Anatomy Of A Photo: Professeur Pavé

Visionary.

Despite being a bald, visually challenged Velominatus, I envy only one other man from the peloton past. The only man who could pull off the historically near-impossible chrome-dome/ponytail combination, and couple it with a pair of wire-rimmed reading glasses yet still manage to exude a lethal concoction of Gallic style, hardness and pure V that could defeat opponents with its very presence.

Even the cobbles here in the 89 Paris-Roubaix are being blown dry by the force of The Professor’s big ring whirlpool, floating millimeters above the surface and forcing the rider he’s just passed into a muddy pit of broken stones while he continues his assault down the middle, on the crown.

Though he rode for teams with some of the most unflattering kits ever, The Professor always managed to look immaculate. This is just another example. He was a template for The Rules long before any notion of them was ever dreamed of. Except of course Rule #36, which he naturally transcends and earns him an automatic pass on account of his sheer badassness.

I’m tempted to dig out my very first pair of prescription specs, similar to these and which I would’ve acquired around that time, and rock them in honour of Le Prof on our Roubaix ride on Keepers Tour 13 next April. The ponytail, well I’d be wise to not attempt that one…

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81 Replies to “Anatomy Of A Photo: Professeur Pavé”

  1. brett hope you can find one of those old sausage helmets to complete the look. beautifully colour coordinated of course

  2. Of course Merckx was known as the Cannibal, but The Professor looks like he’s about to eat whomever is in front of him (assuming there is even anyone left)

  3. Nice one. Such an awesome pic. I wonder which secteur that is? That’s what I always think now when I see these pics and the secteur isn’t obvious (like the Trench or Carre Four). And I’m glad you can at least appreciate someone riding the crown vicariously.

  4. Pure class!  Just awesome.  He was the one I always imagined (still imagine some days) was/is chasing me down when on a solo training ride and doing long intervals.

    I tried to find and buy a Belgian hairnet when in France in June and could not find one anywhere!  Must be a place on the web but I wanted to hold onto one and try it on.  Still want to get one.

  5. The Professeur was the badass of Pave’, despite his druthers, and his statements that he hated these conditions and didn’t really do well in them, it seems it may have almost been a reverse-psychology tact that he employed because he was one killer PRO in spring.
    He was definitely ahead of his time

  6. So, despite this huge groundswell of support for LeMan post Lance, which has affected me tremendously, I still can’t help but sympathize with Fignon over the 89 Tour. The man was just the perfect combination of arrogant, cool, and tear-your-fucking-legs-off-and-leave-you-for-dead cyclist. I just like him more than LeMond.

    Plus, I was kind of nerdy growing up, hell, I still am, and Fignon LOOKS like one of my people, but he would have left any of the athletes I grew up with in the ditch crying for mother. He’s awesome. One of my all time favorites.

  7. @Souleur

    because he was one killer PRO in spring.

    and Summer – still the last rider to win both a Monument and a Grand Tour in the same year from what I recall

    @MrLowell

    I love the quote he gave to whomever it was that said to him ‘You’re the guy who lost the Tour by 8 seconds’ – He replied, ‘No, I’m the guy who won the Tour twice’

  8. Even the cobbles here in the 89 Paris-Roubaix are being blown dry by the force of The Professor’s big ring whirlpool, floating millimeters above the surface and forcing the rider he’s just passed into a muddy pit of broken stones while he continues his assault down the middle, on the crown.

    Brilliant! … absolutely captures the moment. Huge respect for Fignon and his hardman style of racing.

  9. @MrLowell

    In retrospect it’s hard to believe I rooted for LeMond over Fignon (not to take anything away from LeMond, either). On the off cance you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of We Were Young and Carefree.

  10. I love the way the bike is captured in this photo… filthy yet somehow immaculate… the back wheel skimming over the stones, slightly askew yet still pounding ahead… Poetry in motion right there!

  11. Feeling possessed  by this Fignon photo — wanting to replicate a Raleigh build! Is that Raleigh Reynolds 531 Competition?

  12. LeMond put his bike into a huge 55 x 12 gear. His effort was the fastest individual time trial for a distance longer than 10 km ever ridden.

  13. @unversio

    Even his chain slap carries a huge (fuck off) amount of energy!

