Thursday, January 16, 2020

1970 Giuseppe Pelà built Faema replica

Giuseppe Pelà was one of that small number of master 
frame builders that have become part of the rich tapestry 
of cycling lore and legend.
Pelà is known for never building frames under his own name,
preferring to construct high end frame sets for elite riders 
and in the case of Feama, the whole team in 1969(?), 
and flagship frames for established brands,
 Masi and Gios to just name two!
Apparently he also taught Irio Tommasini the fine art of 
Frame building, as I said a master builder.
Guiseppe Pela, Paratella  and Angelo Picchio
photo Courtesy of Classic Rendezvous

 In the early 1970's Pelà's wife became seriously ill,
Pelà stopped building frames to look after her and 
never built another frame as far as I could find.

I have this card pinned above my workbench, I would often 
take it down and study the details that have already 
been etched into my memory..
 so of course I had to build a Faema team replica bike at 
some stage, you know, like Merckx rode...who doesn't.
 I brought this frame out of Italy from a collector whom I
have brought several frames from, it had been repainted 
at least once, so there was no way to tell what name it had 
originally been built under, which suited me fine for this 
particular project, sadly I forgot to photograph the frame
before I stripped it...damn.

Anyway here is the finished result.
I hope you enjoy the photos, I know I really enjoyed the
process of working on a master builders frame and 
recreating one of Merckx's iconic bikes at the same time.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Fignon 1983 Team Gitane.

When pre race favorite Bernard Hinault was forced to
withdraw from riding the 1983 Tour de France
through a recurrence of tendinitis, the world of 
cycle journalists was sent into a frenzy of speculation
as to who could win the most prestigious of cycle races
in what was now the most open TdF for many a year.
Reading through their predictions now, it is quite incredible
that none of them predicted the same rider to win.
Out of eight of the great experts of the time only two
picked the same rider to win (Zoetemelk).
Hinault and Fignon during the 1984 TdF.

The 1983 Tour de France
Eric Vanderaerden won the prologue TT
Mercier upsets the TI Raleigh machine
by winning the Stage Two Team TT
Now you might be wondering why I am so interested in 
the 1983 TdF, well the story starts a couple of years ago
in a badly placed add in E Bay France.
The vendor is selling what he believes to be one of
Laurent Fignon's '83 tour bikes.
So to cut a long story short, I took a huge risk & brought it 
(and it was listed as pick up only!)
and to make matters even more challenging, it
located in a very remote part of France.

So even though I have a few French friends, getting
it back to New Zealand proved to be a Herculean task.

following is the story of the 1983 Tour de France 
and Laurent Fignon's 1983 team Gitane.

Stage three saw a break by Kim Anderson anf Rudy Mathys
that left many of the pre race favorites up to 20"down, 
Miller in particular losing over 16".
The next day was a career highlight for Serge Demierre, 
going clear for an epic 46km solo win.

When the bike finally arrived, I was more than pleased.
although it was missing a few of it's original parts, 
ie; cranks, stem/bars/brake levers, it was none the less mainly
in original race condition, and what was also very relieving, is
that also came with a FFC (Federation Francaise de Cyclisme)
 authentication, dated 1983.
Cinelli bottom bracket shell dated 30/05/83, which makes
a perfect time line for a new team bike for the July TdF.

The first fortnight run on mainly flat stages were a 
predictable happy hunting ground for the sprinters.
Stage seven saw a popular sprint win by Italian 
 Riccardo Magrini, who apparently gave quite a
good performance on the podium.
One of the highlights of the Gitane is it's original
Simplex LJ 4000 CP/SP Team Edition Rear Derailleur.
This is a factory modified version of the Simplex 4000CP,  
Drilled aluminum pulley cage, delrin pulleys, alloy pulley axles, 
bringing the weight to a very respectable 145 grams. 

Stage ten saw Sean Kelly in yellow, if only for
a moment, as the next day was a brutal thinning
out of pretenders over the Pyrenees.
 UK enthusiasts were rewarded with a awesome
climbing display by Robert Miller, who became the
first British rider to win a major mountain stage
in the TdF.
The stage also had also seen another Peugeot rider,
 Pascal Simon ride himself into yellow.
 An indication of how tough was the days racing, was the
retirement of twelve riders and three being eliminated
for being outside the time limit.

 Over the next couple of months I found the parts
needed to return the bike to it's original spec's.
First up was a Stronglight 107 crankset.
Cinelli XA stem and bars, and of course some
3ttt yellow bar tape and yellow cable...
...the only thing I couldn't find was some undrilled black
Modolo brake levers, so drilled ones will have to 
suffice for now, 

Stage ten had transformed the race into a real battle, Simon
was positioned nicely with a strong team in Peugeot, while
the contenders to fight him for his jersey remained plentiful.
Then the very next day, tragedy struck the Peugeot squad,
while sitting in the bunch, Simon. with a touch of wheels, 
crashed into a ditch with Jackie Boyer.
Simon finished the stage assisted by team mates,
 but was obviously very hurt.
Simon held on for four days to his precious jersey, including
courageously defending it over a 15.5km mountain time trial.
however the writing was on the wall, 
and time was running out for Pascal Simon.
Simons epic TT ride, endeared him into the hearts
of all French fans.

FFC (Federation Francaise de Cyclisme) authentication.
According to the document this Fignon 1983 Gitane team bike
 was given by Gerard Porte 
(Then head doctor on the Tour de France)
 as a Christmas present to someone unknown.

Stage 17 in the Alps was finally the end for Simon 
who abandoned at 56 miles, the yellow jersey was now
in play. Bernaudeau and Winnen both attacked, and the 
jersey looked to be a sure fit for the former rider.
However a young rider named Laurent Fignon, riding 
his first TdF, had been slowing and inconspicuously
working himself up the leaders rankings, and on this
day, rode with a maturity that would go on to be one
of the strongest features of his natural ability.
Rather than chase the two escapees, he latched onto
the two climbers Van Imp and Delgado, and using them to 
pace him, rode into himself into the yellow jersey...
...and the history books.
Fignon in the young riders jersey, rides with Van Imp on the
17th stage into the Maillot Jaune.

The Simplex LJ 4000 back in it's rightful place on
Laurent Fignon's 1983 team bike.

Under the careful guidance of one of cyclings most successful 
Directeur Sportif's of the period Cyrille Guimard, Fignon held on 
for the remaining tour to become the youngest
 winner of the TdF since 1933.

Cyrill Guimard one of the great legends of cycling.

Fignon was well aware of the talk of him being a 
unworthy winner of the Tour having not won a stage, he 
responded by winning the penultimate 21st stage, the
Dijon 50km time trial, a far from straight TT which included
climbing for most of the first 25km.
Fignon won with a time of 41.18kph.

 So there you have it, the story of the 1983 tour, and the story of
finding one of Fignon's '83 team bikes.
I cannot say for sure that this was one of his tour bikes, but
as I mentioned earlier the build date certainly makes it a very
real possibility.

 Modolo Master Pro calipers, one of the nicest brakes 
of the period, would love to get a set for one of my 'riding' bikes.

 The 'professor' Laurent Fignon one of the 
last of the great classic riders at the end 
of a classic era.