Grey, cold, damp, gloomy outside, the roads messy, the ground covered with a sloppy mess of snow and rain, I haven't ridden a bike on a road since Christmas Eve and am more than a bit coocoo, however that is spelled. The road surface near my house is not road bike friendly.
|Difficult for road bikes ...|
Suze. It's the name of a famous wild gentian based bitter/sweet French aperitif created in 1889 and linked by history to the opening of the Eiffel Tower. It's the major element in a famous 1912 Picasso collage. It's a nickname ... one of my family nicknames, given to me by my father when I was a little girl, independently given new life by my friend Michele ... and so it became part of the name of this blog.
And it's the sponsor of a bicycle race. The Suze company sponsored the 1957 Six-Day Paris race, the Velodrome d'Hiver (nicknamed Vel d'Hiv) or winter velodrome, won by the very brilliant, very famous, and very controversial, French cyclist Jacques Anquetil. (Paul Howard's biography of Anquetil is titled "Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape".) The two following photos are taken from the site Paris en Images, which contains a wealth of fascinating old images.
Jacques Anquetil (1934-1987), French racing cyclist. He won the Tour de France for the first time in 1957. Behind him: Andre Darrigade. Photo by Roger-Viollet
Jacques Anquetil surrounded by dancers Serge Lifar, Ludmilla Tcherina and Liane Dayde during the Six Days of Paris (1957). Photo by Roger-Violet.
Last autumn, I don't remember why, I googled cycling jerseys, or maybe googled the word Suze. Up came an ad for a cycling jersey, emblazoned with the word Suze, commemorating that 1957 Vel d'Hiv race. How could anyone whose favorite thing to do is ride a bike, who is clearly obsessed with riding in France and whose nickname is Suze, pass it up. Never mind that (typically) women's sizes weren't offered. So today, here is the first-ever photo of clothing on this site.
The jersey's graphics are supposed to evoke the sense of blistering speed of the racers as they circled the Velodrome. Maybe wearing it will bring some speed my way, it doesn't have to be blistering, That would be too big a shock to the people I ride with.
In 1957, besides the Vel d'Hiv, Anquetil also won the Tour de France and Paris-Nice, both for the first time. He would go on to win both the TDF and Paris-Nice 5 times each.
Paris-Nice was first ridden in 1933, then called Six Days on the Road, and like the Tour de France, it was intended to publicize a newspaper. Albert Lejune owned Le Petit Journal, in Paris and the Le Petit Nicois, in Nice, and he wanted to show off the Côte d'Azur, and sell papers. In 1954 ithe race was renamed Paris-Nice. Today it is known also as the Race to the Sun.
This year's race (the 71st edition) will open tomorrow, March 3rd, with a prologue in Houilles. The 8 stage race then leaves from St.-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris. Paris is a northern city, and the weather can present a difficult challenge in early March, both in the north and in the hilly Massif Centrale, where it is sometimes snowed out. There will be a summit finish on Montagne de Lure,near the more famous Mont Ventoux. The Race to the Sun finshes, hopefully in the sun, on March 10th with an individual time trial of 9.6km from Nice to summit on Col d'Eze, above the Mediterranean,where the weather is generally sunny.
It is traditionally considered the start of the European cycling season. However, this year, as has happened before, attention, and riders, are divided, with the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy racing on overlapping dates. There are more famous racers riding in the Italian race, but Paris-Nice will include Thomas Voeckler, Philippe Gilbert and Colorado resident Tejay van Garderen (5th last year), three riders I like to watch. Brad Wiggins, the winner last year won't be there this year.
Here is the link to the official site for coverage
And a recent article in Velo News
As for me, I could use a race to the sun. For now I'll have to settle for our version of the sweet promise of spring.
|The sweet promise of spring in New England|