First Edition News for November 23
Ernesto Colnago, in his 40 year career has been noted for
anticipating, suggesting and promoting innovtions. So for Tony
Rominger's next attempt to beat his own World Hour record, Ernesto
is building him a new bike.
Said Ernesto, "I've known Tony for so many years, and to know his
needs for an Hour attempt requires a certain experience...."
(Colnago prepared a bike for Merckx in 1972, it should be
Colnago is contemplating a carbon or titanium frame. "It must be
shaped like a drop and thin as a blade," said he. ["un telaio con
la conformazione a goccia, perr sottile come una lama" - for anyone
who can do a better job of translating this bit]
Colnago will start with a C.42 prototype (Carbon) which will be on
display at the September Milan bike show.
Another feature will be the lenticular wheels which will be
"riddled like a golf ball" for a better air penetration index
Ernesto feels that with such a bike, Rominger will have no trouble
completing in excess of the current 55 kilmometers in the hour.
New Selection Process for Worlds Road Race
With next year's cycling system running on the basis of "elite" and
"espoirs" (see above) the UCI has devised a new system of selection
for the 1996 and subsequent World Championships road races. The old
pro/amateur system will be replaced with a race for the elite and a
race for espoirs, who may be no older than 23 years. The system for
the elite race rests on national classifications of the 10 best riders
in each nation according to their UCI ranking. The 10 top-ranked
nations on this basis will be entitled to enter 12 riders in the elite
race and the five next-ranked nations eight riders only. The rest of a
maximum field of 200 riders will be filled with riders according to
their individual UCI rankings.
A simulation of the present situation gives the following result: 12
riders -- Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Russia, Belgium, Germany,
Netherlands, Denmark, US; eight riders -- Ukraine, Colombia, Great
Britain, Australia, Poland. The 40 places left over would be filled by
individuals of the calibre of Abdujaparov (Uzbekistan).
Party for Chiapucci
Saturday, 9 December at Varese, in the beautiful surroundings of
Villa Ponti, there will be meeting of the Chiappucci Club.
On 3 December, at Greenland (Limbiati) the baptism of Saumele,
second born of the house of Chiappucci...
There was perfect weather for the start of stage 2 on Monday--warm
and sunny but not too hot. I arrived at the start in Perros Guirec
right next to the beach almost 2 hours before the start time. The
start is my favorite place to be at a race. It is easy to get up
close to the riders, the bikes and the mechanics and get an intimate
view of the race. I was surprised at the relatively lax security
compared to the Prologue. I wandered around freely and got good
photos of Marco Pantani, Team Motorola (while they posed for a team
photo), and the Coca Cola Girls, the ones who present the awards to
the winner of each stage. I was walking past the girls and was
surprised to hear their American southern accents--they said they
were from Dallas--and they were nice enough to pose for a group shot
Once the race left on its way out of Brittany to Vitre, I walked
back along the coastal trail to my friends home. It was a bit after
noontime when I got back to his house and there was another
spectacle going on there. A national television show called Autour
du Tour was on the air live from an overlook on the ocean in front
the house. This program is on the air for a half hour at noon each
day of the Tour. It really has little to do with the race; rather it
is a show that follows the Tour around the country and describes the
sights, culture and food of the different regions of France through
which the Tour passes.
I knew they would be there because the TV technicians had been
setting up their equipment since early morning before I left for the
race. The producers of the show had come to Jean Francois the day
before and asked to borrow his overlook for the broadcast. His
house is right on the ocean next to a lighthouse and so it is a
picturesque setting. It was like having the Today show broadcast
from the front of your house before the Super Bowl or World Series.
And so the Tour moved out of Brittany on its way across Normandy. I
would follow it for one more day. But first I had to make a plan
for the following --the Team Time Trial. We went to the train
station at Lannion and with the help of Jean Francois I explained my
proposed itinerary to the ticket agent. I wanted to be in Alencon
by early afternoon, stay there for about five hours and then get
back on a train headed for Blois in the Loire Valley where I was
expected by other friends that evening.
