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. Yeah, Cav’s salut yesterday was crass. There was no need for fisting the forearm as well, all that was needed was a simple, classy, flick of the “V” like footballer Robin Friday:

  2. Whereas blowing your nose (as if to underscore your contempt for those on whom you have just extracted your revanche (sic)) is NEVER permitted:

  3. A salute that should never be employed under any circumstance is the ‘lift-the-bike-over-the-head’ salute. Absolute bollocks. Not even if you’ve just won Olympic gold.

  4. I think it comes down to premeditation. Anything premeditated is crass, arrogant, against the rules. I mean, we all practice our victory salutes (right?) but if we actually won a race, the emotion would be such that all planning would fly out the window and we’d just let loose with whatever was waiting to come out. That’s what we want to see and it’s what we expect from our heroes – humility in victory*


    *having said that, Cav’s comeback salute yesterday was pretty funny, undoubtedly vintage Cav

  5. @drfrot

    Dude, +1 for posting your own salute. Wristband notwithstanding, a very appropriate salute. Although “vintage” and “Cav” in the same sentence somehow doesn’t work for me. One day we’ll look back on Cav fondly and he’ll be remembered with names like Cipo and Maertens. He needs to age a little first though, he’s a bit tart on the pallete right now with a vinegar finish.

  6. That stage to Les Deux Alpes was awesome. Pantani’s salute, to me, speaks volumes of the relief and total exhaustion of his effort. Apparently, he was so nervous early in the stage that he rode off the roadside on the Croix. A study in Rule #5, that one.

    On to Cavendouche, the premeditated salutes are not only juvenile and unimaginative, but they’re complete suck-ups to the sponsors. I mean, yeah, it’s great that he’s being mindful of his sponsors and they are paying his salary, but shit, I really don’t care that he’s using Denutz chamious creme. Best leave that one “unsolved”.

    By the way, I think that back in the 50’s and 60’s, there was a regulation against taking both hands off the bars, which is why pictures like that rad one of Merckx have him doing the one-armed-willie. Interesting if it’s true, not sure that it is.

  7. @all

    On Cavendish. I’ve got to get this off my chest. People keep comparing him to Mario Cipollini, and while it’s understandable in that they are both the best sprinters of their generation and great showmen, but the major difference is that aside from Mario’s antics and jokes, he was the consummate professional and had an enormous amount of respect for the sport and it’s history. This is a quality that seems to be missing from the Manx Mouth.

    To Mario – one of the greats.

    On an other note, here are a few notable salutes:


  8. @brett
    Agreed. But, is a victory in any Mountain Bike race anything to be saluting anyway? I mean, is that really something to be bragging about?

  9. @frank

    Isn’t he registered as a German still?

    He’s pure ‘Strayian maaate…

    Ya don’t get a beautiful speakin voice like that in farkin Germany mate!

  10. brett:@GeofLet it go, man!

    So – I decide I need to spend some of these upcoming (Southern Hemisphere) winter evenings on a better trainer than the noisy wobbly piece of crap I currently endure. I spend a bit of time investigating the Computrainer ( Then I move on to check out the competing products offered by Tacx. And who do I find is their new poster boy? Veinose, snotting his way across the line at LBL – Looks like I’m getting the Computrainer …

  11. Marko :@GeofHave you thought about Kreitler rollers dude? I love mine.

    Thanks, Marko. Haven’t considered rollers, for two reasons – first, paranoia at a lapse in attention resulting in me slipping off and flying forward into the TV (probably at the precise time that Beloki loses his tyre and sends Lance off for some impromptu ‘cross, though that wouldn’t really console me as I wouldn’t have that option), and secondly the sheer geeky attraction of something like the Computrainer which has an erg function, a spin-scan function, virtual courses, ability to download and store data to measure (hoped for) progress, etc. But am prepared to acknowledge that the first of these seems pretty obviously to violate Rule #5, and the second at least arguably does the same. And rollers are not as expensive. So would be happy to be convinced that rollers are superior …

  12. @Geof
    The good news is you can put worry #1 away, when you come off the rollers you just land in a heap next to them, the bike has no forward momentum. But all the other functions of Computrainer has to be a plus as riding the rollers gets a bit repetitive. If in doubt grow a dodgy mo.

    @Marko Cyclingnews is stealing your thunder on this great and timely post. That is such bad form.

  13. Being a Brit, we have to love Cav. He’s winning stuff and he’s british, that NEVER happens! Though I will agree that his attitude sucks. He needs to grow up and learn some Rule #5

  14. @Nathan Edwards
    I think you will have years ahead of Cav lovin’. He is so fast I don’t see him losing for a long while and I can see him transitioning into an all around racer eventually, like, er, ahemmm, Sean Kelly. But much Rule #5 will have to be studied to get there. Also, some of the top sprinters by nature seem to be outlandish and full of it, eeerg, cough, cough, Cipo! My boy.

