Look Pro: Éclatant de Panache

Pantani always moved <a href=
Sur La Plaque. Photo via BikeRaceInfo.com" src="http://www.velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1998-17-Pantani-Guerini-620x449.jpg" width="620" height="449" srcset="https://www.velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1998-17-Pantani-Guerini-620x449.jpg 620w, https://www.velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1998-17-Pantani-Guerini.jpg 635w" sizes="(max-width: 620px) 100vw, 620px" /> Pantani always moved Sur La Plaque. Photo via BikeRaceInfo.com

The Prophet was very clear on how best to ride an individual Time Trial; start as fast as possible and finish as fast as possible. As for the middle, his advice was to ride that as fast as possible.

The same can be said of climbing; as we covered in Part I and Part II of the Sur La Plaque series, the key to climbing well is to hit the bottom as hard as possible, and then move into the big ring as you go over the top in order to finish the climb as fast as possible. As for the middle section; well, hit that as hard as possible and focus on keeping your momentum going.

The trouble is with this pesky notion we have of “gauging our efforts”. Certainly, the perfectly measured climb would result in riding the whole of it à bloc before moving Sur La Plaque over the top, blast down the other side and – just as you hit escape velocity – explode spectacularly, using your perfectly honed LeMond Tuck to recover in time to crush it in the valley to the next climb where you repeat the process. Panache.

Panache is a dualistic thing; almost without exception do we admire it in others, and almost without exception are we too cowardly to hold it inside ourselves. Panache doesn’t speak of caution, or of measured action. It speaks of impulse – compulsion, even – to attack despite one’s better judgement. It speaks of throwing caution to the wind. It weighs heavy with the risk of exploding magnificently and trading angel’s wings for the devil’s anchor.

But those who venture freely into that realm have blown up so many times that it hardly features in their reasoning. Pain and climbing are inseparable;  what difference does it make if you blow up and suffer a bit more for a bit longer? And, should we blow up often enough, we will learn how to suffer through and push to the top with grace. And perhaps by that same grace, will we recover enough to try again on the next climb.

Vive la chance. Vive le Grimpeur. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

Exhibit A: The master of Panache, Marco Pantani. And the master of blowing with grace, Richard Virenque. For a prime example of how to blow up properly, jump to 2:00.

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129 Replies to “Look Pro: Éclatant de Panache”

  1. Not “Éclatant de la panache,” but “Éclatant de panache.” Take the “la” away…

  2. Nice! I’m reminded of a scene in Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur, where Neal Cassady and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are chopping down trees. Cassady (Dean Moriarty from On the Road) hacks away at the tree with reckless abandon (the guy is full of panache). The quieter, more steady, Ferlinghetti methodically swings his ax. Sure enough, Ferlinghetti’s tree falls first, which is a moving recognition that the Beats are burning their candles at both ends, and that amid the flurry of activity the world is passing them by.

    If I were less tired, I’d make a clever connection to this piece above, which evokes a number of great thoughts, and will undoubtedly haunt me the next time I blow up…

  3. As I watched il pirata hammer up the climb, my two thoughts were that he rest in peace, and vive l’EPO.  The sport has moved on from those years for the better, but what a spectacle.

  4. Man, I love that video. It’s a shame that Ulle never was able to win on the Alpe d’Huez.

    RIP, Pantani!

  5. So that was “panache” that Talansky was using the other day at P-N?  I thought it was called “losing”.

  6. @Cyclops

    So that was “panache” that Talansky was using the other day at P-N? I thought it was called “losing”.

    The two often go together.  If you’re gonna go down, go down big.

  7. @Nate

    @Cyclops

    So that was “panache” that Talansky was using the other day at P-N? I thought it was called “losing”.

    The two often go together. If you’re gonna go down, go down big.

    Although you have set the gag up well I fear that it is too obvious even for me….

  8. I still don’t understand why Talansky was attacking with the yellow on. Seemed like the better idea would have been to not fire up Richie like that. Also, does it piss Aussies off when they say the “first Australian,” to win Paris-Nice. I’ve been to Tasmania & I’ve been to Australia. I’m American & I’ve also been to Hawaii. Seems like in surfing they call them Hawaiians, not Americans. Just curious.

    Had cycling been my boyhood sport I like to believe I’d have been full of panache. Attacking at all times & tempting a full blow-up at all times was my preferred sporting method.

