Monday, December 4, 2023

The PEZ Best 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, riding alongside a level course on the Excursion de France.

Expensive Readers – Our cherished colleague and pal Ed Hood suffered a major stroke in February.  We don’t be expecting Ed will make it again into our bunch, so we’ve began a GoFundMe web page to assist Ed along with his long run.  Learn the entire put up right here – and please imagine donating.

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

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

The PEZ Heroes: Once we have been more youthful all of us had heroes, however because the years go that adjustments to an admiration of an individual’s taste, character and on this case, biking skill. Ed Hood has taken a ballot of his pals and the PEZ team to search out the ‘Best Biking Heroes of All Time’ (in our humble opinion).

‘We may well be heroes’ – David Bowie

What used to be it David Bowie mentioned? ‘We may well be Heroes, only for in the future?’ But it surely’s now not like that. Your heroes are your heroes, as David added; ‘eternally and ever.’ Mine haven’t modified over some 50 years – however extra of that over again. Now not for the primary time it used to be my mentor and Biking’s solution to Nostradamus, Vik who gave me the theory for this piece. He used to be happy to peer considered one of his Heroes, Guido Bontempi featured in our, ‘trackmen who transitioned to the street’ piece.

He advised me that Giant Guido used to be quantity two on his record of 3 Heroes – all Italians, with now not a Belgian in sight – let’s get started with quantity 3:

‘Cipo’ better than existence

Mario Cipollini: Giant, loud, brash, filled with himself, politically fallacious – how may just you now not love the person? There have been the loopy outfits, each off and on the motorcycle, the color matched machines, never-ending UCi fines – however what a showman and what a sprinter, 192 or is it 201 wins? I’ve to believe Vik that the game misses the massive guys from Lucca.

Guido Bontempi
Guido Bontempi – ‘The Buffalo’

Aforementioned Guido Bontempi, aka ‘The Buffalo’ used to be certainly a beast of a boy on a motorbike, now not most effective did he transition from monitor 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 appeared extra spectacular when in complete flight than this guy.

Vittorio Adorni

Vik’s best choice lies on the different finish of the character scale from Cipo, some of the recreation’s gents but additionally Italian, tall and really stylish – Sen. Vittorio Adorni. We can have incorporated him in our transition piece, he used to be Italian Pursuit Champion in 1958 however he’s easiest remembered because the 1965 Giro winner and 1968 International Skilled Street Race Champion at Imola the place the emerging big name, Eddy Merckx didn’t give chase to solo escapee Adorni. Adorni used to be Merckx’s mentor at Faema, instructing him about preparation, vitamin and race craft. The ultimate time I noticed Sen. Adorni on the Giro he appeared 1,000,000 bucks, he can have been a visiting film big name.

Adorni – Taking a look like 1,000,000 bucks

However what of my different biking buddies?
I went the entire approach to Japan to get the decisions 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 guy in 3rd spot is aforementioned Masatoshi Ichikawa, an comprehensible selection as a real pioneer and Japan’s first Grand Excursion finisher, within the 1990 Giro d’Italia, his complete tale may also be learn within the interview, HERE.

Chris Horner – Vuelta’13

His 2d selection is Chris Horner, the oldest ever winner of a Grand Excursion through a substantial margin, the 2013 Vuelta at a exceptional 41 years and 328 days, he persevered to race into his past due 40’s after a professional occupation which lasted greater than twenty years.

International champion Bernard Hinault at the highway to Roubaix

His primary guy is a reputation which is bound to crop up once more, Bernard Hinault the feisty Breton. ‘Le Blaireau’ is 2d most effective to Eddy Merckx in the case of Grand Excursion wins, 10 in overall, 5 Excursions de France, 3 Giros and two Vueltas; Baron Eduoard has 11 notches. Hinault received the Excursion of Lombardy, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Flèche Wallonne two times every in addition to 5 Grand Prix des Countries – and wasn’t averse to a scrap if he didn’t like what the roadside fanatics have been getting as much as. . .

