Old school victory salute: The Barry Hoban

Here's an old-school victory salute for ya cafesupporters.    

Barry Hoban.  And the heads-up scream.  YeeEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!  

1974  Tour de France Stage 13 Avignon - Montpellier.  
Barry the rapid showed his heels to A-list super-sprinters Esclassan, Sercu and Karstens.  
No hands in the air required.  And no Forrest Gump, Hulk flex or fake phone calls.  Nope, just a head thrust up in joy over locked arms, and the simultaneous, gutteral release of a primal victory scream.   And that wide open mouth acting as an air-brake.   Even in old B&W stills, the look on the face said it all.

It was enough.  Perfect even.  Kids these days should take note:  Less is more.  

1969.  2nd consecutive stage win into Brive.   
Way before there was Cav, there was Barry.  Going over with a few hundred quid to his name. Tom Simpson's understudy.  Gent dwelling expat.  Longtime member of old school Tonin Magne's Mercier stable, soldier in PouPou's inner circle.

Won a sprint royale to take a Gent Wevelgem away from Merckx, Verbeeck and co.  And eight Tour stages.   One may have been gifted the day after Tom Simpson died on the Ventoux, but the others were no gift, make no mistake about it.   In '68, this sprinter won a mountain stage to Sallanches.    

My ol' CCB manager John Ireland used to scoff with indignation about the early '80's BCF establishment that "Barry Hoban had forgot more about cycling than the lot of them will ever know". 

Bordeaux became Hoban's town.  He coveted  stage finishes there much as his countrymen covet the claret of nearby chateaux.  

His first win there was in 1969.   The first Tour of Merckx domination was winding down.  Few remember that Barry won two consecutive stages on the run up to Paris.  The first into Bordeaux was over a five man break, besting soon-to-be world champion Harm Ottenbros.  Then he duplicated the feat the following day into Brive... his violet and gold Mercier Jersey screaming over the line over another five man escape, this time besting Evert Dolman.

Just possibly the best sprint finish photo ever.    Gavazzi, Van Linden, Hoban, Karstens, Godefroot and Moser.
He won two stages in 73 and another in 74.  By 1975 he'd become a wily old peloton veteran..just about the only English speaker in the bunch.  And in that 'Tour-too-far' for the Cannibal, Hoban took the big sprint royale on the Bordeaux velodrome, lunging just ahead by a half wheel ahead of a wall of churning legs and metal powered by maillot vert Rik Van Linder, Walter Godefroot, Franceso Moser,  Gerben Karstens, Pierino Gavazzi and Marc De Meyer.   The cream of seventies euro velocistas.  

Again, the scream.   I bet you could have heard it above the crowd.

I bet Barry can still hear it.

If cycling had a 'Heisman trophy' for sprinters, I think it should be the sculpted bronze pose of Barry's Bordeaux scream.


  1. A sprinter yes but someone who got into breaks and won unlike M. Cavendish. Cav is a brilliant sprinter but that's it. Will he ever win a mountain stage or even get into a break? Different times I guess.

  2. Ed, John was probably correct !

  3. Great post! What a victory salute. Hoban is amazing person. What a stud. Amazing photos too, where do you find those? They can't be on the google can they?

  4. Great stuff! Thanks for posting it. With a slogan of "ciclismo come una volta" (cycling as it once was) this kind of stuff is right up our alley, keep up the good work!

  5. Thanks Larry and Heather, glad you guys like it... i love your slogan, concur 100%. Also really like your site, and the obvious passion you both have for the culture. Thanks for keeping 'old time cycling' ('like old time hockey') alive and well!! Best,Eddy.

  6. Good stuff! I enjoy reading your posts. I am ignorant to all this old school cycling. Your my cycling history teacher!
    Thanks Ed

    1. Thanks Jon.. too bad I can't trade some 'little known fact' knowledge for a little more speed, eh?

  7. Hi, I have only just discovered your blog...I have been catching up on your previous posts all really great good stuff...
    I have now joined your blog as a follower and would like invite you to do the same over at my own blog: purpletraveller.blogspot.co.uk

    I really look forward to reading more of your posts in the future and improve my knowledge of cycling history at the same time....
    Kind Regards

    1. Thanks Trevor...really like your blog, cool stuff, keep it up. That ghisallo vid brings back painful memories I thought I'd erased. I discovered it to be a lot longer and steeper than I'd thought! Fantastic place to ride, you'll like the museum.

    2. Just rode it (again) in July of this year. Somehow it didn't feel as tough as some years, probably because it wasn't too hot? The Museum is truly spectacular, a great monument to Fiorenzo Magni who was so much a part of getting it built. Just booked a package to see the Ronde in 2013, including riding the day before!!! Probably will regret that idea after a few kms of cobbles but gotta add one more to my 5 monuments quest - after this one only L-B-L will remain to be witnessed live, in-person.


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