    Nice article, Frank! When I first started road cycling I didn’t shift much & definitely not up front. I thought I’d wear my parts out more quickly & I didn’t have the Budgetatus for new ones. Now I Big Ring it because I’m a Follower! Similar method, different reasoning.

    And besides, it’s too damn hard to properly clean that damn inner ring anyway. Much easier to just keep it pristine by not letting Mr. Chain touch it.

  9. That question should read more like…does it upset Tasmanians to hear Richie referred to as Australian? To me, Hawaii is part of America only in the sense of political acquisition. And Tasmania seemed a lot different to me than Australia, though I did leave from and return to Melbourne, which is just a tad bit busier and bigger.

  10. Watching the close ups of Il Pirata near the end reminded me of a movie character…..I mean no disrespect.

  11. @american psycho

    If Pharmstrong dies of n OD will the Velominati worship him like they do the DoPirate?

    The Velominati never hated Pharmy for his doping; we hate him for being such a giant douchebag. Pantani, on the other hand, kicked ass. Same with Ullrich or any other such rider from that era.

    Pantani always made for great racing, something Pharmstrong eradicated from any race he participated in with clinical precision. Pantani had panache.

  12. @Nate

    As I watched il pirata hammer up the climb, my two thoughts were that he rest in peace, and vive l’EPO. The sport has moved on from those years for the better, but what a spectacle.

    Well said.

    @TBONE

    You too, RIP indeed.

    @Cyclops

    So that was “panache” that Talansky was using the other day at P-N? I thought it was called “losing”.

    Tough talk from a guy who spent the season dangling off the back of the bunch.

  13. @Ron

    It’s too damn hard to properly clean that damn inner ring anyway. Much easier to just keep it pristine by not letting Mr. Chain touch it.

    Solid gold.

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    Are we under troll attack?

    I don’t think so – more like a historic event. I think we might have the last vestige of an Armstrong fan left in the world! Take note, people!

  14. @frank

    @Nate

    As I watched il pirata hammer up the climb, my two thoughts were that he rest in peace, and vive l’EPO. The sport has moved on from those years for the better, but what a spectacle.

    Well said.

    @TBONE

    You too, RIP indeed.

    @Cyclops

    So that was “panache” that Talansky was using the other day at P-N? I thought it was called “losing”.

    Tough talk from a guy who spent the season dangling off the back of the bunch.

    Just back there showing Grimp Jr. how it’s done.

  15. @frank Great article but, a spot of Pantani worship aside (of which there can never be enough), is this really the season for  panache? Isn’t this the season for suffering in shit weather; freezing rain, the last remnant of lowland snow and brutal cross winds or smashing races apart over the pave whilst covered in cow shit? Panache is a summer’s whimsy.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/fleeting moment/2013.03.13.22.14.27/1/”/]

  16. @Chris

    @frank Great article but, a spot of Pantani worship aside (of which there can never be enough), is this really the season for panache? Isn’t this the season for suffering in shit weather; freezing rain, the last remnant of lowland snow and brutal cross winds or smashing races apart over the pave whilst covered in cow shit? Panache is a summer’s whimsy.

     

    4 / 4
     
     
     
     
    Slideshow:
    Fullscreen:
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    Which one of these is not like the other?

  17. Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man.  I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently.   This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”.   I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

  18. @Cyclops

    So that was “panache” that Talansky was using the other day at P-N? I thought it was called “losing”.

    Thought you might have understood bike racing a little better than that. Talansky knew he had to put more time into Porte than the handful of seconds he had prior to that mountain stage. In hindsight, Talansky’s tactics of trying to get a break look even better – was just that he couldnt get away. 

    Imagine the (deserved) criticism Talansky would have copped had he sat on Porte the whole way up that hill and then coughed up victory in the TT? Because that is what the time differences tell us would have happened.

  19. @graham d.m.

    Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man. I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently. This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”. I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

    I confess to my new DA group-san being compact. What was I thinking? I have repented by ordering new rings from praxis works. BTW occasionally blowing up on a climb builds character. Nice article.

  20. Nice. I had a buddy that used to say that sometimes it’s not the winner that is the best to watch in a race, it’s the guy that try’s the hardest, and has the most panache. Good shit.

