Everyone has those phases in their lives when they start cleaning up. A person tends to keep a lot and you have to wonder what will happen to your archives, in this case cycling archives, when you have exchanged the present for the eternal. That's why it's a good idea to make a clean sweep yourself. Make an inventory of what you have, what can go and what can stay.

That’s how the game works. But it’s not that easy, because you might need it again in the future. Fortunately, these days we have Google, where all your questions are solved. In front of me are some scrapbooks from the years 1985 to 1990 when I go to Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège as a supporter to photograph. Later your photos are developed and with newspaper clippings you made a scrapbook at that time. Great to flip through again. Throwing them away? No way. The memories resurface again. You relive those days again and your photos back everything up. Maybe later my children will also look in them to see what their father saw and captured on film (as it used to be called).

Côte de Chambralles

Those scrapbooks are now a great source of information. You immediately have everything at hand. While browsing, I end up at April 15, 1990. We are on the Côte de Chambralles waiting for the men to battle for the win in the 79th Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The riders will have climbed the Côte de la Redoute 11 kilometers earlier. When they reach the top of the Chambralles (length 1550 m., average gradient 9.5%, max gradient 20%, altitude difference 147 m.) they will have completed 222.5 km and there are still 33.5 km to go to Liège with passages of the Côte de Fraiture and the Côte des Forges. This is the second time (after 1989) that the Chambralles has been included in the route schedule. We do not know at all what is to come. Will there be a big group or a lone rider? Information we don’t have. Then comes the helicopter in the sky and the Rodania wagon with the clock on it that you can hear coming from afar. The loudspeakers make r-o-d-a n-i-a sound. Then comes a lone leader of the Toshiba team. In the newspaper we have with us we check his back number and see that it is Jean-François Bernard. Then comes a group of eight riders led by Panasonic rider Gert-Jan Theunisse (Panasonic).

Bernard will be caught on the Côte de Fraiture, finishing 24th at 06’03” behind winner Eric Van Lancker. (Panasonic).

Jean-François Bernard

Then, of course, comes the question: who is this Jean-François Bernard? He was born in 1962 in Luzy (dep.58 Nièvre) in the Morvan Regional Natural Park. In 1984 he becomes a professional cyclist with La Vie Claire, the team of Bernard Hinault, among others. Bernard is especially strong in riding prologues and time trials. Thus, in 1986 he wins prologues in the Tour de Armor, Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné Libéré, as well as the Nîmes-Gap stage (246.5 km) in the Tour de France. In 1987, a win in the Trescore Balneario-Madesimom stage (160 km) in the Giro and in two Tour time trials: 18th stage between Carpentras and the Mont-Ventoux (36.5 km) and the 24th stage in Dijon (38 km). He also finished third in the final classification that year behind Stephen Roche and became winner of the so-called lap jersey (combination jersey of best classification in the three classifications: overall, mountain and points).

Then the story of his win in the time trial on the Mont-Ventoux. He rides a time trial bike to the foot of the climb and then changes bikes. He reached the top in a time of 58’02” and also became yellow jersey wearer. No one has been faster in competition by then. The following day he lost the jersey due to bad luck on the stage to Villard-de-Lans.

On his second participation in the Giro d ‘Italia in 1988, he wins the nine-kilometer opening time trial in Urbino and is the pink jersey holder for three days. He also won the eighth and fifteenth stages. He then drops out of the race after crashing in an unlit tunnel. In the Vuelta a España on May 8, 1990, he wins the 24-kilometer Ezcary-Valdezescary time trial. He can now join the ranks of riders who have won stages in all three grand tours. Between 1991-1994, he rode for the Spanish Banesto team as Miguel Indurain’s master mechanic. He completes his list of honors, among others, with final wins in Paris-Nice (1992) Critérium International (1992) and Omloop van de Sarthe (1992, 1993). In other words our “photo model” in Liège-Bastogne-Liège has been no small boy in cycling.


In Corbigny, the cyclosportive “La Jean-François Bernard” is organized every year over distances of 136, 95 km 73 km, altitude differences respectively 2267, 1547 and 985 meters. There is also a course, a so-called rando verte, along the Canal du Nivernais over 37 km with only 287 altimeters. Just relaxed cycling and not full on pedaling for gold, silver or bronze. (see www.jeanfrancvoisbernard.fr). The next edition will be organized on September 4, 2022.

The scrapbooks are going back into the archives! Who knows, maybe one day I will need it again.


Text and image: Teus Korporaal

More news

More Articles