Better of ED: Professional Bike Riders Meet the Animal Kingdom


“I’m by no means happier than after I’m writing.”
~ Ed Hood, as spoken to Martin Williamson from the passenger seat, driving alongside a stage route on the Tour de France.

Pricey Readers – Our beloved colleague and pal Ed Hood suffered a severe stroke in February.  We don’t anticipate Ed will make it again into our bunch, so we’ve began a GoFundMe web page to assist Ed together with his future.  Learn the complete put up right here – and please think about donating.

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We’ll be posting a collection of Ed’s work from the previous 16 years, as a result of nice story-telling by no means will get outdated.

Stars and their pets: Not the same old race dissection or in-depth rider interview, however in the present day Ed Hood has a take a look at the pets of the ‘stars of the street’. From donkeys to pigs, with parrots and canine thrown in for good measure.

Alejandro Valverde’s canine ‘Piti’ was fairly well-known

The opposite day I posted a few pics I took of the ‘Tashkent Terror,’ Djamolidine Abdoujaparov on the end of the 1992 Vuelta in Madrid. My pal, Mike Curtis jogged my memory that the demon sprinter was an unlikely however dedicated hen fancier, Mike additionally jogged my memory that one in every of my Italian heroes of some years again appreciated his donkeys.

Considered one of my Italian heroes of some years again appreciated his donkeys

The gray matter went into gear, I in contrast notes with PEZ editor, Alastair Hamilton and in your leisure we current; ‘Professional bike riders meet the Animal Kingdom.’ Let’s begin with ‘man’s greatest pal,’ the canine.

Yukiya Arashiro and photographer Miwa Iijima’s canine Corin, may be seen at loads of bike races

I like Pippo Ganna, I’ve all the time had mushy spot for large, robust time tester/pursuiters however the man from lovely Verbania on the banks Lago di Maggiore actually gained my seal of approval when, regardless of being a part of the super-focussed, super-serious INEOS squadra he discovered time to play together with his canine Mia, mid-Giro. I really like the person.

Ganna and his canine on the Giro

However not everybody has a canine only for companionship and enjoyable, French double Paris-Roubaix and GP Plouay winner, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle was, and doubtless nonetheless is a person for the searching and was usually pictured off season full with bandolier, shotgun and devoted canine in pursuit of recreation.

Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle
ProCycling article on Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle

However not all canine tales are gentle and fuffy, PEZ editor, Alastair Hamilton who’s a former mechanic with the Raleigh workforce gave me this subsequent gem; the late Paul Sherwen – who was the Raleigh supervisor on the time – had a Doberman referred to as, ‘Beaujolais’. Simply previous to an enormous race within the UK, one in every of Sherwen’s riders, Adrian Timmis ‘crept up’ on the beast, startled him and Beaujolais responded by sinking his tooth into Mr. Timmis. Motto of the story, ‘by no means sneak up on a Doberman!’

Adrian and Beaujolais

And to shut on our 4 legged buddies; the Tour de France 2008 and Cadel Evans has simply misplaced the maillot jaune, a digital camera man will get too near the Mr. Evan’s canine, Molly; ‘Don’t stand on my canine or I lower your head off,’ the ex-jersey holder tells the offender. The Aussie later tried to make gentle of the incident by advertising and marketing, ‘Don’t stand on my canine!’ T-shirts. Nonetheless, judging by the look in Cuddles eyes when he made the pronouncement, if there had been a machete useful. . .


‘Again within the day,’ our Buddy, Stevie subscribed to the Belgian ‘Sport 70’ journal, alongside the inevitable Eddy, Freddy and Roger items there can be Jacky Ickx the motorsports legend and Eddy Lejeune the well-known trials motor bicycle owner – but additionally historical guys in three piece fits with watch chains and fabric caps who bred and raced pigeons. Pigeon racing was an enormous sport in Belgium, even all the way down to life time bans for guys who have been convicted of ‘kitting up’ their birds – however that’s one other story. . .