    Yeah, I love looking at photos and checking the sag in the chain. This one, because the Professor is flying over 5 or 6 cobbles at a time, for they are ducking down in order to not sustain damage from the hurt his tubs are dishing out. Secondly, his derailleur cannot pick up the slack fast enough from Sur La Plaque since a design for one-man power is unable to function correctly under the power of V (5) men…

  14. Nice one, brett! As a fellow four-eyer, I don’t know how he rode and raced in specs. I don’t mind wearing glasses but on the bike I put in contact lenses and go with shades. As for the pony tail – never had one, but I did grow a rat tail my first year in college on a dare from a teammate. It looked positively horrible, but was pretty good damn fun. Really amusing when hecklers supporting opposing teams thought I was growing it because it looked cool…

    But c’mon. The Castrorama kit was awesome! I’m going to put on my hogwashers when I get home tonight, just for fun.

  15. @marko

    Nice one. Such an awesome pic. I wonder which secteur that is? That’s what I always think now when I see these pics and the secteur isn’t obvious (like the Trench or Carre Four). And I’m glad you can at least appreciate someone riding the crown vicariously.

    A HIT!!! A PALPABLE HIT!

  16. @Souleur

    The Professeur was the badass of Pave’, despite his druthers, and his statements that he hated these conditions and didn’t really do well in them, it seems it may have almost been a reverse-psychology tact that he employed because he was one killer PRO in spring.
    He was definitely ahead of his time

    Riders were still well-rounded back in those days. I think specialization hasn’t done much for us over the years, to be honest. Just more doping, more focus, less Awesomeness and Versatility.

    Awesome has three V’s in it (an A is just an upside down V), and Versatility starts with one. Thats why those words rule so hard.

    Our very first Anatomy of a Photo was on Figgles doing this same thing: http://www.velominati.com/racing/anatomy-of-a-photo-1990-paris-roubaix/

    Funny. That AoP got 10 posts back in 2010.

  17. @MrLowell

    LeMond had a raw power about him, but I agree with you – I always preferred Figgles for his Magnificent Stroke. Impossible to find a bad picture of him.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2012.10.24.21.31.03/”/]

    I loved his 83/84 attitude. If you read his autobiography, those were his golden years – he was just so strong. He spent the rest of his career trying to rediscover that form. ’89 was the year he did it again.

  18. @frank

    @marko

    Nice one. Such an awesome pic. I wonder which secteur that is? That’s what I always think now when I see these pics and the secteur isn’t obvious (like the Trench or Carre Four). And I’m glad you can at least appreciate someone riding the crown vicariously.

    A HIT!!! A PALPABLE HIT!

    I debated for hours whether to use the Fignon pic or this one… I could see that coming a mile off.

  19. @Nate

    @MrLowell

    In retrospect it’s hard to believe I rooted for LeMond over Fignon (not to take anything away from LeMond, either). On the off cance you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of We Were Young and Carefree.

    These cobble shots are great, because in his book he talks about riding the stones in his first Tour. He rode them fine, but gripped his bars like every other first-timer does and destroyed his hands. Fantastic book.

  20. @unversio You might be on the wrong thread, matey.

    @Leroy

    @unversio

    1989 Tour de France Final Time Trial

    It always amazes me just how non-aero riders were before LeMond…

    Whats funny is how history is written. Figgles was all over the aero bars before the ’89 Tour but the UCI said he couldn’t ride them. Then 7-Eleven rocked them Stateside for a bit. LeMond had Scott bend out a set for the Tour and he was allowed to ride and credited with the aero revolution. Funny how that works.

  21. @frank

    @Nate

    @MrLowell

    In retrospect it’s hard to believe I rooted for LeMond over Fignon (not to take anything away from LeMond, either). On the off cance you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of We Were Young and Carefree.

    These cobble shots are great, because in his book he talks about riding the stones in his first Tour. He rode them fine, but gripped his bars like every other first-timer does and destroyed his hands. Fantastic book.

    On the well-rounded (no pun intended) point I really liked the story of how Fignon decided he had a shot at Milan Sanremo, trained up for it, and went out and won a race no one seemed to think suited him.  Then did it again the next year even though everyone now knew he could.

  22. @Beers

    @unversio

    Even his chain slap carries a huge (fuck off) amount of energy!

    Yeah, I love looking at photos and checking the sag in the chain. This one, because the Professor is flying over 5 or 6 cobbles at a time, for they are ducking down in order to not sustain damage from the hurt his tubs are dishing out. Secondly, his derailleur cannot pick up the slack fast enough from Sur La Plaque since a design for one-man power is unable to function correctly under the power of V (5) men…

    There’s a great shot of Boonen cornering in Roubaix this year in the little ring. It brings together something I’ve wondered about for ages – why do all the Roubaix guys use such a monster small ring (46T or bigger sometimes). The question is, there are no climbs that would ever justify any small ring at all, so why bother with it at all?

