domingo, 30 de diciembre de 2012

Milano San Remo. Merckx´s kingdom. Part III.

1973 and 1974 were very good years for Merckx, who completed his great career with the Vuelta 73, and with an amazing triple crown ( Giro,Tour and Worlds) in 1974.

Coincidentally he didn´t win in Via Roma those years. Roger de Vlaeminck won his first San Remo in 1973 and Gimondi his only one in 1974,with the rainbow jersey

De Vlaeminck wins in Via Roma in 1973      Photo

Milano San Remo 1974 Photo: Courtesy Marcel Segessemann

Two years were enough for Merckx, who had not taken part in those editions due to illnesses.

The beginning of the season was very good for Molteni squad , who had not only Merckx, but Joseph Bruyere, in very good shape

Bruyere and Merckx. Tour 1974. Photo

Bruyere had won the Mediterranean tour and the Het Volk, and he was decided to help Merckx to tie Girardengo.
It was a very tough race that 19th of March, 1975, due to weather conditions. Cold and wind hit the riders.

There were several attempts from the start, including an early break from nearly all the contenders ( with Merckx of course), that finished in the 100 kilometre.

The French rider Raymond Delisle tried to achieve a glory day but was caught too, and finally the victory would be disputed on the Poggio climb.

There were some attacks in the Poggio but the most important one included the young Moser and Bruyere, who reached the summit of the Poggio with some seconds to Merckx who was leading the bunch. Merckx risked on the descent and contacted Conti, Moser and Bruyere.

Then Bruyere helped him to have a good position in the sprint ( with the bunch just 200 metres behind). Moser was the first to sprint but Merckx passed him winning his sixth San Remo, an incredible achievement , in only 8 participations. He had tied Girardengo. Moser was second and Bruyere fifth.

Tiffosi were disappointed, another nearly victory of an Italian in Via Roma, and the record of Girardengo tied. Merckx had won by half a bicycle

Days later he won Amstel Gold Race, Liege and Flandes, being second to De Vlaeminck in Roubaix. An incredible achievement.

That July Merckx lost the Tour to Thevenet, he just could be second. Thevenet take the yellow in the famous stage of Pra loup where Merckx had a " fringale" in the last kilometres. He also suffered a hit of a spectator in the Puy de Dome and a terrible crash in Valloire with Ritter. In spite of all he finished second.

When the 1976 season started , there were several doubts about Merckx, he was not winning as much as usual.

It was a controlled race, and in the last 50 kilometres Merckx attacked several times , but was caught, it seemed clear the he has not the power of previous years. But on the Poggio, Merckx attacked again and the doubts of his Belgian rivals, De Vlaeminck and Maertens allowed him to open a gap that was only closed by Jean luc VandenBroucke .

The couple arrived at Via Roma with 30· of difference and Merckx outsprinted Vandenbroucke ( who later was disqualified for doping)

Merckxs wins his 7th San Remo. Photo

The final classification was:

1. Eddy Merckx ............. 6h 55' 28"
2. Wladimiro Panizza ..............à 28"
3. None
4. Michel Laurent ..................à 31"
5. Walter Planckaert ..............à 33"
6. Rik Van Linden 
7. Patrick Sercu
8. Roger De Vlaeminck
9. Francesco Moser 
10. Walter Godefroot 

It was the last great win of Merckx career. He would come back in 1977 but was not a real challenger.

Merckx quit cycling in the early part of the 1978 season, and that San Remo is remembered as his last major win.

A record of seven victories that remains unbeatable still.

And here finishes a good romance between the best rider ever and the Classicissima.

Thanks for all Eddy

jueves, 27 de diciembre de 2012

Greg Lemond one of the greatest. Part III.

In 1984 Lemond made his debut in the Tour. However, it was a strange Tour, because it was the Hinault´s comeback after missing the previous edition ( due to a knee injury). The badger was now in La Vie Claire , Bernard Tapie had signed him. Lemond was a well reputated rider, but the press was speaking only about the Fignon-Hinault duel. Lemond was in a second row.

