The Salute

Winning salutes are brought up from time to time here on Velominati.  Of all the images and memories we have of cycling’s greatest athletes, many are of champions crossing over the finishing line in their winning pose.  A rider’s salute as he or she crosses the finishing line first is not of insignificance.  This is how they celebrate a long deserved winning break, sprint, or climb.  It represents the culmination of years of training and the realization of a lifelong goal.

The salute says more though than just “I win”.  It can say a lot about the rider employing it.  Take Pantani’s crucifix salute as an example:

What does this say about Il Pirata?  Does the Jesus-pose portray his ego and a sense of himself as some sort of exalted cyclist?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  Perhaps it broadcasts the iconic imagery of his Roman-Catholic up-bringing  and displays it in a way many of his Italian countrymen can identify with.  Who knows?  To me, this photograph is art in the sense that we take from it what we see in it as individuals. What this salute imparts to me is a sense of calm after the storm.  It is a letting go of sorts, sublime catharsis, freedom.  I see a figure that is truly in the moment and aware of nothing else, not even himself.  It is beautiful and exemplifies the rewards of our sport. Rewards which can only be reaped through dedication and effort. It also illustrates Marco’s awareness, conscious of it at the time or not, of the elegance of cycling.

Contrast that to this:

What of this man of Manx and what he’s trying to put out there with this salute?  A chamois was included with my bike shorts?  Hey everyone, my sac’s down here too?  Or, this is titled “Ballerina Pose On Bike”? I am the “Total Package” and will take all comers in the octogon?  It may portay the effort and dedication but certainly comes nowhere near elegance.  Hell if I know what is says, other than “Cavendouche”.

So what’s a good salute?  It’s hard to say as there are no Rules governing the salute.  So, I’ll submit the following:

A cool salute should:

-Convey the rider’s commitment to cycling, extended effort, and pleasure in winning.

-Convey a certain sense of spontaneity and not seem in any way contrived (unless you’re the Lion of Flanders and have just proven a…well, unless you’re the Lion of Flanders because then you’re just plain badass).

-Dispense with any sort of pantomime, weapon imagery (two links there), or baby toys.*

-Show some class and deference to the history and beauty of the sport.

Maybe it’s easiest to characterize a cool salute similar to how politicians describe pornography.  It’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.

*In all fairness to myself and to avoid contradiction, I realize that the last link regarding baby toys speaks volumes about the rider employing the pacifier in it and that it is probably about as elegant as that rider can get.

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55 Replies to “The Salute”

  1. @Marko
    Im with you on that one. he is a scary looking dude. not sure whats going on with the skin tone either.


    Way to go, Hendo. Not only did you do yourself, your team and your country proud by winning the stage, you also had time to channel the cannibal with your salute.

    Admittedly it’s more usual these days, unless you’re Cuddles or Pistolero, to use both arms. But it is hard to be critical of a man who (i) is a Kiwi and (ii) has the presence of mind to give a consciously retro shout-out to Eddy as he surges across the line.

  3. Wow, lay of Cavendish. He is way more professional the Cippolini, lets compare the fact that Mark always waits to say thank you to his team. Lets face it Cipo hardly was the most uncocky person ever was he? Plus all his comments about Cav being fat must be quite dull when as Cav put it “Is is better to be second and skinny”.

    To be honest it’s quite funny all the crap that Cav gets on here, when he is self admittedly pretty passionate about what he does. Plus as the total professional that he is; he name checks his sponsors and gives his jersey airtime, is totally absorbed by his sport, thanks his teammates, when Griepel won a stage in last years tour Cav was one of the first to congratulate him.

    Cipo has shown that he likes a joke when it is on Cavendish but not when Cav rode past later on one pedal. Sore loser or can dish it but can’t take it either way Cipo proves himself to be grade A dickhead material.

    Also Cipollini was a Dr Ferrari patient. That makes him a classy cycling abassador right?

    He also thinks that being Italian gives him the god given right to tell everyone else how to behave in cycling; when in fact he should shut up and hope that the UCI doesn’t have the sense to review all samples retrosepctively.

    So if Marko can show Cav from his many stage wins a photo of how to salute I for one would be eternally grateful.

  4. @andy
    Easy man, easy. That’s Cipo you are bad-mouthing. Personally I’ve come around to Cav in the last two seasons, he works hard, he is considerate of his teammates and he is the best sprinter of his generation. He is just as cocky and obnoxious as Cipo, they are great sprinters, it seems to be in the code. Thank god Cav is not Italian, he would be one swaggering tool.
    Not liking a cyclists because he doped; you won’t have much of a scrapbook on anyone who raced in the late 20th century.

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