Study of a Hardman: Johan Museeuw

Photo: Graham Watson

For my generation, he is the Lion of Flanders. Unequivocally. Unchallenged. Evermore, evermore. Boonen is a monster; but he is only the apprentice. In Flemish, his name rhymes with “Lion”: he is Museeuw de Leeuw van Vlaanderen. He is the quintessential Hardman.

Here, in the first edition of the Velominati Study of a Hardman, is Johna Museeuw climbing the 20% ramps of the cobbled Kapelmuur  in the Ronde van Vlaanderen:


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14 Replies to “Study of a Hardman: Johan Museeuw”

  1. God Damn that climb goes on and on and on. That would take the snap out of your pedal stroke. Truly a Hardman in every sense of the word. Too bad he put that huge question mark on his palmares with his doping.

    Still, Colnago was the first company to start using straight front forks blades and for some reason that look got me bad and I’m not changing, ever. Wavy, curvy, no thanks, straight taper, it’s got to be.

  2. Oh, and what’s with the Het Newswald (sic) banner? Is that just an advertisement for the paper or is the video mislabeled?

  3. @john
    The question mark is too bad, but I see it in the light of the times and don’t think he was doing anything different from anyone else. And to watch this video and see him apply Rule #5 the way he does just awesome.

    That straight blade is the coolest thing ever. Alpha Q and 3T both do it now too; I won’t buy a fork that’s not straight. You look 14% more like a Hardman rollin’ around with a fork like that.

  4. @Marko
    Wow, you catch a lot of details. I think it’s just an advertisement; back then Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was called Omloop Het Volk. But I suppose the video could be mislabeled, although I seem to remember this footage from his Flanders win. This could require some additional searching to validate exactly what year it is.

  5. Museeuw was right up there in the heroic pantheon of riders. And then he confessed. But it wasn’t the fact that he doped that was the disappointment, but like all the others, he’d only done it once at the end of his career etc…when we all knew he was fucking lying. It was quite a sad end to such a hard-man.

    @marko Museeuw did have his knees blow out, but that was Arenberg, not the Big Ring.

  6. Museew …. the drug issue aside, in my book he is a living legend. Theres no hiding in one day classics, usually the hardest rider wins, and he was nails. You gotta take your hat off to guys like Museew who take the racing to their peers and rip their legs off as they ride into the wind/cobblestones/bergs/rain etc. With regards to drugs, you cant make a donkey into a racehorse; You either got the ‘V’ or you havent !

    Frank, i think you need a ‘V’ ranking system! maybe marks out of 10? or a rider percentage of ‘V’? Museew is up their with Jens at 100% V factor! lol :-)

  7. @Dave Harding
    Museeuw’s so V he’s a W! (Got an up-close look at a few Museeuw bikes this summer while visiting Boston; beautiful machines…)

  8. @Jarvis
    This also really bothered me about him, just like Zabel, coming out at the end and claiming it was just for the “last year.” Come on. Either man up or keep denying. All they do when they say that is lose respect from both camps in my opinion. But, he was a Hardman, no denying (but I’d take Kelly over him anyday!)

  9. What about Johan’s hair? Followers of cycling from the late 80’s might remember his receeding hair line during the 1990 season. Then the following year he had a full head of hair again. Never mind doping in cycling, what about hair transplants?
    Seriously though Musseeuw was one hard mother! He raced for the ADR team in 1989 and was a teammate of Greg LeMond.
    I sent a letter to the Lotto team in 90 or 91 asking them for team photos, they sent back a pack of cards showing the entire team & a printed booklet of the team’s palmares. The section for Johan showing every result from the previous season took up almost as many or perhaps more pages than the rest of the entire team combined apart from Hendrik Redant. Johan started in Feb winning & placing in sprints, winning hot spot sprints & was still producing results in October. I had the pleasure of seeing him race in Ireland & the UK in the Kelloggs Tours over several years. He always seemed to be in the mix for stage sprints everyday, could get over the climbs with the lead riders & when he went to MG-GB team in 92 continued his win tally.
    Regardless of the mentions of doping Johan was a natural & classy rider a hard as nails & a real Spring Classics star on the cobbled races.

  10. True sadness about the doping near end of career, but most I know agree it will never shadow his overall career and indeed his friendly personality which is often rare even at the amateur level let alone the pro peloton. A class act.

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