Finally the Tour was a parade of Fignon and Renault, with Lemond third . Lemond did a good Tour, but worse than expected. Besides that Fignon had humiliated Hinault, winning five stages. Lemond had suffered of bronchitis in the Pyrenees and was not a rival at all.

Fignon won the Tour in a Merckx way. Lemond was third.Photo l´Equipe

Lemond then had to think in his future. Bernard Tapie was looking for a successor of Hinault. He liked Roche but liked Lemond too. Who would be Tapie´s choice?.

 It was Lemond, not Roche.

Lemond decided to change team to be a leader ( Hinault was close to a retirement, Fignon was just starting). The American signed a very good contract and he was called by the press " The million dollar man".

It was a good operation for Tapie. He signed a very talented rider and left Guimard without one of his stars.Lemond would be a great domestique for Hinault to make the attempt of the Giro-Tour in 1985, and even he could assume responsability as a leader in case Hinault wasn´t in good shape.

The 1985 season was the confirmation that Lemond was a very good rider but, used to find difficult winning races. On the other hand, Fignon injured and his season was over. The big Tours were now easier for the la Vie Claire couple.

In the giro Hinault won his third rosa and Lemond finished third. Both of them were ready for a Tour where their team was favourite to win.

The first part of the Tour was controlled by Hinault and his team, as expected. Hinault was in yellow after a good win in the long time trial of Strasbourg and a break with Herrera in the way to Avoriaz.

Hinault conceded the win to Herrera in Avoriaz. Photo

Unfortunately for the French, a crash in the last kilometre of the stage of Saint Etienne left him with a nose fracture for the rest of the race.Lemond was now closer due to a break.

Photo from the book Slaying the badger

 Rumours about Hinault quiting the Tour were in all places. Would Hinault repeat his abandon of 1980?.........not really.

Hinault had a bronchitis in the Pyrenees and suffered in the way to Luz Ardiden in the Queen stage ( Aspin-Tourmalet-Luz Ardiden), while his rival Roche and his mate Lemond flew to the summit. Hinault had been dropped in the Tourmalet and faced the first slopes of Luz Ardiden with his mate Ruttiman. Lemond was following wrong instructions. He was lied about the difference with Hinault, so he couldn´t ride with Roche. Lemond was nervous, he was only 3'30" ahead of Hinault in the overall. The Tour could be his.


Finally he obeyed the team orders and didn´t ride. The stage was for the Spanish climber Delgado, just some seconds in front of Herrera. Lemond fifth.

1'13" after the American Hinault got to the finish line. Then the American understood that he had been cheated. If he had ridden he would have been the new leader, the new yellow jersey.
Lemond exploded ......"they have made me lose the Tour". He wanted to quit the race.
Bernard Tapie had to speak with Lemond and convinced him to stay in the race. Hinault promised that he would help him to win the 1986 edition. The promise made effect and Lemond continued in the race.
In spite of the victory of Roche in the Aubisque, La Vie Claire kept the two first positions and Lemond won the time trial of Lac de Vassiviere.  Hinault tied Anquetil and Merckx with five Tours, and happiness was again in la Vie Claire.

Days later, Lemond won the Coors Classic for the second time in his life


..............and faced one of his favourite races, the 1st of September , the Worlds.

However, Lemond and Argentin, the two favourites were surprised in the last kilometres by the old champion Joop Zoetemelk and Lemond finished second............again.......


A season that could have been marvellous was a "nearly" season with several podiums and few victories.

We would see the year 1986. He would be the leader of La Vie Claire and with the best possible domestique, Bernard Hinault.

sábado, 22 de diciembre de 2012

Milano San Remo . Merckx´s Kingdom. Part II.

When 1970 started, Merckx was the only boss of cycling. Being only a 24 year old guy , he had won nearly all the possible things, and he had humiliated the field during the previous Tour.........

However a terrible event nearly costed his life, he crashed in a track race and his derny pacer died in the Blois velodrome at the end of 1969. According to Merckx words he wasn´t the same rider ever, and he would suffer terrible during climbs in the rest of his carer.