  15. @john, @Nathan Edwards

    I have to disagree; the notable difference between Kelly and Cav is that Kelly was born breathing Rule #5; no need for studying there.

    As for Cipo, I said my peace on that one in a comment before and won’t bore you with it again. Major differences there, mate.

    But the little twatwaffle can sprint, that’s for sure. Amazing.

  16. @frank
    I’m with ya Frank. Kelly was born Hard but he started as a sprinter, and eventually kicked ass everywhere, as we all know. Jalabert and Thor are in that groupo except Thor is still a great sprinter and I hope he gets the green jersey again this year to teach you know who some more humility.
    I agree with your Cipo comments completely. You will find no bigger fan of Cipo than I. I meant to say many dynamic sprinters are a little unhinged.

  17. @Nathan Edwards
    That’s like saying being American we have to love Lance. I can’t do it. I respect Lance for his platinum palmares but I don’t love the guy. Don’t really care for his style of racing (post ball-op). What I do like about guys like Lance and Cav is they raise the bar and perhaps make racing more competetive ultimately. In fact, it’s easier to make this arguement with Cav because all he can do is sprint lickity-split. To compete, riders just need to go faster. It’s a harder arguement with Lance (post nutectomy) because it’s more complicated. At any rate, there is something about dudes like this that lack the essence of bike racing. Maybe it’s emotion, maybe it’s that they don’t seem genuine, maybe it’s that they take some of the suspense out. Like I said though, to me, a cool bike racer is hard to define in some ways but you know one when you see it.

  18. @brett

    Female Interviewer:

    “Which of these beautiful gentlemen with the very taught bottoms is the lady killer, who gets the most chicks?”



    One half hour later: Female interviewer seen exiting Fillipo’s trailer.

  19. I was going to pull the Eddy salute as I crossed the line in 33rd place in my first race of the season but I figured nobody would get it.

  20. @frank
    Heard a story from a certain Australian Grand Tour super-domestique that the reason Cadel did a one-handed salute at last year’s Worlds was that his Canyon bike was so fucked it couldn’t track straight riding hands free.

    No reason for his one-hander at Fleche though.

  21. With youth being served and discussed a fair bit on these pages recently (Jacky Bobby), any thoughts on Michael Matthews’s salute on winning Stage 3 of the TDU?

  22. @Steampunk
    It seemed spontaneous and joyful enough albeit cocky but certainly not in the tradition of a proper salute. The kid is 21 years old though and probably listens to Kanye so what could we expect?

  23. How NOT to do a Victory Salute (pre-mature ejac anyone?)

    Early Victory?

    (bear with me as this is my first attempt at loading an image and I do not seem to be doing very well)

  24. DAMN! That didn’t work. Anyways, it’s the first photo in the album. (Man, I need to work on my internet skills)

  25. @Buck Rogers
    Ah…that old chestnut. It almost seems like a right of passage. I mean…Zabel, Pettacchi, Boonen, they’ve all lost big races in the most humiliating way. Anyone ever tell these guys the race ain’t over till ya cross the line?

    Then, back in the pre-radio days (I dare not hope that the current ban will stand) you had the reverse, the guy winning the bunch gallop for 2nd, but no one told the poor feller that another dude already done won the durn thing!

  26. @Buck Rogers

    DAMN! That didn’t work. Anyways, it’s the first photo in the album. (Man, I need to work on my internet skills)

    Here you go, I uploaded the image I think you wanted. As for your skilz, so long as you can manage to load this site, your skills are plenty good enough for me, mate.

    Voekler has a serious three-point system violation there.

  27. Is it wrong to like Little Tommy Voeckler? Because I kinda do. The breakaways and this kind of thing. Impish.

  28. @frank
    To me TolVo (as I like to call him) looks like he is either getiing getting ready for a porn shoot & striking the pose of someone ready for the fluffer while “mounted” on bike or he is that guy from the department store catalogue displaying the latest bike threads whilst trying to be all cool & look pro at the same time.

    Either way, definitely not how it’s done IMO, be it for the above mentioned scenario’s or crossing a finish line in a Pro race.

  29. @Steampunk
    I luuuurv Voeckler – the Little Man from Martinique. Such an opportunist who has made the most of himself.

    Think you are a little confused. Voeckler is the one on the right. Winning with a text book bike throw…

  30. frank:
    Voekler has a serious Three-Point System violation there.

    Has anyone notice that there is a new helmet out there this year in the peleton that has a scooped up forehead area like Voekler’s there. Makes the 3-point system difficult to follow.

  31. @Marko
    Not sure what you would call it, but it does look like he is trying to imitate some sort of wingflap birdy thing. And the clear lenses don’t help.

    Then again, maybe he was going so fast that the wind blew his arms back?

    For his sake, I hope he gets his second victory soon – he could sell some serious advertising on what could be the biggest chin in pro cycling.

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