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The author would like to thank 'Gato' from for explaining Cochise's ban from the Munich Olympics ; Ryo Hazuki for sending the article from De Muur "De Fietsende Apache" ; Eshnar for partly translating an article from L'Unita about the 1974 Giro delle Marche and Le Breton for the explanation about the Hour Record at high altitude.

The following comments were posted by Le Breton on some other forums and were copied here: If we were to trust Di Prampero's calculation (International Journal of Sports Medicine, No2 VOL 7 April 1986, page 62), an hour performance at low altitude equals 96% of an hour performance at 2, 200m altitude like in Mexico. With an air pressure reduced by 23% wrt sea-level, the speed would increase by about 10% ( air pressure/(resistance) accounts for 90% of the energy expenditure). However, one loses about 10% of aerobic power at such an altitude, so that the relative overall gain is only ~12%, which translates to a gain of ~4% at Mexico's altitude according to this back of the envelope calculation.

The nickname ‘Cochise’

In 1950 director Delmer Daves made the film Broken Arrow, starring James Stewart as Tom Jefford, a U.S. Army scout who befriended with Indians in the heat of the War against Apaches. The film is based on the true story of the meeting between Tom Jefford and Apache chief Cochise, symbolized by the Broken Arrow (Indian symbol for surrender/peace).

The film seems to be one of the first Western films from Holywood to be favourable to the Indians and was the first film Martin Emilio Rodriguez saw in a cinema hall at age 7 and he was very impressed by the actor playing Cochise. “In my opinion, James Stewart wasn’t the hero of the film. I found Cochise, the Apaches’ chief, just great […]. My mates were mad about it and start it naming me Cochise. I never lost that nickname.” [he says to Dutch magazine De Muur].

Young Martin probably did not know that the actor who impersonated Cochise was no Indian at all but a White American actor named Jeff Chandler. Besides the true story of this meeting led to the creation of a reserve for Apaches Chiricahua in 1971 where the historic Cochise remained till his death in 1874. So though the film seemed favourable to the Indians, the historical event was a low point in Apache history. In 1876 the Americans closed the reserve and the Apaches were forcibly removed to arid land at San Carlos, Arizona. The Apaches would then rebelled under their new leader: Goyathlay ("one who yawns"). The Mexicans singled this Chief out with a sobriquet, which history will remember: … Geronimo !

Early Years

Cochise Rodriguez worked for a drug store in Medellin delivering prescriptions as a young man, just like other Colombian cycling greats: Ramon Hoyos and Martin Ramirez. “I rode so hard through the city that I was discovered by the coach of a team that made a cyclist out of me.” (said Cochise in an interview for Dutch magazine De Muur) This seems to be a variant to the European postman of grocer’s shop delivery man (see the Ferdi Kübler biography). It’s worth noting however that this stereotype in Europe would rather fit with the champions from the fifties and early sixties but Cochise’s European contemporaries gradually saw the advent and the democratization of the vespas and scooters and even cars. Bikes still were a major means of transport, though, but less and less. It seems that Europe was more advanced than Colombia in transport evolution, with consequences for bike factories and cycling practice.

Cochise first raced at age 15 in 1958 at a junior race in Girardota, close to Medellin, a race that gathered 150 contenders. He had to retire from the race but that is the period when he met his future rival Javier “El Ñato” Suarez, who was a teammate back then and who would become the best Colombian climber of the era. (In Spanish)

In 1960 he turned amateur and one year later he raced the Tour of Colombia for the first time with the A team of Antioquia, finishing 6th and 2nd in the Clasico RCN (then raced over two stages) at age 19, both races were won by Ruben Dario Gomez. In 1962 he also proved his ITT skills by winning the Pursuit contest at the Central American and Caraibbean Games, in Mexico. Cochise always said that his favourite races were the ITT’s, those races where you ride against the clock (his exact word). That characteristic clashes with the stereotype of the lightweight Colombian climbers, accustomed to high altitude. Cochise was more complete than that.

The Tour of Colombia in 1962 was spectacular but Cochise lost it for barely 8” to Roberto ‘Pajarito’ Buitrado. Later on he blamed his team’s weakness for this loss. In order to reduce the gap he needed the help from Spanish riders: Luis Mayoral, Juan Sánchez, Candelas Domínguez and Martín Colmenarejo. In the final day he trailed Buitrado by 10” but could only gain 2 of them on the velodrome of the “Campin” stadium in Bogota. It’s interesting to note that Spain regularly sent a team in Colombia in the sixties and some were pros. The future famous climber on the European scene, Julio Jimenez raced the 1961 Tour of Colombia and won 4 stages (he was a pro already). He later said about Cochise: “Already in 1961 it stood clear that he would become a giant. Today he’d be compared with Indurain.” (In Spanish) . Mayoral, Sanchez and Colmenarejo were all pros in the Spanish version of Faema in 1962, led by the famous Bernardo Ruiz. High altitude was of course not in their favour but they did well. Dominguez won a stage in that Tour of Colombia. Colmenarejo is the best known of them. He won two stages. He went on to be 2nd in the 1963 Tour of Spain and to win two stages in the Tour of Switerland (in 1963 & 64). (in Spanish)

Dominance on the Latin American Scene

Cochise finally got the win in the two main Colombian stage races in 1963: Tour of Colombia and the RCN Classic but his dominance became insolent in 1964 when he won the Tour of Colombia with a 1 hour and 4 minute lead ahead of former two-times champion Ruben Dario Gomez (who was still in his prime at age 24 ! and a rider he admired most) and winning 9 out of the 19 stages. He added two wins in the national Tour (1966 & 1967), while winning 3 times the prestigious Venezuelian stage race, Tour of Tachira (1966 – first edition of the race –, 1968 and 1971) in three participations.

Cochise also confirmed his pursuit skills by adding 4 more titles in this field: the Bolivarian Games in 1965, 1967 and 1970, the South American Championship in 1969 and the Pan-American Games in 1967 in Winnipeg, Canada (with a time of 4’58”31 in the final: new Pan-American record:,12543793 in Spanish) and in 1971 in Cali, Colombia (year in which he also won the Team Pursuit event with Colombia: as mentioned by the Virgin Island Daily News:,4894047 ).

He also added two titles in the Central American and Caraibbean Games (in 1966 & 1970).

1965: the epic battle with El Ñato Suarez

The 1965 Tour of Colombia was the scene of an epic battle between the complete rodador – Martin Rodriguez – and the pure climber – Javier Suarez. The field was pretty much Latin American oriented, of course, with beside Colombians, also Mexicans but again also a handful of Spaniards. Retrospectively the biggest name of them might be Jesus Manzaneque who went on to be a solid time-trialist in Spain but in 1965 he was barely 22 and still an “Independent” (which means until 1965, an amateur who was entitled to race with the pros).

Up until the 14th stage Cochise looked like a certain winner. He had a 6’30” lead ahead of Suarez but in that stage – Pereira to Manizales – the climber made a huge climbing display under heavy rain and made up 4’ of the 6 and a half that separated him from Cochise in the GC. The very short distance was definitely in Suarez and the other climbers’ favour, though stages in Colombia are traditionally much shorter than in European tours. It led to a nervous stage that is taylor-made for explosive riders such as Suarez as opposed to the stamina rider, Cochise. As if the organizers designed their route in order to avoid a new head & shoulder dominance by the Antioquian, like that of 1964; in order words, to make him lose.
As Raul Sanchez Hidalgo (special coordinator for El Tiempo) said: “From the start, fires were opened by two riders from Cundinamarca with ‘Pajarito’ Buitrago and Gustavo Rincon; Carlos Montoya; Ruben Dario and the same Javier Suarez marched over the mountain as if they had powder with a fuse under their saddle. All against Cochise. Martin was a man notably heavier for that reason, did not have the jump to follow the pure climbers and he promptly dropped.”

The journalist also noted a puncture for Cochise which made the gap grow huge, despite a quick wheel change and luckily the terrain that followed was descending.,271523 (in Spanish)

In the followind stage to Honda (143km) Suarez showed again his climbing skills, winning it with a 1’09” margin ahead of Cochise (+30 seconds time bonus as opposed to 20” to Cochise; huge time bonuses in Colombia back then, perhaps explaining the gap between Cochise and Dario, the year before). Cochise still was 1’24” ahead.

In order to force his opponent to a race of attrition, Cochise attacked right from the start, his attempt lasted from 8.15 to 8.51am, according to El Tiempo. At that moment the riders started climbing the Paramo de Letras. This very famous mountain pass in Colombia was that year climbed from its much shorter side: 18km from Manizales, which means that the riders had to climb down the mythical 83km of the Paramo (Mariquita side), favouring Cochise ( ).

