Way back in 2010, Mario Cipollini decried the lack of ‘machismo’ in modern cycling. I ran across some old Tour de France photos from 1928 that proves his point, in a way.
The guy with the macho snarl is Italian Giusto Cerutti. In the 1928 TdF, cyclists were not allowed to take support, so anything beyond minor repairs was forbidden during each stage. Cerutti fell badly and busted up his wheel, which is why he’s walking.
Derailleur’s weren’t introduced to Tour de France bicycles until 1937, so for the 1928 these hard men rode singlespeed bikes. The only way to change gears was by removing the wheel to flip it around for another cog ratio.
Below is Belgian Maurice Geldhof walking over Col d’Aubisque. You can see this was also before pavement or even cobblestones. That stage from Hendaye to Luchon is an insane 387 km / 240 miles. Yes, these men used drugs to drive themselves.
The 1928 winner, Nicolas Frantz, was leading by 75 minutes in Stage 19 when he rode over some railroad tracks and broke his frame. He was allowed to use a replacement bike, but all he could find along the route was an undersized women’s bike. He rode the final 100 km on that ladies bike at 27 km/hr (17 mph) to maintain his lead in the GC.
“Derailleur’s weren’t introduced to Tour de France bicycles until 1937, so for the 1928 these hard men rode singlespeed bikes. The only way to change gears was by removing the wheel to flip it around for another cog ratio.”
A chap called Stéphanois Panel experimented with variable gears in the 1912 tour, as it goes, although Désgranges quickly forbade them.
That is real racing… It get’s boring watching a peloton that sticks together for 8 hours only to have a few attacks here and there. I’d much rather watch this kind of racing!
Good stuff!. They don’t race like they used to, although pain and suffering are still the goal of the organizer. The Peloton makes sure that the winner has suffered, I think.
The pictures reminded me of this site — Aldo Ross has a fantastic collection of old and not-quite-as-old bike racing pictures, with descriptions, on line.
Fixing your own tires:
Although it’s from the 1940’s, the suffer faces are the same as they wear these days:
And, containing one of my favorite quotes “…and legs that look like heavy earth-moving equipment.”
Now that is some hard core cycling.
I love that photo of Giusto (#3) – I want to see if I can get a high-rez version to inkjet a framed photo for my office…what a difference between now and then – dirt, grit and real men!
love the photo of Giusto(#3) want to print it out for a framed photo in my office
@Louis – I believe reproductions of these photos are available through Spaarnestad Photo.