evanescent Oliviero Rincon.

It all came flooding back.

At the time I was in a small Catalan village at the foot of the Pyrenees, staying with a friend of my travelling companion, and just happened to flick on the television and find the Eurosport coverage of the race. I think I’d read in the newspaper of Indurain’s win in the TT a few days before, so was aware the road race was coming up. Steve and I decided that copious amounts of Voll Damm were in order, and we settled in for the long haul. As did the protagonists. Seven hours plus at up to 3000 metres high? No problemo.

Pantani always exuded style on the bike. Check out the humungous Brikos perched on his sunburned, bald pate, the Spinaci bars, the semi-deep rim rear wheel. The white socks, turned grey from the road grime splashed up courtesy of a thunderstorm; he even managed to pull off garishly-patterned bar tape somehow.

There is so much more going on in this photo; Big Mig and Rincon either waiting to make a move or just waiting for Pirata’s cruelty to abate at the summit for another lap, the sweet steel forks, the caps, the hairnets. Pure Awesome all round.

What do you see?


Race report

Pre-race rider’s comments

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28 Replies to “Anatomy of a Photo: 1995 World Championship road race”

  1. What do I see…boy where do I start?

    The purple anodized titanium Cinelli stem, for one. How does Pantani pull off breaking Rules with such style? (Not officially a Rule yet, but with the exception of a few select components, no anodized parts on Road Bikes.)

    Rincon and those crazy Sidis that were destined to be a massive failure due to the massive plastic chunk of crap on the tops of them.

    Looks like the guts might be stripped out of Pantani’s left Ergo for weight reduction. Always a classy Grimpeur move; today’s light bikes have robbed us of those kinds of “customizations”.

    That stunning Mavic hub on Rincon’s front wheel…those bearings were SO smooove.


    Another favorite of a bygone age was the regular team bibs with the national team jerseys…it gave such a hodgepodge of awesomeness.


  2. @frank
    you missed the fucking Spinaccis. But worse than merely having Spinacci’s on the bike, look at the fucking position. Was he using them for reading books while on the turbo and forgot to take them off due to a passing snow-storm?

    Pantani, no respect.

    It would also appear that Rincon is using a water bottle from 1983

  3. @Jarvis “using them for reading books” — Man, I’m in tears over that one….Hell, I think Pantani gets away with everything really…he’s one of the few who know how to transcend The Rules. Once you have mastered The Rules and have become one with them…they no longer apply, kind of like Neo in The Matrix…

  4. I’m loving Rincon’s headwear…. those were the days when you strapped a sumo wrestler’s nappy to your head and you ticked the safety box. Kind of like wearing a stetson in rodeo riding… looks cool, looks cool, looks cool… ooooh, messy.

    I’m with Frank – Assos doing an Italian jersey?… where the hell was Kappa?

  5. The young chap clapping in the background is actually an adolescent Juan Barrero. Unfortunately, Juan’s racing career and sadly, his life, were cut short in 2004’s edition of the Tour of Columbia.

  6. The more you look, the more you see. Man, Rincon was rocking it. The LOOK frame, I had one of those (or at least a derivative of it) in ’98. Man, I’d happily get one of those again.

    I see he was also running only one STI unit. Now, I appreciate why they did it, but that is a flagrant breach of The Rules as it totally unbalances the bike.

    @frank Sidi Techno’s.

    A yellow Avocet computer anyone? What happened to them? Why did people think a dull black box was more awesome than a small round day-glo computer that you could colour-co-ordinate with your bike & kit.

  7. @Jarvis
    Didn’t miss the Spinaccis – didn’t want to take it from you, knowing you’d be keen on those!

    Color-coordinated Avocets! My first computer, I. FUCKING.LOVED.IT. And, the yellow version was called the “LEMON(d)” because our boy Greg rocked one.

    The one-STI, my god. What an uncomfortable way to roll. At least with the gutted Ergo, the lever was the same; the STI, sheeeeiit – there was no getting those two levers positioned right.

    Reading book prop left on due to a snowstorm. Classic stuff.