Suarez attacked at the start of the climb and after little less than half an hour of climbing he already was provisional leader of the GC but then comes the descent and Suarez couldn’t help riding carefully on a stone-lined stretch held by cliffs and rock outcroppings. On that same descent Suarez suffered a terrible crash three years before and it was still present in his memory. Cochise on the other hand flew like an eagle. The descent ended with 20km to go in Mariquita but there ended Suarez lead in the GC but Cochise still left him the stage win.
The 16th stage was a 32km ITT between Honda and La Dorada. Ramon Hoyos predicted 3 possible stage winners: Cochise, Dario and the Spaniard Jose Momeñe and also added two possible outsiders: the two Spaniard Jesus Manzaneque and Francisco Marti.
The winner will be the second outsider: Marti. Francisco Martí was then a 25 year old professional in the Ferrys team, whose leader was Jose Perez-Francès but this ITT seemed to be Martí’s best performance. Cochise finished 2nd. Hoyos estimated that if Suarez remained within 2’ from Cochise he still had a shot at the overall win. Suarez actually finished 1’51” behind Cochise in real time but Cochise also had 20” time bonus (which in Colombia also was granted for the first three of the ITT). Cochise lead in the GC was now 3’34” ahead of Suarez before the last decisive mountain stage to Bogota but in that last stage Suarez soloed to victory with a 4’53” lead over a 10-man group which comprised Cochise (9th in the stage results), the Spaniards José Momeñe and Jesus Manzaneque and former champion Ruben Dario Gomez among others. That is how Cochise lost the overall classification for 1’49”. Gomez was 3rd and Jesus Manzaneque was 25th.

At first Cochise admitted that Suarez did a great race. Later he suspected some poisoning drinks. “I was so confident in La Dorada [start of the final stage] but the heat was so strong that I accepted everything that I was offered.” (In Spanish)

Ramon Hoyos however claimed Suarez won because he was better prepared. The former champion was a friend of El Ñato and said he had prepared for 7 months for that objective. Several times he invited him for a party but Suarez kept on refusing because he had the tour in mind. Hoyos also claimed Suarez neither got real help from his teammates nor from other opponents as opposed to Cochise who allied with Carlos Montoya. Several reporters from El Tiempo rather highlighted an “alliance against Cochise” but that does not seem to be Hoyos opinion. (Google p.10; in Spanish)

A last note worth mentioning about this 1965 Tour of Colombia is that the April 5 issue of El Tiempo that dealt with the final stage of the race, 8 pages dedicated to the race (+ an article on the front page) while only 2 of them were dedicated to football/soccer, which is testament of cycling’s popularity in Colombia.

1965: First Amateur Pursuit World Championship

In 1965 the rather poor Colombian federation had raised enough money to send their biggest name across the ocean to Europe in order to compete at the World Championship in San Sebastian, Spain, says the article “De Fietsende Apache”, from De Muur. Cochise proudly remembered that he set the best time of the whole tournament. Unfortunately that was just in the series. He made it through to the semis, though but in that semi-final match he remembered he could not find his rhythm and was defeated by Dutch defending champion Tiemen Groen. The Frisian eventually kept his title and would even make hat-trick the following year before winning the pro tournament in 1967 and retiring too soon in 1968. Cochise also lost the final for 3rd place to the Dane Preben Isaksson.

1968: Olympics as turning point in the career
In 1968 Cochise took part at the Mexico Olympics. He entered the Individual Pursuit constest, the Team Pursuit contest and the road race.

In the individual pursuit event, Cochise set the 9th best time in the classification trial: 4’45”38 (50.226kmh), 5” more than the Swiss – dual amateur World Champion – Xaver Kurmann (4’40”41) and 45 hundreds of a second behind the Belgian/Walloon Paul Crapez who got the 8th qualifying spot for the quarter final. The Frenchman Daniel Rebillard, eventually got the title. Behind Cochise in the classification trial you could find some famous names like Norway’s Knut Knudsen (11th with a time of 4’46”70) or Sweden’s Gösta Pettersson (17th with a time of 4’51”37).

In the team event, Colombia consisted of Luis Saldarriaga, Severo Hernandez, Mario Vanegas and Martin Rodriguez. In the qualifying round they defeated the USA (David Chauner, Harry Cutting, Steven Maaranen & John Vande Velde; Christian’s father): 4’31”98 versus 4’32”87. Unfortunately their time were far from sufficient to qualify for the quarters. Actually, only Thailand, Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago did worse than these two teams (+ Congo/Kinshasa and Taiwan who did not start).

Cochise was also 9th in the road race, 2’33”25 behind 21 year old Italian Pierfranco Vianelli who won the race ahead of Leif Mortensen of Denmark and Sweden’s Gösta Pettersson. Cochise kept behind him riders such as fellow countrymen and great rival Alvaro Pachon (15th, 15” behind him), Roger De Vlaeminck (18th, 26” behind him; who suffered a terrible crash in training, see the Jean-Pierre Monseré Biography), André Dierickx (19th, 1’34” behind Cochise) and Spain’s Miguel-Maria Lasa (42nd).

Full results of the Mexico Olympics are available on the web:

Cochise told De Muur that the Olympics were the turning point in his career because it made him realize that he “needed a much more professional approach if he one day wishes to beat the Europeans. Compared to them we didn’t do too much here.” Cochise remembered that winner Vianelli raced like a pro and was very smart. Jean-Pierre Monseré who finished 6th (at age 18; 6 years younger than Cochise) was already using the most advanced training methods of his time with physicians and kinesists (as we saw in his biography), against whom Cochise might have felt too old, while age-wise he was then in his prime. This again shows how riders from the 1970’s were perfectly trained unlike some modernist myths say.

That is how his sponsor – Blue Jeans Wrangler – hired an Italian coach (whose named is not mentioned by De Muur but answers to the name of Claudio Costa), the riders of course still being amateur as the Colombian federation wants.

1970: Amateur Hour Record

Under this Italian coach’s advice Cochise made an attempt at the Amateur Hour Record on the Agustin Melgar (Olympic) velodrome of Mexico, that was set on October 5 1969 by the 28 year-old Dane Mogens Frey, on the same track in Mexico (just before turning pro). His performance was 47, 514km.

Cochise made his attempt on October 7 1970. That effort has never been a cakewalk for the Colombian who was lagging behind his own schedule after 30km, as he told De Muur but “found somewhere new strengths and could accelerate. I realized that all Colombia was behind me. I had to and would break that record.”

Cochise set a mark of 47, 553km, which means barely 40 meters more than Frey, on the same track. That record stood for 9 years before 24 year-old other Dane set a mark of 48, 200km (650m more) on November 1 1979. It should however be noted that that performance was also set in Mexico but on the velodrome of the “Mexico Sport Centre”, where Francesco Moser made his two Hour “performances” in 1984. That track was reputedly faster than the Agustin Melgar velodrome.

As information too, Cochise did exactly 1,100km less than the then professional Hour record by Ole Ritter (48, 653km) and 1,878km less than the mark Merckx set 2 years later. They seemed to be gigantic gaps but first Ritter’s record was not a target for Cochise and second it can still be argued that he did not have the same facilities that pro riders had. Anyway both Merckx and Ritter showed in other events that they were better time-trialists than Cochise was and his performance also deserves credit anyway if only because an “Hour” performance is a total effort, perhaps also the supreme effort.

Another downside to this performance that we might think of is the altitude, which makes it less comparable with older marks (notably pre-Ritter records). If we were to trust Di Prampero's calculation (International Journal of Sports Medicine, No2 VOL 7 April 1986, page 62), an hour performance at low altitude equals 96% of an hour performance at 2, 200m altitude like in Mexico. With an air pressure reduced by 23% wrt sea-level, the speed would increase by about 10% ( air pressure/(resistance) accounts for 90% of the energy expenditure). However, one loses about 10% of aerobic power at such an altitude, so that the relative overall gain is only ~12%, which translates to a gain of ~4% at Mexico's altitude according to this back of the envelope calculation.

That means that if we trust Di Prampero’s calculation, Cochise’s performance in Mexico (47, 553km) equals 45, 651km at a low altitude. That would place him between Frans Slaats (45, 458km in 1937) and Maurice Archambaud (45, 767km in 1937 as well) and only 197m behind Coppi for example. That also means he still did better than the 1955 failed attempt by Anquetil to break Coppi’s record (45, 175km).

However all these data do not take the track’s efficiency into account and the older records mentioned above were all set on the reputedly lightening fast Vigorelli track in Milan. All that is left to do is to show whether the Vigorelli is faster or not in itself that the Agustin Melgar track, of Mexico, irrespective of the altitude factor. If it is, then it adds to Cochise’s credits. (But the Vigorelli was much older – built in 1935 – while the Agustin Melgar was especially built for the Olympics in 1968)

1971: First ever Latin American World champion

In 1971 Cochise finally got a World title, though he claimed that the Hour record already was a World title in itself (beside the fact that the Hour is physically a much more impressive performance) but it did not give him the title “World Champion”, the label, so to speak (and the Rainbow Jersey !).

This title is the first ever for a Latin American rider (and the first American rider to get a title for 59 years !) and of course he got it in his favourite contest, the individual pursuit.

