Our Les Maillots print features the jersey of every rider to have been awarded the famous yellow jersey. Beach, the illustrator behind our tribute to the 101st Tour de France, explains the difficulty of researching early Tours and tells us his favourites.
Beach is a professional illustrator with a love of cycling. Hooked by the drama of the Champs-Elysées showdown in 1989 he has followed the Tour de France avidly ever since. Our Les Maillots print features his tribute to the greatest bike race in the world. We caught up with him to discuss how he transferred a killer idea onto paper.
Rouleur: Where did the idea for the print come from?
I wanted to create an image that would celebrate the Tour’s history and iconography. When I started the project, I wondered why no one had thought of doing something similar before. I soon found out why: the research took far longer than I ever imagined. Drawing in colour when half your reference material is in black and white definitely has its challenges.
Rouleur: So how did you research the jerseys?
The internet was useful but often proved unreliable. Wherever possible, I went back to contemporary sources – I spent a long time poring over old copies of Le Miroir des Sports, for example.
Some jerseys were more difficult than others. In a pre-war Tour where an unfancied rider wins on the final day, or a strong favourite leads from the start, there are very few photographs of the winner in anything other than yellow.
But even a more recent Tour could pose problems. I remember spending a long time trying to work out why Greg LeMond was not wearing World Champion stripes on his collar or cuffs in 1989 (he wore them on his gloves instead).
Rouleur: Which is your favourite jersey?
There are some iconic jerseys from the 1960s and 1970s that have become design classics: Peugeot, Renault, St Raphael, Molteni. But ultimately I love the simple elegance of the early woollen jerseys, with their bold hoops and hand-stitched letters.
In a world of gaudy kits, Eddy Merckx and his cool, considered Molteni jersey stood out for Kadir Guirey.