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Solidarity, mutual respect, the feeling of having lived an extraordinary adventure. I could speak endlessly about those wonderful years. I retain all that because the exciting outpour of enchained victories have been allayed over the years and only the dead leaves of the record books remember the statistics that, at that time, where mainly for a team called Renault-Gitane which only left its competitors the crumbs of an imperial feast. I cannot remember all the battles won by Hinault, Bernaudeau, the Madiots, Gayant, Bossis, Quilfrne, Arnould, Villemaine, Marie…
Those are the sincere words of Cyrile Guimard in his book when talking about this years when Renault was the best team of the world, the team with the most original jersey, the most distinguished, respected and even feared for the pack.
Agitated years when Guimard, whose health prevented him from getting higher, tried to make many changes to allow this sport to keep on growing.
Guimand lists some of the names that made Renault a great team, but not all of them. Bernard Hinualt was the light, the first of the line lengthened by two cherubs: Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon, who were younger and better prepared, subtler, but also complex, full of contrasts.
However, all of them had something in common: they were born for cycling under the Reanult brand. Lemond arrived a year sooner. He was an American boy with an untidy appearance, but he knew was what at stake. It has a very risky bet, he was leaving behind what he had on the other side of the ocean and taking a chance on the two wheels.
But his quality banished all doubts and he finally was the most expensive signing in history, the million-dollar rider. It was a move typical of football in the timorous cycling market.
Laurent Fignon was different. His genius, self-esteem and pride at the service of triumph. He had an innate quality that made him win the Tour quite easily, that year and the year after. The Renault team did not even share the crumbs to which Guimard refers then.
The imperial feast included stage victories by Pascal Poisson, Pascal Jules, Marc Madiot, Pierra-Henry Méntheour, team time trials and the triumph of Laurent Fignon, who nearly humiliates Hinault in La Vie Claire, and the leadership of Vincent Barteau.
That was Renault…
Renault, the great French automobile brand who get into cycling in 1978, picking up the pieces of Gitane, with which Van Impe won the Tour despite of his lack of enthusiasm.
That jersey was the visiting card of a project that was walking in the present, breaking with the past and drinking on the future. So much that it still arouses our admiration 40 years later. This is why we have wanted to pay homage to the Renault-Gitane wasps.
Texto preparado para Transparent por Iban Vega de www.joanseguidor.com