Break the rules, chase the dream
It’s not only the victories we remember.
We remember the way of riding, too.
The last four decades of cycling have marked our history as designers, creatives and enthusiasts forever. In the futuristic 1980s, the classic rules were dismantled and then reassembled to create new and super personal styles that brought about an irreversible transformation dictated by the stylish, musical and cultural revolutions of the time.
It’s not only the victories we remember.
We remember the way of riding, too.
The last four decades of cycling have marked our history as designers, creatives and enthusiasts forever.
In the futuristic 1980s, the classic rules were dismantled and then reassembled to create new and super personal styles that brought about an irreversible transformation dictated by the stylish, musical and cultural revolutions of the time.
BREAK THE RULES,
SET NEW STANDARDS
The cycling champions became new idols, rock stars who turned every race into a star studded show.
But, they were not just champions: they were rebellious geniuses who dictated the rules of style as influencers ahead of their time, created new standards and redefined riding beyond the race itself.
What or why did not matter, how did. How they competed in an unforgettable way and how they won like no one had ever won before.
CREATE YOUR OWN LEGACY
The Racing to Glory collection includes five jerseys that feature exclusive graphics dedicated to Belgium, Great Britain, France, Netherlands and United States of America.
They are created by combining the best ultra-light, high performance, breathable fabrics.
Each jersey is characterised by a shield that’s printed on the shoulder and flag stripes at the bottom of the sleeves.
Discover the Collection
Cycling is said to be a lifestyle in Belgium, and this is partially true. In fact, it is much more - it is something that flows in the veins with the blood: here the sport is shaped by the character and not the other way round, as it should normally be.
n 2017 Tom Boonen withdrew from racing and, during his farewell party, a video was made. Today, it has over eight-hundred thousand views on Youtube.
The greatest challenge is to watch it all the way without even smiling. At minute 2.50, Tommeke drives his friends and teammates on stage for a dance that has made history.
From Freddy Maertens’s sprint in Prague in 1981 to Philippe Gilbert’s deadly acceleration in Valkenburg in 2012, the last four decades have never been boring, not for a sec, because of a generation of definitely outstanding champions, who grew up rolling in the mud of the cyclocross races on Sundays and breathing the chilly winter air that blended with the smell of beer and hot mulled wine.
Their view of the race is a perfect combination of functional rationalism and the pressing, hammering rhythm of Tomorrowland electronic dance music festivals.
Theirs are crazy attacks from which they manage to survive along neverending kilometers up to the finish.
A piece of paradise in hell: they race without gloves and enjoy the hardest sectors while clenching their teeth.
They win, and win, and win.
Their vision of career in itself changes completely.
Life is short, and they want to be like sparks that illuminate thoroughly, no matter how long; what matters is how they do that. The future exists now.
They are amazing, creative, chameleonic, like one of Stromae’s albums - after the whole world fell in love with his songs for ten years, he has suddenly left the stage and started to design capsule collections and conceive surrealistic urban setups.
The thrill of surprise has given to each season a melancholic and triumphal sense of it being the last great show, a disorienting sensation that you may feel upon seeing the shiny Atomium balls popping out of a quiet Heysel park, as though everything is just a dream after a night spent dancing in a disco.
The amps are still hammering while the cobblestones are vibrating in the arms.
Tum, tum, tum.
Like the Parisian rockabilly bands, the French riders wear out-of-place items that warp the notion of normality and, most of all, the racing plans. Not punks but puncheurs who ignite the race with ever different attacks. No spikes nor leather uniforms, but a creative world to be interpreted in their own way, whatever that is.
f you search “Bernard Hinault” on Google, one of the first pictures coming up shows him hugging Julian Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey. Both are smiling.
The thread running across four decades is their blind hunger for competition.
At one end of the thread, there is Sallanches 1980 with an overpowering elimination race surrounded by the movie-like scenery of Upper Savoy and, at the opposite end, stands Imola 2020 with a solitary ride on the crests of Romagna’s barren hills under an overcast sky.
Two enfants génial forged by their capacity of letting the pain dig deeper and deeper until they reach some sort of a limbo. There, the head and the legs become one single thing and they stop feeling everything except an insane will to overcome the limit to see what’s beyond it.
They are uncut diamonds that are metamorphosed by a quiet rage, which triggers them like lightning bolts when it is time to attack and drop everyone else mercilessly.
What counts is competitiveness, finishing first and beating everyone, first of all oneself.
The rest is nothing, the rest is boredom.
So, between the two ends of this fil rouge, the champions grew up eating bread and… revenge, with their eyes twinkling out of pride, because pride is not to be silenced so easily.
Under the spell of the Parisian punks from the 1980s, the revolution broke down in thousands facets.
The race images resemble the footage of Luc Besson’s movies and create a brand new ‘genre’, introducing special effects and breaking the tradition.
Ambitious careers, relentless accelerations, even on the toughest slopes, absurd challenges fought without ever backing off.
