In earlier times, when everything was much better, you could recognize cyclists of great distance. The older cycling fans still remember with nostalgia the images from the recent past. No helmets, not anything concealing sunglasses or a cap, like the Formula 1 drivers wear, making any facial expression, at the ‘ceremony protocolaire’ , disappears into a dark shadow.
Remember the flowing hair of Gert Jan Theunissen and the elegant style of the frail Steven Rooks. Wonderful it was to see these heroes kilometers away, using a binocular, in the distance from the valley looming at the beginning of yet another heroic climb.
All the pictures above come from a not so long distant past. Riders were recognizable without helmets and sunglasses from Oakley. That recognition made sure that the cycling fan could identify with his idol when following the race on TV or on the road. In that time it was for the cycling enthusiast very easy to recognize his favorite rider. Therefore cycling was so hugely popular at that time.
How different is the situation now. Due to the unfortunate death of some riders, like Fabio Casartelli in 1995 and Andrei Kivilev in 2003, a discussion was started about the safety of cycling and the wearing of helmets was mandated by the UCI. Again a victory for commerce. Hein Verbruggen, old UCI preses and a market salesman, it has reportedly, has played an important role in this affair. Evil tongues asserted that Verbruggen was donated by a fixed amount for every helmet that was sold. But let’s be honest, there is not a Father’s Day gift easier than a bicycle helmet for a father who wants to play cyclist on every Sunday.
Soon after that story the commerce even got more grip on cycling sport by offering the top professionals a lucrative contract as they, henceforth, always wear their Oakley sunglasses. The mechanism is simple. If the top riders wear Oakley sunglasses the big mass will follow soon.
The most shocking was that riders, from that moment during an interview, refused to drop off their helmets and their sunglasses, so you totally could not see how your idols really look. The whole peloton seemed looks like, two drops of water, on each other, in and out of the race. Cycling looks more and more like a computer game, with identical zombies, instead of a sports contest.
The experienced viewer will have noticed also that the riders in the past used to wear all black cycling shorts in combination with snow-white short cycling socks. What a difference with the current situation. More about that later, first some pictures from the modern era. Who knows the names belonging to the pictures, can say it.
Unrecognizable today’s riders. Nobody can mention the names of the riders depicted above. Incredibly, that cycling is still so popular despite all these developments. Developments that is due, in large part, to the marketing guru and Dictator Hein Verbruggen and the total lack of understanding of the managers of cycling teams and their sponsors. As a sponsor you do not want your product is being marketed to by a bunch of smurfs which are indistinguishable from each other.