HomeCyclingThe PEZ High Heroes of All Time!

The PEZ High Heroes of All Time!

“I’m by no means happier than once I’m writing.”
~ Ed Hood, as spoken to Martin Williamson from the passenger seat, driving alongside a stage route on the Tour de France.

Pricey Readers – Our beloved colleague and buddy Ed Hood suffered a critical stroke in February.  We don’t anticipate Ed will make it again into our bunch, so we’ve began a GoFundMe web page to assist Ed along with his future.  Learn the complete publish right here – and please take into account donating.

** Click on this hyperlink to donate to the GoFundMe web page to assist Ed **

We’ll be posting a collection of Ed’s work from the previous 16 years, as a result of nice story-telling by no means will get previous.

The PEZ Heroes: After we had been youthful all of us had heroes, however because the years cross that modifications to an admiration of an individual’s fashion, persona and on this case, biking capability. Ed Hood has taken a ballot of his pals and the PEZ crew to search out the ‘High Biking Heroes of All Time’ (in our humble opinion).

‘We might be heroes’ – David Bowie

What was it David Bowie stated? ‘We might be Heroes, only for at some point?’ But it surely’s not like that. Your heroes are your heroes, as David added; ‘ceaselessly and ever.’ Mine haven’t modified over some 50 years – however extra of that one other time. Not for the primary time it was my mentor and Biking’s reply to Nostradamus, Vik who gave me the concept for this piece. He was happy to see one in every of his Heroes, Guido Bontempi featured in our, ‘trackmen who transitioned to the highway’ piece.

He informed me that Large Guido was quantity two on his listing of three Heroes – all Italians, with not a Belgian in sight – let’s begin with quantity three:

‘Cipo’ bigger than life

Mario Cipollini: Large, loud, brash, stuffed with himself, politically incorrect – how might you not love the person? There have been the loopy outfits, each on and off the bike, the color matched machines, infinite UCi fines – however what a showman and what a sprinter, 192 or is it 201 wins? I’ve to agree with Vik that the game misses the massive guys from Lucca.

Guido Bontempi
Guido Bontempi – ‘The Buffalo’

Aforementioned Guido Bontempi, aka ‘The Buffalo’ was certainly a beast of a boy on a motorbike, not solely did he transition from observe to highway he additionally re-invented himself as a winner from the breakaway when his dash prowess started to say no – as they inevitably do for all riders. Few riders have seemed extra spectacular when in full flight than this man.

Vittorio Adorni

Vik’s best choice lies on the different finish of the persona scale from Cipo, one of many sport’s gents but in addition Italian, tall and really elegant – Sen. Vittorio Adorni. We might have included him in our transition piece, he was Italian Pursuit Champion in 1958 however he’s finest remembered because the 1965 Giro winner and 1968 World Skilled Street Race Champion at Imola the place the rising star, Eddy Merckx didn’t give chase to solo escapee Adorni. Adorni was Merckx’s mentor at Faema, instructing him about preparation, weight loss plan and race craft. The final time I noticed Sen. Adorni on the Giro he seemed one million {dollars}, he might have been a visiting film star.

Adorni – Wanting like one million {dollars}

However what of my different biking pals?
I went all the best way to Japan to get the alternatives of Nakata Takashi, a person with whom I’ve collaborated on interviews with the likes of Masahiko Mifune, Damien Monier and Masatoshi Ichikawa.

Winner Masatoshi Ichikawa

Nakata’s man in third spot is aforementioned Masatoshi Ichikawa, an comprehensible alternative as a real pioneer and Japan’s first Grand Tour finisher, within the 1990 Giro d’Italia, his full story might be learn within the interview, HERE.

Chris Horner – Vuelta’13

His second alternative is Chris Horner, the oldest ever winner of a Grand Tour by a substantial margin, the 2013 Vuelta at a exceptional 41 years and 328 days, he continued to race into his late 40’s after a professional profession which lasted greater than 20 years.

World champion Bernard Hinault on the highway to Roubaix

His principal man is a reputation which is bound to crop up once more, Bernard Hinault the feisty Breton. ‘Le Blaireau’ is second solely to Eddy Merckx by way of Grand Tour wins, 10 in whole, 5 Excursions de France, three Giros and two Vueltas; Baron Eduoard has 11 notches. Hinault gained the Tour of Lombardy, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Flèche Wallonne twice every in addition to 5 Grand Prix des Nations – and wasn’t averse to a scrap if he didn’t like what the roadside followers had been getting as much as. . .

