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Echoes

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(Article from Humo)

Belga Sport was a series of TV show on Canvas, public broadcaster in the Northern part of Belgium. It has now been taken over by Telenet. Sadly I can't get Telenet, so impossible to watch the show but interesting things are already revealed by the article.

Sammie Moreels was a youth hero of mine along with Edwig Van Hooydonck and I've long heard about the fact he was one of the Belgian talent to get screwed by the EPO storm. The show programmers seem to suggest likewise. Sammie was 9th at the Tour of Lombardy as a neopro in 1989. 3rd at the GP de Wallonie in 1992 (I was rooting for him at that time, remember that weird race very well, though I was 8)

The title says The Pancake Generation Comes Back

I think Peter Post referred to a "potato generation" or something of the sort. That is how the Dutch and Belgian generation of the nineties got qualified for poor performances.

"Mario De Clercq and Sammie Moreels didn't lack great legs, they lacked EPO."

In La Plagne on 11 July 1995 (Golden Spurs Day), 4 Lotto riders came out of time limits. Another one had called it quit during the race. Lotto was the laughing stock of the cycling world. [If I remember well, only two Lotto riders finished the Tour of France that year: Andrei Tchmil and Peter Farazijn]

Dan Van Nijverseel, the programmer of the show says that the riders could feel there was something going on.
Quote
Certainly since the spring classics in 1995 in which they were dropped as though they had been laying on the sofa for the whole winter. They only didn't know exactly what played a role. Only on the evening after La Plagne they did talk it over for the first time with Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke after the latter had pested against them but he didn't want to believe it. Perhaps he wanted to stick his head in the sand but Vandenbroucke started as DS at a moment there was no talk of EPO and with respect to medical back up Lotto was lagging far behind the rest of the world. There was no team doctor and the riders had only one heart beat monitor that they had to share to each other. For as much as we can tell, they really were in obscurity.

The riders feel that they had been the victims of an injustice. Alex Zulle who won in La Plagne was later caught and punished but he could earn a lot of money in cycling while a rider like Rudy Verdonck had to get back to work after his career. Sammie Moreels finished top5 in Liege-Bastogne-Liege as neopro in 1989 and in what should have been his prime years he was blown away. That insincerity hurts. Plus the image that they were remembered for: "The Pancake Generation", lazy bones who did not live for their sport. This label has shadowed their whole career.

About the fact that Mario De Clercq also was involved in a doping affair later [the Landuyt-Versele Affair along with Museeuw] the show did not investigate. It stops in 1995. But it's clear how hard this La Plagne day affected Mario and he also said he would trade his great palmares in cyclocross for the road career that he's been stolen. The show is not meant to be a doping investigation but rather a human story about these honest riders who could not follow and thus had to keep on living with the blame.

------

It should be said that once Vandenbroucke was promoted from DS to manager he started defending dopers in his team such as Abdujaparov. By the late nineties things had already changed, riders started to perform as if they were doing like everybody else. And all of a sudden, Vandenbroucke got fired by Lotto for the 2000 season.   

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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)

    Echoes

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    This thread is almost one year old. In the meantime, the Belga Sport series got back to Canvas, Belgian public broadcaster and was aired last month. I missed it but manage to find it on the net.

    By the way, I have to correct a mistake of mine. Sammie Moreels was not 9th at the Tour of Lombardy in 1989 as a neopro but two years later in 1991. However, Sammie did even better in the Ardennes in 1989. 4th at the Walloon Arrow, 5th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège! An exquisite talent, I'm telling you.

    https://www.vrt.be/vrtnu/a-z/belga-sport/7/belga-sport-s7a1/

    I'm encouraging every speaker of Dutch to create an account on the Canvas website. You can watch the show for free.

    It really makes justice for those brave Lotto rider fighting an unfair battle. Justice for Sammie Moreels! Justice for Peter De Clercq! Justice for Rudi Verdonck! Justice for Herman Frison! Those four Lotto riders finished the stage to La Plagne outside the time limits because they took no EPO. Mario De Clercq retired at the foot of it (later was caught in the Landuyt-Versele Affair but that day he probably raced clean too). Marc Sergeant had already retired after the TTT (when Lotto finished dead last and he could not keep up with his own teammates). Wilfried Nelissen had to retire after a crash in the leadout of a sprint, when Sammie lost control of his bike in a rocade. Those guys lost their contracts with Lotto by the end of that season and stopped their pro careers one year after. But for Sergeant and Frison, they were around age 30!

    Only Andrei Tchmil and Peter Farazijn finished that Tour of France.

    Peter De Clercq after Stage 1 in Lannion already looked vitrified, don't you think so?