    I’m loving Rincon’s headwear…. those were the days when you strapped a sumo wrestler’s nappy to your head and you ticked the safety box. Kind of like wearing a stetson in rodeo riding… looks cool, looks cool, looks cool… ooooh, messy.

    My god. That is just too perfect.

    I really wish Indurain and Rincon had merged headwear, nothing cooler than the wrestler’s nappy over the cycling cap. The best look, EVER.

    The sheer volume of neon colors going on in the picture is invigorating.

    Those old Looks were the best. Low bottom bracket, alu lugs…Ah me!

  8. @Jarvis
    I’d forgotten he’d done that. There, in a simple image, is a great example of why you might want to consider tubs for your racing wheels.

  9. Oops, I said Olano won the TT, of course it was Mig from Abe, reversed in the RR. I love how Mig celebrates taking the sprint for 2nd more enthusiastically than Abe did the win!

    I don’t think anyone could wear a cap as stylishly as Mig; the tilt, the puff on top of the head, the peak just barely allowing him to see out from under it (through neon yellow eyewear no less… Rudys?)

    Is there also a Castelli logo on the right side of Pirata’s jersey?

  10. @Jarvis
    you can never say Pantani was a COTHO – yes a hopeless blow addict and EPO ridden scoundrel. But such panache! Wash your mouth out Jarvis and apologise in prayer to il Pirata.

    Brett – great photo and article. Can I confess a sad story about this year’s World Champs? Was very fired up for them as soon as it was announced that they were going to be held here in Melbourne/Geelong. Was even more fired up when I realised that my brother-in-law’s parents place sits about 30 metres off the circuit. Oh what fun this will be, I thought – watch them come by each lap and then retreat to the TV to keep track of things. Then I did something phenomonally stupid.

    Without thinking I booked our family holiday to the same place (Queensland) on the same dates as last year – because the kids loved it. My wife approved of the idea and I booked. Then the devious missus (yes the one who inspired “Honey, can I go riding”) casually asked, “isn’t there some bike race you want to watch on during early October.”




    I have booked myself to be away whilst the World Champs are on. Can’t change the holiday now – divorce would happen for sure.

    So far I have been publicly ridiculed at a World Champs promotional lunch – where the very very courteous and polite Stephen Hodge (super-domestique to JaJa) told the crowd I was a pathetic loser and only had myself to blame.

    I could only agree. So some other velominatus will have to give a firsthand report of the action.

  11. @Marcus
    Oh, Mate, that’s a shocker. I feel for you. (However, seeing as your brother-in-law’s parent’s place won’t be needing to accommodate you and your family, do you reckon they’d mind a few Velominati turning up instead … ?)

  12. That’s a great picture and just oozes ’90s era. An era that pushes all my bike culture buttons.

    Man, I’d dig a pair of Brikos like that. Cool as hell.

  13. Wow, what a photo. Pantani riding for the Azzura, he should have been the captain if the Italians were better organized. He looks like Olano has gone up the road and he can’t catch him, he looks frustrated. The spinaci bars, so he could climb in a more aero position? Maybe this was before he adopted climbing in the drops? Regardless, someone should have set his bike up for him. That is a real Wally look. The Azzura in Assos jerseys, god only knows. I’d kill for one.

    Indurain marking Pantani, unable to chase Olano, his countryman. I remember the buzz for this race, perhaps the only World Championships in South America? The climbing, the altitude, the Colombians; the Europeans were well out of their element. Indurain was the Fabooo of the day, winning the TT and should have won the road championship that year.

    Rincon? Who was he? Was he the Colombian team leader with the #1 on his bike? I have no file on him but he looks good, stylin’, staying with Pantani and Miguel.

    To the Video
    Olano was a surprise winner obviously but sweet jesus has anyone ridden that fast on a flat tire? He kept one hand on the bars as he went over the finish line, no doubt. He must have borrowed some rocket fuel from some of his Mapei teammates, whoa, what a powerhouse.

    You poor bastard…

    Lastly, I liked this bit in the race results:
    “Friday, Miguel Indurain didn’t like the look of the pasta the chef had
    prepared. “You know what I really fancy?” he said. “A ham sandwich and a
    beer.” Indurain munched a couple of sandwiches and sank two beers. To those
    who were astonished by this, so near race day, there was a learned response
    from J Sabino Padilla, the Banesto team doctor. “Beer?” he said. “Why, it’s
    the only drink that contains vitamin B6 and B12, and what’s more, it aids
    the elimination of toxins.”

