• Road Captain
  • Country: be
  • Posts: 1357
  • Liked: 1503
Echoes' Cycling Biography #9: Andy Hampsten
« on: June 07, 2014, 11:25 »
Early Years

Andy Hampsten was born on April 7 1962 in Columbus, Ohio but grew up in Grand Fork, North Dakota. Both his parents were teachers, so that they got the summer off. Andy would travel around the US and Canada with his parents on holiday, camping, more particularly in the Western mountains. He started cycling out of wanderlust. It was a hobby. He got his first bike at age 13. In North Dakota, he would cycle and be coached with half a dozen of cyclists. His coaches tought him how to draft and all but racing only started at age 15 when he spent the summer in England : ITT’s and criteriums. He also won his first race there. In the US he usually had to move to Wisconsin to get to races or then had to ride 80 miles back and forth besides the race distance, while he had no car. Later on he would travel for five or six hours by car to get to the start of the state ITT championship in Bismarck.

Before turning pro Hampsten based in Boulder, Colorado where many American cyclists have also settled. Hampsten was a typical 1980’s cyclist for whom the sport was not a necessity, as opposed to his European/South American predecessors. It was a hobby. His typical advise for younger riders is to have fun, just like he had fun. Earlier generations wouldn’t see cycling that way. They would race to fulfil dreams and climb up the social ladder. This, for Hampsten and most of his generation mates in North America and Europe, was unnecessary. These continents were prosperous.

1985 : Italian Stage Win Two Weeks After Turning Pro

Stage 20 of that Tour of Italy was a weird “climber” bunch stage of 58km from St. Vincent to Gran Paradiso (Valnontey). It seems that the win by local idol Francesco Moser the year before, prompted Torriani to design exclusive climbers routes again. The first part of the stage was animated by LeMond, says Bike Race Info: in order to tire out Moser, who 2nd in the GC behind LeMond’s leader Bernard Hinault but the Sheriff’s gregario Stefano Giulani controlled the climbers as if they were content with the overall 2nd place.
The American made a 11 minute solo effort for the win. Tommy Prim first shook the peloton but was quickly caught and dropped by Michael Wilson. Andy attacked shortly after that. LeMond ventured on a counter-attack but quickly ran out of gas and was joined by Marino Lejarreta who eventually dropped him. The Colombians, Reynal Montoya and Rafael Acevedo and Dutchman Johan Van der Velde attacked in the later part of the climb but none could catch Hampsten again. The group with all top favourites, including Hinault, Lucien Van Impe, Moser, Silvano Contini, Wilson, Prim or Wladimiro Panizza finished around 1’30” behind Hampsten.

The post-race interview was a little weird:
Where are you from?
Boulder, Colorado
How old are you?
23 years
How many years have you been a professional?
2 weeks.
The journalist understood 2 years but Andy had to correct him: “Two WEEKS, due settimane [sic].”
How many races did you win?
This year, it’s my first. Last year I won the National championship but not many races, not many one-day races.
You were very clever in the mountain?
Andy’s answer was pretty much inaudible because Adriano De Zan interrupted him but you could hear that he and his manager, Mike Neel – former pro rider in the Maertens years – decided earlier on about the exact place where to attack.

Hampsten eventually finished 20th in that Tour of Italy, 21min 23sec behind Hinault.

1985 : Gran Caracol de Montaña in Colombia

Hampsten’s second win of note in 1985 was the Gran Caracol de Montaña, a major stage race in Colombia. Cycling Inquisition mentioned it in an interview with Andy, back in 2011.

It was a very good article which also may raise debates.
For example, this part: “Early on in Andy's career, he came to Colombia, and won the prestigious Premio Caracol. That race was considered one of the toughest events in the Colombian calendar, and was purposefully designed to suit Colombia's tiny climbers. So who was this blond, American rider standing at the top of the podium? He was beating Colombian climbers in their own terrain, which was unheard of. Even Fausto Coppi had failed miserably in Colombia, having to retire from the "Doble A Pintada" race due to the extreme topography and temperature shifts that are common when you're that close to the equator. Not Hampsten. He not only won, but was hailed as a hero, rather than a foreign scourge (as was often the case in many other countries at the time when a foreigner won a race).”

