Bjarne Riis, Danish, 1964 -
Bjarne Riis typifies, in many ways, the complexities and contradictions of cycling back in the 1990s, and perhaps ever since.
As a cyclist he came over as a sensible, level headed, Northern European sort of bloke - a, perhaps welcome, change from the hot blooded Italians and Spaniards who were then dominant. A champion of Denmark, he took advantage of the end of the long reign of Miguel Indurain to step in and win the Tour de France (in 1996). In doing so he established Team Deutsche Telekom as a power in cycling, and began the process that brought cycling enthusiasm to Germany and Denmark. As a team manager he seemed to diligently build his CSC team into yet another powerhouse, winning the Tour with Carlos Sastre and Andy Schleck.
But then there is the other story. Some people claim that he was nicknamed 'Mr 60%' in reference to his supposed haemocrit level. He admitted to using EPO in his 1996 Tour win and was stripped of his title and then, oddly, the win was reinstated but with an 'asterisk' that refers to his doping. Others have claimed that, as a team manager, he has, on occassion, encouraged his riders to dope. Certainly Team CSC's Ivan Basso fell under suspicion as a result of the Operación Puerto scandal.
As I was saying... Bjarne Riis typifies, in many ways, the complexities and contradictions of cycling back in the 1990s, and perhaps ever since.
I think that this postcard dates from early 1996. It lists his palmares up to and including 1995, and he is obviously already a member of Team Deutsche Telekom. However it makes no mention of his 1996 Tour win. It counts against him that his 'dream car' is the bloated Porsche 928, but he redeems himself by nominating Laurent Fignon as the person he would most like to know better.
I think that our Bjarne won his Tour de France using a Campagnolo Record Titanium derailleur.