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Most Stylish Tour de France Team

Soigneur Tekst Soigneur Gepubliceerd 22 June 2021

Soigneur presents the most stylish Tour de France team. Nine riders and one team leader. A stylish rider is well groomed, shows an elegant style of riding and masters other elements outside of the competition; looks, appearance, or an compelling view on the world. A list like the the one below will always spark discussion, but we’ll take the risk of making it. A team of riders who faced great challenges and have great faces, in random order.

Laurent Fignon (1960) was born in the artist neighbourhood Montmartre, Paris. He quits his studies in the early eighties, against the will of his parents. Cyrille Guimard offers him a contract. He sees the successor of Bernard Hinault in Fignon. His student-like glasses give him the nickname ‘Le Professeur’. Fignon wins the Tour de France two times, but is principally known for the one he lost. The flapping ponytail of the Frenchman seems to be the decisive factor, while LeMond uses an aerodynamic helmet. His unlimited drive to attack, got him an array of trophies outside of the Tour. He is the strongest rider in San Remo for two years in a row. He also wins the Waalse Pijl and Giro. He earns extra style points for winning the Trofeo Baracchi – together with Thierry Marie – in 1989. Fignon dies in 2010 at the age of 50, due to cancer.

Not Mario Cipolini (too much) but Pippo Pozzato (just under too much) shines on this list. Filippo Pozatto (1981) is the tattoo king of the peloton (sorry Koen de Kort). The Italian playboy also collects sports cars. The rider with long locks masters a buttery smooth technique. Unfortunately, Pozzato’s trophy cabinet remains fairly empty, something that doesn’t fit a talent like this. Pozatto seems to be afraid for the pain that he has to go through to win. He doesn’t stomp, he strokes. Where riders from the same generation Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara win everything there is to win, Pozatto seems to take it easier. Winning doesn’t seem to be the most important thing to Pozzato, as long as people think he looks good. He can be a satisfied man, because that’s exactly what we think.

Monsieur Paris – Roubaix. The man with the best sideburns of the peloton wins the Hell of the North four times and still holds a record with that. He is the best rider in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977. The cobbles don’t seem to bother him because of his unique, flowing style of riding. The ‘Cobble Stroker’ competes 14 times and finishes in the top 7, an astonishing 13 times. The Belgian playboy rides on the best looking bike of those years (Gios) and in the nicest jersey (Brooklyn). He is the biggest rival of Merckx and the only one to regularly top the results of ‘The Cannibal’. He wins Tour of Flanders (2x), Tour of Lombardy (2x), Liege – Bastogne – Liege and Milan – San Remo (3x). He also wins 22 stages in the Giro. The Tour didn’t bring him the same success. Outside of competitions De Vlaeminck presents himself in a sophisticated way. He was – and still is – a respected TV personality.

Bradley Wiggins (1980), is the only Sir in this team. Wiggins, born in Gent, got famous as a track rider, a discipline where he wins multiple Olympic and world medals. The headstrong Brit then switches to road cycling and his large engine provides him with big wins. It all comes down to time and discipline. With just a few less kilos he wins the Tour de France in 2012. As the British hope for the Olympic Games in London, he meets the expectations for the time trial and claims the title. Wiggins quits the highest level in road cycling to start his own team. He then goes on to shatter the world hour record. Wiggins is a mod, a British subculture with an excellent taste in music and clothing. We see the link to this lifestyle in the clothing of his new cycling team, a spin-off from Team Sky. Wiggins seems to be the opposite of Froome in every aspect. Impulsive, blunt at times, but always controversial. He sometimes unexpectedly pops up at the start of an amateur time trial. This is often to the amusement of the other competitors. He will be part of a classy combination with Mark Cavendish on the track in Rio this summer. The boys are back in town.

Alfons de Wolf (1956) is seen as the successor of Eddy Merckx since the beginning of his career, a fact that bothers him. Who can meet such great expectations? No one can, certainly not the handsome nice guy Fons. But the crowd is yearning for it. With his dreamy looks, long hair and almost angel-like style of riding Fons embodies new hope for the Belgian cycling world. Fons is a Flemish Italian – certainly no Flandrien – who achieves great things in heavy races in Italy. He wins the Tour of Lombardy early in his career and Milan San-Remo the year after. The stage win in the Tour de France of 1984 marks the unexpected climax of his career. From there on it all goes south pretty fast. He arrives 5 minutes late at the start of a prologue in 1985. That same day, he doesn’t make the time restriction and has to go home. De Wolf works in the funeral industry since 2007.

