Cycling Legends 02 TI-Raleigh
The second of our Cycling Legends series of illustrated books.
Words: Chris Sidwells
Photos: Cycling Legends
TI-Raleigh was cycling’s first Superteam; the first team of the modern era, a design template for the way teams race and are structured today. Until TI-Raleigh most teams had one leader, and they were organised around and for that leader. The greats; Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobet, Rik Van Looy, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx all had teams of strong riders, even potential team leaders in their own right, to back them. Other teams might have had a couple of leaders, but TI-Raleigh was a team in which everyone could win.
Helpers became leaders and leaders helpers at the drop of a hat, the team would shape-shift as a race developed, its tactics changing in response to the ebb and flow of attacks and counterattacks. A team like that is very difficult to beat, which is why TI-Raleigh won so much.
The team and its ethos were the brainchild of a Dutchman Peter Post, a divisive character who inspired dislike, respect and loyalty in equal measure. Post ruled TI-Raleigh with an iron fist, his word was law and his ruthless drive to win motivated and fuelled the team, but eventually ripped it apart.
TI-Raleigh began as a marketing tool for Raleigh to take advantage of the UK’s entry into the Common Market, the predecessor of the EU, during the early 1970s, but Post saw it as a means to bolster the admiration and respect he’d already received during his stellar racing career.
He took over the team in 1974 and immediately set about removing all but one of the British riders in it. He replaced them with Dutch, Belgians and Germans, and of those he only kept the ones who saw his way as the best way, he dispensed with this rest. His methods were hard, but his absolute loyalty and support for those he rated was returned by the riders, although not all of them actually liked Post. For some their dislike became too much, and they broke away from him.
The team was effective though, no one could deny that. Its riders won all Post set them to win, and quickly became the number one team of its generation. Other riders saw the success and wanted to join because of that, and because Post gave his riders the best conditions, and paid them the best. They also had the best materials, even the best team cars. Post did all he could to allow his riders to be the best they could be.
Cycling Legends 02 TI-Raleigh relates first hand experiences of many team members, some of their contemporaries, and people who were involved in the backroom and on the material side. With the help of Post himself, who the author met and interviewed a few years before his death in 2011, Cycling Legends 02 TI-Raleigh is the definitive story of the team written in English for the very first time.
Many previously unknown facts are revealed in its pages, and like all the Cycling Legends illustrated book series, Cycling Legends 02 TI-Raleigh contains rare photos, including some that have never been published before.
It is a story of relentless drive, personal ambition, group cooperation and technical excellence. Everybody in this team mattered, from Post and the riders to the Raleigh staff working on the team bikes in the UK. All were members of TI-Raleigh, they all won the Tour de France and many other big races together, as one. They were all part of cycling’s first Superteam.