  21. @frank

    @Ron

    It’s too damn hard to properly clean that damn inner ring anyway. Much easier to just keep it pristine by not letting Mr. Chain touch it.

    Solid gold.

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    Are we under troll attack?

    I don’t think so – more like a historic event. I think we might have the last vestige of an Armstrong fan left in the world! Take note, people!

    There is this commenter on the VeloNews site that is convinced Armstrong is clean, thinks his confession was forced.  I look at all the Pharmy articles just to see him go to bat.

  22. That video is perfect – it shows exactly why Pantani was the best.

    Neither the Teutonic precision of the perfectly engineered T-Mobile drug program, nor the best French traditions of performance enhancement could match him.

    Who knows what shit he was on – I can imagine him just sitting there going “this is good, no? I’ll have MORE” and pumping random stuff into his bald skull. 

    By God it worked though.. 

    BTW, this is why I can’t help admiring Contador. He seems to have one approach to winning races: “ATTACK! Oh, bloody Sky train is still there? ATTACK!! Best climber in the world is winning the Vuelta? ATTACK! Didn’t work? Be tricky and wait for a FLAT road, then ATTACK!!” Sure, it doesn’t always work, but I’d point out that Froome didn’t win in Italy either…

  23. @Ron   This could be the start of a bunch of Tasmanian jokes.  If you don’t know, “mainlanders”, in a loving way, characterise Tasmanians something like the banjo family in Deliverance.  Anyway, Richie Porte is certainly an honorary Australian, as is any Tasmanian who has done good. The other one is David Boone the cricketer, who still apparently holds the record for beer volume on the Qantas long-haul from Melbourne to Heathrow. Ritchie’s only blockage to outright communal adoption is the slightly unsettling membership of Sky. Anybody but the Poms ….

  24. @Ron in the video? Think that’s a Wilier & I’m pretty sure they released an Alpe d’Huez model in honour of that ride with a similar colour scheme.

  25. @GT

    @Ron This could be the start of a bunch of Tasmanian jokes. If you don’t know, “mainlanders”, in a loving way, characterise Tasmanians something like the banjo family in Deliverance. Anyway, Richie Porte is certainly an honorary Australian, as is any Tasmanian who has done good. The other one is David Boone the cricketer, who still apparently holds the record for beer volume on the Qantas long-haul from Melbourne to Heathrow. Ritchie’s only blockage to outright communal adoption is the slightly unsettling membership of Sky. Anybody but the Poms ….

    Who the fuck is David Boone? The holder of the beer drinking Ashes is David Boon & I believe the figure was something along the lines of 52 cans from Melbourne/Sydney to London…

  26. Good work Frank,  good timing for me as i have a training ride in an hour. Watching him dance up the climb is pure Art.

    @scaler911 it’s not the winner that is the best to watch in a race, it’s the guy that try’s the hardest, and has the most panache. Good shit.

    This is my belief as well, the real hard men stand out for the work they do on the front of a  group. whether it be on the lead breakaway or back in the chase group. Always makes for a good day of racing.

  27. @Ron

    That question should read more like…does it upset Tasmanians to hear Richie referred to as Australian? To me, Hawaii is part of America only in the sense of political acquisition. And Tasmania seemed a lot different to me than Australia, though I did leave from and return to Melbourne, which is just a tad bit busier and bigger.

    They are only Tasmanians unless we want them to be Australian, even though Tasmania is part of Australia.   Let that be clear !

  28. @scaler911

    Nice. I had a buddy that used to say that sometimes it’s not the winner that is the best to watch in a race, it’s the guy that try’s the hardest, and has the most panache. Good shit.

    Ala Taylor Phinney in the penultimate stage of the Tirreno -Adriatico perhaps

  29. @Chris

    @frank Great article but, a spot of Pantani worship aside (of which there can never be enough), is this really the season for panache? Isn’t this the season for suffering in shit weather; freezing rain, the last remnant of lowland snow and brutal cross winds or smashing races apart over the pave whilst covered in cow shit? Panache is a summer’s whimsy.

    1 / 4
    Slideshow:
    Fullscreen:
    Download:

    WIth these photos in mind, how shithouse does the weather forecast for Milan San Remo look? Given they’re 300km  apart, the forecast for Milan is for a high of 8 with rain all day, while it’s a bit warmer at San Remo (12 degrees) and rain.

