Same as it ever was…

An elderly Frenchman tosses his day's pros under the bus
Photo source: LIFE photo archive

“These punks today, riding bikes, getting paid mad money, they don’t know what it was like when blah blah blah blah…”

I’ve been poking around some on the LIFE photo archives, unsurprisingly perusing their images related to cycling. When you enter the phrase “bicycle racing” into the search engine, 31 photographs are returned. As one would expect, there are some Tour de France photos, some 6-day photos from the ’40s, several Little 500 pics, and then there’s a certain Monsieur Fourcet (as seen above).

The caption to this photograhs reads, “Veteran cyclist Fourcet expessing low opinion of modern racers, saying they no longer have good legs and are much too lazy.”

The location is France.

The month is July.

And the year is 1953.

Jeez, you’ve got to wonder what it takes to impress this guy. It’s quite likely the photo was captured while the 1953 Tour de France was in progress, won by that well-known slacker Louison Bobet, his first of three consecutive Tour victories. Alongside other perennial softies such as Raphaël Géminiani, Gino Bartali, Wim Van Est, Fiorenzo Magni, Hugo Koblet, Charly Gaul and Jean Robic.

And as luck would have it, there’s some stellar prose recently created concerning Louison Bobet: the ever-interesting Dave Moulton penned a Bobet primer and Rouleur #12 has a profile of Bobet’s younger brother, Jean, a rider (and writer) of no modest abilities in his own right. You’ll have to get your hands on the issue (or better yet, his book Tomorrow We Ride) to read his account of Louison laying waste to the field on Mont Ventoux during the 1955 Tour, while he endured his own personal level of hell to finish his first Grand Tour.

Laziness, indeed.

I Will Survive

Tyson Apostol-Survivor contestant-former professional cyclist

When major television networks, such as CBS, deem someone a “professional cyclist” I tend to get a wee bit suspicious. Yeah, sure he is. Just like I am, because, after all, I’ve won money pedaling my bike, too.

But wouldn’t you know, the man pictured above, Tyson Apostol, contestant on the current rendition of Survivor, indeed raced as a full-on Euro pro for three years as far as I can tell:

Prior to racing as a pro for three years in Austria, Apostol spent a season learning the ropes at the Belgian Cycle Center.

Here’s pretty much the extent of the palmares to be found on ‘the internets’:

  • Amateur
    • 2002: Tour de Berne (Switzerland) – DNF
    • 2002: Martigny-Mauvoisin (Switzerland) – 15th
    • 2003: Giro del Lago Maggiore (Switzerland) – 9th
    • 2003: Stausee-Rundfahrt (Switzerland) – 125th
    • 2003: GP Jang Goldschmit (Luxembourg) – 18th
    • 2003: Circuit des Ardennes (France) – DNF stage 2
    • 2003: Schifflange (Luxembourg) – 15th
    • 2003: Flèche du Sud (Luxembourg) – 99th overall
    • 2003: Tour de Jura (Switzerland) – DNF
    • 2004: Pro/1 Valley of the Sun – 36th overall
    • 2004: Prix des Flandres Françaises (France) – 30th
    • 2004: Grand Prix Demy Cars (Luxembourg) – 53rd
    • 2004: Vlaamse Havenpijl (Belgium) – 26th
  • Professional
    • 2005: Giro del Lago Maggiore (Switzerland) – HD
    • 2005: Stausee-Rundfahrt (Switzerland) – 96th
    • 2005: Settimana Ciclista Lombarda (Italy) – 105th overall
    • 2005: GP Schwarzwald (Germany) – DNF
    • 2005: Tour of Slovenia (Slovenia) – DNF stage 5
    • 2005: Brixia Tour (Italy) – DNF stage 3
    • 2005: Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt (Germany) – DNF
    • 2006: Driedaagse van De Panne (Belgium) – DNF stage 1
    • 2006: US Pro TT Championship – 53rd (DFL)
    • 2006: US Pro Road Championship – DNF
    • 2007: Ronde van het Groene Hart (Netherlands) – DNF
    • 2007: Albert Achterhes Profronde van Drenthe (Netherlands) – DNF
    • 2007: Paris-Camembert Lepetit (France) – DNF

According to the Survivor website, Apostol is described thusly: “In many ways Tyson can be brash, egotistical and unapologetic but, oddly enough, he has no tolerance for ‘know-it-alls’ or individuals who lack common courtesy. In addition to, as he describes it, ‘looking awesome,’ his favorite hobbies are exercising and sunbathing. If he becomes the next sole SURVIVOR, he plans to use all of the money for selfish purposes, starting with ‘the most smoking motorcycle around.’

That sounds like Mario Cipollini. Or most of the Rock Racing roster.

Can Apostol prevail and upgrade his meager cycling-centric income to one padded with a $1,000,000 injection of cash?