Jul 13, 2020

Roger de Vlaeminck

  • Rob Passmore Photography
  • Rob Passmore Photography
  • Rob Passmore Photography
  • Rob Passmore Photography

Ladies and gents, introducing our new limited edition Roger de Vlaeminck Tribute Jersey.

Each summer we like to pay tribute to the heroes of cycling that inspire what we do here at Chapeau!

Whether it’s a herculean effort at the Tour, a note in the history books or simply being a good egg… Our tribute jerseys are a little ‘chapeau!’ to the greats that make cycling so exciting.

Our first hommage of the summer season has been chosen by Chapeau! Senior Designer, Nick Classic. The honour goes to a man who, ironically, almost swerved a career in professional cycling. Were it not for his brother’s influence, it’s said that our hero would have pursued a career in professional football. Thankfully, Flandrien Roger de Vlaeminck’s silver heels were overtaken by his talents on two wheels and he joined his brother at various winter cyclocross events and then moved to the road.

Had De Vlaeminck stayed on the pitch, we’d have missed out on one of the greatest talents of a golden era of cycling. Born in the summer of 1947 and turning pro in time for the 1969 season, De Vlaeminck raced for 15 years and amassed an incredible 257 victories.

His career saw him win stages at the Tour de France, the Giro and the Vuelta as well as numerous one-off events. His off-road career was no less successful with a World cyclocross Champs title and several National Champs titles. If that’s not enough, Vlaeminck is one of only three riders to have won all five ‘Monuments of Cycling’ with only Eddy Merckx and Rik van Looy sharing the achievement.

De Vlaeminck was, without doubt, one of the greatest riders the sport has seen on the brutal cobbles of Northern France, earning him the title of ‘Monsieur Paris-Roubaix'. Competing in the event on 14 occasions and winning on 4 of them, De Vlaeminck excelled on the cobbles, helped by his cyclocross experience and thirst for tough, physical races.

De Vlaeminck’s talents weren’t exclusive to the gritty northern European Spring Classics. Using it as preparation for those events, he was absolutely dominant at the Tirreno–Adriatico and to this day holds the record for the most consecutive wins. Six race wins and 15 stage wins prove that De Vlaeminck was one of the greatest riders cycling has ever seen.

Of course, like so many of our cycling heroes, the results are only part of De Vlaeminck’s charm. Alongside being a fearsome cyclist, De Vlaeminck is bursting with character, outspoken and often critical of his competitors.

Much of De Vlaeminck’s career is defined by his close rivalry with Eddy Merckx. The two battled for their entire careers with Merckx often being cited as the biggest barrier De Vlaeminck faced.

In a wonderful example of oneupmanship, a recent interview in Rouleur sees our hero admit to having abstained from sex for five months simply because Merckx did the same for four months or to having sent a spy to his rival’s hotel to gain insights into his tactics.

In the same Rouleur interview, De Vlaeminck admits that success often came from simply latching on to his rival and using him as a pace-setter and target. Despite the career rivalry, his respect for Merckx is clearly absolute, even going so far as naming his only son Eddy in tribute.

This esteem, however, isn’t something our hero shares with many of his other rivals and he is famously critical of many in competitive cycling, particularly of modern cycling. He is dismissive of Sagan’s talents and unimpressed with Tom Boonen’s place alongside him as a four times Paris-Roubaix winner. Modern cycling seems not to impress De Vlaeminck much and the popularity of the hashtag #InDeTijdVanRoger, meaning “In Roger’s Day”, reflects his opinions on how soft modern cycling has become.

And so, our tribute to Roger De Vlaeminck comes in the form of a limited edition jersey, created by our Senior Designer Nick Classick.

The heart of the design is a deep green colour, a tribute to the colours of the Ardennes where De Vlaeminck was so dominant. The pattern was inspired by Norman Ives’ typographical artworks, using the letters of our hero’s name.