PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Wim Van Est: Goodbye To A Champion

Now On Pez
Daily Distractions!
Tech N Spec
Marcel Kittel, corridore dell'Etixx Quick-Step, questa mattina all'aeroporto di Lamezia Terme dopo il rientro dall'Olanda dove si sono svolte le prime tre tappe del Giro d'Italia 2016, 9 maggio 2016. ANSA / MATTEO BAZZI
Pra Loup - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Contador Velasco Alberto (Team Tinkoff Saxo) pictured during le Tour de France 2015 - stage 17 - from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup on wednesday 22-07-2015 - 161 KM - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Sabine Jacob/Marketa Navratilova/Cor Vos © 2015
Pez Videos
<iframe id="ytplayer" type="text/html" width="280" height="150" src="" frameborder="0"></iframe>
Readers' Rigs
London - England - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Nicole Cooke - Elizabeth Armistedt - Lucy Martin and Emma Pooley (GBR) pictured during road race elite women Olympic Games 2012 - foto Cor Vos ©2012 *** local caption *** 00906546
Houthalen - Helchteren - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Kopecky Lotte (Belgium / Lotto Soudal Ladies) - Kitchen Lauren (Australia / Hitec Products) Druyts Kelly (Belgium / Topsport Vlaanderen - Etixx) Tuslaite Daiva (Lithuania / INPA Bianchi) pictured during Trofee Maarten Wijnants in Houthalen Helchteren - photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2016
Arnhem - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - The Devol and Marcel Kittel (Germany / Team Etixx - Quick Step) pictured during stage 3 of th 99th Giro d'Italia 2016 from Nijmegen to Arnhem in the
Wim Van Est: Goodbye To A Champion
Today – 1st of May 2003 – I heard the news late tonight: Wim Van Est died in Sint Willebrord (Holland), at the age of 80.

With Wim Van Est, my passion for cycling started. He has been the very first cyclist I have ever touched, the very first one who talked to me. It was in Antwerp-Belgium in 1961: I was 8, he was 38. And still finishing this street race behind motorcycles (derny race) in a very honourable position.

He shook my hand, this huge champion, who was and still is one of the legends of Tour de France history, who won the Tour of Flanders in my native year 1953, who won 3 times the legendary endurance race Bordeaux-Paris, who was the very first Dutch Yellow Jersey and Pink Jersey in both Tour and Giro. He was the man who put Holland on the world cycling map.

But what everyone remembers is the Wim Van Est who took the Yellow Jersey in the 1951 Tour, and – the next day, racing down the Aubisque in pursuit of Fiorenzo Magni – fell 70 meters deep in a ravine. Rescuers got him out establishing a chain of tyres, but he lost the jersey and didn’t reach Paris. Back in Holland, the Dutch team’s sponsor – Pontiac watches – launched a huge poster campaign, showing Wim Van Est saying: “I fell 70 meters deep, but my Pontiac was still running !”

Wim was one of a kind, the kind of real men, who took life with both hands, knowing he would have to use them. Born in 1923, he earned his money smuggling tobacco (spent 6 months in jail), until he started cycling as a professional in 1949. In the same year he already finished 3rd in the World pursuit Championships, won by Coppi. He didn’t bother much about style, it was all about power, about hitting the pedals. He has been called “The Locomotive”, “Iron Wim”, “The Aubisque Survivor”.

I met him again last year, 40 years after our first meeting. He didn’t remember (of course), I did. He is the man who gave me this passion for cycling. He was and still is my hero !

Rest in Peace, Wim !


Pez Comments

Related Stories