The ‘Badger’ was robust

Jakob Hansen-Schwartz is ‘my man’ in Denmark, I’ve missed seeing him beside the boards at Copenhagen these final couple of years because of the form workplaces of Mr. Covid. However I hope to meet up with him at le Tour, this yr.

Jan Ullrich – A flawed diamond

His third alternative is flawed diamond, Jan Ullrich; World Champion on the highway at 19, Worlds iTT medallist a yr later, beating the likes of Erik Breukink and Abraham Olano, two years after that he was second in le Tour to group mate Bjarne Riis, using a blinding remaining time trial beating no much less figures than Miguel Indurain and Abraham Olano.
His ’97 Tour win appeared inevitable and seemed like the beginning of a brand new reign as King of the Tour. However one other 4 second locations adopted; Pantani then ‘Large Tex’ denying him what had seemed like his for the taking. There was a Vuelta, an Olympic Street Race title and two world particular person time trial championships earlier than it began to go mistaken. Nonetheless, a really human and simpatico man.

Bartali was an actual hero

A wee bit earlier than even my time, Gino Bartali does qualify for the ‘legend’ label, 4 Primaveras, three Excursions of Lombardy, three Giri and two Excursions with the second credited with drastically easing civil strife in his native Italy. He’s revered in Israel for the Resistance work his did through the Second World Conflict, aiding persecuted Jews. Legend certainly.

A Spaniard in pink – Alberto Contador

Jakob is an Alberto Contador fan to the core; the person from Pinto, the geographic centre of Spain divides opinion – the best stage race rider of his technology or ceaselessly ‘tainted’ by the ‘clenbuterol affair.’ I am going with the previous definition, personally, he gained all three Grand Excursions and between 2007 and 2011 he gained six consecutive Grand Excursions that he entered. And he deserves respect too for refusing to have the dreaded. ‘one season too many,’ which so many stars topic themselves and their followers too – going out in nice fashion with a win on the fearsome Angliru on his second final day as a competitor.

Etna - Italie - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Giro D’Italia 2011 - 9e etappe Messina > Etna - Alberto Contador (Saxobank) - foto Cor Vos ©2011
Contador on Etna Giro’11

The person I reply to on the Six Days, soigneur Kris has the person who ended Eddy Merckx’s reign as ‘Roi de le Tour,’ France’s Bernard Thevenet as his third alternative. Regardless of his ‘legend’ standing in France, two time Tour winner Thevenet stays a really humble, approachable and pleasant particular person; he was the person who ran the Grenoble Six Day for a few years, the very reverse of the dictatorial Six Day ‘Tsars’ of the North. There was additionally a Tour podium along with his two wins, two Dauphines, Romandie and Catalunya. And an epic Worlds trip in 1974 was thwarted by winner, Merckx with the Frenchman ‘man of the match’ in fifth place.

Bernard Thevenet – The person who beat Eddy Merckx

His second alternative is the person he sorted through the 1981 Tour de France, Belgium’s enigmatic Freddy Maertens, written off by many, Freddy gained 5 levels and the inexperienced jersey in that Tour with the cherry on prime of that season the world highway race title in Prague. After that? Sluggish decline however on his day within the mid to late 70’s – a pressure of nature.

flanders 77
Maertens within the race he ought to have gained – Flanders’77

As a person of the sixes it’s maybe no shock that Kris ought to select a observe rider as his numero uno. Denmark’s Hans-Henrik Øerstedt got here off a bronze medal on the 1980 Moscow Olympics within the 4,000 metres pursuit to win a medal at each skilled pursuit World championship from 1980 to 1987 – three golds, three silvers and two bronze medals. A perfectionist, a stylist, a pursuit legend.

Hans-Henrik Oerstedt
Øerstedt in Rotterdam ‘6 Days’

Lastly, my Amigo, Dave Chapman, veteran of many a Tour and Giro de PEZ. His third alternative – the person whose 2005 Worlds win and Classics successes boosted Belgian Biking Federations ‘novices’ membership ranges to unprecedented ranges – as each boy in Belgium needed to be like Tommeke. Tom Boonen, 4 Paris-Roubaix, three Excursions of Flanders, three Gent-Wevelgems, 5 GP E3, two every Paris-Brussels and Scheldeprijs plus extra stage wins than a stick might be shaken. Charismatic, simpatico and sorely missed.

roubaix boonen
‘Tommeke’ – Tom Boonen

His second alternative is a person within the Adorni mould, Italian, immaculate, elegant, a Worlds and Tour winner, like Adorni; but in addition a Primavera, Lombardy, Roubaix, Tour and Vuelta winner. The late, nice Felice Gimondi.

