What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Retro: Hi-Tech 1989 Style With Tony Graham

Retro from the ’89 Track Worlds: Over the last few weeks Ed Hood has looked at the weird, wonderful and downright useless retro road bike equipment.  He turns his eye to the track with a look back at the 1989 World Championships through the lens of New Zealand fast-man, Tony Graham.

Former New Zealand track flyer Tony Graham says of himself: “Once upon a time I was quite fast… that was a very long time ago:”

Olympic Games Kilometre Time Trial 7th – Seoul 1988.
Commonwealth Games Kilometre Time Trial 4th – Auckland 1990.
World Championships Kilometre Time Trial 10th – Lyon 1989.
Oceania Kilometre Time Trial Champion – Noumea 1987.
Twice New Zealand Kilometre Time Trial Champion.
Three times Auckland Kilometre Time Trial Champion.
Twice NZ 100km Team Time Trial Champion.
Twice Auckland 4000m Individual Pursuit Champion.
Three times Auckland 40km Individual Time Trial Champion.
Six times NZ Hope Gibbons 40km Team Time Trial Champion.

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7th place in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games Kilometre Time Trial for Tony Graham, just one place behind the East German World Record Holder

‘Quite fast,’ for sure! And that 10th in Lyon in ‘89 was two places better that Belgian Sprint King to be, Tom Steels. Tony also had an eye for a good image and has been kind enough to allow us to share some of the pictures he took back then in ‘89 of what was the hottest hardware around and the stars who rode it:


Viatcheslav Ekimov Lyon 4000m Individual Pursuit Final

‘Eki’ – Viatcheslav Ekimov moved seamlessly from the Soviet track squad – here he’s about to launch on his way to world amateur 4,000 meter pursuit title number three – to the world of the ‘cash men’ as we used to call them back then, signing for Peter Post’s cult Panasonic squad. He would add the pro title over 5,000 meters in 1990 to a roll of honor that included world track records, the Championship of Zurich, the Olympic team pursuit, the Olympic time trial, The Three Days of De Panne and Tour de France and Vuelta stages. And yes, we know, he was one of Lance’s lieutenants. Italian legend Masi provide the hard ware with ‘bars mounted direct to the fork crown and top head race flush with the top tube, a 26” radial front wheel pairs with a 27” rear disc, the top tube is level with ‘fly through’ seat post arrangement. Eki rides with Adidas Systeme 3 clipless pedals and plasticized skin-suit – they had to get those suits off you quickly after the ride or your core temperature went through the roof. And back in the days before we realized that the best aero materials were faster through the air than skin – so no mitts or socks. We’d have thought the bike’s tubing would be by Columbus but there’s a ‘True Temper’ decal on the top tube.

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Final of the 4000m Individual Pursuit, which Ekimov won in 4 35.58

The great man in action, he’d beat German pursuit star Jens Lehmann into second spot; but the German would make the title his in 1991 on his FES carbon steed – more on which in a moment.

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Colin Sturgess, semi finial ride before his Gold Medal winning ride in the Professional 5000m Pursuit Final

Young Colin Sturgess of Great Britain pulled off one of the surprises of the championship beating favorite Dean Woods of Australia 5:52:40 to 5:54:06 with a brilliant last lap sprint to win the professional 5,000 meters pursuit. Sturgess rode a machine built in Columbus tubing by Liverpool Legend Harry Quinn; check out the head/down tube gusset and curved tubes – cool but heavy in those days.
Double Campag discs complete the ‘fast’ look.

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Dean Woods (Aus) Silver Medalist Professional 5000m Individual Pursuit Final

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Woods on the way to the Silver Medal

Wood hauls away from the line, straight tubes for the big Aussie but note the ‘airfoiling’ around bottom bracket; he rides FIR discs.

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East Germany, 1989 4000 Meter Team Pursuit World Champions

The ‘Grey Ghosts’ – no chamois in those skinsuits, by the way – of East Germany took the team pursuit in Lyon, beating old enemies the Soviet Union in the final. FES carbon aero monocoques with one piece bar/stem and double discs – very futuristic for those times. The skinny steel forks rather spoiled the look but they were radical machines. The small front wheel – long since banned by the UCI – enabled team pursuit riders to tuck in very tight behind the man in front with big aero benefits.

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Jens Lehmann (East Germany) riding against Viatcheslav Ekimov in the 4000 Meter Pursuit Final

Lehmann was beaten by Eki in the final but would make the world title his in 1991 in Stuttgart.
He went into the ’92 Barcelona Olympics as favorite but came up against Chris Boardman – and that Lotus – in the final. Lehmann did take gold home from Barcelona though, in the team pursuit.

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East German Pursuit Bike by FES

The clearances on the FES pursuit bike were tight with the back wheel tracking the monocoque frame members beautifully.

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The FES East German Bike

Another view of the FES and it’s proto-stealth look. We’ve never see figures for how effective the black beauties were at parting the air but apart from any physical aspect, they gave their riders a huge psychological boost.

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Michael Hübner East German Sprinter

Hübner was champion in 1986 having made the final in ’85 where he lost to team mate Lutz Hesslich; he made the final again in ’87 where he lost to Hesslich – and here in ’89 where he lost to compatriot, Bill Huck. The big German was also keirin world champion 90/91/92. A 36 radial front in those pre-composite days; and note the heavy gusseting to the head/down tube – and around the bottom bracket to withstand all those watts. Cervelo have a similar arrangement on their current track frames.

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Darren Winter (Aus) in the 4000m Pursuit

Another Aussie ‘funny bike’ this time with ‘triple triangle’ frame format a la GT and before that, Hetchins of Southend, England. Campag double discs for this Aussie amateur – who we think is Darren Winter.

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The Soviet Union 4000m Team Pursuit Team racing to the Silver Medal against the Gold Medal Winning East German Team

The Soviet team hammer their low pros to world championship golds – the red machines look like Rossins to us, another Italian brand favored by the Soviet team of the time.

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These East German Carbon Fiber Track Bikes were like from outer space and mind boggling

A final view of the FES pursuit bike; skinny forks apart a machine way ahead of its time – bear in mind this was 30 years ago.

# With thanks to Tony for sharing his great images with us. #


It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

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