Rouleur Classic

Jersey of the week: Cilo-Aufina

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Photographs: Prendas Ciclismo

The rider in the red and white jersey rocks maniacally, putting to service his emaciated arms as well as his piston-like legs.
Occasionally, he snatches a wild glance over his shoulder, and with good reason: his closest pursuer is just 16 seconds behind.
As he rounds the final bend, our man reaches down and shifts to a higher gear. There will be no respite until he crosses the line, when exhausted elation replaces agony.
Footage of Beat Breu’s victory at the summit of l’Alpe d’Huez on stage 16 of the 1982 Tour de France remains compelling, nearly 35 years after the event.
The Swiss team was an apt selection for the 69th edition of the Tour, which started in Basel.
Founded a year earlier, and with all-Swiss backing – Cilo bicycles and private bank Aufina – the team won the Tour de Suisse at its first attempt, courtesy of Breu.

A year later, the rider dubbed ’The Mountain Flea’ arrived at the Tour in good form, with a stage win and fourth on GC to show for his efforts in his home race.
Breu wasted little time in demonstrating his climbing prowess in France, winning the second mountain stage, a short but savage 122km run from Pau to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet.
When stage 16 finally got underway (a farmers’ protest delayed the départ from Orcières-Merlette), Breu wasted little time in heading up the road, and approached the first of the Alpe’s 21 bends alone.
The speed of his ascent – a little over 42 minutes – is reassuring. He would have been easily beaten to the summit by the likes of Pantani, Ullrich, Armstrong and Riis.
Breu’s victory on the Alpe (and overall victory in the King of the Mountains competition) was the high point of Cilo-Aufina’s season, and indeed of the team’s existence.
They would taste success at the Tour again (though Breu would not), bagging a brace the following year with Serge Demierre and Gilbert Claus, who won in Paris.
At the end of 1986, however, the team had folded, despite Urs Zimmerman’s overall victory at the Tour de Suisse. A decade after returning to the peloton in 1992 with co-sponsor Atari, Cilo filed for bankruptcy.
The team’s classy red, white and grey jersey lives on, courtesy of a reproduction by Prendas Ciclismo and partner Santini.

The jersey pictured, however, is an original, acquired from Santini by Prendas founder 28 in a collection he describes as a “wool archive”.
“It’s always been one of my favourites,” says Prendas’ Andy Storey, “It’s the simplicity that appeals.”
The jersey construction is typical of the era, he explains, with a short zip, and two buttoned pockets at the rear.
The flocked lettering is perhaps the clearest indication of its vintage. The method allowed the use of more complex shapes (though the simple Cilo logo might easily have been embroidered), but had the unwanted effect of peeling off easily.
Prendas’ example is rare, in that the lettering is undamaged, but it is unworn, and Storey suspects it was a team jersey that remained unissued.
“It must have been made for a team rider, because it’s long and narrow”
The side panel is unusual for the era too, he notes. Most cycling jerseys of 1980’s did not use a separate, stitched-in side panel, and in contemporary team wear, it is typically a mesh construction, used for ventilation.
To confuse matters, the photo of Breu on the Alpe shows him in a Descente jersey. Storey notes the chevrons on the shoulders.
He makes a final observation: Breu won the stage on a machine without handlebar tape. An early exponent of marginal gains? Dave Brailsford might have been making notes.
With thanks to Prendas Ciclismo

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