Remembering The Tour De Trump

I wrote this on some other boards when talking about Eric Vanderaerden. I did not know at that time that Donald Trump would be a candidate for presidential elections.

1989: The “Tour de Trump” Farce

The « Tour de Trump » was a new race in the cycling calendar in 1989. It replaced the Coors Classic, even though the Coors Classic was set in Colorado and the “Tour de Trump” on the East Coast.

The race names already suggests the cosmopolitan aspect of the upper-class that Donald Trump represents (who sponsored the race): a French name for an American race, a mix of everything, a bit like the character Mustapha Menier in Huxley’s “Brave New World”.

Donald Trump is Fred Trump’s son: An entrepreneur who helped re-building Brooklyn & Queen’s after the war (NY Times).Trump officially joined his father’s company in 1968 (Elizabeth Trump & Son) and was given control of it in 1971, renaming it “The Trump Organization”.

On March 15 1982, Trump received a gaming licence from New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission.

Between 1984 and 1988, Trump opened three hotels/casinos in Atlantic City: The Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, the Trump Marina and the Taj Mahal Casino.

In 1990, while Trump sponsored the 2nd and last edition of his race, financial analyst Marvin B. Roffman was ousted from his companies for negative comments on Taj Mahal. In November that year, Taj Mahal declared bankruptcy for the first time.

The 1989 Tour de Trump ended with an ITT in Atlantic City, just before the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino: an awful stage passing before those ugly hotels & casinos with kitsch tasteless post-modern architecture. The East Coast in all its arrogance!

That city seems to epitomize the way Christopher Lasch, after Ralph Waldo Emerson described the city life: “babyish”. “It fosters vanity, luxury, and frivolous display. Though it sometimes puts wealth to good use […] for the most part it subordinates the public uses of wealth to private amusement and thus make wealth a ‘toy’.[…] ‘They degrade us by magnifying trifles.’ ”

The drama will happen in that environment.
It however all started in a beautiful natural landscape of the Appalachians, in Albany, NY. The prologue though was falsified by weather changes. That is how a young American Thomas Craven, won the prologue by racing in dry conditions. The complete results for the prologue are hard to find but the footage from NBC (see Appendix 9 to 12) says Vanderaerden did 4” better than Davis Phinney who could prologue very well when he was on and 3” better than Viacheslav Ekimov.

The decisive stage was the 2nd one between New-York and Allentown when a 3-man breakaway had formed with Dag-Otto Lauritzen, veteran Henk Lubberding and Paul Curran. Lubberding won the stage but Lauritzen took the lead in the GC and will hold it trough.

Leaving Allentown, Vanderaerden was trailing Lauritzen by 3’49”. However the promoters were very generous with their time bonus system: 30” for stage win and 20” for 2nd place in stages. This is in a way abnormal and given this fact we may argue that Lauritzen deserves his win anyway because he was the fastest in the race, if you strictly consider real time.

Nevertheless, these time bonuses - his 3 stage wins in sprints and two 2nd places – gave him 2’10” for free and he was back in the race. In the meantime, he also won another ITT in Richmond (14.5km) in which he took 39” back from Lauritzen. Ekimov was 2nd in the stage.

Before the final ITT in Atlantic City, Vanderaerden trailed in the GC by 50”. Given the fact that he gained 39” from Lauritzen in a 14.5km ITT in Richmond, he was confident he could gain 50” in a 38.6km ITT in Atlantic City.

But first the 7-Eleven riders – like Lauritzen and Phinney but not Hampsten – used new equipment which will revolutionise cycling: the clip-ons aerobars, giving them a huge advantage.

A) The Aerobars

Let us remember that the first use of aerobars in cycle racing date from the Seoul 100km TTT Olympic race. The American squad used it but it was not the same kind of bars as the 7-Eleven riders used in 1989. They were one-piece aerobars and they were sanctioned by the UCI.

The “clip-ons” aerobars were first used by triathlete Ray Browning in the Ironman of New Zealand in March 1989, hence it’s commonly referred to as “tri-bars” (see our Andy Hampsten Bio) and brought to cycling by the 7-Eleven in that Tour de Trump.

