1979 T.I. Raleigh team bike
What were you doing in 1979?
If you were racing your bicycle, or reading about bike racing in imported French magazines and Belgian newspapers, you knew about the T.I. Raleigh racing team.
Peter Post’s powerhouse team was a force to be respected. A team that could win small stage races (Paris-Nice with Gerrie Kneteman) and classics (Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race with Jan Raas), it was amazing that they still had energy left for the grand tours.
In 1978 the T.I. Raleigh squad at the Tour de France won ten stages, and had three different team members wear the yellow jersey. Team riders Jan Raas, Hennie Kuiper, Gerrie Kneteman, Henk Lubberding, Paul Wellens, Johan van der Velde and Joop Zootemelk made frequent trips to the winner’s podium.
For the American bike racing fan, T.I. Raleigh would have had a special mystique. The team was sponsored by a company whose name you could pronounce. They employed tough guys with names you couldn’t pronounce. There were no superstars, but a collection of working men who could win on any given day.
The replica T.I. Raleigh team bike would have made quite a statement on club rides in 1979. It probably would have told your buddies that you were privy to all kinds of secret European training methods, and that you were dead serious about going fast.
The British frame was a blue-collar racing rig. A French Gitane or Peugeot might be fine for some, and an Italian Colnago or Masi could work in a pinch, but you were serious. You just needed a tool for going fast, and if it was good enough for Joop (the oldest winner of the Tour de France in history), it was good enough for you.