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. @Dr C

    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

    Regarding this (and personally I don’t care because I live in Europe and so am awake and busting with expectation as the VSP closes), can we have the VSP up a little earlier for MSR, it feels somehow wrong to be climbing the standings just because the Delgado rate has gone through the roof….

  2. @Deakus

    I think we are all agreed that a Contoador running on Unleaded is most entertaining, and we may have forgiven him, hell, I even enjoy his surliness when he is not on the top spot on the podium

    Sadly I fear he may have analysed the Sky thing too much and realised he has no team mates, so will just tuck in and attack once at the end in future – at least Nibbles hasn’t lost his mojo – long live the Shark (Sunday could have been his, only Sagan knows him to well)

  3. Marco Pantani was awesome.  Pure rock ‘n’ roll on a bike. 

    Unfortunately he rode/lived fast & died too young.  RIP.

  4. @Ron Pantani bikesThe Bianchi (serial number  H 314-74) was used by Pantani in the famous July 27 Grenoble””Le Duex Alpes stage of the Tour de France which allowed Pantani to wear the yellow and go on to win that year’s Tour. The bike sold for 13,000 (thirteen thousand) euro.

    The second bike, a Wilier Triestina (serial number 962475), was used by Pantani in the 1997 Tour de France and which he used to win the July 19 Saint Etienne-l’Alpe d’Huez stage.This bike sold for 8,000 (eight thousand) euro.

  5. @Barracuda

    @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 !

    We’d just about be able to run a Tassie cycling team to compete with any UCI team. Porte, Matthew Goss, Sulzberger brothers, Ben Grenda, Cameron Wurf, Will Clarke add a couple of up and comers like Flakemore and Clements (Genesys riders now in national u/23 team).

    So I’d reckon of it being a case of Tasmanians consenting to allow mainlainders to claim some of our glory.

    We only get cranky when they leave us off the map.

  6. @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.

    Hahaha!! Now that’s panache.

    -Dinan

  7. Great video selection. Really like the color scheme for the bike, but I will keep mine a more plain tone.

    @Ron: I believe the young American was attempting to pad his lead going into the final TT. As that was known to be tipped to the strength of Richie. I doubt anyone suspected it was so much his strength (23 seconds better than young Andy). Otherwise I could think of little reason for the madness in yellow. Still I was excited to see the attacks. Though even through a grainy internet stream I knew he was vulnerable to an..”oh wait there goes a Sky rider. Yep, he’s gone.” attack.

    On another note, I just upgraded my drive-train to a yesteryear top-o-line type, but still with the baby gearing. Maybe it’s time to become a man and get a real set of chainrings.

  8. @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.

    Sometimes its prudent. I changed to a Flemish Compact myself for winter, to save my knees.

  9. @Barracuda

    @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

    Who doesn’t love a guy going phantom aero in the pissing rain just trying to make the time gap solo? Looking Fantastic, no less.

  10. @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.

    I was hoping that by “volunteering” you were standing around alternating between prohibiting people from climbing on their bike at all and allowing key representatives and videoing them as they tried to mount their bikes.

    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.

    Brilliant.

  11. @ped

    @Ron Pantani bikesThe Bianchi (serial number H 314-74) was used by Pantani in the famous July 27 Grenoble””Le Duex Alpes stage of the Tour de France which allowed Pantani to wear the yellow and go on to win that year’s Tour. The bike sold for 13,000 (thirteen thousand) euro.

    The second bike, a Wilier Triestina (serial number 962475), was used by Pantani in the 1997 Tour de France and which he used to win the July 19 Saint Etienne-l’Alpe d’Huez stage.This bike sold for 8,000 (eight thousand) euro.

    Awesome info!!! I’ve never been able to figure out what happened to it! And you have the serial numbers!

    I’m amazed he had the brake levers swapped out. He clearly has the carbon levers on that bike in the photo, and I’ve seen other photos of it with the carbon levers. He must have upgraded later in the season, as he rode alu levers at the Tour.

  12. @ped Awesome, I just happened to be reading the issue 30-something of Rouleur with the Wilier article and this bike was mentioned.

  13. @frank

    @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.

    Sometimes its prudent. I changed to a Flemish Compact myself for winter, to save my knees.

    Speaking partly tongue-in-cheek…During winter I do the same on the trainer, and switch to 52-36 by early summer.

  14. @Marcus

    @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.

    I do.  It’s the interwebs.  I was just being a dickhead.

  15. @Chris

    @Nate You win the “spot the odd one out” round, @skip was riding the pave with considerable panache that day.

    That’s not me in that photo.  I think it’s @Bill with the Rule #82 violation.  I remember he had that look on his face all day long like he was really enjoying himself. I don’t think I was riding with panache that day, but I was riding with considerable pain in my ass.

  16. @frank

    @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.

    Sometimes its prudent. I changed to a Flemish Compact myself for winter, to save my knees.

    Forgive my ignorance but what is a Flemish compact?

  17. @mouse

    @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.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply:  more teeth= more faster= more better.  I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

  18. @paolo

    Flemish Compact // A 53×39 Chainset.

    Training in winter on your usual hardman chainset of 56×42 is bad for your knees. Changing to a Flemish Compact during VVinter will help spare them. Or, as Museeuw said, “I don’t like the 50T on compacts. It is not big enough for climbing.