    My theory is that there is so much chain slap going on that you can’t keep your chain on either ring if you tried – I had my chain drop down several times for no reason at all – its whipping around so much it just will drop from time to time. When you have 46 or 48, the drop doesn’t matter so much and you can just drop a few cogs in the back and go on your merry way. with the 39, it was so bad you had to either stop because you thought you’d dropped your chain completely, or spend time trying to rattle you chain back onto the big ring while riding a jackhammer.

  23. @frank You could be onto something. Remember the 2003 TdF prologue? Cofidis mechanics thought it would be a good idea to set Millar off with just a 53 (or 54) chainring? Dropped the chain on those pissy parisian roads (hardly cobbles) cost him a yellow jersey (McGee won – woohoo!).

    But without this pivotal experience, who knows, maybe the Millarcopter would never have been invented.

  24. @frank

    @Beers

    @unversio

    Even his chain slap carries a huge (fuck off) amount of energy!

    Yeah, I love looking at photos and checking the sag in the chain. This one, because the Professor is flying over 5 or 6 cobbles at a time, for they are ducking down in order to not sustain damage from the hurt his tubs are dishing out. Secondly, his derailleur cannot pick up the slack fast enough from Sur La Plaque since a design for one-man power is unable to function correctly under the power of V (5) men…

    There’s a great shot of Boonen cornering in Roubaix this year in the little ring. It brings together something I’ve wondered about for ages – why do all the Roubaix guys use such a monster small ring (46T or bigger sometimes). The question is, there are no climbs that would ever justify any small ring at all, so why bother with it at all?

    My theory is that there is so much chain slap going on that you can’t keep your chain on the either ring if you tried – I had my chain drop down several times for no reason at all – its whipping around so much it just will drop from time to time. When you have 46 or 48, the drop doesn’t matter so much and you can just drop a few cogs in the back and go on your merry way. with the 39, it was so bad you had to either stop because you thought you’d dropped your chain completely, or spend time trying to rattle you chain back onto the big ring while riding a jackhammer.

    I think what you are saying is (1) less likely to drop the chain; (2) better than a single ring because you might be able to get it back on without stopping and (3) a pro doesn’t need 39t on that course.  That’s my understanding, for whatever it’s worth — less than yours, I haven’t ridden the fucking things.

  25. @Nate

    I loved that book. I bought it as reading material for the plane trip to Europe for a vacation with the wife. She ended up being a little miffed because I didn’t stop reading when we got off the plane, largely ignored her and wound up finishing it in 3 sittings.

  26. @frank

    @unversio You might be on the wrong thread, matey.

    @Leroy

    @unversio

    1989 Tour de France Final Time Trial

    It always amazes me just how non-aero riders were before LeMond…

    Whats funny is how history is written. Figgles was all over the aero bars before the ’89 Tour but the UCI said he couldn’t ride them. Then 7-Eleven rocked them Stateside for a bit. LeMond had Scott bend out a set for the Tour and he was allowed to ride and credited with the aero revolution. Funny how that works.

    Not only that, but didn’t multiple riders from other teams ride aero bars for the first ITT at the ’89 tdf?

  27. @Oli

    It is bordering on the perfect looking bike. Finally in the clipless era but pre-ergo shifitng. When brake cables were first run under the bar tape. It’s mean and clean.

  28. @frank

    @unversio You might be on the wrong thread, matey.

    Sounds like you are threatening this from a dark alley. “I don’t want any trouble mister…”

  29. @unversio

    Exactly, the white hoods on Campagnolo levers. I bought a pair of those exact levers from a friend who must have been upgrading to first generation ergo. They were beautiful.

  30. @brett

    @frank

    @marko

    Nice one. Such an awesome pic. I wonder which secteur that is? That’s what I always think now when I see these pics and the secteur isn’t obvious (like the Trench or Carre Four). And I’m glad you can at least appreciate someone riding the crown vicariously.

    A HIT!!! A PALPABLE HIT!

    I debated for hours whether to use the Fignon pic or this one… I could see that coming a mile off.

    You mean 1.609 km. Rule #24

  31. @Gianni

    @unversio

    Exactly, the white hoods on Campagnolo levers. I bought a pair of those exact levers from a friend who must have been upgrading to first generation ergo. They were beautiful.

    I want to say 8-speed as well. I built up a Pinarello in 91 with what I refer to as 8-speed Athena/Chorus. Campagnolo was good about upgrading their gruppos anytime the component design shifted forward.