In the qualifying round he set a time of 4’53”78. In the quarters he defeated the Soviet Victor Bykov (a present-day Kazakh) with a time of 4’54”46, which was the best time of the 8 quarterfinalists despite the fact that his opponent did not push him to the limits because he was too quickly out of contention (hence the fact his time in the qually was faster). In the semis he defeated Jerzy Glowacki of Poland with a time of 5’09”97, which suggests that his opponent was even less of a threat to him than Bykov, perhaps had a problem.

In the final on August 21 he was to race against 23 year-old Swiss Joseph “Sepp” Fuchs. Fuchs was still amateur in 1971 and was rather old for an amateur but he turned pro the following year, and went on to make a very good career, peaking in 1981 when he was declared winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège after the disqualification of Dutchman Van der Velde, for doping. That was exactly 10 years after that amateur World championship pursuit final.

That final also was a one-way street. Each lap passing the Colombian took more advantage over his helpless opponent. Already halfway in the match Cochise had a 50 yards lead. The case was closed. He ended with a 5”38 lead over the Swiss, and set a time of 4’53”98.,3890574

Cochise remembered that the Varese track was particularly slow. Compared to Mexico for example, it was much longer – 450m – and it was a cement track while the Agustin Melgar track was wooden. In Mexico he covered the 4km in 4’45” (which was not enough to qualify for the quarters), while in Varese he set a time of 4’53”.

Even though we may believe him, the example of Mexico does not seem to be a good comparison. It’s an altitude track and high altitude has even more effect on shorter effort like a pursuit than an hour performance.

If we however compare his time on that slow track – 4’53” – to his time on the Winnipeg track for the PanAmerican Games in 1967 – 4’58” – we notice an improvement of 5”. The characteristics of the Winnipeg track is unknown to us but at that time his time was a new Games record, so that it might be implied that the track was fast enough and if we trust him about the Varese track, that shows he improved a lot in 4 years, probably due to new training methods with that Italian coach.

The World Title was the pinnacle of Cochise’s career. The return to Colombia after the victory was triumphant as was shown by the documentary “El Nombre de la Gloria” from the Colombian broadcaster: Señal Colombia (at 3’02, see Appendix 1). Cochise paraded in a convertible limo escorted by dozens of kids running. You could also see ticker tapes being showered in downtown Bogota, reminiscence of the Lindbergh parade.

Cochise also got a conversation and the congratulations from President Misael Pastrana (President from 1970 to 1974). Pastrana was a Conservative President in the context of the Colombian National Front (1958 to 1974) in which the Conservative and the Liberals agreed to form coalition government for 16 years, each of both parties naming in turn the President. This period was characterized by a strong economic development and massive public investments but also increasing social unrest and demonstrations. The cycling commentator Ruben Dario Arcila explained to us that in the years of the National Front sport in general, and cycling in particular, was used by the authorities to appease tensions. It seems like the very old Roman strategy: giving “panem et circenses” (bread and games) to the mass, which we might argue is still topical for our modern democracies, today.

A well-known project by Pastrana – somehow related to this biography – was the contract he passed in 1970 with French (then) public carmaker Renault in order for them to relocate part of their production in Colombia (in Envigado, near Medellin). For the first time Colombia produced cars. Pastrana’s slogan was “one car for each family” (he planned a flexible credit line intended for Colombians to easily have access to a Renault 4). That meant that the people would eventually no longer have to rely on the bike for moves and those stories of cycling champions forced to use their bikes for small jobs as teenagers – like Cochise – should gradually disappear. Yet Martin Ramirez – champion from the eighties – was also a delivery man for a drugstore, which seems to suggest that Pastrana’s dream did not happen in one day. (In Spanish)

1972: “In Colombia there are more people dying from envy than from cancer!”

Cochise’s main objective in 1972 was the Olympic Individual Pursuit, in Munich. After his World Title the previous year he was one of the top favourites. However Cochise’s success made envious people in the federation. For one reason or another he must have been allowed to go to Munich.

The excuse that has been found dated from the previous edition in Mexico 1968. The Dane Ole Ritter profited from the Olympics to prepare for his Hour record attempt. Cochise was there as a contender for the Olympics, as previously mentioned. He was invited to train along with Ritter on the road, for the Dane’s Hour. Photographs had been taken. Cochise could be seen with publicity of the company that sponsored him on his jersey. A member of the federation sent those photographs to the UCI to prove that Cochise was a professional rider. Up until 1984 in Los Angeles, the Olympics were strictly reserved for Amateur riders. The whole affair led Cochise to say his most famous quote:
“In Colombia more people are dying from envy than from cancer!”

On May 31 IOC President Avery Brundage decided to ban Martin Rodriguez (and at the same time the Kenyan rifle marksman Vic Preston) from the Olympics on grounds that they violated amateur regulations. The two men were charged with allowing their photographs and names to be used for publicity purposes.

“The executive board considered as unacceptable the participation in the Munich Olympics Games of the Colombian Rodriguez because he allowed his photograph to be used for publicity purposes and because he wore a shirt for publicity use”, said Brundage reading a statement.

The last two paragraphs are taken from the Palm Beach Post of May 31 1972:,6868800

It might be argued whether absolute amateurism is good or not for sports as sports are not necessarily the main aspect of social life and after all professional athletes are paid to enjoy themselves but for Cochise, this whole case seemed to a blessing in disguise.

As he was no longer considered an amateur rider after that fact, Cochise was forced to turn pro. He signed a contract with Salvarani on July 1 ( HOWEVER this info needs verification though because only De Wieler, relayed by Wikipedia gives it. As we show below Salvarani will be replaced by Bianchi in 1973 which tends to make this info plausible but the early date July 1 is puzzling), to become the 2nd professional Colombian rider after Giovanni Jimenez Ocampo, 4 years earlier:

In terms of glory, the years to come would probably be Cochise’s lowest point in his career but at least he was a pro and earned his bread. In 1970 the situation in Colombia was financially so hard that Cochise decided no longer to start in the Tour of Colombia or on any road race, in order to focus on the track (he still won the Tour of Tachira the following year). When he was racing abroad he was even forced to pay a tax for absenteeism (,5381555 in Spanish). He later recalled those years as a period in which he was paid “by medals and cups.” (In Spanish)

1972: Hard debut in the Pro ranks

We could find no report that Cochise actually raced any pro road events in Europe in 1972. He however announced on June 14 (which means before contracting for Salvarani) he would enter the Professional Individual Pursuit World Championship, in Marseille, France. A professional pursuit back then was raced on 5km as opposed to the 4km of an amateur pursuit. The Colombian would need to adapt. (in Dutch)

Only by 1993 when the UCI decided to merge the amateur and the pro categories into one “open category” did they choose – to their shame – to just keep the 4km standard that is currently still official.

The Championship started on July 29. 15 contenders entered the contest. In the qualifying round, riders were already facing each other by pairs (but Allan Lloyd – GBR – who raced alone) but the key wasn’t necessarily to be faster than your direct opponent but to set one of the eight best time in order to qualify for the quarters. That is how Cochise qualified despite his loss to Hugh Porter, who set the best time of the pack. His qualification means that he was faster than a road ITT specialist like Spain’s José-Antonio Gonzalez-Linares or than former Olympic champion Daniel Rebillard. (in Dutch)

In the quarter-finals the next day, Cochise was defeated by Ferdinand Bracke (confirmed by Claude Degauquier in “Ferdinand Bracke – Un champion à l’heure”, Coups de pédales). The Romandian newspaper ‘L’impartial’ gives us more detail about these quarters in its issue from July 31 (French): (p.12)

We notice that Cochise made the best performance of all those who were defeated in the quarters, giving the 5th place overall. He covered the 5km in 6’16”65. Australia’s Bob Whetters set a time of 6’20”09. Giovanni Fusar-Imperatore: 6’17”84 while Charly Grosskost did not finish his match against Guerra. There are several versions for this. L’Impartial talks about a false start. The “Blog.seniorennet” (link just above) rather talks says that his left foot slid out of his toeclip, which isn’t considered as bad luck by the UCI. We therefore have to concede that Cochise’s 5th place has an asterisk because the Alsacian Grosskost was a specialist and we don’t know what could have happened if he could defend his chances. However for a first meeting with the pros and on a distance he wasn’t used to for a pursuit match, the Colombian clearly showed potential.

It should be noted that he lost to the two best pursuit specialists of his time: Hugh Porter got four title and Ferdinand Bracke, two of them. They actually both also happened to be the two finalists of that year’s edition, with a win for the Brit.

1973 to 1975: At Gimondi’s Service

In May 2013 – in the heat of a Colombian Renaissance during the Tour of Italy – Felice Gimondi accepted an interview for Revista Mundo Ciclístico during which he was asked about his memories of Cochise: (in Spanish)

“He was a great rider, a multifaceted man. He had different characteristics from present-day Colombian riders who are pure climbers. Cochise was a complete rider with extraordinary physical strengths. We also called him Coco Bill.”