This is a crazy itinerary for a one-day trip (you can see this if
you look at a map of France). Nevertheless I was confident it was
possible because I had mapped it out in my French rail atlas. The
girl at the ticket window wrote out the station changes and times
for me and she made a reservation on the TGV portion of the trip.
In case you are wondering, my itinerary for the day was Lannion-St.
Brieuc-Rennes-Le Mans-Alencon-Alencon-Tours-Blois. Thanks to the
excellent connections and frequency of the trains I completed this
trip in one day without a hitch. And I saw an exciting afternoon
of Team Time Trialing as well.
It was in Alencon that I met up with the three crazy Englishmen. It
was around noontime and I was walking from the train station towards
the center of town looking for the race course. I passed a small
cafe and there was a guy sitting outside next to three mountain
bikes. I asked him in French for directions to the Tour and he
clearly did not understand so I asked him if he spoke English. Yes,
he sure did and he was very glad to meet a fellow English speaker.
This was the improbably named Tex, an Englishman by birth who grew
up in Ireland. He invited me to sit and have a beer and a sandwich
while he guarded the bikes and waited for his friends who had gone
over to the exhibit hall to see Expotour, an exhibit of cycling and
Tour memorabilia like the one I had seen in St. Brieuc.
Tex (so named because of his love and knowledge of country music)
told me the story of how he and his two friends took the ferry from
England to Le Havre and pedaled their fully loaded bikes to Alencon.
It really was not that far, maybe 75 miles, but Tex told me that one
of the guys had barely ever ridden a bike before and he was now=7F
suffering from all kinds of aches and pains and holding up the other
two guys. Still they were having a great time and I admired their
Soon the other two guys joined us and we had another round of beers
while we talked about the Tour and other topics. The owner of the
cafe, who was serving us, seemed delighted that the Tour had
brought this little bit of extra business to his doorstep and he
talked to us with me translating. Then he did something that I
thought was very uncharacteristic of a French cafe owner--he bought
us all a round of beers. It just goes to show that the French,
despite their reputation, can be just as hospitable as any people
in the world. Though they may not always show it as this cafe owner
did, they really do like us a lot.
By now the first team was out on the course so I headed down the
block to the finish area. On the way there I stopped briefly at the
exhibit hall for a glimpse of Expotour--more great memorabilia of
It was another beautiful day, a little warm for the riders but
perfect for the spectators. I found a good spot about a half mile
from the finish and across from the monument and museum of General
Leclerc, the commander of the French division attached to the army
of General Patton during the battle of Normandy. Alencon was the
first French city to be liberated by French troops, an event of
which the city residents are very proud.
There was a small bend in the street there and I took pictures of
the teams as they rounded the curve and powered to the finish at 35
mph. I think the team time trial is the most aesthetically pleasing
event in road cycling and this setting could not have been better
The teams came by at five minute intervals and as I waited I struck
up a conversation with the man next to me and his friend. The first
guy was a retired English teacher (and also the former vice mayor of
the town) and his friend was the editor of the local weekly
newspaper Orne Hebdo. They filled me in on the history of General
Leclerc and I explained how I was following the first four days of
La Grande Boucle. They seemed intrigued that someone would come all
this way to their little city just to see the race. So the
newspaper editor noted the details of my journey, snapped a picture
of me and told me that he would run a little story about me in the
next issue. I hardly thought of myself as a visiting dignitary but
this sure made me feel like one. With only one or two teams still
out on the course I had to leave to catch my train. We said our
good-byes and the editor took my business card and promised to send
me the next issue.
Upon my eventual return to the US my faith in the kindheartedness of
the French was once again rewarded. The editor sent me the issue as
promised and there among the stories on the Tour coming to Alencon,
the marriage announcements and high school exam results was a brief
story and a picture of Bob the American.
Source: Bob Hebert