In 1970 Merckx didn´t win the Classicissima, the victory went to an italian rider, 17 years later, after 1953 victory of Loretto Petrucci.

The winner, Michelle Dancelli, couldn´t believe his eyes, he had won it  with a great solo breakaway



That would be the most important win in all his career.
Merckx, now with the Faemino brand, was only eighth in Via Roma.

However Merckx had a terrifying year, winning several races, including his second Roubaix, his second Giro, and his second Tour, in a historical double Giro-Tour, emulating Coppi 1949 and 1952, and Anquetil 1964.

He was the cannibal and he didn´t wait so much to come back to San Remo in a tyrannic way. 1971 would see his fourt victory, in a new squad, the powerful Molteni.

Merckx was tiying Bartali´s record of four wins in San Remo.

It was a very emotive Milano San Remo , the one that took part that 19th of  March. 4 days before the word champion , the Belgian Jean Pierre Moser had been run over and died, with only 22 years old

Merckx dedicated the win to Monsere after a late attack, winning in Via Roma

.......with a lead of 30" to his chasers, he had tied Bartali, only Girardengo had more San Remo classics than Merckx, only two more

1. Eddy MERCKX (Bel) in 7h 21 '20"
2. Felice Gimondi (Ita) à 30"
3. Gosta Pettersson (Sue)
4. Roberto Ballini (Ita)
5. Joseph Bruyere (Bel) à 38"
6. Joseph Spruyt (Bel) à 45"
7. Gianni Motta (Ita) à 47"
8. Roger Rosiers (Bel) à 1'22"
9. Albert Van Vlierberghe (Bel)
10. Yves Hézard (Fra) à 2'01" 

Gimondi was second in a very offensive rca for him, he had been attacking during the las part of the race but was not able to follow Merckx in his definitive attack. Gimondi was totally conscious now ( opposite to 1968 and part of 1969)that Merckx was going to spoil his options in several races ( the races where the cannibal was taking part)

That year 1971 Merckx would win again the Tour de France and the Worlds, but something seemed to be different, a brave Spaniard , Luis Ocaña had put him into trouble in the Tour, a  Belgian, Roger de Vlaeminck was showing a very good shape in classics and a courageous Spanish climber , J.M. Fuente was liking the Giro.............

Luis Ocaña fell on the descent col de Mente while chasing Merckx. Ocaña was leading the Tour with a huge margin to Merckx. The Belgian nearly quit the race after the abandon of his rival.
Late in the 1971 season Merckx won his first Lombardía

It was another win for Merckx, but that victory made Merckx the second cyclist to win the five monuments, he had got his enemy Rick Van Looy.

In 1972 Merckx was going to take part in the Milano San Remo with the rainbow jersey, a good way to pass Bartali and win his fifth trophy in Via Roma.

It was a very exciting race, with the important rider trying to beat Merckx. The press was speaking about a less dominant Merckx ( especially because of the Tour 71 and his duel with Ocaña).

There were several attacks, with former Winner Dancelli, Motta, Gimondi and several riders forcing the tempo to avoid the superiority of Merckx.
But once the bunch got to the slopes of the Poggio, the cannibal attacked and nobody but Gosta Pettersson could resist.
But that was in the climb, Merckx rsked in the descent and goto to Via Roma alone with some 200 metres of advantage. Enough for Merckx , who was winning with the rainbow jersey. Only Binda had done the same in 1931.

Merckx wins his fifth Clasicissima . The second with Molteni. 1972

1. Eddy MERCKX (Bel) in 6h 33' 32"
2. Gianni Motta (Ita) à 9"
3. Marino Basso (Ita)
4. Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
5. Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger)
6. Michele Dancelli (Ita)
7. Domingo Perurena (Esp)
8. André Dierickx (Bel)
9. Gosta Pettersson (Sue)
10. Thomas Pettersson (Sue)
11. Aldo Moser (Ita)
12. Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
13. Gerben Karstens (Hol) à 21"
14. Rik Van Linden (Bel)
15. Miguel-Maria Lasa (Esp)

Only one San Remo to tie Constante Giradengo.