    Maybe Velominati Brother Josh, two bidons of New Castle, thank you very much, is on to something…

  14. BTW, nice post, Brett. Am amazed that you guys spotted so much in this photo so effortlessly. I was (momentarily) proud of myself simply for recognising Big Mig. I have much to learn …

  15. @brett
    I think you;ll find that Mig’s glasses are Bolle, not Rudy. It was later he switched to Rudy.

    It wasn’t those character traits I had problems with in those days. It was the massive size of his ego and the whole “Il Pirata” branding thing. No class.

  16. @Jarvis

    I think you;ll find that Mig’s glasses are Bolle, not Rudy. It was later he switched to Rudy.

    Indeed, I think you’re right. What happened to Bolle?

    Pantani was NOT a COTHO. He was a fucking stud. The Ego, the branding…wouldn’t you brand for something else if your current nickname was “Elephantino”?

    Ego, yes, but so frail. His career is dotted with great highs and great lows. I love it. I love him eternally.

    @Dan O
    The Briko Zens. Those were the shit. One iteration cooler than the Shots, and much cooler than the model after that…though I can’t recall the name…

  17. Briko Stinger
    I quite liked them, although agree the Zens look great. They were impossible to get in the UK

    Bolle are still around although I think mainly into skiing, although their website lists mountain biking glasses. Actually. just realised I have a pair of Bolle that I found on a trail in the bottom of my toolbox.

    We’ll call it the Pantani Conflict

  18. Wow, great photo and what a great age for cycling.

    I am with Frank and Marcus on this. Agree with his off the bike life or not, doping or not, he didn’t care one way or the other. He was the quintessential Italian, unapologetic, full of piss and vinegar and he was directly taken from his grave to Gaul’s right-hand side in heaven, because Pantani was our living and breathing Gaul in the flesh. I for one loved him.

    In terms of Big Mig, he was a freaking diesel. I see him as I have seen him so many times, hands on the top of the bars, in a slow cadence yet in tempo that few could hold…..and he was hardly breathing, and in the pic he looks to me to be looking up the road like he owns it.

    The style, all classic. I love the cycling cap, and still wear mine in the fall but the wife and friends badger me about it…but it is utterly cycling and Big Mig always wore it w/style. The Bolle glass, timeless. Big phat Look pedals, new STi campy record aluminum 8spd grouppo’s, wow! It changed cycling forever.

    There are so many things in that photo that i ended up buying….man…great photo!!

  19. @Souleur
    How can I add to that? You nailed it…Spot on for Marco. @Jarvis: THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT.

    I missed Big Mig’s look…it is a killer look…and that cap, indeed, worn to perfection. I wish my head was less spherical in appearance and I could get some good poofiness when I wear a cycling cap. Mine looks more like a swimmer’s cap than a cycling cap.

    Blue shorts were an innovation in 1995. That selfsame year, I bought a pair.

  20. @frank

    Blue shorts were an innovation in 1995. That selfsame year, I bought a pair.

    Hehehee, me too, with the Banesto logo. They were the largest size available and they were still 5 sizes too small, damn those Italians and their euro sizing. I never wore them. Damn.

  21. @Jarvis
    Briko Stingers are very cool but I also loved the Zens. Just bought three pairs off a famous auction site….. yippee!!

  22. @ Frank – Pantani’s Ergolevers are intact – you can clearly see the thumb lever and the gear cable. Also, the hideous Carrera faux-denim shorts were around for years before this – he was wearing them when he won his final Tour stage at La Bourboule in ’92.

    @ Brett – That’s not the Castelli logo, it’s the Carrera one.

    @ John – the Worlds were actually first held in South America in 1977 in Venezuela, when Francesco Moser took his title.

    Signed thread-dredging nit-picker Oli

  23. Sorry, by “he” was wearing the shorts I meant not Pantani but Stephen Roche. That’ll teach me for being pedantic before my first coffee of the day…

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