We might argue that though it seems true and praise-worthy that Hampsten adapted much better than Coppi (and other Euros from older generations, see our Cochise Rodriguez biography) to tropical/equatorial climate conditions, Hampsten was then already living permanently in Boulder, Colorado at high altitude, which will always be impossible for Europeans. Besides Andy had a real climber profile, which can’t be said about Coppi

One of Hampsten’s recollection from Colombia retained our attention:
The riders I didn't even know when I raced in Colombia. One moment in particular stands out at the [Premio] Caracol. We were on La Linea with about 15 riders left. A rider who was young, I figured 16 or 17 years old, and had an old bike with no toe straps was in the group. I was amazed that he was there, and was thinking about how proud I would have been to be him when I was at that age. And then he attacked! He was suffering to be with us and attacked us, then was dropped when the race surged up to him. What spirit! That showed me how excited Colombians are about bike racing, and it was an honor to race with riders who loved to be going uphill so hard, and still have fun racing.

La Linea being the 21.7km long climb at a 7.62% average gradient with a maximum gradient at 13% and many passages at 10+% gradients. The eternity on the bike.

1986 : Tour of Switzerland’s Win and LeMond’s Specialization

In 1985 LeMond was impressed by Hampsten’s performances in the Tour of Italy and wanted him on his side at La Vie Claire for the 1986, the team led by the Swiss Paul Koechli, with Bernard Tapie as manager. The businessman who had made his fortune among other things by fooling Central African Republic dictator Bokassa, buying out his castles at a very low price, was an avid sport fan and built up a strong team around Bernard Hinault by 1984, when the latter seemed lost for the sport due to a knee injury.

Tapie revolutionized cycling in that he used the champions for their commercial potential. He argued that a car name on a jersey did not sell any car (referring to the two main French teams of the time: Renault & Peugeot) but that the champions conveyed a formidable image. Tapie divided riders into two categories: those who are “associated with technical or industrial achievements” – these would gain huge income – and those “for whom cycling only consisted in pedaling” (those would just have their salaries which was low and sometimes every year lower, the case of Alain Vigneron). LeMond was in the first category – ‘LeMond only has money relationship with me’, he says – and signed a record 1 million $ contract for three years with Tapie.

(All this from a very good article from

Another observation made by Tapie is that only a handful of big races were enough to sell his products, in particular the Tour of France. That is how he would advise his protégé LeMond to save energy on none-July races, bar perhaps Paris-Roubaix and a couple of other single-day races, to focus on the Tour of France. In the decades to follow, many would of course go the same way and cycling is still suffering from this specializing plague.

In the 1986 Tour of Switzerland LeMond’s contempt for “smaller” races (in his view) was blatant. Hampsten summed it up nicely:
“He raced against his teammate and tried to win for himself at the Tour de France […]. Helping me win the Tour de Switzerland is just helping some domestique on the team win a huge race, which is actually a feather in the cap of a top racer, to say...he was already second or third in the prologue, he was right up there...for him, it was more prestigious a lowly teammate win the race than to win it himself.”
After the Stage 5 ITT Hampsten was second to Jean-Claude Leclercq in the GC, while LeMond was already ~1’30” behind his teammate. The decisive stage was the following one when La Vie Claire’s Niki Ruttimann and LeMond attacked Leclercq and Andy bridged the gap alone. The Frenchman was dropped. LeMond attacked again on the aforelast time with a strong head wind, Robert Millar, Franco Chioccioli and Urs Zimmermann were chasing behind him, with Andy drafting comfortably. LeMond attacked for Hampsten. He did that throughout the race:

“Greg would also help me verbally. If I was too ambitious chasing down a break on a climb that wasn’t necessary he would tell me. Or he would do it himself. So he was always working for me” (the line of least effort, so typical of LeMond). “He was always welcome – if he got in a breakaway that had neither myself nor Millar in it, of course he was welcome to win the race himself. But he worked for me the whole race. That was really generous of him.”