    Rudi Verdonck at La Plagne:



    I'm going to give you more account of this story later if you are interested in it because I feel strongly about it. How many times did my father say back then: "Belgian are so crap these days". "In my times we won everything with Merckx, De Vlaeminck, Maertens, etc."

    Now we know why and it's about time to make justice. I feel wild every time I see "winners" of that era hailed as heroes, just like a bald Italian whose name I don't even want to write. The heroes, the legends of that era were those clean riders if we have any sense of morality. Sorry folks. We've got to be able to "burn our idols".  ;)
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  • riding too slowly

    • Neo Pro
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    Yep - exactly right.  You need to look into the eyes of a young lad returning from the continent, who had both the b a l l s and moral code to say "NO" when the team manager said are you going to dope and knowing all the ribbing he will take for not having made it like others.  Getting the story out that all these "heroes" are dopers and some serious compass adjusting needs to take place is not something most want to hear - an impossible task.  You are trashing their dream and they will just label the lad "sore loser".  So it is easier to just say - "I didn't make it. 

    The hurt is real deep and goes on a long time.  And cretins want us to forgive Lance and the rest"  "They have done the time"  Get stuffed  - have they - my backside have they.  The sanction they have is c r a p - look at Millar.  Doping pays.  It pays big time.
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  • Echoes

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    The intro scene (pre-opening credits) goes like this. You have archive footage from France TV, the day after La Plagne. That was the next stage to Alpe d'Huez, it was my 12th birthday.

    Journalist Gérard Holtz is on the motorbike and goes on to interview Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke.

    Quote
    Gérard Holtz: On most cars you have 5 or 6 reserve bikes and There are wheels. On Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke's car which is right behind me, we are going to show him right now, it's absolute misery. It's desert. There are only two bikes left on the car. Why? Well simply because Jean-Luc only has two riders in the race left.

    Jean-Luc, I think what happened to you yesterday is a very big sadness. There had been the Wilfried Nelissen affair and then yesterday five abandons [actually one abandon and 4 out of time limits].

    Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke:
    I can tell you it's terrible for a Sport Director to live what I've lived yesterday. Mid-race we could already have guessed that we were going to lose 5 riders in the same day but this is a real disaster.

    Gérard Holtz: Were they sick?

    J-L VDB:
    Sick ... I cannot say that they were sick. Here it's just Belgian Cycling Tragedy

    "Le drame du cyclisme belge", that was the quote in French. That was typical of Vandenbroucke's attitude. Later in the show he claimed (in 2016) that he could not see the medical evolution in the peloton back in those days while his riders stated that he knew about it all too well. He refused to defend them and it was always the same catchphrase: "they were not professional enough", etc. Twenty years after the facts it's always confounding to read comments of that time.




    Invited in the show were: Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke (then DS at Lotto), Jef Braeckeveldt (then his assistant), the former riders: Marc Sergeant, Herman Frison, Sammie Moreels, Mario & Peter De Clercq (no relation to each other), Rudi Verdonck and the then journalist for Het Laatste Nieuws Roger De Maertelaere (also a close friend and biographer of Roger De Vlaeminck).

    After that early scene, the show got back to the first years of Lotto back in 1985. At that time, Belgians were feeling nostalgic about the Merckx years when we dominated the field. The National Lottery wanted to do something for the sport of cycling and created a team that by then was meant to be a Development Team for young Belgians to find their way into the peloton. They were led by Walter Godefroot who believed in that project. Marc Sergeant was their strong man. So Lotto was a bit the Topsport Vlaanderen of that time. Godefroot stopped in 1988 and was replaced by Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke but with Vandenbroucke got a lot stronger then just young riders. In 1990 Claude Criquielion came to the team to give his contribution to the project, he was Belgian champion and the following year he defied Moreno Argentin for the last time on the Ardennes races.

    In the Belga Sport show about Andrei Tchmil, Vandenbroucke said it was hard to convince the guys at the Lottery to transfer him in 1994 because it was his mission to promote Belgian cycling but you also needed prestigious wins and he needed a leader. Yet Andrei Tchmil was not the first foreigner racing for Lotto. Eric Mackenzie  *nz , Martial Gayant *fr , Beat Breu  *ch and Mauro Ribeiro  *br among others, already did.

    Then the show went on to talk about the first appearances of the riders that would race the 1995 Tour of France, especially Rudi Verdonck, Sammie Moreels and Peter De Clercq...


    To be continued ...



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  • Echoes

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    Sammie Moreels' neopro year was extensively talked about in the show.

    Sammie himself remembers that he directly good raced and then he was a leader right away with domestiques racing for him. He was aged 23. It was really great for him.


