One such moment came in 1998 at the World Road Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands. The October weather was more akin to early Spring, the day brought cold temps and a light but steady rain. The Belgians seemed to have the power to secure a win. Van Petegem, Ludo Dierickxsens, and the hardest of hardmen, Ukrainian-born, Belgium-nationalized rider, Andrei Tchmil, each lined up in an effort to secure a win for Belgium. But it was not to be.
The magic of this day runs deep. The weather was crap, 1993 World Champion and recently cancer-free Lance Armstong was attempting a return to the PRO peleton, and an unknown Swiss rider Oscar Camenzind came from the shadows to win the sport's highest honor...the rainbow stripes. But the true thrill of this day was not recognized until the December 1998 issue of Cycle Sport arrived at my door. (You have to keep in mind, in the U.S., cycling was not the sport it was in 2000-2005 and race info or results were normally delayed for months.) I didn't have a computer at the time so jumping over to cyclingnews.com was about as simple as performing my own dental work. I always waited for the new issue of CS with total anticipation, it took me roughly 30 days to completely wear out the pages from reading and re-reading each page. I still study the images like a jeweler inspects a rare gem (minus the squinty-eye and monocular).
The photos were insane! The coverage of the race was amazing and the riders all seemed 3-D, dirty, tired, and clearly in pain. The 1998 edition gave us the famous, dirty-faced Lance giving the 50 yard stare from beneath his Lone Star Giro, it yielded what I consider to be the best image of BKWs ever taken. Andrei Tchmil, fully glazed, sporting a hairnet, nervously awaiting the start of the race from the dry, warm comforts of the team tent. The images are burned into my memory banks, when I sport BKW. I see this image, when I ride in the rain I see LA's fierce stare and when I think of cycling's greatest prize, the rainbow stripes, I picture this race.
World Championship Podium
1. Oskar Camenzind
2. Peter Van Petegem
3. Michele Bartoli
Photo Courtesy: Graham Watson, Phil O'Connor