Merckx dominance in 1972 was incredible. Giro ( a great duel with the Spaniard Fuente), Tour ( an absolute superiority to his rivals......ocaña, Guimard, poulidor,etc), and a great achievement in Mexico.

The 25th of October, Merckx got the Hour Record, leaving Ritter behind by a margin of more than 700 metres. The new record was 49,431 km.

Photo Antonio Sevillano

 A perfect end for a great year for the Belgian.

Would be Merckx able to tie Girardengo and win 6 San Remo?, could he beat the record winning more times?............

.............we´ll see it in the next and last chapter of " Milano San Remo. Merckx´s Kingdom".

miércoles, 19 de diciembre de 2012

Greg Lemond. One of the greatest. Part II.

1983 was an important year for cycling, raising stars , new countries, such as Colombia and USA, the presence of Lemond, Robert Millar, the Irish duo ( Roche and Kelly) and some promising riders from France and Spain.

But nothing seemed to worry our character. Lemond won the Mediterranean Tour in the beginning of the season and helped Hinault winning the " Vuelta", but due to a bronchitis he had to quit the race before the last stages
Guimard had told Lemond that he was not going to take part in the Tour because of his youth. The French manager was using the same planning as with Hinault in 1977. In spite of that Lemond was a little annoyed because another young rider, Laurent Fignon, was going to be in the French roads that July. However the American was going to repeat Hinault´s success in 1977, winning the Dauphine, and three stages .


But that was not the only story. Lemond was the leader when the race faced the Ventoux, but the French rider Pascal Simon attacked him hard during the climb dropping the American




.....and taking the leader jersey......

Simon won the race, but some days later he was found positive in a test control and the victory passed to Lemond. Simon was fined and  banned a month, a month whenever he wanted. He chose the following month of the Tour.

So a prestigious victory, but not in the proper way, for Lemond, who later would do a good race again in Switzerland, being 4th less than 2 minutes ahead of the winner Kelly.............not their last duel.

Later in the Tour, a great Simon survived in the Pyrenees stage to Luchon taking the yellow jersey by more than 4 minutes to the second, Fignon, unfortunately for him,a fall forced him to quit some stages later in the day of Alpe D´Huez................Fignon would take the yellow till Paris. The Parisien suffered in the way to Morzine but showed he was a champion.

Foto Graham Watson

And that was the first part ( and longer) of the season for Lemond. It was time to prepare the Worlchampionsip in Altenrhein, Switzerland en Suiza. Lemond had got the silver medal the previous year and Knew that the rainbow was possible. The route was tougher, 270 kilometers,with eighteen 15 kilometers lap, and more than 4000 meters of climb. Lemond was one of the favourites, what about his rivals?........Kelly, the Italian team, with Saronni and Argentin, and some young riders such as Fignon, the former winner of the Tour, but nobody knew how the French rider was going to be there.

The day came, 4th of September. It was curious that a cold rider like Lemond was nervous. Nevertheless, once the race started he felt confident, he had a year of expirience and that point could help him.

He didn´t get so involved in the first part of the race, letting other teams to take the initiative. He was saving energy for the last laps................for his moment..........

............and that moment came with three laps to go, with ana attack of the young Scottish Robert Millar ( who had done a great Worlds in Sallanches 1980). A breakaway was formed by Rupérez, Argentin and Lemond that dropped Millar. Lemond knew that was the move, and acceleratedd in the climb with two laps to go dropping the Italy Champion Argentin. Only two riders, only one lap for the glory. The advantage to the chasing group was a minute. The Belgian team was leading the was late.......that duo was going to ride for the rainbow jersey. .

However Rupérez was suffering and Lemond noticed it, attacking him in the last climb and flying for the title

He was now alone, enjoying the moment, he was going to win a Worlds, as he had done as a junior 4 years ago...........

He got crazy once he got to the finish line, the title was his, the first American title.