    Peter De Clercq said that
    Quote
    In the youth categories I always admired him. Well also later but then well I also trained with him. So well, Sammie was the man!

    The journalist Roger De Maertelaere:
    Quote
    I had a soft spot for Sammie. Sammie was really an apparition like you rarely saw in Belgian cycling. Young, fresh, sense of humour, he then also seem to have some class.

    Rudi Verdonck said Sammie was the best friend he's ever had.

    Then was talk about his first results and old footage of his 4th place at the 1989 Walloon Arrow (after having animated the race!).



    Wim Van Eynde is first on the picture, then comes Sammie Moreels and then Marc Madiot.

    1. Claude Criquielion (Bel) 253km/ 6.29'30"
    2. Steven Rooks (Hol) 13"
    3. Wim Van Eynde (Bel) 46"
    4. Sammy Moreels (Bel) 48"
    5. Marc Madiot (Fra) 55"
    6. Ronan Pensec (Fra) 1'03"
    7. Miguel Indurain (Esp) 1'28"
    8. Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) 1'32"
    9. Jacques Decrion (Fra) 1'35"
    10. Luc Roosen (Bel) 1'56"
    11. Fabrice Philippot (Fra) 1'58"
    12. Gilles Delion (Fra)
    13. Jean-Philippe Vandenbrande (Fra) 2'01"
    14. Jan Siemons (Hol)
    15. Roland Leclerc (Fra) 2'04"
    16. Eric Van Lancker (Bel) 2'09"
    17. Yvon Madiot (Fra)
    18. Andreas Kappes (All) 2'12"
    19. Gert-Jan Theunisse (Hol)
    20. Eric Caritoux (Fra)
    21. Rolf Golz (All)
    22. Peter Roes (Bel)
    23. Dag-Otto Lauritzen (Nor)
    24. Rudy Verdonck (Bel)
    25. Jos Haex (Bel)


    Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke says in the show:

    Quote
    I remember his performances and I said to myself: "now I've got in hands a really good rider. I have to do everything in order to keep him and to make sure he stays in the team." Today for a young rider, having Sammie Moreels' results as a neopro, well he's going to have offers on the left or right. He will already be able to make money from his performances.

    Jef Braeckeveldt:
    Quote
    Sammie Moreels had unbelievable talent. Now if a rider finishes 20th at the Walloon Arrow and 15th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the press immediately says that he's a great star for the future but Sammie was 4th at the Arrow and 5th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and it was dead normal. And he was a neopro, you know.




    I've stumbled on a 1989 show by the BRTN (then Dutch-speaking national broadcaster in Belgium) about Sammie Moreels shortly after the Ardennes classics. It was then also mentioned he was 14th in Amstel Gold. 

    It is shown that Sammie Moreels had worked in a Volvo Factory since August 1985. By then he had to stop cycling. He had a full time job and it was impossible to combine it with training as a cyclist. Yet that is what he later did. Training until 10.30pm with the lights on. His family was not so well-to-do and so he had to work.




    He was also asked if his results were a surprise for him. He said not really because he had a good preparation for the Ardennes, notably with the Tour of the Vaucluse. He won the last stage at the Tour of the Vaucluse, a 145km long stage over Mount Ventoux, three days before the Arrow.

    Insiders said that the Walloon classics suited him better than the Tour of Flanders. He was asked if that was correct.
    Quote
    I don't know. The Tour of Flanders is raced in my area. I know those roads very well. I enjoy riding the cobbles, uphill or so. I don't know if the Walloon Classics are better than the Tour of Flanders.

    About the fact that he did not win a lot in the amateur ranks he answered that if you win 20 kermesses it does not mean per se that you will be a good pro. He won a stage at the (Open) Circuit of the Sarthe along with major pro teams such as Hitachi or Système U and thanks to the "Blue Guard" (the Belgian National Team), he got a lot of experience abroad which is in his favour. The National Team in amateur races seemed to have been something new back then and was good for the development of Belgian riders. After a few races abroad Sammie says that he destroyed the field in Belgian races and that said a lot in his opinion.




    Then I also found back a video clip of his win at the 1992 Laigueglia Trophy. Not his most shining win, just a group sprint but he managed to outsprint Andrea Ferrigato AND Frédéric Moncassin, later known as very fast sprinters indeed, while he was more of a hilly classic men, plus Max Sciandri, Adriano Baffi or Zbigniew Spruch. That's just amazing.

