“Passage du Tour” by Roger Blachon, Rouleur member cover for issue 71.4
For 20 years, from the 1980s into the early 2000s, Roger Blachon’s droll and colourful cartoons would grace the last page of L’Equipe’s weekend magazine.
Blachon’s keen sense of the ridiculous was perfectly suited to a world as filled with paradox as cycling. His pictures showed picnicking roadside spectators settled in for the day to watch the race, only for the riders to pass by in an unidentifiable blur of paint smudges. When the Tour hit the mountains, he drew a flying eagle with a polka dot-clad rider dangling from its claws. A grumpy eaglet peers out from a nest in which you can just make out a previous victim’s jersey. “Encore de la bouffe aux hormones!!” it squawks. “Not more of that hormone-stuffed crap!!”
When Graeme Obree broke the hour record with his legendary homemade bike including cannibalised washing machine parts, Blachon couldn’t resist depicting an Obree training session at home: the bike has become part of the washing machine, and his wife is measuring his performance on the spin cycle.
Nothing escaped Blachon’s sharp gaze. “Because he understood sport so well, everything he described in his pictures was good,” recalls Bernard Fournier, the magazine’s erstwhile art director. “The trainers would be correct, the bikes, the support cars… The jokes came out of that precision.”
Athletes appreciated his perceptiveness as much as readers. Blachon’s wife Mireille recalls Laurent Fignon once buying one of his pictures, declaring, “It’s exactly me!”
To receive the full-size Tour de France edition (17.4) with the “Passage du Tour” cover by Roger Blachon, join Rouleur by Monday, May 29