The ‘Badger’ used to be tricky

Jakob Hansen-Schwartz is ‘my guy’ in Denmark, I’ve overlooked seeing him beside the forums at Copenhagen those ultimate couple of years because of the sort places of work of Mr. Covid. However I am hoping to meet up with him at le Excursion, this 12 months.

Jan Ullrich – A incorrect diamond

His 3rd selection is incorrect diamond, Jan Ullrich; International Champion at the highway at 19, Worlds iTT medallist a 12 months later, beating the likes of Erik Breukink and Abraham Olano, two years after that he used to be 2d in le Excursion to group mate Bjarne Riis, driving a stunning ultimate time trial beating no much less figures than Miguel Indurain and Abraham Olano.
His ’97 Excursion win gave the impression inevitable and appeared like the beginning of a brand new reign as King of the Excursion. However any other 4 2d puts adopted; Pantani then ‘Giant Tex’ denying him what had appeared like his for the taking. There used to be a Vuelta, an Olympic Street Race identify and two international particular person time trial championships prior to it began to move mistaken. Nevertheless, an excessively human and simpatico guy.

Bartali used to be an actual hero

A wee bit prior to even my time, Gino Bartali does qualify for the ‘legend’ label, 4 Primaveras, 3 Excursions of Lombardy, 3 Giri and two Excursions with the second credited with a great deal easing civil strife in his local Italy. He’s respected in Israel for the Resistance paintings his did all over the 2d International Conflict, helping persecuted Jews. Legend certainly.

A Spaniard in purple – Alberto Contador

Jakob is an Alberto Contador fan to the core; the person from Pinto, the geographic centre of Spain divides opinion – the best level race rider of his era or eternally ‘tainted’ through the ‘clenbuterol affair.’ I’m going with the previous definition, for my part, he received all 3 Grand Excursions and between 2007 and 2011 he received six consecutive Grand Excursions that he entered. And he merits appreciate too for refusing to have the feared. ‘one season too many,’ which such a lot of stars matter themselves and their fanatics too – going out in nice taste with a win at the fearsome Angliru on his 2d ultimate 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 solution to on the Six Days, soigneur Kris has the person who ended Eddy Merckx’s reign as ‘Roi de le Excursion,’ France’s Bernard Thevenet as his 3rd selection. In spite of his ‘legend’ standing in France, two time Excursion winner Thevenet stays an excessively humble, approachable and pleasant particular person; he used to be 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 used to be additionally a Excursion podium along with his two wins, two Dauphines, Romandie and Catalunya. And an epic Worlds experience in 1974 used to be thwarted through winner, Merckx with the Frenchman ‘guy of the fit’ in 5th position.

Bernard Thevenet – The person who beat Eddy Merckx

His 2d selection is the person he taken care of all over the 1981 Excursion de France, Belgium’s enigmatic Freddy Maertens, written off through many, Freddy received 5 phases and the fairway jersey in that Excursion with the cherry on best of that season the arena highway race identify in Prague. After that? Gradual decline however on his day within the mid to past due 70’s – a pressure of nature.

flanders 77
Maertens within the race he must have received – Flanders’77

As a person of the sixes it’s in all probability no marvel that Kris must make a selection a monitor 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 International championship from 1980 to 1987 – 3 golds, 3 silvers and two bronze medals. A perfectionist, a stylist, a pursuit legend.

Hans-Henrik Oerstedt
Øerstedt in Rotterdam ‘6 Days’

After all, my Amigo, Dave Chapman, veteran of many a Excursion and Giro de PEZ. His 3rd selection – the person whose 2005 Worlds win and Classics successes boosted Belgian Biking Federations ‘learners’ club ranges to remarkable ranges – as each boy in Belgium sought after to be like Tommeke. Tom Boonen, 4 Paris-Roubaix, 3 Excursions of Flanders, 3 Gent-Wevelgems, 5 GP E3, two every Paris-Brussels and Scheldeprijs plus extra level wins than a stick may also be shaken. Charismatic, simpatico and sorely overlooked.

roubaix boonen
‘Tommeke’ – Tom Boonen

His 2d selection is a person within the Adorni mold, Italian, immaculate, stylish, a Worlds and Excursion winner, like Adorni; but additionally a Primavera, Lombardy, Roubaix, Excursion and Vuelta winner. The past due, nice Felice Gimondi.