Ruperez couldn´t keep the gap and was caught by the group. Adrie Van der Poel wonthe esprint and the young promise, Stephen Roche third.


Lemond was the youngest World Champion since Jean Pierre Monsere in Leicester 1970 ( he died the 15th of March of the following year, he was ran over by a was his son years later..............a total tragedy).

To close the season, Lemond rode the fifth monument of cycling, Lombardía, and nearly won, Kelly outsprinted the American winning by a short margin. A disappointing lose


But Lemond was the first in the Super Prestige Pernod, that awarded the best rider of the season. An incredible year for the American.

It was clear that he was one of the best riders at the moment, and now his main goal was going to be the Tour.........but that is a different story that will be told in our next chapter of " Greg Lemond, one of the greatest......."

domingo, 16 de diciembre de 2012

Etapas en Andorra. Etapa reina Vuelta 2013.

J.Mª Jiménez vence en Pal , 2001.

Según rumores parece que la próxima vuelta a España tendrá no solo muchos finales nerviosos o etapas con puerto duro final, sino que habrá una auténtica etapa reina, de esas de mas de 200 kilómetros y mucho desgaste acumulado.

Los rumores hablan de Andorra, ¿ veremos por fin un etapón andorrano?. Tenemos varios precedentes de etapas andorranas duras, aunque últimamente las etapas andorranas no daban mucho de sí:

ETAPA VUELTA 2008, con doble paso por Rabassa:

Vuelta a España 2008

Una buena etapa, con kilometraje y buen encaenado final. Era la primera de montaña y resultó decepcionante, pero era buena etapa.


Etapa corta pero con con puertos y desgaste


Etapa corta pero con puertos bien encadenados y que deparó un gran espectáculo con victoria de Igor González de Galdeano.

Quizás la etapa más recordada fue la de Arcalis 1997 con exhibición del alemán Jan Ullrich

Gráfico Javifuertes, PRC

Milan San Remo. Merckx imparable. Parte I.

Merckx es el mejor ciclista de siempre, él ganó todas las carreras en las que participó ( excepto la Paris Tours)y es recordado por sus 5 Tours, 5 Giros, 3 Campeonatos del Mundo y sus victorias en clásicas.

by ddsiple

Vamos a escribir sobre su favorita, o al menos aquella en que mostró un dominio más evidente, Milan San Remo, con la subida al Poggio y con la llegada en Via Roma.

Photo © P Griffiths

Fue su primera gran victoria también como ciclista profesional. Él tuvo que dejar el Solo Superia por problemas irreconciliables con su compatriota Rick Van Looy, y firmó por Peugeot.

Cuando Merckx corrió la Classicissima en 1966 él no era un favorito, era una promesa pero todavía no estaba considerado como rueda a seguir.

Era duro para un corredor joven, iba a correr en una clásica, un monumento de máxima exigencia, 288 kilómetros.

Race profile courtesy of Internet site:
 Merckx atacaba en Capo Berta, y marcahaba con Poulidor en el Poggio.

Formaba parte de un grupo de 11 unidades que abandonaba el pelotón y que llegaba aventajado a la Via Roma. Gran escapada con grandes nombres, estaban Poulidor, Aimar, Mr Burdeos Paris, Herman Van Springel y otros buenos corredores. Pero el joven belga los superaba en el esprint con claridad.........era su primera San Remo.
La clasificación........:

1. Eddy MERCKX (Bel) in 6h 40 '40"
2. Adriano Durante (Ita)
3. Herman Van Springel (Bel)
4. Michele Dancelli (Ita)
5. Adriano Passuello (Ita)
6. Rolf Maurer (Sui)
7. Raymond Poulidor (Fra)
8. Franco Balmamion (Ita)
9. Huub Zilverberg (Hol)
10. Roberto Poggiali (Ita)
11. Lucien Aimar (Fra)
12. Guido De Rosso (Ita) à 29"
13. André Foucher (Fra)
14. Armand Desmet (Bel)
15. Robert Lelangue (Bel)
16. Severino Andreoli (Ita) à 52"
17. Vito Taccone (Ita) à 56"
18. Bruno Centomo (Ita) à 1'02"
19. Raffaele Marcoli (Ita)
20. Joseph Huysmans (Bel)

Con sólo 20 años, Merckx tenía su primer monumento ( muchos más vendrían posteriormente).

