Rik Van Looy - 1962? Sport & Vie

Sport & Vie 1962? - Rik Van Looy main image

Rik Van Looy, Belgian, 1933 -

Rik Van Looy was World Road Race Champion in 1960 and 1961. Often described as a 'King of the Classics', he was the first rider to win all five of the 'Monuments' (Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Giro di Lombardia). Strangely this is something that has only ever been done by Belgian riders - the other two being Eddy Merckx and Roger de Vlaeminck.

Rik Van Looy's career tally of 379 race victories is the second highest ever - with only Eddy Merckx winning more. One key to his success was his invention of team racing. This reached its peak in 1962 when he was riding for Flandria (whose team colour is red). In an unheard of break with tradition, he demanded that the team should be entirely composed of devoted domestiques who rode exclusively for him - the so-called 'Red Guard'. He personally determined the tactics to be employed, the gear ratios to be used and even the division of pay between the various riders. Most particularly he invented the 'lead out train' - the 'Red Guard' would carry him to within 200m of the finish allowing him to out-sprint his rivals on other teams. At the time this was highly controversial and considered to be verging on the unsporting, although today it is an integral part of any sprint finish.

As for this picture - just dig that 1960s look - with the puffed-up Oppy hat with the turned-up peak, the ridiculously short shorts and the excessively oiled, self-basting, muscles. And bring back black cycling shoes - ludicrous coloured footwear was interesting for a while - but now it's just football-naff.

Derailleurs? In the years in which he won the world championship, Rik Van Looy rode for the Faema-Guerra team and used Campagnolo equipment and Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleurs.

Sport & Vie 1962? - Rik Van Looy main image
Sport & Vie 1962? - Rik Van Looy additional image