The next day, Zweifel won the cross of Lyss again, before 5,000 spectators. Stamsnijder took an early lead and isolated a group of three with Zweifel and Carlo Lafranchi. Liboton was chasing behind with Thaler and E. Lienhard among others and relatively close behind at some point but eventually dropped to finish at a disappointing 18th place. Zweifel placed his decisive attack with 2 laps to go and Stammie finished 38” behind.
Liboton would sort of surface back the next day in Marly, close to Fribourg. He and Zweifel countered an attack by Lafranchi in lap 1. Stamsnijder joined them on his own but he later crashed and retired. Again Zweifel waited for the aforelast lap to place his decisive attack in a short but steep climb. Beat Breu was 11th (+3’11”). That season Zweifel just won 23 crosses, like in the good old days!
1980/1981: Zweifel Against a Liboton/Stamsnijder Alliance?
At the World Championship in Tolosa, Spain (Basque Country), Liboton was still so angry at Zweifel that he would rather let his good friend Stamsnijder get the title rather the Swiss. At least so he told Michel Wuyts (op. cit.). “We don’t ride after each other”. That was the deal. Stammie attacked first and Liboton sucked Zweifel’s wheel. Hence the Swiss also refused to chase and Stammie flew off. At least a bit later when he discussed the edition of the following year (1982 in Lanarvily) Liboton admitted that in Tolosa he did not have the legs for the win and tried to play it smartly.
The weather conditions in the Basque country changed rapidly. One week before the start of the race, it was pretty beautiful weather, perfect for Liboton. On the Thursday, the snow started falling and it looked like a perfect scenario for Klaus-Peter Thaler, the German iceman but on Sunday morning, it rained cats and dogs, which was perfect conditions for Zweifel and Stamsnijder.
The way Dirk Van de Gejuchte & Pascal Sergent (“La gloire dans les labours: grandes et petites histories du championnat du monde de cyclocross”) are describing their version of the race does not fit with Liboton’s version.
In the first of eight laps, the top favourites were already ahead: Zweifel, Stamsnijder, Liboton and Thaler. Stammie attacked on lap 3 and Zweifel remained at a small distance while Thaler and Liboton were dropped. Stammie increased his lead in the following lap and the chasers are only fighting for silver. In the 6th lap Zweifel was still ahead but he was caught by Liboton and Frischknecht the Belgian outsprinted him. Frischknecht was 4th. Where is the alliance?1981: The Cobbled NightmareIn 1981
Zweifel raced the Dauphiné libéré but unfortunately caught bronchitis which did not prevent him from starting the Tour of Switzerland thereafter where he finished 8th, 5’56” behind winner Beat Breu. He was also 4th in the prologue and 13th in the last stage.
The 1981 Tour of France had a cobbled stage in the middle of it. The 12th stage from Compiègne to Roubaix, which means the same start and finish as for the Queen of the Classics Paris-Roubaix. The stage was … 245km long, which is just a dozen kilometer shorter than the classic and 27.1km on cobbles (!), including the fearsome Carrefour de l’Arbre (added to Paris-Roubaix, 3 years before) which is half as shorter a cobbled distance as present-day Paris-Roubaix.
This was the time when Felix Lévitan and Jacques Goddet bombastically believed that their Tour of France should consist of 21 classics, without ever caring for the health of the rider.
Albert Zweifel started the race. As a matter of fact, the four best crossers of the moment were a part of it: Zweifel, Thaler, Stamsnijder and even Liboton who was actually the only one not to finish it; he retired at the 16th stage, not out of fatigue but out of lack of ambition, he said. Vintage Liboton.
As a cyclocrosser, Zweifel was considered by many as a possible contender for the win but he crashed before crossing the first cobbled section, he said for La Liberté. He was all alone and hoped he would finish out of time limit but despite crossing the line 45 minutes behind winner Daniel Willems, he was still in the race. Duclos-Lassalle was 2nd of the stage and Agostinho 3rd.
Zweifel finished that Tour of France at the 109th place, 2h44’22” behind Hinault. Thaler was 49th and Stamsnijder 80th.