The Italian champion also wished to greet him. He called him a great friend, with whom he made an excellent team and built up a friendship which he has fond memories of.

At the end of the 1972 season Salvarani stopped. Instead, 1973 saw the return as a team of the legendary bikemaker Bianchi 7 years after Salvarani took it up. Bianchi remained in the peloton until 1989 (until 1984 as main sponsor) but Cochise only raced three seasons for them.

According to another article from Revista Mundo Ciclisto , Claudio Costa and his brother Guido were the one who contacted Bianchi for a contract for Cochise. It’s of course very much plausible. However if the info given by that he signed a contract for Salvarani before, it might be that his two friends had contacted the previous structure, before. The mystery remains that we could find no report that Cochise ever raced for Salvarani on the road – the World Championship being raced per team. 

Ole Ritter also joined Bianchi from Dreher in 1973 and hence met with his old Colombian friend from 1968, whom he partnered for the Six Days of Milan, first race Cochise entered in 1973. Since both are rather ‘rouleur’ you couldn’t expect a great result from them, in a Six where you need complementarity “Sprinter/Rouleur”. They were dead last 13 laps behind the winning pair Sercu/Stevens.

Racing for Gimondi was a huge boost Cochise’s bank account. However he would rarely be free to race for himself. Italian cycling and team strategy is traditionally an all for the campionissimo strategy and in the Bianchi team, the leader was Gimondi and no one else. Hence Coco Bill usually had to work for the man of Sedrina, like anyone else.

Yet as his Dutch Wikipedia page ( ) – probably based on the article from De Muur “De Fietsende Apache” – says that many observers in the 70’s judged that the gregario was the better of his leader in the Grand Tours that he rode (the page even said he simply was the best rider of all, which seems a bit over the top … or not?). Only he literally had to sacrifice himself up for Gimondi. In every climb Gimondi had to hold him off with a push on his thigh when he climbed too fast for him. Cochise then almost stood still. When back on the move, Gimondi called him back again. The Colombian raced for two. Nobody could ever notice how good he was, it was too “underground.” Years after this Cochise still giggled at the situation, says the Wikipedia page, but he has no regret about it. He had a great time. 

The Bianchi boss asked him to settle close to where Gimondi was living and train with him whenever he felt like. If he was hungry he had to eat with him.

1973: 180km breakaway at Sassari-Cagliari

Sassari-Cagliari was at that time a 25 year old build-up race, early in the season. Traditionally the home ground for pure sprinters, where average speed is usually very high but sometimes it could reward a breakaway. It was held the day after the end of the Tour of Sardegna. It disappear from the calendar in 1984, with only a revival attempt in 2011.

In that edition raced under a cloudy threatening sky, Cochise impressed with a 180km breakaway, along with Fabbri, Bergamo and Ravagli, a breakaway that deserved success but that failed “for a breath” says Gino Sala from L’Unita. In the morning several riders already tried to escape like already Rodriguez, but also Battaglin, Diego Moser (Moreno’s and Leonardo’s father; Cecco’s brother) and even Gimondi who eventually protected his teammate’s breakaway when the right one took shape. In Macomer (km 70) the Rodriguez group had a 13’55” lead over the peloton that was stopped by two closed level crossings.  But then some of the big names from the peloton like Dancelli, Francioni, Zilioli, Sercu and Panizza started a fierce battle in the peloton and quickly the gap was reduced to 2’37” with the peloton which caught the escapees with 7km to go (surrender with honour, says Sala). Patrick Sercu won the sprint with some three-bike gap ahead of Marino Basso. (in Italian)

Only the top15 of the race is available on the net and Cochise does not appear in it.

Cochise went on to race his first ever classic a fortnight later, when he comfortably finished 73rd of his first Milan-Sanremo. He appeared at the head of the race in the Capo Berta when he intended to accompany Ole Ritter in his attack with Tonnie Houbrechts but was ordered by coach Adorni to hold back, for tactical reasons.,4001313 (Spanish)

1973: Starting Paris-Roubaix as a substitute

The website Revista Mundo Ciclistico teaches us that Vittorio Adorni – who just became Bianchi’s team director – sent Cochise as substitute for Paris-Roubaix: (Spanish).

It makes sense because the book “Paris-Roubaix : une classique unique” (by Coups de pédales) tells us that 1973 was the first year in which substitutes were also granted a number (Cochise’s #78) but his name also appears on the startlist as teammate Franco Mori pulled out. This stormy edition of Paris-Roubaix did not see Cochise entering the velodrome and Bianchi did not send a team in the two following years. Cochise never finished Paris-Roubaix. The first Colombian to achieve it was Leonardo Duque in 2011

1973: Tour of Romagna or the Italian schoolyard

On May 3 Cochise raced the Giro di Romagna (232km!!!) and showed up again in a long lasting breakaway (130km) in a 15-man group with again Ravagli and Bergamo, the biggest name of the group being sprinter Ercole Gualazzini. Rodriguez seemed to be the only ‘straniero’ in it.

However behind them Gimondi prepared his ‘vendetta’. The “Phenix” did not appreciate the comments from the “impertinent” rising star Francesco Moser who said in an interview after the Giro delle Marche that the ‘old guard’ – Gimondi, Bitossi, Dancelli – were “four-penny champions” (“campioni da quattrosoldi”). So Gimondi attacked on the Monte Trebbio (3.80km – 7.89% gr.) with generation mates like Bitossi and Poggiali. Others could follow like Battaglin, Dancelli, Panizza or the Swede Gösta Pettersson but no Moser. Moser would recover in the descent and in the plain, that is what everybody thought said Gino Sala from L’Unita. The opposite happened. Gimondi and his allies increased the gap with Moser, while arriving on the final circuits. Moser retired on the 2nd lap, blaming stomach-ache and intestinal problems.

Michele Dancelli attacked on the 3rd lap. Since Gimondi had settled score with his young rival, Coco Bill was free to race for himself and he caught Dancelli in the 4th lap, along with Wladimiro Panizza.

Knowing he had no chance in the sprint Rodriguez attempted to surprise his opponent with a late attack before the last turn but to no avail and Dancelli outsprinted Panizza on the line but was later relegated to 2nd place for deviating from his line. Panizza was declared winner. Cochise was still ranked 3rd. The jury probably argued that he was no longer in contention for the win (in modern rules, Dancelli would have been relegated to last place of his group, so 3rd one) [the jury decision was very controversial, more about this sprint in an upcoming biography of Michele Dancelli]. (Italian)

1973: The Forte dei Marmi win

“In order to win in Forte dei Marmi, the Colombian Rodriguez cleverly continued his effort at the moment a 15-man breakaway was caught again by the peloton” remembered Merckx in his diary (“Mes 50 victoire en 1973”, Arts & Voyages). In this 15-man group you had fast men like Ercole Gualazzini and Michele Dancelli or André Dierickx, Roger Swerts and Jos Huysmans among others.

The Colombian knew that he could not get to the line with Gualazzini and that is why he had to attack. Only 4 km remained when he took some hundreds of meters over from the group that was caught by the peloton. He kept 3 seconds over the peloton outsprinted by his teammate Basso.
That was the first stage win by an American rider on the Giro. The joy was complete for Bianchi when the next day Gimondi finally beat Merckx in an ITT, teammate Ritter was even 2nd. Cochise did not appear in the top10 of that ITT, probably exhausted from his ride of the previous day.

1973: Even more impressive in the Camaiore GP

Roger De Vlaeminck is always enthusiastic when he talks about racing in Italy and more particularly about the numerous Italian semi-classics:

“What a country! What a sphere! These people! This food: hot at lunchtime and dinner.  Man! Man! And this lovely weather.[…] And those races : all Ardennes classics : climbs, descents, turns, … […] And many of those races where the finish was insidiously close to, in or just after a turn, after a steep climb […]. The races were longer and harder than now: yeah you can write that. […] The selective routes and the real climbs that appear in it were unseen in our country but in the Belgian press those races only had sometimes not more than a small article or they only published the results. In truth they were all Ardennes classic of about 200-250km.”

The 1973 edition of the Camaiore GP was indeed 219km, much more than almost all present-day non World Tour single-day races. By 1990 the FICP/UCI decided – to its shame – to reduce the distance any (then) non World Cup events. (Italian)

The Gipsy is the defending champion for this 25th edition of the Tuscanian race and he fondly remembers his win in Camaiore, a hard race with 7 ascents of the Monte Pitoro (2.870km – 7.1% av. gr. - 11% But on June 24 1973 Camaiore was the graveyard for the Euro stars as De Vlaeminck, Merckx (1971 winner), Bitossi, Gimondi or Ocaña were all relegated 2 minutes behind the mighty Colombian. The exceptionally hot weather made the race conditions even harder and forced a great number of contenders to retire, says Giorgio Sgherri of L’Unita.

