Leblanc & Joho 1989


There are about a hundred cycling teams that have housed some honorable riders and then suddenly disappeared into thin air. Spain, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland and Belgium have been homes for thousands of teams through the years. There is great history in these teams, and digging in some archives you can find some pretty interesting stories. The two riders here are not extremely well-known. They wont raise anyones interest if casually discussed about in public. However they have their own unique qualities in their own right.

Swiss rider Stephan Joho on the left rode for Ariostea (Italian team '84-'93) for over half of his career with multiple stage wins at the Tour of Romandie. His leap into professional cycling came when he won silver at the Swiss Championship Road Race along with a strew of good results through '85 and '86. His biggest victory without doubt was the 6th stage of the Giro d' Italia in 1989 from Potenza-Campobasso at 223km, the third longest stage of that year. This is the year Laurent Fignon went on to win one year after Hampsten's ascent and sealed victory on the Gavia.

On the right however we have a much more dramatic story. Luc Leblanc rode with Histor-Sigma for the 1989 season, about two years into his career as a pro cyclist. When he was eleven years old his family was hit by a drunk driver, killing his younger brother. After numerous operations one leg was about 3cm shorter than the other, which caused some serious problems down the line for his career. His most successful year came in '94 (with Festina) when he won the 11th stage of the Tour de France, the King of the Mountains classification at the Vuelta a España and then later that year the UCI Road World Championships. His career was riddled with hardships when year after year he had operations to help correct the growth of his leg. He raced for Polti, an Italian team, from '95-'99 and was eventually let go because of his worsening injury.

This admirable career was overshadowed in 2000 when Leblanc admitted to using EPO since '94 in the messy trial against Richard Virenque; maybe the most notorious and well know figure in the doping scandal of 1998. The lesson of the day: don't use EPO and steer clear of drunk drivers.

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Posted on September 1, 2010 and filed under Legends.