Rouleur Classic

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He tells me easiest way for him to tell if a frame is a Ron Cooper is by the shape of the rake of the fork blades. “It’s a gradual ascending curve which starts on the dropout and goes a third of the way up, in a perfect curve: no bumps, no flats, just a perfect curve. How’s it done? With great difficulty!” – 34 with Ron Cooper While the shots of great champions like Engers and Burton may be familiar, it is the lesser-knowns that catch the eye: the young man rounding a marshal on his Holdsworth, the carcass of an Ever Ready rear lamp attached to his chainstay, temporarily emptied for the duration of the race; an old woman, the like of whom has not been seen in this country since Ena Sharples exited Coronation Street, clutching a bundle of newspapers as a rider speeds by; timekeepers holding stopwatches the size of their palms – 10 on Bernard Thompson He was, without question, the last true patron, ie boss, of the peloton. Eddy Merckx, quite his equal in achievement, it goes without saying, was really too private for such a role – and it’s not a role you choose, rather one that chooses you, if you’re worthy. That he was undisputed patron is largely because of his temperament and manner. He was capable of saying ‘today I win’ and delivering, and he generally won in flamboyant style – 20 on Bernard Hinault At home Jan had been accustomed to living – and to winning – pretty well as he pleased. He was National Champion, by some considerable distance the best junior in the Czech Republic. Here, however, he is discovering a new kind of cycling. This is Italy, where cycling matters a great deal and the racers number in the tens of thousands, not just a few dozen. Jan is a teenager riding an under-23 programme and, in the face of the bullying strength of riders often four years his senior, his raw talent is not remotely enough – Herbie Sykes on Jan Hirt The groups of riders are arranged into sections and marched from workshop, to track, to bikestore, to gym and to lunch, it seems somewhat regimented and military to the outsider, but the riders seem to accept that it’s a tried and tested formula, as Chris Hoy explained, “It’s almost military in the way they do it. You’re just one tiny little piece of the jigsaw when you’re out there as an athlete. Step on to the same programme – it’s very structured and ordered – 9 on Keirin racing Available from and usual stockists

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