Domestique of the Week: Jose-Luis Arrieta

Yesterday, Cyclops posted a link to a story about the abandonment from the Vuelta and subsequent retirement from cycling of Jose-Luis Arrieta. Nice work Cyclops. This man deserves a special mention. He’s pictured on the far right above and just a glance at his kit indicates the length of this man’s years as pro.

Unless you’re an ardent cycling fan who’s been following the pro peloton for many years you may not be all that familiar with Jose. More than likely his is just one of the 180 or so names that you see on a start list that aren’t among the 10 or 15 riders you’re watching. Arrieta didn’t necessarily fit into the “also ran” category as much as the “ran in service for” category. I think there’s a good bit of integrity that comes with that. With only two professional victories to his name you may also think his career was not all that special. Well, consider the following: Of the 23 Grand Tours he started, this year’s Vuelta was only the second he didn’t finish. He was tossed out of the ’98 Veulta for a bit of fisticuffs exchanged with Roberto Sierra(correction, it was Ramon Gonzalez Arrieta who was thrown out, not Jose-gracias @Luis). By my count, that’s 21 Grand Tours he’s completed since turning pro in 1993 with the Banesto squad.

He is much chronicled on the interwebs for his support of Big Mig’s failed bid for a sixth win in Paris in 1996. Upon his abandonment the other day at the base of the same climb where Indurain curtailed his career as a bicycle racer, Arrieta said this: “Sad to have to quit in such a way. You find yourself all alone, just as Indurain did then, and you think back over all the things that you have experienced in cycling.” That statement is fraught with dichotomy. I imagine the life of a domestique can, at times, feel quite lonely for having done so much of the work in service to those who reap all the fame and glory. But on the other hand, think of all the tremendous experiences Arrieta must have had riding his bicycle all over the world with so many of the great riders of our time.

The Velominati tip our cycling caps to you, Sir. Chapeau for a long career, your dedication and loyalty, and may you continue to have many wonderful experiences on your bicycle.

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15 Replies to “Domestique of the Week: Jose-Luis Arrieta”

  1. Chapeau indeed! Due to my wife’s work schedule this week, I’ll miss a group ride with Michael Barry tomorrow, who’s in town for a book-signing. I do, however, have a copy of Le Métier waiting for me that he’ll sign and I’m looking forward to sitting down with that. As you say, there’s some real honor associated with “ran in the service of.” We talk about super-domestiques, but the career domestiques deserve more attention and recognition. They’re the ones in the trenches.

  2. Nice one Marko.

    Arrietta was one of those names that you would always hear Liggett mention in the Tour, usually with the words “faithful lieutenant” preceding it. He’d always have a crack at getting in a break, or a solo for a stage win. Too bad he never pulled one off.

    Adieu Jose.

  3. This is a totally rad article, dude. Thanks. These days, it seems like some of the higher-profile dom’s are getting some good publicity (Barry, Voigt, etc) but it hasn’t always been like that and I for one wish we could get more of these guys on the radar. They have a really hard job, pulling on the front for hours and hours – sure, less pressure, but it’s a fucknut of a hard job.

    Tip o’ the cycling cap, indeed.

  4. I concur with all of the above sentiments. Being Irish a recent example of such sacrifice to stand out in my mind was Phillip Deignan’s efforts closing down a break during stage 8 of the Vuelta. Deignan has had a most torrid year between injury and a persistent virus and went into the Vuelta with no form whatsoever yet in the space of 20 hilly kms he singlehandedly whittled about 3 or 4 mins of the breakaways lead. He was then duly shat out the back of the bunch before the final climb having blown himself to bits for Sastre. He was forced to withdraw from the race two days later due to a virus. The beauty of his sacrifice is what our sport is all about and thankfully such feats do seem to be more widely acknowledged than perhaps in the past.

  5. Chapeau Jose. Its been a good run.

    Many of our hardmen are long in the tooth. Jens, Big George and all. Luckily there are some great up and comers, albeit, I was hoping to see a better run out of them this year, speaking of the likes of Edvald Boasson Hagen. Cancellara still has balls of steel and can do it all on a given day. Nonetheless, Jose Luis Arrieta is a great one, good eye Cyclops and Marko! Thanks for that!

  6. Nice one Marko, that photo deserves mention. The Olympics used to run the four man team time trial as an Olympic event; judging the kits, bikes, numbers I’d say this was taken right before the start. It was a great Olympic-worthy event, like tandem track sprints, I’m serious here, I think the time was counted on the third rider so you could only afford to lose one(I’m too lazy to check that right now) and it may have been 100k(again, lazy). A hardman’s event, hard to even be selected for, so it’s another feather in Arrieta’s cap.

  7. Was never a big fan of his but:

    Despite riding a mountain bike, flat pedals and hiking boots, Grewal finished the 90-mile gran fondo-style high-altitude event on dirt and paved roads in the leading group, crossing the line in fourth place out of a field of some 125 starters.

  8. I was just watching the 1985 version of the Coors Classic with some sound bites
    of Grewel, young scrawny version then vs. old scrawny version now

  9. He who was expelled from “vuelta España” the year 98 was Ramon Gonzalez Arrieta.Corret it, please

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