Billy Bilsland – Champion on a motorcycle and together with his pigeons

Scottish biking legend Billy Bilsland ‘acquired into’ the ‘doos’ as we name them in Scotland, throughout his time in Belgium, he had a pigeon loft within the again backyard and the final I heard was nonetheless racing his feathered buddies.

Djamolidine Abdoujaparov has tried flying additionally

One other man who was a not possible pigeon ‘fancier,’ was the ‘Tashkent Terror,’ Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, factors classification winner within the Giro, Tour and Vuelta. Regardless of his fearsome status, I met him on the Worlds in Ponferrada a number of years in the past, he was a beautiful man.

Djamolidine Abdoujaparov pigeons
Abdou and his ‘doos’

Sticking with our avian buddies, when the late Michele Scarponi went out coaching, Frankie the parrot would seem, and perch on his shoulder accompanying the Astana man on his experience. After the Italian died, Frankie waited in useless at their regular rendez-vous spot for his pal to seem. . .

Michele and Frankie

When Dave and I used to go the Giro we used to see, Marzio Bruseghin followers carrying hats with donkey ears on them, we needed to examine this phenomenon. It transpired that ‘Bruz,’ who was a ‘man of the mountains,’ with the structure of a bear, ran a donkey sanctuary. Regardless of his pursuits within the animal kingdom, Bruz nonetheless discovered time to win the Italian time trial championship and made the Giro podium. Dave and I miss the person.

Marzio Bruseghin
Marzio Bruseghin loves his donkeys

It’s a brief hop from donkeys to horses. Regardless of being one of many quickest sprinters on the planet Belgium’s Freddy Maertens couldn’t get the higher of Fakir du Vivier in a motorcycle versus trotting horse duel at Amiens in July 1977, Freddy ought to have been on the Tour de France however was nonetheless in plaster after his crash within the Giro – that may’t have helped his sprinting. The embarrassment of defeat would have been eased although by the wholesome wad of Euros he obtained for this day trip.

Freddy Maertens raced Fakir du Vivier

French sprinter, Jimmy Casper too raced and misplaced to a trotting horse over 500m in Amiens in 2011 however the Soja Solar, Tour stage winner Frenchman had ‘points’ with traction on the flat trotting monitor.

Jimmy Casper – Bike vs Horse

Former US professional Mike Engleman wasn’t a foul bike rider with stage wins within the Coors Traditional – the place he completed on the GC podium, phases within the Herald Solar Tour and a prime 10 end within the Worlds particular person time trial championship. However the man likes his equines, telling me; “I’m the third era in my household within the horse world, I grew up in a stables. I’ve six Quarterhorses/Paints (bred of American horse, ed) and one 4 yr outdated off the monitor thoroughbred that was quick, however acquired injured so I picked him as much as heal him, and maintain him from some type of unhealthy destiny.” One severe horseman.

Thibaut Pinot and his goats

Sticking with 4 legs – however not as a lot pace, how about Thibaut Pinot and his goats? The enigmatic French climber and girlfriend Charlotte Patat ultimately depend had two goats, Kim and Quentine, to not point out 4 donkeys, chickens and a few cows. The beasts have their very own Instagram account and there’s speak of a spread of leisure put on. All of it helps take Thibaut’s thoughts off le Tour. . .

Hoban’s Estele

Then there’s Barry Hoban’s cow; when the Englishman received a mountain stage to Sallances in 1968, a part of his prize for the day was a cow, Estele, who was joyful to pose with Barry on her again. Like the great professional he’s, Baz bought her – there being no provision for livestock within the GB workforce automobiles – however stored her cowbell.

Tro Bro Leon
Dan Craven’s pig

And at last, while you hear riders speaking a few, ‘pig of a day,’ maybe they’d ridden the Tro Bro Leon the place the rider who wins and the very best positioned Breton rider obtain a piglet. The race poster options an incredible picture of ‘Dan from Nam,’ – Dan Craven holding just a little pink cutie. . .


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