Looking Back, 1990
Cycling has changed quite dramatically since the 1990 tour. Doping is apparently eradicated, wages have increased, and technology has advanced rapidly. That includes biomechanical research and of course, the bikes themselves. Here is a look at a selection of the most famous contenders for yellow jersey at the 1990 Tour. Some of the positions wouldn’t look out of place in the modern day peleton, but others definitely look quite retro.
There are subtle differences in Chiapucci’s postion. The handlebars certainly look longer and higher than todays standards. The setback on the saddle also looks quite rearward and the nose tilts upwards. Saddle height is also quite high. If only we had a modern day Chiapucci to ignite the mountain stages.
Bugno’s postion could quite easily pass in today’s peleton. He had a super smooth style and quite a large amount of drop. The time trial bike he is pictured riding above looks very aggressive with a sloping downtube, but I don’t think the drop would be that much more than today’s time trial machines. It wouldn’t suprise me to see London Couriers riding around on something similar.
Delgado’s position, like Bugno’s, wouldn’t look out of place in 2010. The main point I can see is the nose of the saddle points upwards.
Greg Lemond is probably not the best person to look at if we are making an overall assessment, but is representative of Cyrille Guimard’s (influential Direct Sportif) bikefitting techniques, which Lemond has been preaching for some years. He favoured an exceptionally long position, which looked hellishly uncomfortable climbing Luz Ardiden. He didn’t look great on a bike, but it seemed to work well for him in terms of speed. His knee tracking was abysmal, possible caused by such an aggressive position, but maybe this was his incentive to produce ‘LeWedges’?
Indurain rode an exceptionally high saddle height, which forced him to plantarflex (toe down) at the bottom of the pedal stroke and caused some hip rock. He also follows the theme of an unsually long position. His TT position… I’ll leave you to decide.
So what where the main differences I noticed among the riders compared to 2010?
1. Higher Saddle height- I think this affects the stability of their hips while climbing, especially if there are any imbalances or differences in leg mechanics. There is far more movement in the saddle than today’s standard. This may be due to inferior saddles also.
2. Saddles tilted upwards- maybe neccessary for comfort, but seems to encourage rocking in the saddle (back and forth)
3. Longer postions- While today’s fashion is lots of handlebar drop, top tube length looked fashionable in 1990. All the riders seem to be clinging to the top of the bars while climbing, and do not look particularly comfortable. The amount of upper body movement is huge, and this may be a big factor.
4. Lack of attention to pedalling mechanics- many of the riders have terrible knee tracking; probably because of lack of knowledge about shoe set up, lack of core stability work, or their handlebar set ups. Maybe they were riding longer cranks?
Have a look at this Video of Luz Ardiden in 1990 and let me know if you agree or disagree with my observations. The tour is going up here again in 2010 so could make an interesting comparison.