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. This week, former Olympic medallist and Tour de France yellow jersey, Steve Bauer, selects his dream team of nine riders.
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 chosen need to have been teammates with the person picking the team.
Bernard Hinault (La Vie Claire)
Bernard Hinault and I were teammates on La Vie Claire in 1985 and 1986, which were my first two years pro after the 1984 Olympics and the World Championships. When I turned pro, I went to that team, and Bernard was the solid veteran there and offered a lot of great input. Even though my French was weak at the time, he was a great mentor, especially sharing his tactical knowledge and how to ride time trials. There is no doubt that Bernard is a Tour de France winner, and that’s why I chose him as a team leader. In his era, he would control a race by himself. If people were causing trouble on the climbs, he would go to the front and make some trouble himself until everyone would calm down. Otherwise, Bernard would make them all hurt.
He had high expectations of us during those years on La Vie Claire, and I think that’s normal. He came across as firm when he needed to be, but I think he just commanded respect, regardless. Guys just did their jobs for him. His palmares; winning the Classics, the World Championship and five Tours de France, he earned a certain amount of respect. He certainly was a very tough competitor, there’s no question about that. He could silence the attacks by simply demonstrating his own strengths.
The 1986 Tour de France was a very special year. It was very unique to have Bernard and Greg LeMond on the same team. It was rare to have two guys on the same team who could win the Tour de France. I guess one could compare it to the dynamics between Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in 2012, where there was this potential rivalry from two leaders on the same team who could legitimately win the Tour. It’s rare to have that situation. But at that 1986 Tour de France, Greg won, and I don’t think there was another person who could have won that race.
It was a very competitive environment on the team at that 1986 Tour de France, and it was particularly rough on Greg. As history unfolded, Bernard had won the 1985 Tour and Greg had to let up a little bit because Bernard was injured. Bernard was leading and eventually won the Tour, as Greg backed off and got second. Going into 1986, Greg thought it was his chance at the Tour de France, and so he fought really hard for that chance, but Bernard didn’t back down at all and went for it himself 100 per cent. He really pushed Greg to his limit, and he would say that that’s the way it should be and that the Tour de France should never be a gift. The team became divided, and it was a very interesting dynamic because there were Anglophones and internationals who were working for Greg and the French guys who were really supporting Bernard. In the end, it probably didn’t make a big difference because one of those guys was going to win anyway. And Greg came out as the winner.
Honestly, it was hard to choose a team leader. I could have put Bernard, Greg, and even Lance Armstrong all on the same team, but I felt like I had to pick one, so I picked Bernard. Had I put them all on the same team, though, I think we would definitely win the Tour de France.
Andy Hampsten (La Vie Claire)
In the 1986 Tour de France there was a battle between our teammates Greg and Bernard, and Andy Hampsten was very instrumental in helping Greg win the Tour. He was a climber in his own right, too. Had there not been the battle between Le Blaireau and Greg, I think Bernard would have won that Tour as well, and Andy could have defended him with no problem. In is own right, Andy won the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de Suisse, and when he was at his best, he was a phenomenal climber. Sometimes he was up and down, but when he was on the mark, he was as good as anybody in the mountains.
Phil Anderson (Motorola)
Phil Anderson and I raced together on Motorola in the early 1990s. He was a solid all-rounder who could pick up stage wins and was extremely confident on any terrain. He was a great team time triallist, and that’s something that is critical in earning or holding a yellow jersey. During our Motorola years, Phil was just a strong man, a great team man, and he was a winner in his own right, too. He could climb when he needed to, and he could defend on a climb and make his mark in the mountains. He was a very tough competitor. Although he wasn’t on my team during the years that I wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in 1988 and 1990, in later years, he was part of the group that made up a strong team time trial team, and that’s why I chose him for my team.
Niki Rüttimann (La Vie Claire)
Niki Rüttimann was a phenomenal team man and a climber. We were teammates on La Vie Claire in 1985 and 1986, with myself and Bernard. He has had some impressive results, too. He is a top guy for the Tour de France, not a full-season kind of racer, but the kind of guy who could be in top shape just for the Tour de France. During those points of the season where he was in top condition, he would be bang on with Andy and Bernard in the mountains.