Robert Millar was second, trailing Hampsten by 53” and LeMond was third 1’21” behind.

Other La Vie Claire leader Bernard Hinault finished half an hour behind the rider he called “the Little Rabbit”, showing thereby how Hinault in his last years was also focusing on the Tour of France.

(All info on that Tour of Switzerland from an article by Geoff Drake for Velo News on July 11 1986 :

1987 & 1988 : Hampsten and Paris-Roubaix

 Andy Hampsten is 175cm (5’9) and had a form weight around 62kg  (136lb). That is much too light to be a contender for Paris-Roubaix but enough to finish it. That is what he will prove in 1987 by finishing 50th and … dead last in the race, 48’07” behind Eric Vanderaerden, accompanied by teammate Jock Boyer (Andy had transferred back to 7-Eleven), while other teammate Bob Roll was 48th in the race 9’07” ahead of them. Roll’s finish was shown by the CBS report about the race. In the 1988 report Liggett argued that Roll was the only American finisher the year before. That is inaccurate.

The following year Andy appeared once again at the Queen of the Classic but this time he had no ambition to finish it. He clearly told Phil Liggett his objective was just to reach the feed zone of Solesmes after 114km of racing and the first two cobbled sections behind them: Troisvilles (3km) and Viesly (2km).

On the CBS report Andy can be seen in Compiègne at 5.36 (on the Youtube clip), Liggett saying “Single-day races is not the speciality of American star Andy Hampsten. So he doesn’t feel the pressure to win.”
At 13.35 Andy appears at the back of the peloton – with a bandaged right knee – having a chat with manager Mike Neel. He’s “riding in the main pack in his new role as chief scout”, says Liggett. At that moment an early breakaway had formed, which we know would eventually amazingly prevail in this Paris-Roubaix. In it was young and multitalented teammate Roy Knickman who would never match the expectations. 100 miles was still to go.

So we can more or less hear Neel to Hampsten: “Roy is five minutes up.” Andy: “5 already”. Neel: “I’m gonna go up there and talk to him and I’ll be back.” Andy: “I’m not sure who’s been there but I didn’t see anyone big.” Neel: “No.” Andy: “Kelly and Vanderaerden are just hanging on” Neel: “I just wanna talk to ‘em and wanna make sure he’s just still on and tell him to hang in there. Maybe he could do a good job.” Andy: “You sound like you’re talking about he’ll make it.” Neel: “How that’s great, that would be perfect.” Andy: “It’s amazing how a time they have.” (the rest is inaudible)

Knickman was still there, active on the first cobbles, leading on the Aremberg Forest but punctured half-way and that was it.

At 18.05 you see Hampsten retiring from the race in Solesmes, along with teammate Doug Shapiro. 22 riders retired at that point.

1987 : The Most Famous Sprint Bonus in Tour of Switzerland History
The 1987 Tour of Switzerland was a thriller. In the last but one stage to Laax Hampsten was 2nd to veteran Thurau in the GC but in that mountain stage the Panasonic team of Peter Winnen set a solid pace and Thurau dropped early. According to Leon Geuyen who was a 15 year-old fan of Winnen at the time Hampsten was Winnen’s teaser in Switzerland, he was literally on his back. In the last climb of that 9th stage Winnen attacked to catch back the 8 seconds that separated him from Hampsten in the overall ranking.

 It was a matter of seconds. Winnen was back in form after years of injuries. He had won the 7th stage to Cademario while Andy won’t win any. That 9th stage was won by obscure Italian Alessandro Paganessi but when Winnen crossed the line in 7th place, everybody held their breath before Hampsten crossed it. Alfio Vandi and Fabio Parra crossed it after Winnen and then Andy. The three were classified in the same time though Vandi seemed a little bit ahead but most of all they are all three classified 7” behind Winnen, which means Andy was the leader for one second but after crossing the line that was the least of both riders worries for both were totally out of breath!