Gimondi – Italian class

And to shut the Capo di Capo, the person who by any measure is the best ever, Eddy Merckx. The winner of each Grand Tour; each Monument, together with Liege 5 time and Sanremo seven occasions and a remaining whole in extra of 500 wins. It’s all been stated. . .

What didn’t ‘Large Ted’ win

I requested a few of my Amigos about who their biking Heroes are however I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try with our very personal PEZ CREW who their Heroes are.

The PEZ Employees Heroes:

We begin with the Capo di Capo, Richard Pestes himself:

Hinault in Paris-Roubaix

Bernard Hinault: He was on the prime of his sport once I got here into biking as a fan. All the time appeared robust as nails, that decided grimace on his face – successful Liège in a snow storm, then vowing to by no means race it once more – “badgering” LeMond into his first Tour win in ’86. Legend. Once I lastly noticed him at a Tour stage as a reporter, I used to be afraid to strategy him.

fignon tt
The Prof – Fignon

Laurent Fignon: I beloved the wire framed glasses, blond hair and pony tail – so cool and with such a French (might care much less) perspective. Such a trendy rider, fluid, relaxed, assured. I want he’d gained extra and want we’d interviewed him earlier than he was gone.

Contador on the assault in la Vuelta’16

Alberto Contador: He proved his mettle when he not solely stood as much as, however beat Lance at his personal Machiavellian video games by successful the ’09 Tour. Nobody within the peloton had the heart, brains or expertise to tackle The Boss, however Bert did it – and with such humble fashion – He confirmed us how successful with class was purported to be finished.

Etna - Italie - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Giro D’Italia 2011 - 9e etappe Messina > Etna - Alberto Contador (Saxobank) - foto Cor Vos ©2011
Giro’11 motion for Contador

As we’d anticipate from our Literary Editor, his decisions are thought of ones – over to you, Leslie Reissner:

Okay, biking heroes. That is difficult given all of the historical past I’ve learn however I determine that it will likely be essential to call an Italian, a Belgian and a Wild Card choice. Right here they’re:

coppi gravel
Coppi main Koblet and Bartali

1. Italian: Fausto Coppi – Grand Excursions, Monuments, the One Hour File using round bomb craters on the Vigorelli. Somebody who used fashionable coaching strategies. Complete fashion on the bike (how will you miss with a Bianchi anyway?) and off the bike. “A person, alone, within the lead, whose jersey is white and blue…”

Gilbert – He by no means offers up

2. Belgian: Philippe Gilbert – He most likely gained’t win Milan-San Remo to spherical out his palmarès with every of the Monuments however an ideal document of wins anyway, from the Worlds to Classics to Grand Tour levels. A rider who by no means offers up, as proven by going over a wall on the Tour and smashing his knee and nonetheless ending the stage. Or every week after successful Flanders he was within the main group at Amstel Gold, crashed out, acquired again on and even with a torn kidney caught as much as the others and gained the race. I used to be current for a Philippe Gilbert Fan Membership trip and he was actually joyful to hang around with the children.

Cancellara – Greater than only a TT man

3. Wild Card: Fabian Cancellara – one other biking fashion icon. An exquisite time triallist but in addition somebody who might win a dash on the Tour, astonishingly. A buddy was using at a sportif and Cancellara was collaborating, saying he was there, ‘so folks might take pleasure in my presence.’ And so they did, significantly when he stopped to assist somebody with a mechanical. To combine a metaphor, I believe the Swiss have punched above their nationwide weight in biking and are at all times good worth.

But in addition a prime TT man

Mr. Chuck Pena our Technical Critiques Professional:

Coppi – The primary huge hero of professional biking?

Fausto Coppi – As a result of Coppi is Coppi. Merckx is the best, however Coppi is the campionissimo of campionissimos. A legend. “Age and treachery will overcome youth and talent” is the decal on the highest tube of my Felt FC.

The biking group I based (Unione Sportiva Coppi’s that then turned Squadra Coppi) was in his honor. And I named our first canine Coppi.


And in relation to biking, I’m an Italophile at coronary heart.

Lemond – The ‘solely’ US Tour winner

Greg LeMond – First (and solely) American to win the Tour de France. And that first in ’86 overcoming the Badger is the stuff of legend.

His second two wins got here after his being close to to demise. One can solely marvel what he would have completed if not for that searching accident.

And people eight seconds – maybe the best Tour finale ever?

Let’s additionally not overlook he out-sprinted Sean Kelly (and Dimitri Konyshev) within the moist to win the ’89 Worlds to turn out to be solely the fifth rider to win the Tour and the World Championships within the identical yr.
Plus I’ve really met him and he’s a genuinely good man.