  32. Great shot of the Professor Brett. It shows the floating over the pave effect and that bike is bloody bewdiful.

    @Nate

    On the well-rounded (no pun intended) point I really liked the story of how Fignon decided he had a shot at Milan Sanremo, trained up for it, and went out and won a race no one seemed to think suited him. Then did it again the next year even though everyone now knew he could.

    Yes, a few days before didn’t he ride something like a gazillion k’s with virtually zero food, putting his body into complete depletion/exhaustiion, forcing it to overcompensate in recovery allowing him to have a surplus of energy (something like that)? Did the same the following year as well I believe. Does anyone train like that nowadays? Doubt it.

     

  33. @Marko

    +1

    @unversio

    @Gianni

    @unversio

    Exactly, the white hoods on Campagnolo levers. I bought a pair of those exact levers from a friend who must have been upgrading to first generation ergo. They were beautiful.

    I want to say 8-speed as well. I built up a Pinarello in 91 with what I refer to as 8-speed Athena/Chorus. Campagnolo was good about upgrading their gruppos anytime the component design shifted forward.

    That little hunnie I showed up top is rollin’ Record 10spd with downtube shifters. Friction shifters don’ t give a shit!

    @G’rilla

    +1 as well. How many is that now?

    @il ciclista medio

    @Nate

    On the well-rounded (no pun intended) point I really liked the story of how Fignon decided he had a shot at Milan Sanremo, trained up for it, and went out and won a race no one seemed to think suited him. Then did it again the next year even though everyone now knew he could.

    Yes, a few days before didn’t he ride something like a gazillion k’s with virtually zero food, putting his body into complete depletion/exhaustiion, forcing it to overcompensate in recovery allowing him to have a surplus of energy (something like that)? Did the same the following year as well I believe. Does anyone train like that nowadays? Doubt it.

    Rule #91, Bitches.

  34. Since you’re bringing the subject of “The Professor”, I was really surprised to read in his biography (Nous etions jeunes et insouciants – We were young and carefree) the following (loosely translated):

    “Contrairement a la plupart des autres géants de la route, on ne m’a jamais affuble d’un surnom. Du début a la fin, qu’on m’ait aime ou non, qu’on ait été impressionné par mes exploits ou non, qu’on ait vu ou refuse de voir en moi un champion d’exception, je suis reste Laurent Fignon. Rien que Laurent Fignon. Moi et rien d’autre en somme.”

    “Unlike most of the other giants of the road, I never dons a nickname. From start to finish, whether I was liked or not, whether one has been impressed by my deeds or not, whether one has seen or refused to see me as a champion of exception, I was still Laurent Fignon. Just Laurent Fignon. Me and nothing else really.”

    Anyone else noticed that? Did the Professor nickname stick later on or was he just not aware of it?

  35. @frank

    @unversio You might be on the wrong thread, matey.

    @Leroy

    @unversio

    1989 Tour de France Final Time Trial

    It always amazes me just how non-aero riders were before LeMond…

    Whats funny is how history is written. Figgles was all over the aero bars before the ’89 Tour but the UCI said he couldn’t ride them. Then 7-Eleven rocked them Stateside for a bit. LeMond had Scott bend out a set for the Tour and he was allowed to ride and credited with the aero revolution. Funny how that works.

    Correction: It was Boone Lennon, the ’84-’86 US Ski Team coach that developed them. The prototype was bent out of a ski pole.

    My roommates in college were coached by him when they were on the JO team in Bozeman MT. I knew about those bars before they were ‘vogue’, and before I raced bikes. Good stuff.

  36. Yo Frank – what tires are those on the Bianchi? And since color is key with the B’s…what is the factory name for that color? And, does your name for it differ!

    I was about to say that much like Professeur Pave there might not be a bad photo of Boonen. And then I see him in a towel. Jeez.

    I already put this up somewhere here, but that photo needs some counterweight. I dig this:

  37. @frank

    Yes, a few days before didn’t he ride something like a gazillion k’s with virtually zero food, putting his body into complete depletion/exhaustiion, forcing it to overcompensate in recovery allowing him to have a surplus of energy (something like that)? Did the same the following year as well I believe. Does anyone train like that nowadays? Doubt it.

    Rule #91, Bitches.

    I hear that Rule #91 gives you prostate cancer.  You might want to watch out Frank, you might get sued for that.

  38. @scaler911

    Boone developed them, but by the time LeMan was on ’em he was rollin’ some pretty well defined Scotts. The 4th stage ITT had apparently had some prototypes, but by the final stage, he had some production or near-production bars. You can see the difference in the arm rests between the two photos.

    Also, didnt’ mean to imply LeMond invented them, just that he is credited with igniting the revolution…

    Damn, I love that crankset.

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