Herman Van Springel, and the spirit of 68.
|Herman Van Springel and co-author Mark Uytterhoeven launch '68'|
Buy it here.
"Who? Why '68?"
OK jongen, just answer one of those analogy questions, the kind they put on the SAT test:
"Laurent Fignon" is to "1989"...as "Herman Van Springel" is to___?
It was a year a lot like this year. Unpopular wars, unrest around the world. Students protesting in the streets. Economic woes. The music was better though...
Wearing jaune, Herman lost the TT, and the Tour to Jan Janssen, Holland's first Tour winner , by 38 seconds. At that time, it was the closest Tour finish ever.
Many would have been crushed by the loss. But I particularly like that the Tour loss didn't seem to faze the unflappable VanSpringel one iota. He shrugged it off, and laughs about it now. Because 1968 was Van Springel's best year in a pro career that spanned 17 of them. It was the year he won Het Volk, the Tour of Belgium, and the Giro di Lombardia. And the year he was 2nd in Paris Roubaix, the Pro world road race championship, and the Grand Prix des Nations time trial. Check out this good clip of him holding Eddy Merckx all the way to the Roubaix Velodrome that year.
|Flandria legend VanSpringel during one of his|
Bordeaux Paris victories. His pacemaker totally rocks.
|A peloton of old pros. An almost uncountable list of wins.|
Eddy himself said it in Velo magazine a few years ago, "That 1974 World Championship in Montreal? I never would have won it without you, Herman..." It was Van Springel who'd gone to the front, and pulled back Thevenet.
The two are still close it seems. Noticed that Herman's been riding a series of Merckx bikes for a few years now...
His career continued into the late seventies, riding for a succession of Belgian teams: Flandria, Ijsboercke, Marc-Zeepcentrale, Safir-Ludo. He rode as a pro until he was 38. And he's still riding the bike at 68, looking just as fit and like he can still make it really go. To celebrate the book launch, he did a ride with former mates and opponents Merckx, DeVlaeminck, Godefroot, In't Ven, Vekemans, Verhaegen, Jos Huysmans, De Schoenmaeker and Rosiers. (News article here.)
|Click the video link here|
|Click here to see a Sporza clip on Van Springel|