The “clip-ons” bars were illegal in 1989 as they broke the earlier mentioned 3-point rule (see Chapter about Marie’s “back saddle fairing” – Article 49 of the UCI ruling – which stated that only 3 resting points were allowed on the bicycle: the hands on the bars, the seat on the saddle and the feet on the pedal mechanism. Since the clip-ons were also equipped with arms rests that enabled the rider to rest their forearms on the bike in addition to the other three points, you may argue that the clip-ons give one or two additional resting points. It was illegal.

That is why during the Tour of Italy, Mr Ledent – UCI commissar – stopped Hampsten (& probably the other 7-Eleven riders too) from using it. His colleague Mr Jacquat was not as strict on the Tour of France and LeMond and the 7-Eleven were allowed to make use of it because of the UCI laxness with its own rules. In the Eddy Merckx GP in September, Fignon entered with a bike equipped with clip-ons and was denied starting with it by Mr Ledent. In a form of protest he decided not to race at all, despite having a reserve bike. However he won the Baracchi Trophy with Marie, using the old one-piece aero-bars used by the American team at the 1988 Olympics, but not with the clip-ons which were only allowed on September 24 for the GP des Nations.

During that ITT in Atlantic City, commentator Greg Lewis interviewed Connie Carpenter – Davis’ wife and Taylor’s mother – saying that Phinney had tried it out one week before. They knew that the triathletes were using it. “They make you more aerodynamic, they let your arms relax a bit more and let you use your legs better.” It was kind of an experiment but it might pay off, she also said.

Lauritzen who was not an ITT specialist did not seem at home with this new piece of equipment, though. He didn’t even rest his forearms on the rests. However this new piece of equipment was planned for the GT’s to come and not for the Tour de Trump. Only the prospect of a win for an American team on home soil was so tempting.

B) The Off-Course Excursion

Before half-way Eric went off-course as he had to negotiate a turn but went straight ahead. He probably raced an extra 800m or so:

A controversy arose. Vanderaerden being European is used to motorcycle preceding riders but race organizer Mike Plant only allowed motorcycle following them, to supply them with wheels in case of puncture. In that turn, Plant argued that there were cones and a marshal to indicate the route. Vanderaerden said he saw no marshal there. For many it seems that it was vitally important for the race to be won by a rider from an American team and only Eric could stop this to happen. Especially the fact that Eric was one of the latest to start shows that something was weird in the absence of any marshal at that point.

According to the above mentioned article from the NY Times: Theunisse had little sympathy for Vanderaerden:''Everybody must know the course,'' Theunisse said. ''It's in the book. Maybe the marshal was looking the other way. My teammate, [the late] Johannes Draaijer, told me he got lost twice in the race and told me to look out. He said the marshals were signaling for cars and he thought they were signaling for him.''

To Greg Lewis, Eric argued in his broken English that he did recognize the route in the morning but there were so many turns that you could not know the route by heart. He also seemed resigned to his fate and accepted it: “it’s too late. There’s nothing you can do.” Lewis in a diplomatic way congratulated for his brilliant performances throughout the 10 days of racing.
Four clips of the NBC documentary on the 1989 “Tour de Trump” with several of Vanderaerden’s sprint stage wins, the prologue under the rain and the dramatic ITT in the streets of Atlantic City. The 4th LINK of the series shows Thomas Craven winning the prologue (in dry conditions) and the results of the prologue. We have Phinney ranked 22nd and Ekimov ranked 18th, who did one second better than Phinney. Since in the first clip, the commentator said Vanderaerden did 4” better than Phinney, we may assume that he bested Ekimov’s time by 3” and was a little better than 18th in the ranking, which is fined since he raced under the rain.

An article proving that the 7-Eleven guys used clip-ons for the first time in cycle racing at the Tour de Trump (too high for embedding)

Articles of L'Équipe (in French) proving that clip-ons were banned by UCI commissar Nicolas Ledent during the 1989 GP Eddy Merckx:
Apr 23, 2015
I remember this too, fondly as a kid with the VHS of American Flyers rented soon after!

Also, i remember when Donald Trump tried cycling to work once too