[CR]: de Vlaeminck--long

Topics: Racing:Roger de Vlaeminck
(Example: Framebuilders:Chris Pauley)

Date: Tue, 07 May 2002 19:08:29 -0700
From: "Bill Bryant" <Bill_Bryant@prodigy.net>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]: de Vlaeminck--long
References: <l03130302b8fdfa18b1cb@[]>

Herb Langston wrote:
> While Roger is most closely associated with Brooklyn/Gios, he actually
> spent more years of his career on a Benotto with Moser's Sanson team.

Well, not really...

Though the Kennedy Bros book is packed with many good-quality pix of "Le Gitan" in his 1978 Sanson colors, de Vlaeminck was at Brooklyn 1973-77 and at Sanson for only a single season. I think this erroneous impression from the book is due to more to the publisher's inability to get (or pay for) good photos from all of Roger de Vlaeminck's career.

At any rate, the 1978 co-habitation with Moser was unsuccessful as it only lasted a few months into the 1978 season. In April, and in search of his 5th Paris-Roubaix victory (!), RdV furiously chased down Moser despite them both collecting paychecks from the same team. He took crazy risks in the final kilometers and eventually crashed w/o catching the flying Italian. RdV eventually finished second. Moser, in turn, was not too happy about this betrayal, and to call them "teammates" for the rest of the season would be an exaggeration.

Not surprisingly, the Belgian found another team for the next season. In 1979 he was riding for Gis (still aboard a Benotto, while Moser's Sanson squad began riding Moser brand bikes).

By 1980 RdV was riding Colnagos on the Boule d'Or team with Fons de Wolf. In one picture, his Colnago has a prominent "Roger de Vlaeminck" decal on the downtube. The match with the younger de Wolf was probably better than that with Moser... the overrated de Wolf never amounted to much and RdV didn't have to worry about sharing the limelight with another champion of similar stature and ability.

In RdV carried off the 1981 Belgian national championships at the age of 34, this time in the colors of Cote d'Or/DAF trucks/Gazelle bikes. But again, the lure of a big paycheck lead to having to cohabitate with another star, and teammate Hennie Kuiper carried off an epic Tour of Flanders at de Vlaeminck's expense. Lessons learned from his Sanson days, RdV behaved himself and didn't chase the opportunistic Dutchman despite having better legs that day.

De Vlaeminck was on the Flandria team 1969-71 and on the Dreher squad in 1972. Overall, the longest RdV stayed on one brand of bike was the famous Gios Torinos of his Brooklyn team for four seasons, and aboard Flandrias for three as a young professional. Other than that, he rarely stayed on a team for more than one year, in part giving him the nickname of The Gypsy. Three of his Paris-Roubaix victories (1974, 1975, 1977) were earned on Gios-Torinos; the first in 1972 was while riding for the Dreher team. No doubt he will always be remembered from his glory years at Brooklyn, due in great part to the wonderful film, "A Sunday in Hell".

I think Roger de Vlaeminck was one of the very best classics riders ever. Unlike so many others of the era, he wasn't afraid to challenge the mighty Eddy Merckx and there were many fine battles between the two for many years. De Vlaeminck's list of race victories is really impressive, especially considering the guys he had to beat. I believe his serious racing days ended in 1982, with a few forays into winter cyclo-cross races after that. Showing that sports starts don't always make good financial decisions, his investments didn't pan out too well in retirement and he's seen some tough times. Interestingly, in the late 80s, his old adversary Eddy Merckx generously set him up to race c-x again (bikes, clothes, car) and try and earn some much-needed bucks. It was a fine gesture from one champion to another.

Sources: "The Fabulous World of Cycling"; Tonnoir "A Century of Paris-Roubaix"; Sergent "Roger de Vlaeminck"; Luchon and too many Miroir du Cyclisme magazines to list

Bill Bryant
Santa Cruz, CA