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  • Echoes

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    Peter De Clercq getting a distinctive jersey at the Three Days of the De Panne. I couldn't find out the year nor the classification but it's typical of Peter. He always fought for jerseys. He also came from a rather poor background as at home they did not have a washing machine. So they had to wash their clothes by themselves. He was probably joking but he said in the show that that is why he liked winning jerseys because at least that means that every day he can have a clean jersey that he does not have to wash. :D (with of course the money that goes with it)

    Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke said he was very popular and media-genic. He fought for every classification; sprint or mountain he mixed up everything. As long as he could podium, he was happy. Definitely Jean-Luc was despising him a bit. You could see in the show that he didn't like him (hatred reciprocated clearly) but then Jean-Luc admitted affirmatively that for the sponsors podiuming for a jersey did matter.

    The show displayed footage of his bunch sprint win at the 1989 Mediterranean Tour and a photograph of his win at the final stage of the 1989 Dauphiné libéré in Aix-les-Bains. As you can see he was also wore a distinctive jersey for the "rush" (bonus sprints) classification which he won.



    As a neo-pro Peter De Clercq won the Mountain Classification at the Tour of Switzerland. At the start of the race when he shared that ambition with his teammates at the table, they all laughed but eventually he did get it.

    One of his best results, his 5th place at the 1989 Midi libre (high profile stage race in those days just a notch below Dauphiné libéré and won by Jérôme Simon) was accompanied with the Point classification. The Jersey Man!

    Peter De Clercq fought for everything. At a Tour of Luxembourg (it wasn't said when), he won a mid-stage sprint for a sheep! He was awarded that sheep and wished to get back home with. Jef Braeckeveldt said he was out of his mind and that sheep only spent one night at the hotel in the team's lorry and then they sold him.

    Peter also was a real joker. Just check what he did with this tube. It was at a winter team training session in 1989/90 and not in 1992 as said the video uploader.




    Quite surprisingly for a hard and fast man, Peter De Clercq really did great on the classics but it was of course quite hard at that period. He was early breakaways in both the 1989 Worlds in Chambéry (shortly before mid-race in a 9-man group with Thomas Wegmuller, Dimitri Konychev, Kim Andersen, Celio Rocancio Gonzales of Colombia among others) and one he initiated after 39km in Utsunomiya with 21 riders among whom once again Thomas Wegmuller, Martial Gayant or Laudelino Cubino.

    His best performance in a classic dates back from 1991 at Paris-Roubaix. While teammate Hendrik Redant had attacked with 30km to go Peter De Clercq found himself in a 3-man chase group with eventual winner Marc Madiot and Wilfried Peeters.



    John Talen from the infamous PDM team and Franco Ballerini (now deceased, so it might be bad taste to remember his darkest moments). In Cobble section #5 (I think it's Templeuve now asphalted), Redant punctured and was caught by that group. Peter De Clercq led the group for the whole first part of Camphin-en-Pévèle before the 90° corner. 



    Peter De Clercq remained in the lead 6-man group until the Carrefour de l'Arbre when Madiot made his decisive move. Eventually Peter finished 13th.



    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2tj160

    In 1992, Peter De Clercq should've been Belgian champion. He was in breakaway. I don't know who was with him but he was probably the fastest in the group. Of course he needed to watch out for late attacks but then Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke chose to make the whole Lotto team chase behind him for Museeuw. Only Sammie Moreels refused to take turns because he was a good friend of De Clercq's and Peter had come with his whole fan club, many of his fans being also Sammie's fans. Eventually, Vandenbroucke was proved right as Museeuw got the title but it was Lotto chasing a Lotto rider and 20 years afterwards, Peter still felt bitter about it.




    During that year's Tour of France, Peter won one of the final stages in Nanterre. It was still possible to back then but even that stage win could not add up for the disillusion at the Nats.



    In 1994 Peter De Clercq went for the Mountain classification at the Tour of France, at least wearing the jersey. He wore it for about a fortnight. In the show he made strong allegations that Richard Virenque wanted that jersey and offered him money for it which he claimed to have refused.
    Quote
    No, this jersey is now mine.
    This is of course not the first fixing allegation against Virenque.

    A funny story about that Polka Dot Jersey occurred during the TTT. This is a type of race that matters a lot to Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke who, himself, excelled at ITT's in his racing career but it seems like he too much saw himself in his riders and could not accept being last in TTT's. They were already dead last in that TTT, like they would be in 1995 in totally different circumstances. Actually for the first 30km, De Clercq refused to take turns. In the final 20km, there was a classified climb. De Clercq started increasing the tempo on the approach of the climb and in it he dropped all of his teammate to clock the best time of the climb !!! Vandenbroucke was furious.  :lol


    PS after preview: Print screening from Dailymotion makes pretty dark pictures. Sorry about that.
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  • « Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 13:12 by Echoes »

     

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