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Archival Cyclists: Tour Edition

Posted on: July 2nd, 2010 by Lesli Larson

Now that Spring randonneuring season is over, I can relax and monitor the suffering of other cyclists. My favorite form of spectactorship is the Tour de France. I’ve been watching the tour on TV since ABC broadcast 1/2 hour weekly recaps on its Wide World of Sports. On Saturday, I’ll be up at to watch coverage of the opening prologue in Rotterdam.

I’m indifferent to modern cycling equipment or the competition between athletes (game pieces on a board, Tom might say). The US-centric TV coverage always frustrates, but I enjoy the epic Alpine stages and S-curve sprint finishes. I mainly watch for cyclists moving through a scrolling landscape, the helicopter shots of French villages and agriculture, and those larky commercial caravans.

Of course, I’d prefer a mixed era competition between the vintage cycling gents pictured below. To stage your own race, clip and cut participants from this terrific Tour de France set via Nationaal Archief’s flickr photostream.

In practical terms, if you need an all-wool cycling jersey in your national colors, I suggest you shop from Cima Coppi, a Canadian company selling handmade (recycled) merino wool jerseys and caps. I’m not too fond of the overly feminized (scoop neck, cashmere) Luxembourg national champion jersey, but I love the bold color panels, high necks and spread collars of these models:

Cima Coppi recycled merino wool jerseys (made in Canada)


  1. Anonymous on

    What did the marathon “hippodrome” cyclists of the 1890-1910s wear? Fun story: my father-in-law, in Colorado in the early 60s, knew a guy who went out to Colorado on a cross-country bike race around 1915 or so…he landed mid-way in Denver and stayed. He ended up a tour guide, up into the mountains, and was in very good shape for a guy in his 70s. Cool!!!!

  2. plainwater on

    And who can forget the very fashionable Triplets of Belleville?

  3. reverend dick on

    Outstanding! Thanks for the Cima Coppi link.

  4. Lesli Larson on


    Here’s a terrific short film on the Tour de France from 1962. Includes historical musette footage (and my favorite documentary moment showing a fatigued cyclist tipping over on his bicycle).

    Part one:

    Part two:

  5. Hans on

    Lesli- Your musette got a mention in the New York Times article about that fellow selling painted axes.

    Watch for me at the Tour. I’ll be cheering from the Col de la Madeleine.

  6. Anonymous on

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  7. Anonymous on

    I would like to exchange links with your site
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