you've seen it happen probably just as often as i have. the team car drives up alongside one of their riders, invariably on their right, and the guy in the driving seat hands up what has become empirically known as a sticky bottle in the vague pretence of the rider needing a quick slurp of rehydration. the sticky bit comes from the length of time both retain their grip on the bottle and the fact that the driver seems inadvertantly to have increased the car's speed, taking the apparently hapless cyclist along with it.
of course, do this sort of thing too often or hang onto the bottle for too long and a commissaire will scribble the rider's name in his little black book. what is obviously needed, is some form of pretence other than the customary bottle hand-up. oiling the chain, for instance.
in case you think i've found a gap in the market, so to speak, it has already been done. in fact, as far back as 1962 in the circuit des boucles de la seine, perpetrated by the liberia-grammont team. and to make matters worse and eminently more transparent, the oil was squirted from an oil can held by the car's driver, despite a willing and able mechanic leaning out the rear passenger window.
what's a poor commissaire to do?
and while we're on the subject of tending to speeding bike riders, can i be the only one who wonders why a mechanic hanging out a rear window wielding a magic spanner, does so in the face of potential danger? aside from the likelihood of the poor chap's fingers being separated from the rest of his hand, it looks like a less than comfortable position to assume at high-speed. why couldn't they fit a rear door offering a lower vantage point?
yet again, i am foiled by the fact that a mercier team car sporting this very modification was used to service raymond poulidor's derailleur in the 1969 tour de france. it seems there really is nothing new under the sun.
of course, in order to impress you with my arcane knowledge of such velocipedinal facts, i have spent several hours in deep reverie, slowly turning the pages of velopress' shoulder to shoulder, a book subtitled bicycle racing in the age of anquetil. it features 101 black and white photographs from the famous horton collection, more than just a few picturing maitre jacques; in some of the early images from the 1950s, he looks as if he ought still to be at school. such a compact, bijou and ultimately desirable book illustrates the handing over of at least two batons. the opening image is of fausto coppi meeting jacques anquetil, while later in the book (page 105 to be precise) anquetil is seen with the next campionissimo, eddy merckx.
shoulder to shoulder is, by any other name, a coffee table book; or at least it would be if it had assumed more gargantuan proportions. happily, it is less than half the size of its larger siblings and all the more manageable and enjoyable for that. the minimal introduction places the era in some sort of world perspective...
"But in the same way that the Beatles could never have defined the music and mores of the '50s (the Rolling Stones are another matter), Anquetil was the essential figure to bring cycling out of the Fausto Coppi era."
there are many observations to be made, from the fact that riders had only minimal seatpost showing on determinedly larger steel frames, to the fact that team cars with bikes up top, had to be craned aboard a steamer for a transfer to corsica during the 1961 giro d'italia. a whole 'nuther era. it's a book that may feature anquetil in the title, but "This is not to say that there were no other stars, no other cycling personalities to capture our attention and affections as the new decade dawned. This book is full of them."
sunday 15 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................