no one line


1996 Paris-Roubaix
February 7, 2010, 11:43 pm
Filed under: pro crap


The recent death of Franco Ballerini sent me scrounging for decent footage of his 1998 Paris-Roubaix victory. The video is grainy. Ballerini rides in to the velodrome at Roubaix alone.

His Mapei kit sent me scrounging for some other notable victories by that powerhouse team. You can’t do that without turning up footage of Mapei’s podium sweep in Roubaix in ’96. Johan Museeuw won it, but that’s practically beside the point. Museeuw, Bortolami, and Tafi rolled into the velodrome together, keeping formation, like a freight train.

In the final lap around the velodrome, the announcers’ voices get excited and tense as they wait for a final move, an attack, a sprint. They prattle about Museeuw’s chances and question why he’s leading out the trio. But instead of a gripping final four hundred meters, what happens? He doesn’t sprint, and they don’t attack to come around him. They raise their hands – first, keeping one on the bars, cautious on the banking even after all those kilometers of pave. And then, in genuine victory. Bortolami and Tafi raise their hands in celebration and Museeuw, a bike length ahead, not sprinting, puts his hands up too. He doesn’t raise his hands in celebration. One hand up and the other behind him: he’s saluting his teammates.

Absolutely beautiful.

Ballerini rolls in shortly afterward for fifth place.

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