Cars and bike riders: Fast men on two wheels also like going fast on four wheels, and if not fast, with a certain style. Ed Hood has had a look at the top riders and their ‘other’ choice of transport.
For some: the automobile is just a means of getting from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ as cheaply and as comfortably as possible. For others it’s an extension of their image and/or ego. And for others there’s exhilaration of driving a high performance machine. We thought it was time to have a wander through some cars and the stars who drive them.
# Alfa Romeo, Fausto Coppi:
Let’s start with some real class; the Campionissimo and his Alfa Romeo. On or off the bike, Coppi looked ice cool; he could easily have been mistaken for a matinee idol; he was a sharp sun glasses man way before Oakleys came along, just to mention one aspect. The car? Alfas were like Italian women, beautiful, sleek temptresses; but at the back of your mind you knew they could break your heart at any moment.
# Austin A35, ‘a British 60’s pro:’
PEZ mentor, Vik doesn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk, racing in Flanders in the late 60’s and early 70’s. British professionals used to come over to ride the kermises, win some primes and find form for important races in the UK. In the intro I mentioned getting from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ as cheaply as possible – that’s where this A35 comes into it. One of the British pros who raced over there at the time used to roll up in one of these little gems – no names, no pack drill…
# BMW 2002, Graeme Gilmore:
Aussie, Graeme Gilmore is one of the all-time great six day men: 117 Sixes ridden (when Six Days were actually run over six days) winning 13; 12 x 2nds; 20 x 3rds – 72 times in the first 5 with 51 different partners. A six day man needed fast reliable transport to get across Europe from one six day to the next; and few tools were faster or more reliable than the 2002, Graeme’s was close to this colour and Viktor remembers it as being an ‘uber cool’ machine.
# Citroen CX Pallas turbo diesel, Sean Kelly:
Known as ‘Basking Sharks’ in the UK motor trade the CX was roomy, fast and comfortable; as well as not being too thirsty on the benzene due to that unmistakable aero profile – ideal for a frugal Irishman blasting from one post-Tour criterium to another. Our editor, Alastair is a fan having owned four of the big beasts with their ‘magic carpet ride’ hydropneumatic suspension. Alastair remembers a story about Kelly at a kermis in Belgium back in 1989. Kelly’s wife was there and was sitting on the bonnet of his CX, Sean said: “don’t sit on the car, you’ll scratch it.” Linda answered “you love that car more than me!” As fast as he sprints, Sean comes back with: “it’s the car, the bike, then you.” Other CX owners: Tim Harris, Steve Douce and Martin Early.
# Dodge Charger, 1970 R/T, Peter Sagan:
A Dukes of Hazard fan from a young age as the world’s highest paid cyclist Sagan was able to indulge his passion; originally he wanted a ‘General Lee replica’ but settled for this 1,000 bhp beast – check out the full spec. HERE.
# Ferrari, Pippo Pozzato, Tom Boonen and Roger De Vlaeminck:
To live up to his ‘play boy’ image, Pippo has to have the proper wheels, ‘nuff said. Tom’s had a trick air brush job on his which I have to say I would file under ‘acquired taste’ – and then he went and ‘dropped’ the thing (perhaps punishment from above by the late Commendatore, Enzo for that paint job?). But the best Ferrari and bikies story belongs to Le Gitane in his Brooklyn days; ‘We were visiting the chewing gum factory of our boss Giorgio Perfetti before Milan San Remo. I stood with a wide-open mouth staring at his metallic blue Ferrari. “If you win tomorrow, it’s yours,” Perfetti said. Less than 24 hours later, I drove home in his car.’ Roger De Vlaeminck, Rouleur Magazine issue 19.2.
# Ford Mustang 1971 Ram Air, John McMillan:
Scottish time trial legend and successful UK professional, John McMillan always had nice cars; but when he went to live and work in LA, he moved up to another level of hardware…
# Ford Mustang, Jacques Anquetil:
Still perhaps the most stylish rider ever to grace a time trial machine, Maitre Jacques was every bit as stylish off the bike as on. He lived in a riverside chateau and like Coppi had movie star good looks and dress sense. When he signed with Ford France, what else could he drive but a Mustang? He’s pictured here with his manager, ‘The Big Gun’ – the legendary Raphael Geminiani.
# Kharmann Ghia from Volkswagen, Barry Davies:
The ‘George Best’ of British cyclo-cross in the 70’s with his long locks and beard – not to mention his penchant for super-light machines, Barry Davies is also a confirmed ‘petrol head’ – this beauty is locked up until the spring though…
# Lamborghini Huracan, Caleb Ewan:
Our spies tell us that this is what – arguably – the world’s fastest man goes to the supermarket in down in Monaco. Wow!
# McLaren, Mark Cavendish:
Formerly the world’s fastest man (see above) he still like speed though. His McLaren is to a ‘special’ colour; 100 kph takes just 3.2 seconds to achieve with 200 kph appearing in 9.5 seconds. What else to say again but, Wow!
# Mercedes, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil:
Merc have always been a fave of pros; prestigious, reliable, fast, safe and with huge boots to swallow up bikes, bags and wheels. The Eddy image isn’t his own car, we just thought it was a great picture of the man and the three pointed star together. The Maitre Jacques Mercedes in the picture is all his though; as he gets his track bike ready for another handsome appearance fee on the post-Tour merry-go-round. Meanwhile, glam wife Janine, who was le Maitre’s chauffeur on many occasions thinks; ‘this isn’t Saint-Germain-des-Pres?’
# Opel GT 1900, les Freres Guyot:
Frenchmen Bernard and Claude Guyot were both tipped for great things as Tour de l’Avenir stage winners; with Bernard one of a very few ‘Western’ winners of the savage, East European ‘Peace Race.’ They were both decent pros but didn’t reach the hoped for heights – they did have good taste in cars though and used to hit the post-Tour criterium trail in their Opel GT with their steeds on a boot rack. A nice machine the Opel, with lines not unlike that of a Corvette Stingray.
# Porsche 911 Cabrio, Malcolm Elliott:
It’s a city centre criterium in Glasgow around 1991/92 and I’ve brought my amigo, John to see his first bike race. He’s only really half interested until a Porsche Cabrio burbles into the car park; the power hood glides back and a tall, tanned blond dude plucks his gleaming bike from the back seat, for assembly. I feel a tug on my arm; ‘who’s that boy?’ John asks in a hushed tone. ‘That’s Malcolm, son – Malcolm Elliott.’ That man looked the part and he wasn’t bad at pushing a bike, either.
And I did say earlier that John McMillan liked his cars; he had a Porsche 911 too, natch. . .
# Reliant Robin, ‘Scottish Cyclists of the 70’s:
The Reliant Robin was a three wheeled, glass fibre car powered by a 750 or 850 cc engine and sold in the UK for some 30 years. It was cheap and had the added attraction that because it only had three wheels, you could drive it with just a motor bike licence – but it was notoriously easy to tip over if you got your cornering wrong. A few of my contemporaries on the Scottish race scene ran them – but again, no names, no pack drill…
# And if we’ve missed your favourite or have some gems to tell us about then please let us know. #