The final day from Laax to Zurich was a plains stage which normally shouldn’t change anything to the overall standing. Yet with Peter Post no holds barred. The cunning Dutch DS made a plan that Mike Neel could predict.

Half-way to the stage was a “goldsprint”: a bonus sprint which provided 10 seconds to the first one and zero to the rest.

Post went on recognizing the course and made a plan. Domestiques had to set the pace up to this sprint to prevent breakaways and to put Winnen into orbit. Winnen was no sprinter, far from that. Neither was Hampsten of course. Post also negotiated some alliance, notably with Dietrich Thurau, his former rider in the glory days of Ti-Raleigh. We may wonder what the price for it was. The plan was to have some of the teammate and allies suddenly leave a gap or even incidentally make a deliberate false manoeuvre.

In the morning of the race the Dutch newspaper Dagblad in Limburger published an article in which Winnen said he would go all out for that sprint, says Geuyen. 

Ron Kiefel of 7-Eleven before the start: “If I’m in the position to go for the ‘Goldsprint’ for the 10 seconds, then I’ll try to take it away from Winnen”

Alan Peiper was chosen to set an impressive tempo in the last kilometer leading up to the sprint and then Thurau leads the sprint out for Winnen and it looks as if they are going to make it but at the last moment Kiefel is able to outsprint the Dutchman for two inches…

The rest of the race went peacefully leading to a sprint won by track specialist Urs Freuler on the velodrome of Zurich.

Proud of himself, Ron Kiefel was entitled to tell journalists Andy would never have won without him.

That is true. However this shows how much of a circus a time bonus system transforms a race into. A 10-day stage race with mountains and dramas reduced to a battle for a mere innocent sprint on a flat final stage is not really how the observers would like to see cycling. Time bonuses falsify the race. If a rider can make the most of it to win a GC that means he would win a stage race without having been the fastest in it. It goes against the sheer law of the sport. You’re the best, you win. It makes cycling a game more than a sport! At least in this case, sport ethics has been preserved.

1988: The Gavia Snowstorm

The Gavia hadn’t been climbed again by Tour of Italy riders since the 1960 edition when Massignan and Gaul summitted first, though it was scheduled to be climbed the following year but removed due to bad weather. Ironically the conditions in 1961 were probably not worse than they were in 1988.

Many things have been said and written over that climbing of the Gavia. About Mike Neel giving warm clothing and drinks for his riders at the top of the climb, about Van der Velde coming first on top and about Breukink and Hampsten catching him on the descent, while the leader was struck by the cold, about the pink jersey under-dressed Franco Chioccioli, losing more than 6’ to Breuking and Hampsten, and had to be carried away by several people after reaching finish.

On May 5 2009 Cyclingnews said: “What many fail to realize is that Hampsten did not win the 14th stage over the Gavia, Erik Breukink has that honour, but Hampsten did win two other stages in addition to the general classification.”

This article must be American-centered because in the Low Countries, the stage win by Erik Breukink is well remembered along with Johan Van der Velde summitting the climb first. The Volkskrant had in 2013 an article with headline saying: “The Day that Big Men Cried on the Gavia”

The moment Van der Velde was caught by Hampsten, who topped the climb as 2nd was unseen by the cameraman from the Rai but the Dutchman would tell Mart Smeets from the NOS “Nature was stronger than me, that day.” It seems though that GIS – Van der Velde’s team – had sent a soigneur at the top of the climb in order to give his riders dry and warm clothing, reserve wheels and drinks: Giuseppe Parolini but Parolini missed Van der Velde in the snow storm.  Van der Velde didn’t hear anything despite the shouts from his soigneur. Eventually Van der Velde decided to step in a bus from another team. There was ice on his frame and on his hair. Warming up the Dutchman realized he missed a chance. The bus parked next to a farm and Van der Velde finished the stage 45’ behind Breukink. It seems he did not cover the whole parcours.