Rodriguez attacked on the Pitoro with a little less than 40km to go, accompanied by Gualazzini and Riccomi, at first. Quickly he got 20” ahead of these two who had been caught by 7 other riders including Zilioli, Sercu and Swerts and a minute ahead of the main field. According to Sgherri the main contenders were busier keeping a sharp eye on each other out of fear of paving the way for the opponent than chasing Rodriguez. “From the ‘old guard’” only Zilioli was keen to save face against the Colombian, says Sgherri. Zilioli and Swerts resp. came 2nd and 3rd, 51” behind Cochise.

It’s the Italian journalist’s opinion that this semi-classic win is “much more important than the one he got in Forte dei Marmi” for the extreme commitment that he showed and the assurance with which he lived up to the challenge that he started himself.

For the anecdote, Cochise also won the mountain classification of the race ahead of Walter Riccomi who had done a long solo breakaway just before.

Merckx mentioned his participation at the Camaiore GP in his diaries but said nothing about how it unfolded. Only that he raced the East Flanders Circuit 3 days before and a criterium at Maggiora the next day. Two days afterwards raced a criterium in Peer, Belgium and then the Nationals. Certainly not the best build-up for the Nats, he says. However if he went back to Italy, it should mean he had ambitions.

According to Matt Rendell, Merckx actually said that day: “A true champion won, today.” (Spanish)

Cochise remained the only winner of Camaiore until 2012 when Esteban Chaves joined him in the race palmares.

1973: Prestigious Baracchi win with Gimondi

In the article from De Muur “De Fietsende Apache”, Cochise remembers his win at the Baracchi Trophy: “That was nice, really a win for the two of us. I raced just as good as him and that day there was no talk about leader and domestique.”

The Baracchi Trophy was a time-trial raced by pairs and at that period consisted of 110km between Bergamo and Brescia. It traditionally closed a season, late in October – that year on October 21. The race is so prestigious that long after its disappearance from the calendar, one often refers to the Baracchi Trophy when we see two riders from the same team isolated in a breakaway and riding together.

Cochise claimed he was that day just as good as Gimondi but the Lombardian was not in top form. “He has a slight tracheitis but the weather is nice and he should manage it”, said Bianchi’s Physician Dr Piero Modesti, before the race. Gimondi however argued that this cold prevented him from breaking the race record still held by the Ocaña/Mortensen pair since 1970. (Italian)

The Phenix clearly said though that “Coco Bill” was the best partner he could have, even though the latter explained he suffered from cramps at the last part of the course around Brescia, which happened to be the hardest part of it due to the declivity.

The article from L’Unita claims that Gimondi and Rodriguez set the third best speed in the history of the race. That’s inaccurate because several beaten pairs made a faster performance than them. The historical tables until 1973 should hence go: 

Ocaña/Mortensen (1971): 48.706kmh
Merckx/Swerts (1972): 48.416kmh (in rainy conditions)
Pettersson/Pettersson (1971): 47.838kmh
Gimondi/Rodriguez (1973): 47.796kmh
Gimondi/Boifava (1972): 47.522kmh (in rainy conditions)
Pettersson/Pettersson (1972): 47.518kmh (ditto)
Pettersson/Pettersson (1970): 47.453kmh (Italian)

The downside of that edition of the Baracchi Trophy was its depleted field both quantitatively (only 6 pairs while usually they are with the 10 of them) and qualitatively. The only serious competition could come from the Boifava/G. Pettersson team who finished 2nd but 2’38” behind Gimondi and Cochise. From the 50th km on Pettersson actually had to trail his partner more than anything else so that in the end he raced alone against two. The third pair were the Brits Dave Lloyd and Phil Bayton. At age 40 Aldo Moser (Francesco’s older brother) raced in Brescia, his very last race.

Gimondi was so glad about “Coco Bill’s” time-trial skills that he restored their partnership at the 6km prologue of the 1974 Paris-Nice in Ponthierry which also happened to be raced by pairs but that time it was a miss. Gimondi has never done exceptionally well in short ITT’s and they finished 6th, 10”7 behind Merckx and Bruyère. In the GC, the disappointment was even bigger when Gimondi was only 14th, 4’42” behind Zoetemelk and Cochise 46th, 30’54” behind the Dutchman. Fortunately, Coco Bill went on to help his leader win Milan-Sanremo the day after, when Moser still denounced an “alliance of the oldies.”

1973: Return to Colombia for the off season 

During the off season 1973/74 Cochise returned to Colombia and even raced in some local events like one in Cali reported in the November 27 issue of L’Unita. Unfortunately he was hit by a car shortly after the race. Doctors found a large hematoma in the occipital region but said his general conditions were good. (Italian)

1974: “The Greatest Show on Earth”
The 1974’s Tour of Italy was the object of a famous German cycling film called “Giro d'Italia : die hartest Show der Welt” directed by Michael Pfleghar and dubbed into English with Michael Jayston’s voice.

The documentary showed very well how much, in the early seventies, Torriani designed his routes in a way to favour climbers, the aim obviously being to make Merckx lose. Merckx was not a climber (he clearly said it in an interview showed by the documentary). The route included but one ITT, on the same circuit as the previous year, (40km around Forte dei Marmi) but also numerous mountain top finishes, usually short and steep, where Merckx always was in trouble. The mountain stages were usually very short in length and nervous in order for Merckx not to capitalize from his tremendous stamina and Torriani also planned one short mountain stage very early in the race (extensive footage of that one in the documentary) in order for Fuente and the Spaniards to capitalize on their form for the Tour of Spain, that they had ended a few days before the start of the Giro and served as a build-up for it. All this makes the route biased towards climbers, which does not mean to say it’s harder.

This route being designed against Merckx also means that Torriani sacrifices Gimondi’s chances (but also favours other Italian climbers like Gibi Baronchelli), who was unlucky enough to be the same type of riders, a complete ITT rider. And so was Cochise too ! Therefore, and given all the work he had to deliver for Gimondi, his 18th place in the final GC should be seen as a very good performance, though 26’36” behind Merckx.

Cochise came into the picture during the documentary. That was when he came 2nd in the 8th stage to Macerata (see Appendix 3). The Bianchi rider tried to surprised the sprinters with a late attack before the last turn. The documentary shows an extremely stretched peloton coming to the last line, Cochise ahead. However the sly Bitossi followed the move, himself being a ‘kilometer flight’ specialist. He easily outsprinted Cochise, while some fast men like Gavazzi, Francioni or even F. Moser stayed behind him.

In that Tour of Italy Cochise made another good performance in stage that was not shown by the documentary “The Greatest Show on Earth”. That occurred during the 15th stage from Sanremo to Valenza. A group of 5 men separated themselves from the peloton, with about 15km to go (around Alessandria): Gualazzini, Simonetti, Zanoni (neo-pro), Cochise and the New-Zealander Bruce Biddle. Their lead went up to 25”, no more but eventually they resisted the return of the peloton, for 5”. This time, Cochise could not surprise the very fast Ercole Gualazzini who logically won the sprint. Cochise was 4th. (Italian)

The 1974 season also saw the coming to Europe of a 3rd professional Colombian rider: Rafael Niño Munévar. He was contracted by the team Jolly-Ceramica: Battaglin’s team. His performances on European soil however proved much poorer than Cochise’s. He ended that Tour of Italy at the 41st rank, 1h28'58" behind Merckx. His own best performance in Europe was a 17th place at the Tour of Switzerland, 13’22 behind Merckx. Niño raced only that season in Europe.

In 1970 Niño had made a sensational performance by beating Cochise at the Tour of Colombia, the first of his record six victories.

1974:  Italian observer’s recollections of Rodriguez at the Forli/Castrocaro Terme GP

The Forli GP, also known as the Castrocaro Terme GP was an Italian ITT event that was held between 1958 and 1977. It was not as prestigious as the GP des Nations or the Lugano GP due to a less international field but it was still an internationally known race. The field also always consisted of 10 riders, just like Lugano or the number of pairs at the Baracchi.

The route was a 12.670km loop to be covered 6 times, for a total 76.020km distance. An estimated 15,OOO people gathered alongside the road.

In 1974 Rodriguez finished 3rd behind Moser (who broke the record for fastest average speed) and Gimondi.

We might  give the full ranking below, in order to give an idea of who Cochise keeps behind him:

1 Francesco Moser 40.263kmh
2 Felice Gimondi +24”
3 Martin Emilio Rodriguez +2’01”
4 Knut Knudsen (NOR) +2’43”
5 Roberto Poggiali +3’01”
6 Tonnie Houbrechts (BEL) +3’10”
7 José-Manuel Fuente (SPA) +3’20”
8 Luciano Borgognoni +3’27”
9 Johan De Muynck (BEL) +4’04”
10 Ole Ritter (DEN) +4’38”
(out of form, probably) (Italian)

A nice testimony was given by an Italian observer who saw Cochise twice racing the Forli GP (1973 & 74): (Italian)

We might translate some parts of it in order to show how much he impressed the locals:

“I remember the amazement of the audience that came to see him: his dark skin and his face really looking like an Indian were evidence of a truism. His ride was a caress that seemed to dissolve stress and his face showed no sweat.
I remember the excitement of a senior professor who came to see him, one who loved cycling like a son and who had seen hundreds of riders in the course of his long cycling observation. He was a man who had been struck by [Romeo] Venturelli in a way that, in his opinion, he was the only one who was capable of withstanding a comparison, in terms of style, with Rodriguez. He also said that he had never seen a cyclist pedaling so harmoniously and that if it was not Gimondi’s gregario, in a race against the clock, he had all the means to beat him. Perhaps for this reason, on those occasions when I saw him, "Cochise" is not committed to death and, perhaps, for this reason, his face did shine through the effort.”

