28 years after the Tour de Trump

Article edited from the Volkskrant, by Peter Janssen
Davis Phinney, Eric Vanderaerden, Donald Trump, Dag Otto Lauritzen en Henk Lubberding

No American winner of the Tour de Trump, there he could live with, but at least he had to cycle for an American team. “America First, already then,” says Eric Vanderaerden which was the one who was tricked.

Each time Eric Vanderaerden sees on television the US president sign a decree or give a journalist whup his ass, he must think back to the 14th of May in 1989, the final day of the Tour de Trump, indeed, a cycling race named after Donald J. Trump   now the most powerful man in the world, then a very rich businessman from New York.

Vanderaerden can hardly miss anymore the final victory in the last time trial, until he is sent in the final at a roundabout in the wrong direction by the motorcyclist. Therefore he is not the winner of the first edition of the Tour de Trump, but the Norwegian Dag Otto Lauritzen of the American formation 7-Eleven.

28 years later Vanderaerden says over the phone: ‘I am tricked, definitely. There had to win an American or at least one rider of a US team. Already in that time it was ‘ America First’.

Trump forgot one important thing: There was totally   no cycling culture that time in America.

It is, with the knowledge of now, a separate chapter in the history of cycling, the Tour de Trump. The round is an idea of the American sports journalist John Tesh. He wants to make an equivalent of the Tour de France in America and for sponsorship he received support from real estate magnate Donald Trump. He is honored with a race that bears his name and makes $ 250 thousand in prize money available.

The Tour de Trump leads in ten days from New York to Atlantic City, where the billionaire owns a casino and hotel. “It was big, bigger, biggest,” Steven Rooks recalls. The Dutchman has been a year earlier finished second in the Tour de France and is considered a favorite for the final victory. If he should go to the press conference, is to his surprise, a chauffeured limousine waiting for him. “It was a short ride, but my mouth dropped open in surprise. Such luxury, we were not used to that. “

(left) Eric Vanderaerden, winner Paris Roubaix
(middle) Steven Rooks, best climber Tour de France
(right) Dag Otto Lauritzen winner tour de Trump
Trump launches the starting shot for the Tour de Trump in 1989.


For riders from Europe, spread over eight pro teams and eleven amateur teams, the Tour de Trump is mostly a relaxing getaway after the heavy spring classics in Europe. “All New York was dropped off for us. We were free to do sightseeing, Ruud Siemon of the Sauna-Diana-team remembers.

The namesake of the round they see only a few times. Trump has totally no idea about cycling. When he sees the riders on their road bikes, he exclaims: “Is this a bike? It looks like a spaceship! ” Eric Vanderaerden  who had already the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on his record, he asks if he ever won anything in his career. Vanderaerden “If I had said the Criterium of Udon Thani, I got the same reaction. I saw in his eyes that, the Tour of Flanders, as he had never even heard of it before “

Ruud Siemons Sauna-Diana-team

And then there’s a little riot around Sauna Diana, the cycling team sponsored by a brothel from Holland. If the organization discovers the image of a half-naked woman on the bidons of the team, there is panic. That is not the intention in puritan America. By order of the organization Sauna Diana should change the piquant bidons.

Sauna Diana bidon          Ivana Trump in 1989.                       President Trump, USA.

Vanderaerden remembers especially what he saw during the Tour de Trump outside the big cities, what he calls,  “the real America.” “The houses were either very large or they were almost slums. The middle class did not exist. Outside the cities America  often looks like a third world country. The difference between rich and poor was too big.  There was already a very large group of Americans  that did not feel represented by the politicians.”

At that time Trump had no political ambitions. In an interview about the cycling race in the Senate Building in Albany, he told NBC, “I do not see myself as a politician, because I always speak the truth and as a politician you cannot.”

Another striking statement by Trump in the interview: “With a little help from the media, the Tour de Trump can be after ten years as large as the

Tour de France “. But that will never come. After two editions, the cycling tour will continue under the name Tour DuPont. Trump is embroiled in a battle with the tax and has other things on his mind than a bike race. The organisation has in turn enough to be increasingly linked to the man who comes to controversial issues in the news.

In an article from that time I read that the Tour de Trump was a great success, also financially. But with Trump  it was impossible to work together. The conclusion was: Trump destroys everything.

Protesters at the finish of the first stage of the Tour de Trump in 1989.


“Trump is someone who thinks and lives big,” Vanderaerden says. “He thought: if I only invest enough money in a bike race, then it becomes a success. But he forgot one thing: there was no cycling culture in America. “

Siemons: “I remember that the spectators were handed out flyers, in which the essence of a bike race was explained. Who first crossed the line, had won, things like that. They really knew nothing about it. “


Of ignorance he still benefits on the final evening of the Tour de Trump. “A limousine was waiting for their hotel for 7-Eleven. With a straight face, the Sauna Diana team took place in the car. “Go ” I shouted to the driver. For him there was no difference between Sauna Diana or 7-Eleven. He had no idea.”

1996, was the last year of the Tour DuPont. What remains are the beautiful memories of those ten crazy days in the spring of 1989. Steven Rooks: ‘I’m one of the few Dutch people who can say that he has shaken hands with Trump. ” After a brief silence. ” Anyway I do not know if I can be so delighted by that”.

Donald Trump about Tour de Trump

Donald Trump handshakes


Look at the photo of the protesters at the finish of the first stage of the Tour de Trump in 1989. One boys shows the text TRUMP = LORD OF THE FLIES

Film based on the book by William Golding. A group of English schoolboys collapsed with an airplane crashed on a desert island. In the hope to be saved they have to work together. That goes completely wrong. Eventually they degenerate into a group of savages.

Lord of Flies                                                     Signature Donald Trump