     
  30. Oh what the fuck where did my comments go. I’m clearly too stupid to use the internet (Marcus go fuck yourself) The gist of my post was that the weather forecast for Milan San Remo is appalling.

  31. I had an interesting insight into the Lance-lovers at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon recently. I was helping as a volunteer and for a part of the day was on the bike checkout as people collected their bikes after the race.

    Everyone had a race tag around their wrist which we had to check against the bike number and cut off, so I looked at probably 500 wrists – I saw a lot of black, brown, blue and other colour bands but only one yellow. I even offered to cut it off for him.

  32. @ChrisO  It really is a dam shame he will forever be associated with that yellow bracelet. There are people that wear it to support the fight against cancer and are now shamed by association.  Like you stated put a different color on and call it good. It is interesting to see the global awareness as you did.

  33. Watching the Pantani video reminded my of just how awesome he was……

    Just awesome, and the backdrop makes me look forward to this Summers Alpine Cogal even more!!

  34. @gregorio

    @graham d.m.

    Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man. I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently. This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”. I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

    I confess to my new DA Group-san being compact. What was I thinking? I have repented by ordering new rings from praxis works. BTW occasionally blowing up on a climb builds character. Nice article.

    Whatever.

    Having a compact doesn’t mean your wee wee is small.

  35. @ChrisO

    Everyone had a race tag around their wrist which we had to check against the bike number and cut off, so I looked at probably 500 wrists – I saw a lot of black, brown, blue and other colour bands but only one yellow. I even offered to cut it off for him.

    Tee hee!!

  36. Actually, regarding MSR, I’m fascinated to see what the anti-Sagan tactic will be – can the Peleton ride so slowly that he will have to set his men on the front all day until they are busted? But then, there aren’t any hills that he won’t be able to get over – could it be a day that the breakaway gets away and never gets caught?…. selection will be interesting, can’t wait, must think of something for the family to go and doo for 6 hours on sunday

  37. @mouse

    Indeed – I thought had moved on from using the 53 as a test of manhood (just don’t tell anyone I also have a 28 on the back…..)

    Rode like Schleck yesterday, must be the shite weather

    Oops, need to go back and read The Rules again – sorry

  38. @The Grande Fondue

    That video is perfect – it shows exactly why Pantani was the best.

    Neither the Teutonic precision of the perfectly engineered T-Mobile drug program, nor the best French traditions of performance enhancement could match him.

    Who knows what shit he was on – I can imagine him just sitting there going “this is good, no? I’ll have MORE” and pumping random stuff into his bald skull.

    By God it worked though..

    BTW, this is why I can’t help admiring Contador. He seems to have one approach to winning races: “ATTACK! Oh, bloody Sky train is still there? ATTACK!! Best climber in the world is winning the Vuelta? ATTACK! Didn’t work? Be tricky and wait for a FLAT road, then ATTACK!!” Sure, it doesn’t always work, but I’d point out that Froome didn’t win in Italy either…

    Ill chip in here, if we work on the premise of “forgive but never forget” (except for COTHO whose lack of contrition and general fuckwittedness puts him beyond redemption) I am firmly out of the closet as Bertie fan…in a world of highly strategic cycling, where plans are laid and executed, the occasional nutcase or crackhead going completely banannas on their bike brings sunshine to a sometimes grey peloton.  Dirty Bertie MADE the Vuelta last year (ably helped by JRod not having a fucking clue what to do most of the time) that stage 17 break was pure gold (artificially assisted or not is irrelavent here considering we are watching ill pirata in fully pumped up form).

    Bless them all, they suffer for their art and we get to sit humbly by and slaver over footage.  If I could have one request for this years Grand Tours it will be for Bertie to please wait for the cameras to be rolling before executing a Kamakaze break……I will send him  a postcard…..along with a nice fresh Aberdeen Angus Steak!

  39. @ChrisO

    I had an interesting insight into the Lance-lovers at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon recently. I was helping as a volunteer and for a part of the day was on the bike checkout as people collected their bikes after the race.

    Everyone had a race tag around their wrist which we had to check against the bike number and cut off, so I looked at probably 500 wrists – I saw a lot of black, brown, blue and other colour bands but only one yellow. I even offered to cut it off for him.

    Such kindness makes you the man you are…..were you trying to gently point out the folly of wearing such wrist attire, or trying to save his life!

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