Team replica bikes are not the same as proper team bikes. They’re usually made to a low end budget, but they are aspirational in that they look like the bike the pro’s ride, and may even have a nod towards some of the same spec. However in real terms they generally fall well short.
Some are better than others though. Raleigh often used the same paint schemes to cover bikes from polar opposites of their range which is both a good and bad thing. Bad if you have a gas piped Team Banana that offers all the show and little ‘go’, good if you have a Specialist Bicycle Development Unit frame from the workshops of GoD himself.
Anyway this Peugeot caught our eye for a number of reasons, and in around 1998 it probably became the bain of many a cycle shops life as it becomes a less desirable model overnight…
This is the Team Festina Replica, the Richard Virenque model from around 1998. This was the time of the infamous Festina Affair, of which Mr Virenque as team leader, was a key figure.
We’re not going to go delving into the details of either the Festina Affair itself, or Richard Virenque – others have done a far better job of documenting this point in cycling history on the pages of Wikipedia – well worth a read as is Willy Voet’s book ‘Breaking the chain’.
Besides its association with cycling infamy, both with the Festina team itself and Richard Virenque its a surprisingly tidy little bike – one that at the bargain price paid offers plenty to the novice rider, or any rider for that matter.
Firstly, Peugeot as a cycle maker needs no introduction. Prolific and the steed of choice for many a pro throughout history, including many famous Brits. This is very much of its time and is made from profiled alloy, with a low spec but it is functional with a strong looking aero fork.
Secondly all the components nod towards ‘proper’ cycling – Campagnolo throughout, with a mix of the low end group sets Avanti / Mirage / Veloce – all very reliable and certainly look the part. The remainder are Italian favourites, Miche / Italmanburi / Vittoria / Selle San Marco, again lower end products from each manufacturer, but steeped in history and certainly very credible.
The icing on the cake for us though is the suppliers sticker still attached to the frame, this team replica was supplied by Harry Hall Cycles. We’ve written about Harry Hall previously after restoring one of his Columbus SLX frames here. Harry Hall was the British Team Mechanic at the time of Tom Simpson, who also rode Peugeot bikes.
So it is a bargain entry level bike, an interesting survivor from a dark time in cycling history or just another old bike. You decide, but for us it was an interesting bike to find and a recent visitor to the Bikefood offices seemed to agree. It certainly gets a reaction… “I’m in shock… you’ve got a doper’s bike in the offices?!” (keen cyclist and industry expert).
Bang for buck, there is probably no bike out there that encapsulates a key point in the history of road cycling as this Peugeot Team Festina Replica does so well.
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