Andy Hampsten – The primary American to win on Alpe d’Huez. His bike set-up for that win (STI rear shifter and downtube entrance shifter) was the inspiration for a way I re-configured my #steelisreal Hollands within the 90s.

And who can overlook the ’88 Giro? His stage 14 trip in a snow storm on the Gavia en path to the Maglia Rosa. Epic.

Plus he’s additionally a genuinely good man.

Giro D’Italia, foto Cor Vos ©1988 Andy Hampsten
Giro winner and good man – Andy Hampsten

PEZ man on the Iberian Peninsula and our Editor, Alastair Hamilton stays true to his North European roots however his first alternative is an fascinating one:

‘El Tarangu’

José Manuel Fuente: Sadly, now not with us, he was often called ‘El Tarangu’‘a phrase within the Asturian language for a person reputed for his power and character,’ however will also be translated as, ‘the Tiger.’ A ‘pure’ climber, afraid of nobody, not even Eddy Merckx with whom he fought a bitter battle within the 1972 Giro – ultimately succumbing to the Belgian however not earlier than inflicting some fraying to Eddy’s ‘cloak of invulnerability.’ He twice gained the Vuelta, was 4 occasions King of the Mountains within the Giro and completed on the Tour podium in 1973. And he did like a cigarette.

de vlaeminck roubaix
Mr. Paris-Roubaix – Roger De Vlaeminck

Roger De Vlaeminck: with Eddy Merckx and Rik Van Looy is the one winner of all 5 monuments. When you examine the results of the 1969 world beginner cyclo-cross championships you’ll see that ‘Le Gitane’ – a reputation he didn’t like, as a real Flandrian he wasn’t a fan of the French – was second to countryman Rene De Clerq. Legend has it that Roger might have gained that race, ‘along with his fingers up his nostril,’ as they are saying in Flanders BUT the foundations of the day dictated that he needed to stay beginner for an additional yr if he took the rainbow jersey. He needed to show professional and begin making a living. His first professional race? Het Volk 1969. The winner. Roger De Vlaeminck. Legend.

Double World champion – Freddy Maertens

Freddy Maertens: Additionally chosen by my amigo Kris in his ‘Heroes’ decisions.

The stats are exceptional:
1972: 15 victories
1973: 15 victories
1974: 32 victories
1975: 32 victories
1976: 56 victories
1977: 61 victories
1978: 22 victories
1979: 2 victories
1980: 1 victory
1981: 13 victories – together with 5 Tour levels and the Worlds
1982: 0 victories
Tough figures to elucidate however the man stays a Legend.

Hoogvliet - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - archief - archive - stock - Freddy Maertens wint Gent - Wevelgem - foto /Cor Vos ©2008
Freddy successful in Wevelgem

What’s that?
What about me?
Ah, sure, proper. . .

Fastman towards the clock – Alf Engers

Not a professional or a reputation well-known on the worldwide stage however one of many coolest dudes I’ve ever recognized in our fantastic sport: Alf Engers the English observe and time trial specialist, the primary man to finish a 25 mile [40 kilometre] time trial inside 50 minutes – 30 miles per hour. His persona was as a minimum of as huge as his chain rings. . .

Merckx on the Alpe

Eddy Merckx: Martin and I had simply dropped off the rent automotive in Sanremo having been working the Primavera. I finished in my tracks as if hit by a lightning bolt; ‘Martin, see that man strolling in the direction of us – it’s Eddy!’ Madame Merckx smiled tolerantly as one other two grown males was little boys within the presence of her husband. The perfect, the best.

1965 World champion Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson: Harworth & Bircotes Sports activities and Social Membership is an nameless wanting constructing, one in every of 1000’s of such locations all around the UK. However inside there’s a shrine, a memorial to the person who’s ‘Biking is my Life’ autobiography I’ve learn and re-read so many occasions through the years. Ivan, Davie and I made the pilgrimage some years in the past. The same old ‘inquisitive native’ requested us who we had been and why we had been there, upon explaining we had been handled as prodigal sons and needed to ‘cross’ on many affords of, ‘a pint.’ When Simpson took his financial savings out of the financial institution, left Harworth, crossed the Channel and settled in Brittany there was no Federation ‘Plan,’ no growth group, no web, no cellphones and little or no English spoken; there have been solely two methods it might go. Skulk house with tail between legs; or win, make a reputation, catch the attention of a professional group and signal on the dotted line. Simpson did the latter: Milan – Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, The Tour of Lombardy, Bordeaux – Paris, the Worlds. Nobody higher, braver or with extra persona than this man. All the time the best for me – my Hero.

Simpson – An actual gentleman

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