This stage shows pretty well that cyclocross and Paris-Roubaix are two radically different efforts. Paris-Roubaix favours heavyweight riders while cyclocross favours lightweight riders. Some riders were able to do both because they were perfect balance between the two but Zweifel was 64kg
in his best form for 173cm of height. It’s too light for Paris-Roubaix. It’s no surprise then that his best results on the road are in the climbing events, like many crossers. 1981/1982: A Calculating Liboton with Zweifel as Top Figure
This is how Noël Truyers (op. cit.) described the 1982 World Championship in Lanarvily, France (Brittany) before 30,000 spectators. The Belgian rider admitted to Michel Wuyts (op. cit.) that Zweifel was as good as he was that day. Coming from him, it means a lot!
Lanarvily is a very isolated village in Brittany but still a classic in French cyclocross. “270 inhabitants, 20 farms, a café, a church with 100 chairs but not sport halls or party halls. […] The route was designed by Jean Le Hir who was the biggest farmer of the village”, says Truyers. But for this championship, there came 30,000 spectators, about 10 times the number of inhabitants.
This short Youtube clip
brings back some old footage of the race (first Stamsnijder leading Liboton, Zweifel and Thaler and then the sprint between Liboton and Zweifel) with the comments by an old Breton, speaking in Breton. “It rained, it rained! I’ve never been that cold in my life than that day. And I’ve never seen as many people in the village either. All the houses were full! There were no hotel in Lanarvily but the houses were full. The mass was postponed to the following Sunday” (Truyers argued that the priest did the mass the previous Saturday evening!).
The four above mentioned riders rapidly broke away and would contend for victory. Surprisingly, Liboton stayed in the wheels while Zweifel picked up the tempo and in lap 3, Thaler dropped. So did Stamsnijder a bit later. Stammie was a stakhanovist who raced too much during the season and paid the price for it. But even then, Liboton never lost Zweifel’s wheel and just relied on his sprinting skills. He was sure of his win the moment Stammie dropped, he explained to Truyers but the style was not there. He also noticed that unlike two years before, Zweifel took no more risks in the descents. He was more hesitant. The Belgian capitalized on the final climb on the road section to drop Zweifel in the sprint for the win of a race he did not shine in. Zweifel did.1982/1983: The Loss to Stamsnijder in Asper-Gavere
1982/1983 is a turning point in cyclocross history as the season of the first ever Superprestige ranking, from December to February. That year the Superprestige was totally Belgian (Diegem – still SP today - , Zillebeke, Asper-Gavere & Overijse, which is now traditionally a lone cross) but the following year, Zurich-Waid was added, where Adri Van der Poel beat Zweifel.
In those days, Belgians already organized a cross in honour of their best rider on New Year’s Day. So on January 1, a cross was held in Liboton’s own Rillaar. But that year Liboton was sick and hence Vermeire won Rillaar ahead of R. De Vlaeminck, Zweifel, Frischknecht and Johan Ghyllebert (Pieter’s father). Zweifel also claimed that Rillaar
was some sort of a Swiss parcours that he appreciated but the race did not survive Liboton’s career and we might wonder whether Baal will survive Nys’ one. The Brabander was still sick for the Superprestige event of Asper-Gavere and hence lost all chance of the final ranking (Source: Stefaan Van Laere, op. cit.)
Asper-Gavere was a regular event since the 1950’s but since 1983, was held every year as a Superprestige event (the organizer – the blind man and former masseur Etienne Gevaert
was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Superprestige) and quickly became a true classic, a monument of the cyclocross season. One that every top crosser wants to win, says Stybar. In the eighties, the parcours was situated in Asper (1978-1992). Only in 1993 did they move to the military domain of “Kasteel Grenier” in Gavere with the impressive down and up climbing.
In the 1983 edition Zweifel was in the lead for the win with Stamsnijder but it seems that during the last lap his mechanic could not provide him a clean bike in time and therefore Albert was dropped. His mechanic was a Dutchman who only partnered him for that occasion. That is at least what a former on Wielerflits argued and it needs verification: http://veldrijden.startpagina.nl/prikbord/13097594/13098316/re-niel
[http://www.dewielersite.net/db2/wielersite/ritfiche.php?ritid=42806]Zweifel[/url] ended 25” after Stamsnijder and a 1’ before Ghyllebert who was 3rd.
Zweifel never won any Superprestige event in his career. 1983/1984 was his best season in that ranking. After the loss to Van der Poel in the Waidquer, he was 3rd to Liboton and Stamsnijder in both Diegem and Asper-Gavere and 2nd to Liboton in Overijse, for a 3rd place overall to Stamsnijder and Rein Groenendaal (Richard’s father).