Gimondi – Italian elegance

And to near the Capo di Capo, the person who through any measure is the best ever, Eddy Merckx. The winner of each Grand Excursion; each Monument, together with Liege 5 time and Sanremo seven instances and a last overall in way over 500 wins. It’s all been mentioned. . .

What didn’t ‘Giant Ted’ win

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

The PEZ Personnel Heroes:

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

Hinault in Paris-Roubaix

Bernard Hinault: He used to be on the best of his recreation once I got here into biking as a fan. At all times gave the impression tricky as nails, that decided grimace on his face – profitable Liège in a snow typhoon, then vowing to by no means race it once more – “badgering” LeMond into his first Excursion win in ’86. Legend. Once I in spite of everything noticed him at a Excursion level as a reporter, I used to be afraid to manner him.

fignon tt
The Prof – Fignon

Laurent Fignon: I liked the cord framed glasses, blond hair and pony tail – so cool and with the sort of French (may just care much less) angle. This sort of fashionable rider, fluid, comfortable, assured. I want he’d received extra and want we’d interviewed him prior to he used to be long past.

Contador at the assault in l. a. Vuelta’16

Alberto Contador: He proved his mettle when he now not most effective stood as much as, however beat Lance at his personal Machiavellian video games through profitable the ’09 Excursion. No person within the peloton had the center, brains or skill to tackle The Boss, however Bert did it – and with such humble taste – He confirmed us how profitable with elegance used to be meant to be performed.

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 be expecting from our Literary Editor, his alternatives are regarded as ones – over to you, Leslie Reissner:

Ok, biking heroes. That is difficult given the entire historical past I’ve learn however I determine that it’s going to be essential to call an Italian, a Belgian and a Wild Card variety. Right here they’re:

coppi gravel
Coppi main Koblet and Bartali

1. Italian: Fausto Coppi – Grand Excursions, Monuments, the One Hour File driving round bomb craters on the Vigorelli. Any individual who used fashionable coaching strategies. General taste at the motorcycle (how are you able to pass over with a Bianchi anyway?) and stale the motorcycle. “A person, by myself, within the lead, whose jersey is white and blue…”

Gilbert – He by no means provides up

2. Belgian: Philippe Gilbert – He more than likely received’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 Excursion phases. A rider who by no means provides up, as proven through going over a wall on the Excursion and smashing his knee and nonetheless completing the level. Or per week after profitable Flanders he used to be within the main team at Amstel Gold, crashed out, were given again on or even with a torn kidney stuck as much as the others and received the race. I used to be provide for a Philippe Gilbert Fan Membership experience and he used to be in reality satisfied to hang around with the youngsters.

Cancellara – Greater than only a TT guy

3. Wild Card: Fabian Cancellara – any other biking taste icon. An attractive time triallist but additionally any individual who may just win a dash on the Excursion, astonishingly. A pal used to be driving at a sportif and Cancellara used to be taking part, pronouncing he used to be there, ‘so other folks may just revel in my presence.’ They usually did, specifically when he stopped to assist any individual with a mechanical. To combine a metaphor, I believe the Swiss have punched above their nationwide weight in biking and are all the time excellent price.

But in addition a best TT guy

Mr. Chuck Pena our Technical Critiques Skilled:

Coppi – The primary giant 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 conquer adolescence and talent” is the sticky label at the best tube of my Felt FC.

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


And with regards to biking, I’m an Italophile at center.

Lemond – The ‘most effective’ US Excursion winner

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

His 2d two wins got here after his being on the subject of dying. One can most effective surprise what he would have achieved if now not for that looking twist of fate.

And the ones 8 seconds – in all probability the best Excursion finale ever?