En 1967 ya era un corredor con cierto prestigio pero el mundo del ciclismo permanecía ciego aún sobre lo que se les venía encima.
La victoria del año anterior era considerada una mezcla de factores, el factor sorpresa de no ser una rueda vigilada, un buen día,.....

Por eso cuando la Milan San Remo 1967 empezó Merckx no era uno de los máximos favoritos aún. Los italianos esperaban una victoria que se les estaba resistiendo desde hacía 13 años. El joven Gimondi era uno de los favoritos.

Sin embargo lo inevitable ocurría, Merckx superaba a los tres idolos italianos en Via Roma para alzarse con su segunda San Remo consecutiva.

Los espectadores estaban confusos, la victoria del 66 no había sido casual, ese Merckx era un buen corredor.

Motta, Bitossi y Gimondi sólo pudieron contemplar su victoria, la segunda consecutiva con solo 21 años.

Cuadno Merckx afrontó su primer giro de Italia ese año, nadie pensaba en él para la victoria, era su primera grande.

Merckx ganó dos etapas ( incluyendo la llegada en alto al BlockHaus ), y acababa en una meritoria 9ª posición.
Fue entonces cuando tuvo lugar una de las frases proféticas de éste deporte. El periodista italiano Bruno Raschi comentaba " éste jamás ganará una gran vuelta por etapas"....................tenía razón, ganaría 11.......

Además ela ño acabó con victoria en el mundial delante del holandés y favorito Janssen y del español Saez

Su primer mundial con sólo 22 años. Ese otoño además había firmado con la escuadra italiana del Faema.

Sorprendentemente ( según palabras de Gimondi, Godefroot y otros) el belga todavía no era considerado como una amenaza, simplemente era un buen ciclista como otros tantos..........

En 1968 sólo podía ser 31ª en San Remo, el arcoiris era un blanco fácil para ser marcado.

Ese año Merckx ganaba su primer giro, con una victoria legendaria en Lavaredo, y de repente el mundo del ciclismo se daba cuenta de que algo estaba pasando, un caníbal había llegado..........

Merckx se vengaría de su derrota en el 68 en San Remo al año siguiente. Era el número 1 , a pesar de no haber ganado todavía el Tour, y ya tenía la Roubaix del 68 y el giro de ese mismo año.

Fue marcado durante toda la carrera, parecía que lo único que importaba era que Merckx no ganara. Pero el belga era el más fuerte y atacó en el tramo final presentándose en solitario en la Via Roma, para ganar su tercera San Remo, con sólo 23 años.
Por detrás encabezaba el grupo un prometedor belga, Roger de Vlaeminck.


Tras esta victoria los expertos empezaban a preocuparse con éste fenómeno, que había igualado las tres victorias de Coppi en San Remo y que ya sólo tendría en mente el record de seis de Girardengo.

"Merckx parece volar. No veo a ningún ciclista ganándole ahora mismo". Jacques Anquetil.

Ese año Merckx era expulsado del giro de Italia en Savona en extrañas circunstancias cuando era el maillot rosa y único favorito a la victoria.
Esa erala motivación que Merckx necesitaba, tras reclamaciones y disputas la sanción que se le ponía no le impedía tomar parte en el Tour, y ahía el belga se explallaba. Aniquilaba a sus rivales ganando por casi 18 minutos al segundo Roger Pingeon y dejando la etapa de Mourenx para la historia.

En ésete año 69 ganaba 2 monumentos más, Lieja y Flandes, sólo le quedaba Lombardía para igualar a su némesis Van Looy como único ciclista en ganar los 5 monumentos.

 Tres San Remo, un extraordinario bagajae en 4 años. Él era el elegido para batir todos los records en clásicas, y la Milan San Remo iba a ser su territorio preferido.