Photo of the day: Eric the Red

Eric Leman.   Remember him?

He scored three Ronde van Vlaanderen victories in the time of Merckx, DeVlaeminck and assorted other Flemish supermen.  1970, '72, '73.

Outsprinting the likes of Freddy Maertens, Walter Godefroot, Frans Verbeeck, Andre Dierickx and even Eddy Merckx himself.

A west-vlaanderen, and Flandria, legend.  A guy who'd work in his family butcher shop in the off season.  Can't picture Tom Boonen doing that, can you?

Not many tend to remember him now.  Well, they should.

My favorite photo of Eric Leman is not one of him sprinting to win the Ronde on his home turf, or on the podium with flowers in his hands.   Rather, I love this photo of him fighting...off the back in the mountains.. on a day, and on a parcours that was not his home turf.    A photo I can relate to.  Probably you can too.

It was taken in the 1969 Tour de France, the first one dominated by Eddy Merckx.   I believe it was taken on the stage in the Col de Madeleine in the Alps.    The year before Leman had won stage 20 of the Tour from Besancon to Auxerre -  outsprinting Michael Wright.. a flemish speaking Belgian rider with British nationality.   And he'd snagged stage 3 of the '69 Tour already, outsprinting Italian sprint stars Marino Basso, Michele Dancelli and Dino Zandegu.

This Alpine stage was another story.  Maybe he'd had a mechanical... he's got a spare tire around the shoulders like in the days of Bobet and Schotte, and a silca frame pump.

Anyway, it's a photo that speaks volumes about cycling - a sport that requires that even the greats suffer days of humility.

Comments

  1. The text reminds us of our vulnerability to an off day (Hilltowns or 118TT), but the photo highlights the history our 2011 steeds carry.

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  2. When men were men - not a bunch of pampered team leaders now that get water bottles delivered to them by the domestiques - who drop back to the team cars whenever they need something - and then blatantly hold on to the car or the driver's hand for seconds to get a reprieve - and then draft all the team cars to get back in the peloton.

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  3. wow how low is he sat on the saddle his legs are really bent even at the bottom of the pedal stroke

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