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The Grand Tours of cycling conjure up many things. Like sunshine, air-horns, motorcades, screaming fans, inflatable giraffes and glorious mountain passes. Each summer, the roads along which these races travel become decorated with a spectrum of names, messages, slogans and images as a declaration of support, disdain and love.
To have your 12 by 12 foot daubing of "ALLEZ ANDY" or “FORZA PELIZOTTI!” (the Italians, of course, giving us the term ‘graffiti’) on the tarmac of Ventoux captured on camera by a Eurosport helicopter is an accolade any cycling fanatic or pirate artist could wish for. Even a small message of “HAVE IT NEVILLE” to your brother-in-law on the 12th hairpin of Alpe d’Huez is a valuable token of faith and a small reminder that everyone can ride and conquer in the greatest arenas of the sport.
These colourful letters and shapes we see along the mountain passes of Europe written with cans, brushes and rollers add to the personal nature of the sport (which other sporting event allows you to scream encouragement down the neck of your hero as they climb?). It is an enduring icon of road racing and an artform in itself.
Graffiti, Geoff Waugh’s entry in this year’s Rouleur Annual, pays tribute to this fanatical vandalism, with an introduction by Johnny Green.
© Geoff Waugh & Rouleur
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