This observation suggests that even in a single-day ITT which is normally a mano a mano, Cochise deliberately had to loose it up because he was not entitled to beat Gimondi. It would be very hard to believe but Bianchi would obviously rather win a race with Gimondi rather than with Coco Bill. We all know how fanatic the Italians were in the seventies but how could the Bianchi have given up a 2nd chance of beating Moser?   

1974: Winning the Tour of the Marche as a build-up for the Worlds

The Marche is a region in Central Italy on the Adriatic Sea, the capital city being Ancona. The route consisted of loops around the town of Fabriano in the inlands, 70km from the sea, surrounded by mountains up to 1500m altitude.

The (professional) Giro delle Marche was an Italian semi-classic that was held in 1941 and 1942 and from 1968 to 1976:

In 1974, the race was held on July 25, which means exactly one month before the Worlds in Montreal and all Italian riders who want to get a selection needed to start seriously preparing for it.

We should again highlight the length of the race: 222.4km. 103 contenders took the start.
Yet that race eventually did not help Italian national coach Nino Defilippis since Cochise mightily won and Denmark’s Ole Ritter surprised the sprinter Basso to take second place.

A bitter Defilippis (RIP) admitted: “Rodriguez was going pretty fast but if ten men of the caliber of Polidori, Moser, Battaglin, Ritter, Salm, Paolini, Mazziero, Lualdi and Gavazzi (excluding Basso who was Cochise’s teammate) couldn’t catch him, it means that some of them preferred drafting wheels rather than giving everything as they should have.”

The first loop was 46km around Fabriano. The peloton covered it in serried ranks before entering a smaller loop of 16km that they had to repeat multiple times. The decisive breakaway occurred in the 5th of these laps when a 13-man group escaped from the peloton including Cochise, Moser, Ritter, Battaglin, Gavazzi, the Swiss Salm and the Norwegian Knudsen who would strangely retire in the 10th lap. On entering the last lap, the gap between the group and the peloton was still marginal but Cochise took advantage of an attempt made by Battaglin and Lualdi to counter-attack and immediately take a 10” lead (with 12km to go).   

In the span of barely 12km Cochise increased a 10” gap up to 1’27” ahead of a group with rouleurs such as Moser and Ritter. Whatever Defilippis could say, it is outstanding achievement.

Eugenio Bomboni from L’Unita, described an “attack carried out with the power of a chronoman, pushing a 54x13 that allowed him to walk out of his breakaway companions.” (Italian)

In the further build-up for Montreal Cochise did not particularly shine. He came 2nd to De Vlaeminck in stage 1 of the Cronostafetta, a 18.400km ITT, losing 31” to the Gipsy.   
In Montreal, he teamed up with old rival Rafaël Niño, in what was for that time a very intercontinental field, with Australian future track legend Danny Clark and the latter’s compatriot Graham McVilly, with Americans Tom Sneddon who had previously raced in Europe and Bill Kund and with two Japanese riders: Torao and Tadashi (or Kadashi) Sato.

None of these riders eventually finished the race but one: Martin Emilio Rodriguez! On the very hard Camilien Houde circuit (exactly the same route as that of the 21st century GP cycliste de Montreal with the Camilien Houde and the Côte de la Polytechnique), made harder by the high temperature, Rodriguez could not make better than an 11th place, 10’43” (along with former rival Sepp Fuchs) behind Merckx and Poulidor who sprinted for the win (see the Raymond Poulidor biography).

With 3 laps to go, Rodriguez was still timed 3’40” behind then leader Thévenet, though, along with Fuchs, Fabbri and Dutch/New-Zealander Tino Tabak. The main group with Merckx, Poulidor, Moser, Maertens, Van Springel, etc. was still just 1’26” ahead of them. That means Cochise really lost a lot in the last part of the race. (times given by Adriano De Zan during the live coverage by the Rai – available on Youtube)

He was liberated from his usual leader though. Gimondi – besides racing for the Squadra, but even then brand teams prevailed – came unmotivated to Montreal after a very serious crash at theCoppa Bernocchi. The defending champion did not want to fly to Canada but was forced to. With 3 laps to go he was timed 7’ behind Thévenet. He eventually retired from the race.

1974: Disappointing Lugano GP

The Lugano GP was organized as an ITT from 1950 to 1979 (being cancelled several years like in 1973). The bunch race that is still known in 2014 as the Gran Premio Città di Lugano was created in 1981, two years after the ITT race stopped. considers them as two different races.

It was a renowned 75km ITT with an international field, perhaps the 2nd most important ITT after the Nations GP. In 1974 the race held on October 20, which means it was the aforelast race of the calendar before the Baracchi Trophy. The Tour of Lombardy was held on October 12th. Cochise finished that one at the 17th place, 11’28” behind winner De Vlaeminck and in a group with Biddle, Vanspringel and Godefroot.

The contenders for the Lugano GP had to cover five 15km laps around the Ticinian city. An estimated 30,000 people were present alongside the streets, says the Romandian “L’Impartial” (issue from Oct. 21).

Cochise finished 5th. Given the fact there were barely 10 participants, as always in Lugano, it’s a rather poor result. Yet he kept leader Gimondi behind him this time. The defending champion (winner in 1972) never found the good rhythm. “L’impartial” tells us that the Lombardian was already 6th behind Cochise in the second lap, so that tells us that the Colombian had kept the 5th spot pretty much at every time checks.

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  • "Paris-Roubaix is the biggest cycling race in the world, bigger than the Tour de France, bigger than any other bike race" (Sir Bradley Wiggins)


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    The full results of this race was:

    1 Ole Ritter
    2 Francesco Moser +1’01”
    3 Roger De Vlaeminck +2’29’’
    4 Gösta Pettersson +3’03’’
    5 Martin Emilio Rodriguez +3’17’’
    6 Felice Gimondi +4’25’’
    7 Bernard Thévenet +4’49”
    (who drafted Pettersson’s wheel after the latter caught him)
    8 Roland Salm +6’59”
    9 Enrico Paolini +7’04”
    10 Tino Conti +7’36”

    1974: 5 seconds close to a back-to-back win at the Baracchi

    What is 5 seconds in a 109km ITT? A straw! However it cost Cochise and Gösta Pettersson both a second prestigious win at the Baracchi Trophy to Francesco Moser and Roy Schuiten (Dutchman being the recent winner of the GP des Nations).

    The Baracchi Trophy had this particularity that the teams did not necessarily consist of traditional teammates, so that Cochise from Bianchi could partner Pettersson from Magniflex.

    The Swedish-Colombian team dominated the race, with a 34” lead over Moser & Schuiten after 82km, according to El Tiempo:,763284

    “L’impartial” even tells us that with 2km to go, they were still 4” ahead: (in French)

    But the last 2km around Brescia are the hardest due to relative uphill declivity. El Tiempo – biased towards Cochise, of course – says that Pettersson was the one who “paying for the effors made during the race.” It’s arguable. Cochise, himself did not say it but: “it’s hard to lose race that seemed to be ours. We probably lost the race in the last climb before Brescia, which tired us. We mostly feared Merckx & De Vlaeminck but in the end Moser & Schuiten beat us.”

    The Belgian team Merckx/De Vlaeminck looked like the team to beat. They started very strong despite a puncture for De Vlaeminck but it was not the Gipsy’s day since during the last 35km he suffered from a huge stroke from “the man with the hammer”. Merckx who was rather in a good shape had to tug his teammate for the whole finale. They eventually finished 3rd, 1’55” behind the winners.

    The race was threatened with cancellation due to a lack of contenders. Unlike the previous year, the field had quality but was still poor in terms of quantity. Only 5 pairs are classified:

    1 Moser/Schuiten
    2 Rodriguez/Pettersson +5”
    3 Merckx/De Vlaeminck +1’55”
    4 Thévenet/Danguillaume +3’19’’
    5 Baronchelli/Zanoni +8’52’’

    The only consolation for Cochise was the improvement of his average speed, compared to the previous year. So that the overall fastest spped in the Baracchi until that point was:

    Ocaña/Mortensen (1971): 48.706kmh
    Merckx/Swerts (1972): 48.416kmh (in rainy conditions)
    Moser/Schuiten (1974): 48.247kmh
    Rodriguez/G.Pettersson (1974): 48.219kmh
    Pettersson/Pettersson (1971): 47.838kmh
    Gimondi/Rodriguez (1973): 47.796kmh
    Merckx/De Vlaeminck (1974): 47.575kmh
    Gimondi/Boifava (1972): 47.522kmh (in rainy conditions)
    Pettersson/Pettersson (1972): 47.518kmh (ditto)
    Pettersson/Pettersson (1970): 47.453kmh

    The performance by the Pettersson brothers in 1970 was the fastest one on the same course. The subsequent even better performances shows how much progress had been made between 60’s and the 70’s.