These are the champions who, while the Marseillaise is played, close their eyes and just think about their next attack.
The Dutch champions grew up being convinced that class is just a matter of making what is difficult to the others simple and doing that without making a big deal about it. Their sporting actions are delivered in a precise straightforward manner, like one of Eddie van Halen’s solos, when he used to say that he knew nothing about musical scales but just wanted to play to get people excited.
n 1985, Marcel van Basten – whom everybody calls Marco – was awarded the Golden Boot after scoring 37 goals in the course of that season.
That was the beginning of an inscrutable ace, a top champion who was defined as the Fred Astaire of modern football - a Dutch big guy, over six feet tall, who knew how to touch the ball like a dancer during the best orchestra piece.
In the same year, Joop Zoetemelk, aged thirty-five, became the World champion in cycling thanks to his attack on the climb of the Montello in Italy.
The decades finish and begin in the sign of a calm and constant balance that has inspired the generations in a country used to living together with the natural elements - the water ebbing and flowing, flooding the lands and returning them as if by magic.
A spiritual silence, embuing the bluish canals in the afternoon light, hides an inner dimension that goes well beyond the 180 bpm of Paul Elstak’s warped hardcore.
It tells about kids who grew up with XL tracksuits to dance more comfortably and split their nighttime between wild parties and a peaceful time spent sipping a beer under the streetlamps along the river.
Two sides of the same coin with the bicycle as trait d’union for ever or, at least, until the next finish line.
The British champions of modern cycling are rock stars who love to stay by themselves in their dressing room before momentous shows; their way of racing has the dismissing appeal of their shadows and suddenly becomes estranging, and dreaming at the same time, just like one of Bansky’s graffitis.
Everybody knows what he draws, nobody knows who he really is.
n 2011, the manager of Johnny Marr, a legendary guitarist who founded the Smiths, asked him to write a book about his own story. Seven years later “Set the boys free” was published - an autobiography about him, a hyper kid who developed a great sense of survival through music.
In 2011, Mark Cavendish won the World Championship on a circuit in Copenhagen, and his sprint crowned him as one of the best sprinters of the last decade.
On top of that, he was the first Briton to wear the rainbow jersey after four decades.
The Manx sprinter is the glittering tip of the iceberg of the cycling culture formation in the United Kingdom.
Instead of the velodromes, we envisage the garages where twelve-year-old kids lock themselves in to play the drums without their parents having the faintest idea when their children would be awarded a platinum record a few years later.
Those are the places where the voice of a robust self-made English thunders and redemption is more than just a word, it means everything.
Outside, in the quiet countryside that looks greener because of the grey sky.
Inside, in the velodrome, the sweat, the tears, the dull sound of the wheels on the wooden slates, the unshakable perseverance to train for the great races around a ring.
That is how those who listened to Morrisey’s unmistakable voice with their walkmans must have felt before going to school: the A side croaked in their ears the melancholic song of a whole generation who did not feel to be up to playing the roles of the heroes.
Today the Union Jack in cycling is the symbol of brazen class. The British riders grew up like Doctor Jekylls constantly obsessed and haunted by their hideous Mr. Hydes.
They were taught the possibility to build everything from nothing by their anti-heros. They know that in cycling you “Don’t look back in anger”, never, even as defeat and victory blend together and bring about a raw taste, like the Scotch from the windy Highlands.
American champions boast a restless ability to live in the present moment — in such a way that allows them to see the race as opportunistic as the blank walls of the New York underground where Keith Haring painted his legendary graffiti which was able to unite the community and the artist in an authentic bond of love and protest.
t’s an afternoon in 1987 on a ranch in Lincoln.
Gregory James LeMond goes hunting with his uncle.
He won a World Championship four years earlier and stole the role of captain from Bernard Hinault by winning the 1986 Tour de France at the age of just 25.
The United States of America is a boundless place where dreams run wild like horses. Endless journeys across the Continent… but this isn’t enough.
The American dream doesn’t respect borders.
That day on a ranch in Lincoln, Greg LeMond was accidentally hit by a bullet and lost sixty percent of his blood.
That day he risked losing his life before keeping his promise being “number one”.
He is the pioneer of a generation of cyclists who will stop at nothing, not even in the face of death.
American champions are forged by the apocalyptic scenery of Cormac McCarthy’s most famous novel and by the dreamlike and disturbing visions of Stephen King’s tales that fortify souls into the deep.
Ready to survive the worst to ride for the best.
LeMond spent two years recovering, licking his wounds before he went on to win his second World Championship in Chambéry, in a crazy attempt to get back to being the winner he was before, or an even better one.
In four decades, the ocean between the United States and Europe was blurred: the futuristic glasses and the triathlon handlebars’ extensions, on time trial bikes, convinced even the purists thanks to their original and unprecedented style.
A prophetic and transgressive aptitude that took cycling to a space free of gravity.
The riders are focused on watching the asphalt roll under their wheels experiencing a kind of psychedelic dimension and pondering how bad it really hurts to get back in top shape.