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That time in the ’90s when Gewiss went 1-2-3

It was a shocking display of dominance

Photo by: Naichaca @NaichacaCycling

Only three days after UAE-Emirates earned the first three places at Trofeo Laigueglia, Jumbo-Visma swept Sunday’s opening stage of the 80th edition of Paris-Nice, also known as The Race to the Sun. New signing Christophe Laporte claimed the win and Primož Roglič put at least 30 seconds into all his GC rivals by coming runner-up. Hugo Houle was top Canadian in 20th.

Jumbo-Visma and UAE-Emirates worked to lasso the breakaway before Breuil-Bois-Robert II. Many riders dribbled out the back. On the climb Jumbo-Visma kept up the pressure. Wout Van Aert, Roglič and Laporte took off with Zdenek Stybar, but only the three Jumbo-Visma riders crested together.

With 3 km to ride, the yellow and black clad trio had 15 seconds. There was a lot of back slapping in the final 100 metres, but it would be Laporte who took the win. Fourth place Pierre Latour finished 19 seconds later.

It’s not often you see a team go 1-2-3 in a major race, but it’s happened in the past. In 1994, there was an extremely impressive show by the Gewiss-Ballan squad at Fleche-Wallone. In that race, team leader Moreno Argentin took the victory. The win was even more impressive as the team dominated the race by taking all podium places at the race.  Argentin’s teammates, Italian Giorgio Furlan and Evgeni Berzin would finish second and third, head of some of the best in cycling at the time including Claudio Chiappucci, Franco Ballerini, Gianni Bugno and Lance Armstrong. Later, as is widely known, it was discovered that there was systematic doping that occurred with the team. The team doctor at the time, the infamous Michele Ferrari, along with Professor Francesco Conconi is said to have introduced Erythropoietin or EPO to the sport of cycling. That wouldn’t be the last team that was later found to be doping would sweep the podium, as Mapei would do the same in 1996 at Paris-Roubaix.

Many would later attribute the dominance of the riders to the blood booster that increased their red blood cell count, or hematocrit. Below, you can see the increase the riders had from December 1994, to May 1995.

Vladislav Bobrik (RUS) 42.7 to 53.0 Increase 9.3 (28 per cent)
Bruno Cenghialta (ITA) 37.2 to 54.5 Increase 17.3 (47 per cent)
Giorgio Furlan (ITA) 38.8 to 51.0 Increase 12.2 (31 per cent)
Nicola Minali (ITA) 41.7 to 54.0 Increase 12.3 (29 per cent)
Piotr Ugrumov (LAT) 32.8  to 60.0 Increase 27.2 (83 per cent)
Alberto Volpi (ITA) 38.5 to 52.6 Increase 14.1 (37 per cent)
Evgeni Berzin (RUS) 41.7 to 53.0 Increase 11.3 (27 per cent)
Bjarne Riis (DEN) 41.1 to 56.3 Increase 15.2 (37 per cent)