Photographer Unknown, ‘Tour of Flanders: Museeuw attacks on the Grammont’ (1998)
Cycling Hero for November 18th 2013
Johan Museeuw (1965-present)
He was the outstanding cobbled classics rider of his era, having won both Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) each three times.
Greg LeMond was on Museeuw’s ADR team when he won his comeback Tour de France, though the sprinters and classics riders on the team couldn’t help LeMond much in the mountains.
Museeuw started to hit his stride in 1993 with his first Tour of Flanders victory, but it all almost came to a stop after he crashed horribly in the 1998 Paris-Roubaix in the Arenberg Forest. His right knee was wrecked and infection set in, infection so bad amputating his leg was contemplated.
He recovered and in 2000 he had a banner year with another Paris-Roubaix victory. As he crossed the finish line in the Roubaix velodrome he famously lifted up his leg and pointed to the rebuilt knee.
In the summer of 2000 he was in a motorcycle accident that resulted in a broken shin, collarbone and concussion. He was in a coma for two weeks. But two years later he was again first across the line in Roubaix.
Museeuw was a Flandrian throwback who possessed a serious work ethic, willing to train 30 hours a week. Much of his training was motor paced with his father on the moped. Like Jacques Anquetil decades before, many of Museeuw’s teammates found training rides with him too brutal and shunned riding with the hard-working man from Varsenare.
Like so many riders of his time, there were suspicions he was doping, and in January of 2007 he confessed to using banned performance enhancing drugs. He said that virtually everyone took dope at that time and that it was a part of daily life for him.
Museeuw retired from racing in April of 2004. He later launched a line of Museeuw bikes, but the bike company’s shareholders were dissatisfied with his participation and discharged him, though the bikes will still carry his name.