This Tour of Italy was again taylor-made for climbers and Hampsten took the better of rouleur Breukink in the last climbing ITT: Levico Terme - Valico del Vetriolo (18km) when he won and left Breukink (5th) 1’4” behind him.

Other texts about the Gavia stage are:

1989: The Tri-Bars Controversy

In 1989 Hampsten prepared for the Tour of Italy at the Tour de Trump. This American race on the East Coast was the follow-up of the Coors Classic and will later be replaced by the Dupont Tour. Hampsten finished it 10th. Teammate Dag-Otto Lauritzen controversially won the race (more about this race in an upcoming biography of Eric Vanderaerden).
Lauritzen raced the last ITT of the Tour of Trump with tri-bars, the clip-ons model. This new device had already been used by triathletes like Ray Browning since the Ironman of New Zealand that year ( ). An earlier version of those handlebars already existed in 1988 when the American squad used them at the Seoul Olympics (100km TTT) but those were one-piece handlebars, not as efficient as the clip-ons that were used by Ray Browning. The 7-Eleven team had planned to keep it secret until the Tour of France (or until The Tour of Italy?, as we’ll see later) but the idea of a home victory at the Tour of Trump proved too strong and Lauritzen was under threat by specialist Eric Vanderaerden.
One week after that victory by his teammate Hampsten came to Sicily for the start of the Tour of Italy. He had recuperated from the jet lag but probably racing the Tour of Romandy would have been a better suited preparation.
There were no prologue at that Tour of Italy but at the TTT of Stage 3 - Villafranca Terme - Messina, Hampsten came with his 7-Eleven teammates and with the tri-bars. However this time UCI official Mr Ledent strictly enforced the 3-point rules. In 1989 the three-point rule was the article 49 of the UCI ruling which said:
“Bicycles of all kinds, functioning by the sole force of the man, answering the characteristics defined below and forming a quadrilateral shape with three points in a fixed position (saddle, bars, pedals) are admitted for competition.” (personal translation from French, apologies if it’s not too well worded)

In Ledent’s reasoning this new kind of tri-bars did not fit with that rule because these bars added two arm rests, on which the rider’s forearms may rest, beside the 3 other resting points. Fortunately Hampsten had a reserve bike and could carry on his Tour of Italy.

In July however the 7-Eleven – including Hampsten – started the prologue of the Tour of France with these new aerobars. The UCI commissar was no longer Mr Ledent but Mr Jacquat and he was much more tolerant to it. At the first long ITT in Rennes Greg LeMond imitated them. The rest of the story is known, LeMond will win with barely 8” ahead of Fignon, the tri-bars being obviously decisive.

At the Eddy Merckx GP – a ITT in the streets of Brussels, held in September –, Mr Ledent was back on duty. The 7-Eleven knew that he did not tolerate the new form of tri-bars, since the Tour of Italy. That is why they came up with the earlier one-piece form of tri-bars used by the American squad of the Seoul Olympics. Ledent did not see any kind of additional resting points on it. That is how Sean Yates of the 7-Eleven team won the race, more than 2’ clear of Edwig Van Hooydonck (see our Edwig Van Hooydonck Biography). Hampsten who was not a specialist, ended 18th and dead last, 11’35” behind his teammate.

For this Eddy Merckx GP Laurent Fignon planned to race on a bike equipped with the new clip-ons tri-bars, such as those LeMond and Lauritzen used. True to himself, Ledent said no to Fignon. Fignon was so furious that he decided not to start.

 In his book “Nous étions jeunes et insouciants” Fignon said that the UCI official who served at the Merckx GP was the same as the one who served at the Tour of France and gave LeMond a green light to use the tri-bars. That’s inaccurate. The UCI official at the Tour fo France was Mr Jacquat. Mr Ledent, however, served at the Tour of Italy, where he already prevented Hampsten from using the tri-bars. He was thus consistent with himself. Also Fignon seemed to imply in his book (20 years after the event) that he was kept from racing the Merckx GP but he was allowed to race with his reserve bike – he had one - , which other riders did, probably his teammate Thierry Marie. Fignon actually refused to start as a form of protest.

