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.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Man vs Bus..Bus wins.

 I have just learnt a very important lesson
about riding bikes..always look ahead!
On my way home from work about 4 Sundays ago,
I was feeling pretty good, you know that feeling, 2.30
in the afternoon, nice and sunny, but not too hot, all
that training and riding is starting to pay off.
I felt like I was cruising riding at about 35 kph, 
I look down as I pass a few big trees and notice the 
way the sun is making patterns through them on the 
asphalt in front of me, and I start wondering how I 
could get some nice film of this for a music video
I have been vaguely thinking about making..then

Straight into the back of a mid sized bus parked 
on the side of the road.
Seven broken and/or fractured ribs, punctured lung,
three vertebrae smashed out of place,
 (four hours of surgury..titanium rods/screws)
couple of broken teeth, missing a bit or hair.
six days in intensive care, two weeks in hospital..
 and here I am recovering.
 The old war horse Mitchell is of course a complete
write off, but incredibly the front Mavic Cosmic
rim seems to have survived in tact.
The saddest part of the whole thing is that I have
 and am going to miss so much work time
that I am forced to sell my Armstrong bike..damn.
Still i am not going to complain, I got off pretty could have been a lot worse..
at least I get to recover and ride again.
So I guess the moral of the story is that things can happen
fast even at 35 kph, and you can damage your self 
pretty good at that speed as well...lesson learnt!


Lance Armstrong's 1995 Team Motorola/Caloi authenticated by Eddie Merckx

I have finally had Lance Armstrongs 1995 
Caloi team bike authenticated by the Eddie Merckx 
factory, which is great news.
What was even better news was that the man who
built this bike bike was still working at the factory, 
and even remembered building the bike!
Then to make it even better it turns out the the frame builder
is none other the most prestigious of Merckx frame builder the
 famous Johan Vranckx who was sent by Merckx in 1979 to work
alongside Ugo De Rosa in his factory in Italy and learn the
fine art of race cycle frame building.
Here is a great article and interview with Vranckx.

Here is a short clip showing Johan Vranckx building
the Eddy70 limited edition (70 only) steel bike in 2015.
This is the email exchange betwen myself and the Merckx
factory earlier this year...

Hello, I have a 1995 Ex Team Motorola/Caloi Eddie Merckx bike, 
frame No F 9016, made of Columbus SLX New. 
It was sold to me as one of Lance Armstrong's team bikes 
from that year, I am reasonably sure that this information 
is correct, however would appreciate it if you might be 
able to authenticate for sure if this is correct or not. 
There is more information and photos of the bike 
on my site The Flying Wheel here...
Thanks in advance for your time. Best Adrian

Hey Adrian,

It is true, I can verify that this was Lance's bike once.
Almost impossible to find, 
the maker of this bike is still working for us and he told me.

Have a great day!
Yours sincerely
Lauwers William
I then emailed back asking if I might be able to
use the builder name on my blog...

Dear Adrian,

Of course you may use the name of the frame builder.
It is Johan Vranckx.

 Met vriendelijke groeten / With kind regards,
William Lauwers
So that is the good news, unfortunately the bad news
is that I crashed my bike pretty badly about five weeks
ago, and will take at least another 6-8 weeks before I can
get back to work, so I now am forced to sell the bike.
Oh well, at least I had the pleasure of owning it, even
if it was only briefly. 
(And I did ride it..just once...beautiful) 

For sale here.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

1981 Team Hoonved Bottecchia

Here is a very nice 1981 Team Hoonved Bottecchia.
It was sold to me as a original '81 Team bike, I have sent
the details of the bike to Bottecchia cicli S.r.l
so we will see if it proves to be the real thing or not?
I had always liked Bottecchia as a cycle brand, in fact
there a few things I like about Bottecchia.
So when I had the opportunity to buy what was possibly an 
ex team frame set several years ago, well I couldn't say no.
Firstly there is the heroic/tragic story of Ottavio Bottecchia, the
first Italian to win the Tour de France, and also the first rider to wear 
the maillot jaune from the first to last day of the tour (1924 TdF).
He also won the tour again in 1925.
Ottavio had, from the beginning of his cycling career, 
been helped in no small way by bike shop owner
Teodoro Carnielli, whom it is said, gave Ottavio his first
good quality race bike, a Ganna.
Sometime between 1924-26 Carnielli arranged to sell bikes
branded as Bottecchia.
Then in 1927 tragedy struck, while out on a training ride Ottavio
meet a mysterious fate, he was found unconscious on the road side near 
an orchard with  a skull fracture and several broken bones, 
but apparently no sign of a hit and run.
He died 12 days later.
More on that story here 
Teodoro Carnielli kept producing and expanding the Bottecchia range 
of bicycles,I have read somewhere as much a tribute to his friend
 Ottavio as a business venture
 Unfortunately I couldn't seem to find very much information
on Teodoro on the net at all, not even a photo of him.
Secondly, I really like the way there is practically no
pantographed components for Bottecchia. It is hard to
believe that a serious Italian race bike company, with a serious 
presence in the peloton, made a conscious decision to not go
down that path during the pantograph boom of the 80's.
Someone high up in Bottecchia must have called bullshit 
on the cult of panto when it came to their race bikes.
You have to admire the purity of vision.
Team rider Gisiger Daniel doing a time trial,,no panto here pal.
This lovely fork crown is probably the only bit of Bottecchia
 pantograph most of us will ever see.
 Nicely lined brake bridge. 

Thirdly I have always admired their decision to offer proper team
replica's for sale to the public, appropriately decaled with sponsors names.
This wasn't all that common during this period,
which makes verifying this frame's team authenticity that 
much more challenging.

Lastly, the Bottecchia jerseys have always been
outstanding, and their early eighties ones were some
of the prettiest jerseys of that period.

 Giuseppe Saronni in the SCIC/Bottecchia colours 1977-79
Their early jerseys were pretty nice too, but then nearly all the team
jerseys from the first team jerseys to early 1960's are pretty stylish IMO.
I will show you why I am reasonably sure that this might be
an authentic team issue frame set.
 Look closely at these lugs, they have been filed almost flush
with the tubes (top and bottom), there is a hell of a lot of work that 
has gone into this finishing. It is hard to imagine that this amount of 
work being put into your normal team replica.
 Even the seat cluster lugs get the same treatment.
Top/bottom and seat tube have all been filed flush.
The whole frame set has been masterfully finished from
one end to the other.

 It also rides beautifully as well, I just did a nice morning
ride today, and am still smiling.
Bottecchia/Carnielli B/B shell.

What more can you ask of a bike?
It's Italian and it's