DISRAELI DOCUMENTS

Charly Gaul 1958? - Belgian Chewing Gum card

Charly Gaul - card scan 1 main image

Charly Gaul was an odd looking cove, unhealthily thin, with short legs and a childlike, permanently sad face. He did not bother much with bonhomie, and was not widely liked in the peleton. But he had a certain something - on the one hand an ability to spin up hills maintaining a relentless, high, cadence, and on the other the self discipline and ruthless strength to excel in a time trial. It's a rare combination, and it won him the Tour de France in 1958 and the Giro in 1956 and 1959.

Like Andy Schleck, another lightly-built conqueror of massive climbs, Charly Gaul came from Luxembourg, a state whose highest hill stands only 560m tall. However, despite the lack of grand cols, there are a desceptive number of hard climbs in the hills of the Ardennes.

As befits his reputation as a maverick, Charly Gaul was at his best riding in the cold and the rain. Wikipedia notes that Federico Bahamontes pointedly said that he (Federico) liked the heat, 'because then others couldn't take as much amphetamine' - a thinly veiled dig at his main rival, Charly Gaul. Gaul was often seen foaming at the mouth at the end of a titanic mountain stage.

The legend goes that after retiring, Charly Gaul, always a loner, lived for a while in a tiny hut deep in the forests of the Ardennes. He would occassionally be seen standing beside the road as the Tour passed by, unwashed, unshaven and dishevilled. Later he reemerged into the world and became something of a fan of Marco Pantani - another troubled climber, whose ghost also haunts the Tour.

I believe that Charly Gaul won his 1958 Tour riding a Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleur.

In the photo on this card Charly Gaul is shown riding for Terrot in either 1953 or 1954. I believe the card itself was produced in 1958, as it lists his palmares up to 1957 but does not mention his 1958 win in the Tour de France.


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