1989 Tour of Italy

So Hampsten could still carry on his Tour of Italy. This route was so mountainous that Erik Breukink said: “On this course Moser could never have won”, quoted by Fignon in his “Nous étions jeunes et innocents”, referring to the infamous 1984 route, which was shockingly flat in order to favour Moser. 

This time Fignon came back and nobody could match him. Breukink was still there and won the main ITT but suffered from a hunger knock during the queen stage – the 14th one between Misurina and Corvara in Badia (131km) – with ascents of the Giau, the Santa Lucia, the Marmolada, the Pordoi, the Campolongo. That stage was again raced in the cold and the rain (which wasn’t good for Fignon) and won by Flavio Giupponi – about whom Théo Mathy said was one of the three main Italian hopes along with Maurizio Fondriest and Gianni Bugno – while Fignon took the lead in the GC and Hampsten moved up to 3rd place (which was also his rank in the stage ranking), with Giupponi being 2nd. That would be the overall GC.

Fignon proudly quoted Hampsten in his book: “The winner of this Tour of Italy will not necessarily be the strongest but the most intelligent.”

The Gavia was scheduled to be climbed again in that Tour of Italy but was removed due to extreme weather again. In the press they would mostly say they did want to risk having a second snow ride but Hampsten suspected an arrangement between Moser and Fignon. In 1984 Moser and Fignon were battling it out for the win. The French was the better rider but was fooled by infamous so-called Italian combinazioni: unfounded time penalties given to Frenchman while Moser received pushes, Stelvio cancelled while pictures showed it was passable and most of all the famous helicopter affair during the ITT when “the helicopter pilot stayed behind Moser turning his turbines, being behind him, so the wind pushed him forward”, explained Andy. The 1984 Tour of Italy remained a farce that the French are not yet to forget.

In 1989 Moser had retired and “was one of the race directors, and essentially cancelled the stage because it was going to be cold, it snowed overnight, but it was sunny and it melted...” At that time, Fignon’s two main rivals – Andy and Giupponi – were climbers while the Frenchman was the better time-trialist, so he was in the situation Moser was in 5 years before, besides he was in the lead. The stage cancellation could only be in his favour. Andy’s theory is that Moser wanted to apologize to Fignon for what happened 5 years before. It’s unlikely though that the stage would have changed the hierarchy in the GC. Fignon was the better man.

More about that Tour of Italy on Bike Race Info:

1991: The Chase Race Behind Luc Roosen in Switzerland

In Stage 2 of that Tour of Switzerland - Saint-Gall - Bad Scuoll (172 km) – Belgium’s Luc Roosen made an impressive 40km solo breakaway winning the stage with a 11’17” ahead all top favourites, including Hampsten (16th in the stage results), Kelly, Anderson, Bouwmans, Millar, etc. Only Pascal Richard and Rolf Gölz finished in the same time as the winner. In the overall GC Hampsten was ranked 10th, 11’10” behind the Belgian.

Stage 4 & 5 saw a very impressive come-back by the Rabbit. In two days, he took more than 8’30” back from the Belgian. In the 4th stage - Locarno - Altdorf (176,5 km) -  Andy capitalized on the climb to Lukmanier (2000+m altitude) to sneak into an 8-man group that rapidly built up a five minute lead. In the last climbs of the stage only Arroyo, Nevens and Hampsten remained and Jan Nevens won the stage. Fondriest outsprinted the Roosen group for 8th place, 6’18” behind.

In the 22.4km climb ITT stage the next day Hampsten finished second to Robert Millar (53” behind the Scot). Bouwmans was 3rd (+1’16”). Roosen was 11th, 2’53” behind. In the overall GC, Hampsten was now 2’33” behind Roosen and that would be the final gap between the two riders. Only he moved up from 4th to 3rd place in the ranking, Pascal Richard being still second while Wyder eventually dropped.

