The day Omerta died

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember how Molteni used to make me smile.

And I knew if I had my chance, that I could do that pedal dance.. and maybe I'd be flying for a while.

But today's big news made me shiver, with every e-news page delivered...

Big news on the website...just can't absorb no more o' this shite...

Yer surer than hell I didn't cry 'oer years and years of sordid crime,

But something touched me deep inside... 

the day Omerta died."

October 10.   10-10.  My late Ma's birthday.

Whenever Eddy needed him, Jos was there.  For life. 
Marilyn, God bless her, was one tough Irishwoman. One who always called a spade a spade, no matter what.  She didn't suffer fools, and my siblings and I never got anything past her.  God knows we tried.  Eyes in the back o'her head, she had herself. Along with unparalleled BS sniffing radar. (Miss ya Ma).

Find it appropriate that yesterday, her birthday, the shite really hit the fan.   Was glued to the USADA revelations for an hour or so last night, skimming their massive Reasoned Decision document, and the carefully crafted shrapnel spin-control the bomb is generating.

10-10.  The day Omerta died.  'bout time, if you asked me.   My Lance fatigue just reached Level 6:  George Carlin level...

Jos Huysmans.  1941-2012.
Ma would've approved of today's brouhaha though.

She reviled dishonesty, cheating, lying and coverups.  In her code book, messy scene avoidance was never an excuse for not doing the right thing.   (Her pet peeve? Parents who wouldn't discipline misbehaving brats in public... I can assure you she had no qualms about handing out immediate punishment in public!)

So what now?  As Gino Bartali would say, "tutto sbagliato, tutto di rifare".

It's all broken, it all needs to be redone.  From scratch.  Roll some suited heads, build the monument, and get on with the long overdue work of fixing this mess.

10-10.  Better we remember it as the day Jos Huysmans died.

One of Eddy Merckx' most loyal domestiques, who later became a quarter-century employee at his bicycle factory, Jos passed away of a heart-attack.  He was 70 years young.

Overwinning!  Fleche Wallone, 1969.  Husymans was way more than a water carrier. 
More than a gregario. In 1969, Huysmans won the Fleche Wallone, and was 2nd in the Amstel Gold race. In 1965 he won stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse (below).  And he'd been 8th in the 1967 Tour de France. You know, the Tour when Simpson died on the Ventoux?   Imagine defending a top 10 in that Tour?  That's no mean bike rider jongens.  Won two Tour stages in his career too.

The Beerzel-born man started on the Poeders Mann team, working for his friend and neighbor Herman VanSpringel.   The duo were re-united at Molteni again in 1971.
Towing maglia rosa Merckx and Battaglin
at the '73 Giro d'Italia

But it was as the lead of Merckx' Molteni flemish phalanx that Huysmans will be best remembered. Met de kop in de wind.  Helping his friend Eddy win multiple Giros and Tours.
Stringing out the bunch, with long pulls.  The body-blow set up for Merckx KO punch.

He made a career of it.  From 1970 at Faema, till '77 at Fiat.  Merckx always said Jos was one of his most reliable teammates.   UCI points didn't matter then.   If the leader felt you were needed, you were in.

Husymans rode as a pro from '64 through '77.   His master, the Cannibal retired just few months after him.    Tried a few stints as sports director at C&A in 1978 and Flandria in its 1979 death-throes.  But when Eddy started his bike biz in 1980, Jos followed him iin. As did several other teammates like Bob Lelangue, Jos Bruyère, Georges Pintens and Herman Van der Slagmolen

They stayed close.  Like brothers.   Working together.  And still riding together, regularly.

The Huysmans chain gang included Vic Van Peel, Lode Troobeeckx, Willy Vekemans, Jos De Schoenmaeker, occasionally Herman Van Springel, Jos Spruyt and Rudy De Bie.   And Eddy when he wasn't travelling.   "In the colder weather, we'd do rides of 70 to 80 kilometers around Meise or by Kempen, sometimes hitting 30 mph!"

Huysmans worked at the Eddy Merckx factory till five years ago when he retired.   At the time he told Het Nieuwsblad, "I occasionally rode without enthusiasm, but never worked a day here without enthusiasm."   For 26 years, he'd show up at 7:45 at the low brick building on St. Brixius-Rode where he was a production planner, but really did it all, from working the retail shop to painting the walls.   Jos was the last of Eddy's ex-teammates to retire from the company.

Merckx told the press yesterday, "It was like losing a brother".   First Vic Van Schil a few years ago, now Jos Huysmans.

So let me connect the dots.

I find it poignant, the leadership contrast between Merckx and Armstrong.  The contrast in how they treated their teammates.

Merckx kept his in his family business.  Worked beside them every day till retirement.   Rode with them every Sunday.   Reciprocal loyalty and friendship.

Armstrong bullies his, threatens, intimidates, and denigrates them in the media.  Then goes to live in Aspen.  And twitter-thumbs his nose at the world.  Thanks, suckers.

No, better this 10-10 should be the wielerwereld mourning the loss of Jos Huysmans - a great rider and man.  A role model for selfless service, loyalty, and friendship.

Sincere condolences over the big pond to the Huysmans family.    


  1. Drove my Bianchi to the levee but the levee was dry ..
    Mooi gevonden! Complimenten.
    The day Jos Huysmans died. Bye, bye ...

  2. Lance was paid for being incredible athlete, not being a nice person. In business decency is not standard equipment, it is an option, a very rare one.
    BTW there is also Hopefully we will never need it.


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