Let’s additionally now not disregard he out-sprinted Sean Kelly (and Dimitri Konyshev) within the rainy to win the ’89 Worlds to transform most effective the 5th rider to win the Excursion and the International Championships within the identical 12 months.
Plus I’ve in reality met him and he’s a essentially great man.


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

And who can disregard the ’88 Giro? His level 14 experience in a snow typhoon at the Gavia en path to the Maglia Rosa. Epic.

Plus he’s additionally a essentially great man.

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

PEZ guy at the Iberian Peninsula and our Editor, Alastair Hamilton stays true to his North Eu roots however his first selection is a fascinating one:

‘El Tarangu’

José Manuel Fuente: Unfortunately, not with us, he used to be referred to as ‘El Tarangu’‘a phrase within the Asturian language for a person reputed for his power and personality,’ however may also be translated as, ‘the Tiger.’ A ‘natural’ climber, petrified of no person, now not even Eddy Merckx with whom he fought a sour combat within the 1972 Giro – sooner or later succumbing to the Belgian however now not prior to inflicting some fraying to Eddy’s ‘cloak of invulnerability.’ He two times received the Vuelta, used to be 4 instances King of the Mountains within the Giro and completed at the Excursion 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. Should you take a look at the results of the 1969 international newbie cyclo-cross championships you’ll see that ‘Le Gitane’ – a reputation he didn’t like, as a real Flandrian he wasn’t keen on the French – used to be 2d to countryman Rene De Clerq. Legend has it that Roger can have received that race, ‘along with his arms up his nostril,’ as they are saying in Flanders BUT the principles of the day dictated that he needed to stay newbie for any other 12 months if he took the rainbow jersey. He sought after to show professional and get started earning money. His first professional race? Het Volk 1969. The winner. Roger De Vlaeminck. Legend.

Double International champion – Freddy Maertens

Freddy Maertens: Additionally decided on through my amigo Kris in his ‘Heroes’ alternatives.

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 Excursion phases and the Worlds
1982: 0 victories
Tricky figures to provide an explanation for however the guy stays a Legend.

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

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

Fastman in opposition to the clock – Alf Engers

Now not a professional or a reputation widely known at the world level however some of the coolest dudes I’ve ever recognized in our superb recreation: Alf Engers the English monitor and time trial specialist, the primary guy to finish a 25 mile [40 kilometre] time trial within 50 mins – 30 miles in step with hour. His character used to be as no less than as giant as his chain rings. . .

Merckx at the Alpe

Eddy Merckx: Martin and I had simply dropped off the rent automobile in Sanremo having been running the Primavera. I ended in my tracks as though hit through a lightning bolt; ‘Martin, see that man strolling in opposition to us – it’s Eddy!’ Madame Merckx smiled tolerantly as any other two grown males was little boys within the presence of her husband. The most efficient, the good.

1965 International champion Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson: Harworth & Bircotes Sports activities and Social Membership is an nameless taking a look development, considered one of hundreds of such puts all over the place the United Kingdom. However within there’s a shrine, a memorial to the person who’s ‘Biking is my Lifestyles’ autobiography I’ve learn and re-read such a lot of instances over time. Ivan, Davie and I made the pilgrimage some years in the past. The standard ‘inquisitive native’ requested us who we have been and why we have been there, upon explaining we have been handled as prodigal sons and needed to ‘go’ on many gives of, ‘a pint.’ When Simpson took his financial savings out of the financial institution, left Harworth, crossed the Channel and settled in Brittany there used to be no Federation ‘Plan,’ no construction group, no web, no cellphones and little or no English spoken; there have been most effective two tactics it might cross. Skulk house with tail between legs; or win, make a reputation, catch the attention of a professional group and signal at the dotted line. Simpson did the latter: Milan – Sanremo, the Excursion of Flanders, The Excursion of Lombardy, Bordeaux – Paris, the Worlds. No person higher, braver or with extra character than this guy. At all times the best for me – my Hero.

Simpson – An actual gentleman

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