In the final ranking, Millar was 5th (+6’33”), Bouwmans was 6th but 9’25” behind Roosen, Kelly 11th (+15’41”), Fondriest 14th (+20’02”), LeMond … 22nd (+30’31”) and Jim Van de Laer 29th (+42’28”) (in French)

1992: The 16% Gradient Slopes of Ovronnaz

In 1992 Hampsten won the other major Swiss stage race: the Tour of Romandy. In Stage 3, 178km from Romont to Ovronnaz, Hampsten made the most of the very steep 9km MTF to Ovronnaz (with passages up to 16% gradient) to take the lead of the Tour of Romandy. In the stage classification he beat Charly Mottet by 51”, the Frenchman outsprinting a group of 5 riders, where Indurain seemed to have trouble to stay in the wheels. The Spaniard was 6th. In the ITT, Hampsten limited the gap with the Spaniard to 40” (6th place). More than enough to keep the overall win with a 23” lead ahead of Indurain and 39” ahead of Mottet. For the two following years, he still raced strongly in Romandy.

1992: The Alpe d’Huez Win

In the 14th stage of the Tour of France – Sestrière to Alpe d’Huez – a group of underdogs managed to escape from the leaders’ group in the aforelast climb: the Col de la Croix de Fer. They are Jan Nevens, Franco Vona, Andy Hampsten, Jesus Montoya and the initiater of this attack: Éric Boyer.

In Bourg d’Oisans, they had a comfortable 3’50” lead. The riders from the leading group dropped one by one and soon only two of them remained: Vona and Hampsten. With 7km to go the Italian dropped too and Hampsten flew to victory, boxing away a bottle of water that a spectator was spraying over him. Franco Vona came second for the second day in a row. He already won a stage in the Tour of Switzerland that was discussed in the previous chapter but never confirmed these performances. His son Emanuele was also a pro from 2009 to 2011, also never matching expectations…

Speaking Up Against Doping

After 1992 Andy Hampsten would never gain a notable win again, except the Tour of Galicia with the help of Belgian Francophone teammate Michel Dernies, in 1993. Due to high places in major races he could still get the #17 rank in the UCI ranking by the end of the year.

However the generalization of blood and hormone-based doping really changed cycling and many riders started building palmares that they never were able to.

Andy witnessed this changed like so many other stars from the eighties who extended their careers to nineties.

On July 24 2004 he decided to speak (with a lot of dignity, no complaining): .

The article was a defence of former teammate Greg LeMond on his own anti-doping stance, though conceding he and Armstrong “have their own private relationship. […]their personal interaction is none of my business, and speculating on conflict between the two only distracts from the bigger and more important issue of doping.”

But the rest of the article is still very interesting: 

“Most of us will probably need to put aside our Tour time emotions and resist making the judgment that Greg is trying to gain something personal or is simply jealous of being eclipsed as the dominant American cyclist. I saw Greg race as a champion through the 80s, and into the 90s when the cycling community as a whole turned a blind eye towards doping and consciously ignored the onslaught of EPO in the peloton.
Like Greg, I too saw what I believe were the effects of EPO when it entered pro cycling in the early 90s. In the first years it grew from a few individuals reaping obscene wins from exploiting its “benefits,” to entire teams relying on it, essentially forcing all but the most gifted racers to either use EPO to keep their place in cycling, quit, or become just another obscure rider in the group.”
“Dr. Michele Ferrari is known to have supported the use of EPO to increase his riders’ performances. In ’94, while his riders dominated the Ardennes Classic, he publicly ridiculed making rules against EPO saying it was safe to use and should not be made illegal in cycling. I believe behavior like this and the use of these products should not be tolerated. Violators should receive meaningful bans from the sport, bans that significantly outweigh any perceived benefits.
Many aspiring racers have confronted drug use as they rose through the ranks. Unfortunately, their silent answer to this insanity is often to quit racing at this level. Otherwise, they risk succumbing to the conventional wisdom that “since everyone takes drugs to be competitive, you should too.” This must not continue to be the choice facing promising young racers.
Now, in his retirement, Greg Lemond is fighting to bring racing back to a natural level of honest riders racing to their limits and living a long life to talk about it. I am writing to support him in this fight.
Both Greg and I are involved with a junior racing team, so this matter continues to concern us as we support and urge kids to go as far as they can in the sport we love, both for their own personal rewards, and to keep cycling growing. It is irresponsible for us to encourage kids to race and potentially turn pro without doing all we can to change cycling back to a sport where they will not likely be asked to take drugs that could ultimately destroy their natural good health, their characters, and their bodies.
Thanks for listening,
Andy Hampsten »

