Somebody in the fellrunning world asked me the other day about cycling. I proceeded to start to tell them about the sport and its fascination for me and I had lost them within about two minutes. Its about the only side of me that has a regret in that I wished when I was young Id have given the sport a go. But when you ride a roadbike on a regular basis and have suffered on a bike you realise quickly that it really is a sport for really hard individuals. To become a champion at it, well I cannot imagine.
One of the all time greats was Anquetil. On a bike it was said there was no better. Eddy Mercyx won more but for style and sheer passion on a bike Anquetil was the real deal.
He was the first person to win 5 Tour of France races. I mean that alone is just mindblowing.
But his list of palmares is just frightening.
2 x Giro D italia
1 x Vuelta
4 x Super Prestige Pernod
9 x Grand Prix Des Nations
1 x Liege Baston Liege
1 x Gent Wegelem
1 x Bordeaux Paris
5 x Paris Nice
2 x Duaphine Libere
Tot that lot up and you realise how much of a champion he was.
He won much more including the hour record but the list would be huge.
Ive probably read more about Anquetil than any other roadman and given the amount of cycling books that i have thats a lot. He was a genius on the bike. Id class him as probably the most intelligent rider that ever graced the peloton. Outspoken when it came to the subject of doping, he always took a forthright view. " Leave me in peace, everyone takes dope" was one famous saying.
And he was right.
In an era when doping in the sport was taken for granted you still had to be one hell of a person to achieve what he did. Dope only did so much.
When he won the Dauphine race and them immediatley the morning after rode the Bordeaux Paris race he became immortal. Cycling will never see the likes of that again.
I often wonder what it must have taken to win the hard Dauphine Libere race and then go and ride the 600km Bordeaux Paris race and win that also. Some would say a lot od dope and maybe help from Tom Simpson but I say he still had to ride it.
An amazing athlete and as proffesional roadmen go, Anquetil was simply the Best.
See now the fellracing season has slowed up all I do is read cycling books.