    1974: Euro stars in Colombia

    Cycling Inquisition made an extensive article about Carlos Julio Siachoque, winner of the single edition of the Clasico POC (Clasico Polimeros Colombianos) in 1974, a Colombian 5-stage race, open to European professional and Colombian amateurs. Several passages from that article are copied here:

    The commissaire that the UCI sent to Colombia for the Clasico POC  race in 1974 was asked by the press in Medellin what he thought of Colombian cycling after the race. His response was straightforward:
    "Cycling in Colombia is amazing. I was extremely impressed by how riders are able to climb here. The number of fans and their passion is unlike anything I've ever seen. The way that fans and riders approach the sport here is absolute madness!"

    The comissaire's response to the Clasico POC race was warranted. The five-day stage race had hosted an impressive line-up, which included Felice Gimondi, Domingo Perurena, Giovanni Battaglin, Tonnie Houbrechts, Pierino Gavazzi, Gianbattista Baronchelli and José-Manuel Fuente among the best Europeans. Merckx himself was to be there for the race, but a nagging knee injury kept him from making the trip. Merckx got injured in a track event, early in October, in Madrid. Without Merckx, the Molteni refused to send a squad.

    Two of the three professional Colombian riders: Cochise and Rafaël Niño were present.

    The grueling Colombian terrain, with its severe shifts in temperature proved difficult for the European riders. On the stage to Santa Helena, Gimondi lost ten minutes, and found himself 23rd in the GC. On the last stage, from Medellin to La Pintada, a young Colombian rider by the name of Carlos Julio Siachoque decided to go it alone. He attacked during the final climb, and dropped all his adversaries. Siachoque would go on to win the Clasico POC, perhaps his greatest victory, although he had also won the Vuelta A Tachira and stood on the podium at the Piccolo Giro years prior. Because his victory had come against such high-level European talent, he was hailed as a national hero.

    Actually, Perurena won the first stage in Medellin ahead of José Jaime Galeano and Gimondi. Perurena and Gimondi were 1st and 2nd in the GC before the 4th stage to Santa Helena before the race conditions proved to be the better of them.

    Cochise however came 2nd to Patrocinio Jimenez in the 2nd stage, Jimenez who later proved to be one of the best Colombian riders with good performances in Europe. Cochise was 5th in the final GC 3’30” behind Siachoque. Guillermo Leon Mejia, Alvaro Pachon and Gonzalo Marin got places 2 to 4. Future Tour de l’Avenir winner Alfonso Florez was 8th. Gimondi was 13th (12’08” behind) and Perurena was 18th. The other European in the top50 was Giovanni Cavalcanti, Cochise’s teammate, 35th.

    1975: Second Tour of Italy stage win

    The 1975 Tour of Italy was again designed to favour the climbers in order to make Merckx lose. Torriani could not anticipate Merckx’s withdrawal due to sickness. No wonder however that on such route, Gimondi lost to Bertoglio and Galdos against whom he normally never would have lost on a well-balanced route. The Phenix needed to wait for another year before he could win again, in controversial circumstances but that was another story and no longer with the help of Coco Bill !

    Cochise won the 19th stage (antepenultimate one), 175km between Baselga di Pinè and Pordenone. The Colombian was part of a 7-man breakaway, also including Marcello Osler and Davide Boifava who was the best ranked in the GC. At a given moment the group had a 13’50” lead ahead of the peloton but Boifava was 30th in the ranking barely 16’43” behind Bertoglio. That is why the domestiques from Jolly-Ceramica (Bertoglio’s teammates; as well as Battaglin’s) shook the peloton in the finale in order to reduce the gap. At the same time in the lead group, Cochise started being more passive (in order to protect Gimondi’s ranking) as well as Vicino – a Jolly-Ceramica rider.

    With 6km to go Boifava tried to escape but was caught and Cochise counter-attacked along with Adriano Pella whom he eventually outsprinted. Boifava was eventually 7th, 9” behind Cochise. The peloton came 11’37” behind the winner, outsprinted by Rik Van Linden. Boifava could not take pink, he was 7th at the GC too, that day, 5’15” behind leader Bertoglio.

    Boifava did not appreciate Cochise’s win. He argued: “They all worked together… And you [to Cochise]? Are you conscious of winning without having pulled one meter?”

    Cochise’s reply: “And tactics, whichever change I gave it, I have to obey team orders.”

    All this description of the race comes from Gino Sala, journalist from L’Unita: (Italian).

    It is also worth mentioning that one week before that stage, Cochise for the first time entered the top10 of the ITT had for the last three years had become a classic around Forte dei Marmi:

    1.   Giovanni Battaglin en 47'04"
    2.   Felice Gimondi +13"
    3.   Luciano Borgognoni +16"
    4.   Roger De Vlaeminck [BEL] +18’’
    5.   Gibi Baronchelli +36"
    6.   Fausto Bertoglio +41"
    7.   Knut Knudsen [NOR] s.t.
    8.   Louis Pfenninger [SWI] +1'07"
    9.   Roland Salm [SWI] +1'36"
    10.   Martin Emilio Rodriguez [COL] +1'38"

    1975: Winning Stage 1 of the Cronostaffetta, contributing to Bianchi’s success

    Cochise Rodriguez’s career seems to be a window on some disappeared 70’s races with an interesting format such as the Cronostaffetta. A series of three ITT: a short one of 18.400km (between Martinsicuro and Tortoreto Alto) , a medium one of 33.600km and a long one of 37.200km. Each team sent one rider per stage and a team classification covered it all. It basically was some sort of a relay. The three races are turning around Martinsicuro, a small town in the Abruzzo region.

    The race was held between 1966 and 1992:
    It was rather short on international competition (in terms of teams at least) but enjoyed a lot of prestige in Italy due to its peculiar format. Italians would call it the “Crono” or the … “Staffetta”. A return of such race concept might be very interesting in 21st century cycling.   

    Just like the previous year Bianchi assigned pursuit specialist Cochise to the short ITT and his rival was reigning Olympic pursuit champion Knut Knudsen who came down for the long ITT (the year before) to battle it out with the Colombian.

    Knudsen started before Cochise but was ultimately beaten by 7 seconds. “Only” seven seconds said Alfredo VIttorini from L’Unita, who probably wished to highlight Gimondi’s performance implying that “everything still needed to be done.” Yet we know that on such a small distance, creating a gap of 7” is already reasonable – though not gigantic – certainly if you bear in mind the great physical skills of his main rival – Knudsen.

    With this win Cochise also took his revenge from his loss to De Vlaeminck, the year before, exploding the Gipsy’s time (28’05” for the Colombian in 1975 to 28’36” to the Belgian in 1974, absent in 1975).

    The ranking for that stage went as follows:

    1 Martin Emilio Rodriguez 28’05” (39.312kmh)
    2 Knut Knudsen +7”
    3 Gaetano Baronchelli +1’17”
    (Gibi’s brother)
    4 Roberto Poggiali +1’23”
    5 Alfredo Chinetti +2’03”
    6 Italo Zilioli +2’06”
    7 Valerio Lualdi +2’35”

    Gimondi doubled it up for Bianchi, winning the 2nd leg and Santambrogio’s 3rd place in the long ITT secured the overall win for Bianchi. Poggiali’s Filotex was 2nd and Knudsen's + Battaglin’s Jolly-Ceramica was 3rd. It should be said that Bianchi’s success was eased by Moser’s absence, who was the driving force behind Filotex’s success the year before. 

    End 1975 Return to the Mother Land

    Cochise’s performances in the last part of the 1975 season were not impressive. Under pouring rain he came 16th in the Tour of Lombardy, 10’25” behind winner Moser. His last appearance at the Baracchi Trophy was a miss. Partnering former rival Fuchs, he came 6th and dead last, 6’43” behind the winning pair Moser/Baronchelli (who set an average speed of 48.041kmh, slower than the Rodriguez/Pettersson speed of the previous year, for what it’s worth). 

    On November 26th Cochise started sailing back to Colombia on the Italian liner Ms Rossini (tonnage of 13,225 GRT). This old liner was launched in 1950 as MS Neptunia, renamed Rossini after transferred from Lloyd Triestino’s to the Italian Line. She was laid up in Genoa in August 1976, which means 9 months after Cochise’s journey. That must have been one of her last voyages. In 1977, she was sent to scrap yard.

    The Rossini landed in Cartagena on Sunday 14th of December 1975. Cochise was again welcomed as a hero.

    1976: Master of the Clasico RCN “Prologue”

    From 1976 to 1980 Cochise resumed an amateur career in his own Colombia. Though past his prime, he still showed amazing performances for a 34 year old rider.