Scot David Millar (1977) is a man of the world. He was born on Malta, where his dad is a pilot for the Royal Air Force. He moves to Hong Kong with his dad at the age of 11. Only to return to Great Britain a few years later. Millars career knows many ups and downs. He wins the prologue in Futuruscope in the Tour of 2000 and rides in the yellow jersey for three days. There is a career before and after his doping suspension. He comes clean and addresses this topic well-considered in his books. When science comes into play in professional cycling, sentimentalist Millar realises that it’s not the right place for him any longer. ‘It has become robotic’ he states. After his cycling career, Millar is a respected guest in the world of stylish cycling. He becomes the ambassador of the car brand Maserati and develops a clothing line together with Castelli. It’s an answer to the bold jerseys he wore for years. He publishes a new book about the life of a pro cyclist, that serves as a manual for the new generation. The physically fit Millar is always dressed to the nines and is not afraid to share his critical notions.

With Fausto Coppi (1919), style and coolness enter the peloton. No farmer kid, like a lot of his colleagues, but a man of the world. ‘Il Campionissimo’ is the best rider of his generation and wins the Giro five times and the Tour two times. He also takes home the prize in different classics. Coppi drives fast cars, wears tight suits and dark sunglasses. With his sense of style, Coppi changes the way the world looks at road cycling forever. The elegant Italian finds himself in one of the most intriguing affairs of that era. The whole country is fascinated by his affair with Giulia Occhini, the Lady in White. Even Pope Pius XII comes into play, asking Coppi to return to his faithful wife. Fausto Coppi eventually dies a tragic death in Burkina Faso in 1960, due to malaria. A movie about Fausto Coppi’s life is made in 1995.

The Italians have Coppi. The French have Jacques Anquetil (1934). Monsieur Chrono wins the Tour de France five times. He lays the foundations for his victories in time trials. Anquetil undeniably is the best time trial rider of his generation, with the most beautiful style of riding. The American journalist Owen Mulholland wrote: ‘The look was that of a greyhound. His smooth power dictated his entire approach to the sport. Hands resting serenely on his thin Mafac brake levers, the sensation from Quincampoix, Normandy, appeared to cruise while others wriggled in desperate attempts to keep up’. Anquetil also appears stylish outside of the competition; smooth hair, tight suit and Janine, a gorgeous woman at his side.

The Swiss Erich Maechler (1960) has his best year in 1987 – in the colours of Carrera Jeans. In springtime he wins Milan – San Remo after a powerful attack on Poggio. He rides in the yellow jersey for six days in the Tour that year. Maechler escapes in the second stage, together with the Portuguese Acacio da Silva. He loses the end sprint, but earns the desired jersey. Maechler’s style of riding balances between power and elegance. Another characteristic element for Maechler is his hair. His late eighties coupe-soleil perfectly fits that era and his tanned arms. A Helvetic playboy. Unfortunately, he’s not able to keep that sense of style throughout his career.

This stylish cycling team has to have a team leader. Peter Post (1933) is called the Emperor of the Six Day races, he wins 65 contests in the – at that time – popular form of competition. Post wins Paris – Roubaix in 1964, which still holds the record for fastest edition ever. In 1974, ‘the Big Man’ becomes the team leader of TI Raleigh. The gentleman from Amsterdam is from the old school. He can be harsh and demands a lot from his riders. With this style, he singlehandedly professionalizes road cycling. The Raleigh team is very dominant in those years. They are unbeatable in team time trials. The Tour of 1980 is a climax, with Zoetemelk as an overall winner and a total of 11 stage victories. After the Dutch era, he maximized the potential of riders like Phil Anderson, Eric Vanderaerden, Maurizio Fondriest and Vatjeslav Ekkimov. The team that Post leaded still serves as an example for present-day teams. Professional cycling icon Post dies in 2011.

Illustrations: @sylvrstar

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