Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ziens en bedankt Claude

Claude Criquielion reacts to the cheers of his home country fans as he walks across the finish line in the 1988 world champs
Claude "Claudy" Criquielion (Jan 11, 1957 - Feb 18, 2015) was one of the top classics riders when I fell in love with the sport back in the mid/late 80's. I remember photos of him in every one of my well thumbed issues of Winning magazine. He was one of the many Belgian riders who thrived in the classics during that golden time and reading about their prowess on the cobbles fermented a reverence for Belgium and what it meant and still means to my perception of the world of cycling.

He may be widely remembered for tangling with Steve Bauer and crashing at the finish of the 1988 road world championships (see photo above). Losing out on what was a sure podium spot and possible second rainbow jersey which resulted in anger and a bitter lawsuit which lasted over 3 years (Bauer was ultimately exonerated). 

A look at his palmares however proves that this was only a small part of an amazing cycling career. With victories at some of the most revered races on the calendar: The 1984 world championship, The Tour of Flanders, La Fleche Wallone (twice), Barbantse Pjil, Clasica San Sebastian and multiple podiums in those and other races. Additionally he was a consistent contender in the Tour de France with multiple top ten finishes including a 5th place in the legendary 1986 edition. He was widely known as a gentlemen inside of the peloton and out, but was an aggressive and tactical rider who excelled on the punchy rolling climbs of many of the one day races. 

His one spoken regret was never winning the Leige Bastogne Leige despite placing in the top five in five different editions. Most riders would hold that type of record in a race like the LBL as a crowning accomplishment of their careers, it's a testament to the great racing life he lived that he viewed it in such a negative light. 

Sadly Criquielion suffered a devastating stroke on Monday and never recovered. He remained in a coma and passed away with his family by his side today. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. 

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