  19. @frank

    I’m a bit thick at times mate but in your original post it’s not got little dotted lines, at leat not on my steam driven computer.  I even googled it!  Good one…should have known..well I kinda did suppose it was somthing like that, coming from you and all.

    On another note I concur with many people..awesome video. 2nd time in as many weeks that it’s been posted. Made me wanna go tear my legs off on a climb, so thats what I did. 6000ft 110 k,  Rule #5 ride today as well.   ( A southern California Rule #5 is over 100 f..sorry if you’re reading this and freezing your tits off chaps. Recorde temps in the Southlands doncha know!)

    Cheers Graham!

  20. @mcsqueak

    @paolo

    A Belgian midget?

    Tossing midgets used to be a sport, now I believe its a sex offence!    Good one squeekers.  If you want to watch a great movie about Belgium and midgets see In Bruges.    It’s a cracker…as Colin Farrel would say.

  21. @frank FFS! Elite athletes? I’ve never timed getting my shoes on, but I’m pretty sure I could do it from scratch faster than that dicking around with them already on the pedals. Not to mention I’d have my shoes on and would be able to look where I;m going.

  22. @frank

    @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.

    I was hoping that by “volunteering” you were standing around alternating between prohibiting people from climbing on their bike at all and allowing key representatives and videoing them as they tried to mount their bikes.

    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.

    Brilliant.

    Shit balls, there must be some severely squashed testicles from those mounting techniques.

  23. @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @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.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

  24. @mouse

    @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @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.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

    That’s true, and I say ride what you like, mate. I’m not a high cadence guy, more of a slogger. But that being said, I’m working on foot speed/cadence and with more teeth that will be fastest (but obviously still fat and slow).  For me, if I’m going hard it hurts no matter what, so I might as well turn more teeth, I guess.

  25. @mouse

    @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @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.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

    Only if you’re getting a blood trasfusion every week or two. The high cadence phenom is a relic of blood doping, matey. Its too hard on your cardio.

    What IS faster, though, is to ride at whatever cadence you body naturally finds in order to balance cardiovascular fitness and muscular fitness. Its different for everyone, and one is not better than the other unless it makes you personally go faster.

    (And really, if less teeth was faster, as you equation suggests, we’d all be riding 1 to 1 gear ratios.)

  26. @frank

    @mouse

    @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @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.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

    Only if you’re getting a blood trasfusion every week or two. The high cadence phenom is a relic of blood doping, matey. Its too hard on your cardio.

    What IS faster, though, is to ride at whatever cadence you body naturally finds in order to balance cardiovascular fitness and muscular fitness. Its different for everyone, and one is not better than the other unless it makes you personally go faster.

    (And really, if less teeth was faster, as you equation suggests, we’d all be riding 1 to 1 gear ratios.)

    I dislike the assumption that spinning = going slow, thus requiring a compact.  You can spin on a standard while going fast, something the shop I bought my bike from couldn’t understand, so I am stuck with a compact where the little ring is useless for 98% of riding.

    Reading that it sounds like I am arguing against frank, which I am not, I’m arguing against compacts.

  27. @DerHoggz

    That is true, spin a bigger gear at the same cadence = go mo fasta. Mo betta. But therein lies the rub.

    Being over or under-geared is always bad, and you just have to find the setup that works best for your individual needs. For example; I’m contemplating a compact for my gravel rig where climbing steep gravel roads would benefit from having a low enough gear.

    Aside from that, its just pride.

  28. @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    That is fantastic. That’s a good example of burning through your train.

    He dropped his chain in ’98 and made a similar recovery. Awesome stuff.

  29. @frank

    @DerHoggz

    That is true, spin a bigger gear at the same cadence = go mo fasta. Mo betta. But therein lies the rub.

    Being over or under-geared is always bad, and you just have to find the setup that works best for your individual needs. For example; I’m contemplating a compact for my gravel rig where climbing steep gravel roads would benefit from having a low enough gear.

    Aside from that, its just pride.

    Try this, as you climb check your cadence, change to an easier gear, initially your cadence will rise and then will quickly drop back to the cadence you were pushing before, but as you have changed gear you are now climbing slower than if you had mashed away in the bigger gear, if you can hold that gear down to 50-60 rpm I think it’s a better result than changing.

    Fucktards! Sorry just had to say it.

  30. @frank

    @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    That is fantastic. That’s a good example of burning through your train.

    He dropped his chain in ’98 and made a similar recovery. Awesome stuff.

    This effort is so awesome. So Pantani. I don’t even care that he probably had a 8ball of coke on board and a Hct of 70. Brilliant. RIP little buddy…………

  31. @scaler911

    Here’s another one. Tonkov was such a hard bastard, too. I love how long it takes Pantani to break him. And then, when he finally pops, its lights out.

  32. @frank

    @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    That is fantastic. That’s a good example of burning through your train.

    He dropped his chain in ’98 and made a similar recovery. Awesome stuff.

    His team must have been just well “prepared” the speed at which they drag him up that first section. At one point it looks like they have to check their speed to avoid dropping him.

    It must have been brutally demoralizing to have him blow past you like that when you new he had come from so far behind.

  33. Pantani was just amazing in this race!  That said, I can’t stomach Ozzy covering Motorhead… he sounds like a boy band when compared to Lemmy!

  34. @Chris Fantastic!!  Why did he even bother with a saddle?  The expressions of the leaders when caught were all the same…WTF???

  35. The translations are good, but I think the right one is “whoever doesn’t love Merckx doesn’t love sport”.

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