The Leopard-Trek team spent the first rest day of the Tour de France at the Gabarit Hôtel and in the reception area were several photos from the past when the GAN team, later known as Crédit Agricole. Fabian Cancellara joked about Stuart O’Grady who features in the photos from the late nineties but he’s not the only big name rider on this team.
I found the full photo on the excellent Site du Cyclisme website and the first thing that stands out is the size of the squad. 18 riders in total, small by today’s standards when several teams are at the UCI-limit of 30 riders and able to cover three races simultaneously even with a few injured riders. Back in 1999 Crédit Agricole was not the biggest team but it certainly was competitive; in 2001 the squad won the team time trial stage of the Tour de France.
Going through the riders from left to right:
- Anthony Langella on the far left, a strong rouleur and track rider who is the director of a racing team in his home town of Marmande.
- Stuart O’Grady is riding for Leopard-Trek and an invaluable helper thanks to his strong riding and ability to judge a race on the road.
- At the back is Eros Poli, the tall Italian famously won a stage of the Tour de France over Mont Ventoux and described himself to Cyclesport magazine as “famous for being tall and coming last in the Giro d’Italia“.
- In the Australian champions jersey is Henk Vogels Junior, a fast finisher who was twice 10th in Paris-Roubaix, he’s been managing the Fly-V cycling team before getting caught in the demise of the Pegasus team.
- That’s Jens Voigt smiling. Today with Leopard-Trek, at the time he was a neighbour of Vogels and O’Grady and even was known for his powerful style on the bike.
- Next, at the back, comes Frédéric Delalande who didn’t last too long with the team, returning to the amateur scene to continue racing.
- In the front row is Cédric Vasseur, a strong and clever rider who left to join US Postal, he is today an expert pundit for Belgian TV.
- Frédéric Finot is at the back, a strong rouleur who still races as an amateur and works as a fireman today.
- At the front is Chris Boardman, the British rider won numerous time trials and track races and now works for the British media as well as overseeing a brand of bikes.
- Sébastien Hinault is there, today he rides for Ag2r and goes by the nickname of “Papy“, meaning granddad because he’s one of the oldest riders in the pro peloton.
- Jérôme Neuville is at the back, he won several national and world titles on the track as well as being a helpful lead out man on the road. He rode in four Olympic games. Today he works for the Lyon métro transport system.
- In front is François Simon who would go on to wear the French champion’s jersey later in the year and the yellow jersey in 2001. The youngest of four brothers Régis, Pascal and Jérôme, all of whom rode as pros.
- Frank Pencolé is next, a domestique rider for the team.
- At the back is Magnus Backstedt is visible for his blond hair. Then the heaviest rider in the pro peloton he went on to win Paris-Roubaix and still races today, has a bike shop whilst doing some media work with Eurosport too. At the time I think he was sharing a flat with Jens Voigt.
- Next is Kiwi Chris Jenner. He made his way to France and delivered some very promising results as an amateur and was soon signed by Roger Legeay but the results didn’t come as a pro although he was part of the winning team effort in the 2001 Tour de France. Today he still rides and runs a video rental shop in the French pacific island of New Caledonia.
- Olivier Perraudeau was another team helper.
- At the front is Frédéric Moncassin, a sprinter and, in a nice way, a madman. He took two stages in the Tour de France and finished on the podium in Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders. Known for his bike-handling he today rides MTB downhill races, motocross and won a round of the Red Bull Road Rage series.
- At the back is Marcel Gono, the Australian rider came through the Australian Institute of Sport programme. But he was born in Piešťany, in what is Slovakia today and has returned there to run a building services company.
Finally the team had two late additions when Pierrick Fédrigo and Thor Hushovd joined the squad as stagiaires or interns. The rest is history.