Remember 1989? If so maybe you can help as this is a request for info and documents about the 1989 Tour de France, especially for articles and analysis leading up to the race. Many say the 1989 edition was the best ever, a subjective claim but it does seem to have been a vintage edition with plenty of action along the way and suspense that lasted until the end.
The world wide web was invented in 1989. The Gameboy and Tetris were launched. Kaoma’s Lambada was the best selling single in France and Milli Vanilli topped the charts around the world with several singles. Less frivolously 300,000 miners went on strike in Siberia, Poland had its first elections, hundreds of protestors were killed in Tiananmen square and Iranian revolutionary Ayatollah Khomeini died.
Meanwhile in pro cycling Soviet riders were allowed to turn pro in the West. Donald Trump, described as “real estate promoter and organiser of boxing matches” in the French press, was making the Eurocentric peloton get dollar signs in their eyes with his Tour de Trump as a vehicle for the sport to crack America after the Société du Tour de France, better known as ASO today, failed in scandal but they were rapidly going from family business to multinational, bringing in the likes of Coca Cola to sponsor the Tour de France and new for 1989, Fiat became the official vehicle of the race.
A young Spaniard called Miguel Indurain wins Paris-Nice ahead of Stephen Roche. The Spaniard with “shoulders the size of a Norman wardrobe” didn’t win a stage along the way but takes his first important general classification win. Roche looks back to his best days, winning the Col d’Eze time trial, running Indurain close and the Irishman is only four seconds off his PB from 1987, his annus mirabilis. Indurain sees Paris-Nice as prep for the upcoming Vuelta a España to be held the following month where he’ll work for his Reynolds team captain Pedro Delgado. Delgado needs a big win to change the story following a doping controversy over his win in the previous year’s Tour de France and he gets it with a convincing victory in Madrid.
Meanwhile Laurent Fignon is putting years of injury behind him in Italy, winning Milan-Sanremo and then the Giro d’Italia and finishes the race declaring “I’m not finishing tired and if I can stay healthy I’ll be even stronger for the Tour de France“. Another rider with a string of injuries is Greg LeMond and he too rides the Giro and finishes a surprise second to Lech Piasecki in the final stage, a 54km time trial around Florence. In hindsight this was crucial to future events but at the time it is treated as anecdotal. Promising Dutchman Eric Breukink vows revenge in July after cracking during the Giro.
In June Charly Mottet is a convincing winner of the Dauphiné Libéré race ahead of Robert Millar who is the best climber and shows it winning at La Bastille above Grenoble but the Scot struggles on the descents. Still Millar, apparently a late signing by Roger Legeay, saves his Z team which has been struggling until now. Z Teammate Jérôme Simon goes on to win the Midi-Libre race. In Spain Gert-Jan Theunisse wins the Vuelta a Asturias after dominating the main stage across five mountain passes.
It all bodes well for the Tour de France which has a promising route starting in Luxembourg and then crossing the Ardennes to reach France via some pavé and then arcing down to the Pyreenes where local newspaper says two “ultra short” stages await. There’s variety in the Alps including Alpe d’Huez and a lively 91.5km mountain stage to Villard-de-Lans, all before the final time trial between Versailles and Paris to commemorate the bicentenaire of the French revolution in 1789 which could be as decisive as the Dijon time trial in 1987… or as dull as Santenay in 1988 was?
Many say the 1989 Tour de France was the greatest ever. With the above introduction there’s certainly a lot to look forward to on the eve of the 1989 Tour de France, a race without an obvious prime pick although hindsight bias probably counts for plenty in building our expectations ahead of the race. “Greatest ever”? that’s subjective and personal, there’s no definitive answer. But I want to find out more because a lot of the race is condensed down into Pedro Delgado’s late show for the prologue at the start and the eight second victory margin at the finish.
This is request for info and articles about the race from the time. So if you have any old newspapers from July 1989 whether L’Equipe or the International Herald Tribune, or magazines like Miroir de Cyclisme or Winning then I’d be very grateful for a scanned page by PDF or even just an anecdote from the time that helps put the race in context then please share by email or in the comments below. Even some adverts from the time, for example how much did a team-issue bike cost at the time in Francs, Lira or Pesetas? What did the Belgian media make of the ADR team and its owner François Lambert at the time, especially given the team’s shrinking from 40 riders to 20 for the 1989 season? What was the opinion of the Spanish media about Delgado’s 1988 positive-not-positive anti-doping test? That kind of thing and more rather than the more mechanical accounts, eg “[Rider X] attacked in [Location Y] to win [Stage N]” and so on but anything would be welcome.
This blog post is being typed from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, France’s national library, to gather press archives from the period. The idea is to explore the race and the 1989 season in more detail over the winter.