Post Cycling Career

Andy Hampsten retired from professional racing in 1997. In 1999 he and his brother Steve founded Hampsten Cycle in Seattle: their own cycle factory. .

Steve has worked at different jobs including gourmet cooking and blacksmithing, but he always returned to the bicycle industry, first as a shop mechanic, says

He also founded the Extra Virgin Oil Company in Coastal Tuscany, restoring a stone farmhouse from ruins. “Andy Hampsten founded Extra Virgin Oil Co. in the late 1990s after finishing his racing career and moving to coastal Tuscany, Italy. Andy learned to harvest the olives and care for his 160 year old olive trees from neighboring farmers. A very good olive mill accepted his olives to be processed thanks to neighbors vouching for their quality and cleanliness.” (

Also since 1998 he’s been leading the Cinghiale Cycling Tour, in Italy and Southern France:

On January 10 2014 Andy was a guest bartender on the Friday of the National Cyclocross Championship, the day of the Junior race, in his own Boulder, Colorado. The Rocky Mounts Guest Bartender Event!

Colorado, the US cycling state !


The Tour of Italy stage to Gran Paradiso in 1985:

CBS Documentary about the 1987 Tour of Switzerland

Breukink recalling the Gavia stage (in Dutch), with also interviews of the great Bauke Mollema and Tom Stamsnijder about a possible removal of the same climb in 2010, which did not happen:

Live footage from that famous stage:

Hampsten’s post-race interview (in Italian):

Perle di Sport documentary about the stage to Corvara (in 1989):

Article from L’Équipe in 1989 about Fignon’s refusal to start the Eddy Merckx GP. In it Philippe Brunel mentions a quote by Nicolas Ledent saying he kept Hampsten from using the tri-bars at the previous Tour of Italy. Also you have the results of that Merckx GP on it, with Hampsten finishing dead last !

Other article by L’Équipe a few days later about the controversy around the UCI contradictions. It’s an interview of Claude Jacquat who was the UCI official at the Tour of France that year. On it Philippe Brunel wrote the 3-point rule of the UCI ruling (article 49).

The proof that 7-Eleven used clip-on handlebars (tri-bars) at the 1989 Tour de Trump to favour Lauritzen’s win. Hampsten would try to use the same device at that year’s Tour of Italy but UCI official said no.

Andy's win at the 1993 Tour of Galicia:

Andy at the 2014 Cyclocross nationals in Boulder, Colorado

  • ReplyReply
  • « Last Edit: June 08, 2014, 13:38 by Echoes »
    "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)


    • Road Captain
    • Country: be
    • Posts: 1357
    • Liked: 1503
    This is meant to be an extension from the Tour of Italy topic which I did in preview of this year's race at JSG's request. It may now be deleted because the whole thing is included here.

    I've added most of the rest of his career of course and a little controversy around the 1989 Gavia stage cancellation, which I didn't know of when I made up the first text (I had to do it quick back then, apologies).
  • ReplyReply

  • killswitch

    • Road Captain
    • Country: 00
    • Posts: 2031
    • Liked: 1122
    Thanks for all bios.

    He was born in 1962 by the way.  ;)
  • ReplyReply
  • Joelsim: The huge winner today - Landa.
    just some guy: Aye he marginal gained the flip out of it


    • Road Captain
    • Country: be
    • Posts: 1357
    • Liked: 1503
    Thanks for all bios.

    He was born in 1962 by the way.  ;)

    Thanks for correcting my typo, lol. I've edited, now. Though thereby your post lost its meaning...
  • ReplyReply


    Back to top