    At the 1976 Clasico RCN (90 starters) he won the mountain classification and two stages including the 30km “prologue” at an average speed of 45.721kmh. In that ITT around Cartago, he beat Luis Hernan Diaz by 53”, Alvaro Pachon by 2’14” and future GC winner Patricinio Jimenez by 2’16”. The gaps are huge for such distance.

    The journalist from El Tiempo, Hector Urrego, was rather eulogistic. The headline was “‘Cochise’, el amo” (the Master). In the article, you had the words “matchless”, “best American cyclist of all time”, “one of the most prestigious in the world” before saying he was “the winner of the most prestigious ITT’s against the best in the world (Baracchi Trophy, Castrocaro Terme, Lugano, etc.).” We saw that he only won the first of these ITT’s, though he did take part in the two others as mentioned in chapters above. The fact that these ITT’s are talked about in Colombian newspapers are however testaments of their prestige. (Google page 12)

    1979: Opening Gran Caracol’s Palmares

    In 1979 the general Marcos Arámbula Durán – then President of the Colombian federation – opened the very first Caracol de Pista. The race was meant to give a boost to track cycling in Colombia, once equally as popular as road cycling and of course comparable to European track cycling. By the late 70’s track cycling lost a lot of its popularity in Latin America, just the way it did in Europe and this new event might help it to bounce back : "This has been the best step that could have been for the good of Colombian cycling", said Durán.
    To some extent you might consider it was a success since the event is still scheduled in 2014, even has even been recognized by the UCI since 2010. Much of that may be attributed to the prestige of the winner of the first edition : Martin Emilio Rodriguez !
    The event consisted of three races : an individual pursuit, a miss-&- out/elimination race (which is referred to as ‘Australian race’ in Spanish, just as in French) and a point race and Cochise made a hat-trick, at age 37.
    In 1980 he came 2nd to Efrain Dominguez in that same Gran Caracol, the rider that he beat the year before. (in Spanish)

    1980 : The Cherry on the Cake

    At age 38 and 13 days and in his final year as a « top » amateur rider,  Martin Emilio Rodriguez shot his last arrow with 39th stage win in the national tour (he also has 10 in the Clasico), the 10th stage of the Tour of Colombia, 132km between Buga and Pereira.

    The stage was animated by a 7-man group, among whom Abelardo Rios, most dangerous for the leaders in the GC.  When they were caught Cochise attacked. It should honestly be recognized said Mario Posso jr from El Tiempo that the bunch was not too interested in chasing him after the long and exhaustive chase behind the Rios group. At the same time though that means that experienced Cochise chose the exact right moment to attack and therefore certainly deserves the win. « It was my last opportunity » he said.

    Post Cycling Career

    After his cycling career Cochise Rodriguez got several political mission. By 1983, President Belisario Betancur (Conservative) appointed him as cultural attaché in Italy. (Spanish)
    He also was a town councillor  in Medellin between 2007 and 2012 for the « center-right » party Alas Equipo Colombia, despite « never talking about politics. »

    By 2011, he finally got the nickname ‘Cochise’ on his passport, so that his real name now is Martin Emilio Cochise Rodriguez Gutierrez. 

    In 2013 Cochise is still pedalling but also suffering a financial crisis that forces him to search again for daily sustenance. He got a pension of a bit more than 2 million pesos (4 minimum wages) but refused it because of a proposition from Coldeportes who offered him a contract for advertising and consultancy in order to promote the sport among young people in the lower strata but the joy was short-lived. Prior to December [2012] and from January 1 on, Cochise neither received pension nor the money from the contract, which was not even renewed.

    Cochise is however honest in not saying he’s poor : "Poor is the one who is there on a pavement, or begging, athough I'm about to put the beanie.”

    In his opinion, the government should not give him everything but better treatment. 

    "People greet me on the street and think I'm a millionaire. That's a lie. The truth is that I feel sorry touch this issue in public, but I have to.” (Spanish)


    In 1971 – year of Cochise’s World Title – the velodrome of Medellin – built in 1956 (250m) –was renamed after him « velodromo “Cochise” Rodríguez ». In 1982 it hosted the Gran Caracol de Pista.

    In 2014 it will see its last two competitions : the national championship elite (seniors) and the PanAmericans. After that it will be used for the training schools and will be located in the « Aeroparque Juan Pablo II », still in Medellin.  (Spanish)
    Martin Emilio Rodriguez was elected, four times, Colombian athlete of the year : 1967 (Tour of Colombia, Bolivarian Games, PanAmerican Games), 1968 (Tour of Tachira), 1970 (Amateur Hour  Record, Bolivarian Games, Juegos centroamericanos) and 1971 (World Championship, Tour of Tachira and PanAmerican Games).

    In December 1999 Cochise elected as Colombian athlete of century by the newspaper El Espectador ahead of boxer Antonio ‘Kid Pambelé’ Cervantes and Lucho Herrera.

    These awards – though meaningless at first sight because it seems like comparing apples and oranges – confirmed if need be that Colombia is a place where cycling is one of the most popular sports and more particularly was in the sixties and seventies when Cochise raced.

    We may also see that the Colombian newspaper do not rate Herrera’s pro European achievements higher than Cochise’s career that mainly Latin-American oriented. His international most appraised performances are in the amateur ranks.

    It’s also of course rather meaningless to compare riders from different eras but it seems that the Colombians are aware of the fact that in cycling the best riders are also the most complete. If you look at all the greatest riders from the past you notice that they all were the most complete because they all had an ITT in the bag. The ITT is the best indication of a rider’s physical and mental strengths, his power and endurance. Cochise had that but Herrera did not. He was a great climber but specialized in that field. Cochise could defend himself in the climbs but he had more and that is why he potientally could have achieved more than Herrera in the pro ranks.

    Furthermore it is also proof that cycling is very much a local sport. Even though Herrera won 4 Tours of Colombia and equally as many Clasico RCN, he impressed less than Cochise on Latin American soil, who had equally as many « Latin American GT’s » (4 Colombia, 1 RCN and 3 Tachira) but won 39 stages in the Tour of Colombia and 10 in the Clasico, plus all the track championships (Bolivarians, Centroamericanos,…), some of them being on home soil.

    In his amateur years Cochise would fly to Europe to enter the World Championship. His title in 1971 is the pinnacle of his career but if this World title gained at the expense of the very good Swiss rider Fuchs was so highly praised in Colombia, it is also because of the rarety of such intercontinental confrontations between South Americans and Europeans. Had he constantly been racing against these Europeans, would the parade that saluted his return from the Treviso Worlds have been so grandiose ? Probably not. It is basically normal for Colombian riders to race in Colombia and in Latin America. It is normal for Europeans to race in Europe, primarily each in their countries and then in neighbouring countries. Cyclists have never been globe-trotters. Cochise raced for three years in Italy but weird circumstances forced him to. It had never been his intention.  It helped him a lot financially but by the end of his contract his performances were lesser and he seemed to have gladly come back home.

    Local particularisms is what makes cultures richer and one of the reasons for cycling’s charm. That should not change. Especially in Colombia !             


    The documentary “El Nombre de la Gloria” (Señal Colombia) about Cochise’s career.It was the 2nd documentary of the series about great Colombian athletes.


    Paris-Nice prologue in Ponthierry. Felice Gimondi – with apparently a slight injury at his knee is leading Cochise. The prologue was exceptionally a time-trial raced by pairs (Picture from Claude Degauquier & Franco Tota, in Felice Gimondi, le champion de Bergamo, Éditions Coups de pédales

    Part V of the German documentary “Giro d'Italia : die hartest Show der Welt” (commentaries in Portugese). At about 1.55, you can see the sprint between Franco Bitossi and Cochise in the stage to Macerata

    The news of Cochise’s financial problems in 2013 (Spanish)

    The Alto de Letras profile, which the riders from the 1965 Tour of Colombia had to climb … down.

    The beautiful “Cochise Rodriguez” Velodrome in Medellin, scheduled to be moved to the “Aeroparque Juan Pablo II” in 2014 for a cycling school.

    Being an amateur rider does not mean you can pose for some advertisement. Here in the newspaper El Tiempo from April 1965, just after the loss to Suarez. Advertising will eventually cause his ban from the 1972 Olympics and force him to turn pro.

    Article from L'impartial about the Gran Premio di Lugano 1974 won by Ritter and in which Cochise finished 5th

    The Ms Rossini that took Cochise back to Colombia on December 14 1975, after his last professional season in Europe

    And her main lounge, first class at the time she was called MS Neptunia:

    Full version of Delmer Daves’ Broken Arrow (1950), starring James Stewart and Jeff Chandler as the historical Indian Chief, Cochise, who influenced young Martin Emilio Rodriguez in adopting the nickname Cochise:

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  • Slow Rider

    • Classics Winner
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    Great read once again Echoes, thanks!

    You do like that De Vlaeminck quote about racing in Italy, don't you? ;)
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