He was also an interesting guy, a farmer, like Hinault, who lived on a farm as well. He was real down to earth with a dry sense of humour, and a quiet guy, for the most part. He would do anything for the team that the director would ask of him, so that made him a good teammate. Anyone who was a part of his era and knew what he did while he was on La Vie Claire, knew that he was a respected climber.
Dag Otto Lauritzen (7-Eleven and Motorola)
Dag Otto Lauritzen and I were teammates on 7-Eleven and Motorola. He turned pro the same year I did. He also won the bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, behind Alexi Grewal and I. He won a mountain stage in the Tour de France when he was with 7-Eleven before I joined the team. He was a solid all-rounder and a Classics rider, and a great team man. He was also solid in the team time trial. You could call him a rouleur, solid on the front, solid in the breakaways, and he could pick up a stage win, too. Dag was also a great domestique. When you chose a team for the Tour de France, you need more than just climbers that are specific at one thing.
Sean Yates (Motorola)
You have to have Sean Yates in the team time trial. We were teammates on 7-Eleven and Motorola from 1990 onwards. He was the kind of guy who would ride all day on the front if he needed to. He was exceptional on descents and could climb if he was forced to, but typically he did his work where it counted; bringing back the breakaways, controlling the race, keeping guys out of the wind and winning team time trials.
Team time trials are a big part of the game at the Tour de France. If that event were placed in the first week of the Tour de France, then this team I chose would be exceptional.
Sean was a quiet and reserved kind of guy but respected by all. He had a good sense of humour, and we would have a laugh once in a while. He was a dedicated pro without question. Good man and good lead-out guy, too.
Strangely, I remember that he loved to eat garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese sandwiches all the time. It was his snack before dinner. He would pull out a Panini and stuff it full of cheese and fill it up with olive oil and garlic.
Davis Phinney (7-Eleven)
We have to have Davis Phinney on the team because he’s a sprinter. Davis and I were real competitors when we were amateurs and through the Olympics. We were head to head, and we earned a kind of respect for each other. For the most part, Davis would get the better of me if it was a straight up sprint, but if it was a hard, tough race, and he had some tired legs at the end, I could nip him once in a while. The longer road distances were good for me but in the shorter, faster races, Davis was unbeatable most of the time.
He used that prowess a couple of times on 7-Eleven to win Tour de France stages. He could rip off a Tour stage when he was on form. He would be great as part of a team time trial early in the Tour, and then a potential stage winner. If there was a sprint stage early on, he could win a bunch sprint or pick it off in a breakaway, as he did in northern France once out of a breakaway of 10 riders. Davis is also a really likeable guy, a confident rider, upbeat, professional and dedicated. He was strong and fast and a guy to be respected in the peloton or if you were in a breakaway with him. You never wanted to bring Davis to a sprint if you could get away from him.
Steve Bauer (La Vie Claire, 7-Eleven and Motorola)
In this group, I might be able to do what I did during my career and pick up the yellow jersey if we had a good team time trial, which we would. I think that I would be looking for stage wins and certainly, would be a strong component of the team time trial group. If I was in great form, I could go over some of the first climbs of the Tour with Niki, Andy and Bernard, like I did in the 1980s. I would have to be on a good year, and hopefully, my weight would be good so that I could get over some of the big climbs. Overall, I would be trying to look for stage wins and support Bernard for the overall.
Directeur sportif – Paul Köchli
Paul was my first team director with La Vie Claire and through the years I raced with my Suisse team. He was very physiological- and scientifically-minded, a real study of the sport and an exceptional person. He was the kind of guy that could manage riders that had greatness like Bernard and Greg, and riders from other countries because he spoke so many languages. He was just a brilliant person, and I had such a great opportunity to work with him as a director and manager as I turn pro. I think having that influence was critically important for my career.
Assistant directeur sportif – Bob Roll
Bob would keep all the boys in line, and he could instill serious, dedicated direction when required. Everybody knows him to be incredibly funny and able to keep the balance of the seriousness in the group on the right level. Sometimes you need to kick back and relax and lose the intensity for a bit, and Bob knew when those moments were right. He was a great teammate on 7-Eleven. When I had the yellow jersey Bob was there, he was part of our team time trial team, knows the ropes and I think he would add an interesting dynamic to the team.