In a new run of features Cyclingnews sits down with some of the sport's well-known personalities as they pick their cycling dream teams.
- The first rule about dream teams is that you don’t talk about dream teams
- The second rule about dream teams is that each team must feature nine riders, one of which can be the rider selecting the team. In which case they would pick eight riders to join them.
- The riders picked must have all ridden with the person picking the team. That means you can’t just pick the eight or nine best riders of your generation.
Team Leader: Greg LeMond
The amazing thing about Greg was that he only won three Tours. If you looked at his talent it ought to have been many, many more. He was as great a talent as I've ever seen and I've seen a few beat me up and then disappear up the road. Aside from from the talent, he was remarkably nice about it too. His only weakness, and you had to search really hard to find it, was his tendency to worry and his constantly messing with his race shoes. Maybe that's why he worried. Decent wages in cycling? We've got Greg to thank for that. Reducing the races you had to target? That was one of Greg's initiatives too. And let's not get started about the aero innovations he helped with. Even the French who resented all things American liked him.
Greg LeMond wore the distinctive Z uniform during his 1990 Tour triumph. (AFP)
Climber: Robert Millar
Instead of waxing on about my greatness here's more about why I've picked these riders to join me. I'm going to limit my selection to riders I encountered during my time as a professional. Some of the names will be instantly recognisable and some will be less familiar but everyone has a role and a team isn't just about taking the most prominent rider of each category or speciality. The guys on my team need to function as a unit and the riders I've chosen would knit together well. I've tried to pick a team that would gel but also be successful in a number of racing formats, from one-day races to Grand Tours.
Each of the riders I've picked has the desired work ethic and a certain level of adaptability to circumstances as they happen. With this as a core you could take say three of these guys to a race where it was a six man team and the other three you bring in would be inspired to emulate the core riders' professionalism.
Robert Millar on the attack (AFP)
Sprinter: Eric Vanderaerden
He was a nutcase Belgian sprinter. Well that's what he wanted you to think. He was known as an immensely talented Classics rider, he could win sprints and the odd time trial too. Behind the pranks like putting room doors in hotel lifts and winding up the staff hid a serious bike rider with a lot more depth and commitment than you would guess from the crazy reputation. Every team needs a joker to cheer things up. When I arrived at Panasonic he was already there and I raced with him for two seasons before I moved on from the Peter Post team.
Eric Vanderaerden's palmares includes the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France green jersey
The domestique: Guy Nulens
Another Belgian and another rider from my Panasonic days. Guy was one of those riders you barely hear of nowadays, but back then he was as essential rider in the core of a team. Solid and reliable, he could climb enough to be useful on every terrain. He could also function as part of a leadout, back up in the one-day races and went about his job without any complaints. If he was English he would be a thoroughly pleasant chap but he's Belgian, so is tough as old boots. He rode 15 Tours during his career and that's not by fluke. Riders and staff realised he was such a dependable asset to have around. He didn't win a lot but he did win a stage in the Tour in 1988, the year after I left, as part of the team time trial.
Road captain: Henk Lubberding
Classy, stylish and a very good rider in his own right, Lubberdink is an ideal road captain. He was a bit of a Classics-oriented rider but don't be fooled by that because he was third in a Dauphine and won the best young rider's competition at the Tour de France one year. He won a few decent stages in the race during his career, too, but he's in my team because of his skill when it came to reading a race. You know I always forgave him when shouted at me for being in the wrong position because I knew he was always right. Excellent reader of a race and whether it was riding tempo on the front or being part of the finale he could do it all. He's another from my Panasonic days but you can't fault me, the team had some incredible riders.
Domestique: Sean Yates
So now we're away from Panasonic and over to Peugeot with Sean Yates also making my team. There was little chance of leaving Sean out if I'm honest, I mean the man could do almost anything: 150km riding tempo with one other guy, no problem; moving up from the back when it's lined out and you're too far back, again no problem; be part of the sprint train; again no problem. Yatesy liked all that hard graft stuff, he lapped it up came back for more the next day and the next and rarely complained. On the odd occasion he did get angry then I got the kind of look that said everything without any words actually emerging from his curled up lip. Whenever that look came out, we'd all end up with sore legs.
Sean Yates in the yellow jersey at the 1994 Tour de France in his Motorola days
Domestique: Bernard Bourreau
He was in the middle of his career with Peugeot when I turned up in the mid 1980s. He rode for them during his entire career, having been signed up as a young talent. Bernard epitomised the hard working team rider who rode until he was dropped or worn out day after day. Wind, rain or shine, it didn't matter one bit. I always thought if I could do half as much work chasing, fetching, riding down attacks then I was doing well. He was a pint-sized bundle of energy and enthusiasm, too often taken for granted and, who on not having his contract renewed at Peugeot in 1984, rode for himself at the Worlds that year. He was fifth.
He was fifth in Barcelona only because he rode too much with the other guys in the lead and wore himself out for the sprint. The Montjuic circuit was ridiculously hard and he wasn't known to be a climber but he had something to prove and he left the peloton with his head held high. He liked a job well done and he certainly always did his to the absolute.
Domestique/climber: Ronan Pensec
I think that Ronan and I rode together three times during our careers, first at Peugeot, then at Z and then finally once more at the ill-fated Le Groupment. He was the type of guy that needed a bit of looking after but the rewards were worth it. He was a solid climber be it hilly classics or mountains and willing to ride all day if that what was asked of him. Maybe not one of the names that immediately springs to mind when you think of French GC guys but he had some excellent Tour de France finishes finishes, for instance he was sixth in his first Tour. He was rarely spectacular, but he was consciencious, hard working and likeable despite being slightly messy and unkempt. The management at Peugot put Ronan with me when he first arrived in the hope that some of my OCD rubbed off on him and he stopped trying to use the same kit for every race. There was some success on that subject but his hair was never conquered.
Ronan Pensec in the yellow jersey on stage 11 of the 1990 Tour de France
Domestique: Allan Peiper
With just one spot left to fill this was really hard. I toyed with Allan Peiper, Bruno Cornillet and Martin Earley because I would have loved to have all three. They were roughly the same level of physical ability but slightly different characters that would be brought in on the terrains that suited them best. In this instance though I'm doing to go with Allan. He needed calming down occasionally as his enthusiasm and emotions would sometimes get out of control, but better that than someone who didn't care. Bruno needed geeing up a bit, some confidence instilled in him as to his abilities but under his calm exterior was a similar intensity. Martin somewhere in between the two but all are intelligent and read the race well.
Allan Peiper rode for the Peugeot and Panasonic teams during his career
Team Manager: Michel Laurent
When I turned pro Michel Laurent was one of the leaders at Peugeot and he was the only one who never sent me back to the team car for more water, jerseys, arm warmers or whatever at what would turn out for me to be wrong time. The other French guys did, probably on purpose but then he was one of those rare leaders who didn't talk down to the minions. I liked that about him as a rider and I liked his considerate style as a DS when I was at Z later on. Thoughtful, organised, calm and the only time I ever saw him get angry was when Greg hid his race bikes at the Tour de France and pretended they had been stolen. Well that would get anyone's back up.
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Robert Millar was one of the last pure climbers of the Tour de France, winning several stages in the mountain stages and finishing fourth overall in 1984. He is also the only English speaker to have ever won the prestigious polka-dot jersey climber's competition jersey.
Millar retired in 1995 but has continued to follow the sport closely. He was often critical of the media and quickly cuts through the excuses and spin to understand why and how riders win and lose.
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