That quote, from cycling writer Bill Strickland, pretty nicely sums up a recent movement called Caps Not Hats. The movement got started as a reaction against the proliferation of baseball hats in the cycling ranks and on the victory podiums, which has pushed the traditional cycling cap out to the fringes.
Look at photos of racers of the past, in the days before helmets, and see how many don the little cap with the short brim as their only head gear while riding. Sometimes you'll see one tucked under a leather hairnet. And on the victory podiums, the caps were a regular sight. Nowadays, it's all baseball hats.
|Coppi and Bartali in '49. It's hard to top that look.|
|It's actually not easy to find pictures of Jacques Anquetil with anything on his head -- probably didn't want to mess up that awesome hair.|
|There we go.|
|Can't leave out Merckx.|
|LeMond with Hinault in 1985 -- the last time a Frenchman won the TdF.|
|LeMond and Hinault on the podium in '86. The tradition is still safe . . . for now.|
|Stephen Roche in '87.|
|Delgado bucks the trend with his headband in '88. Rooks and Parra stick to tradition.|
|1989. The tide turns . . .|
|By '92, there's Chiapucci, Indurain, and Bugno -- all with baseball hats.|
|Bjarne Riis, in '96, dons the traditional cap. Probably the last TdF winner to do so. Notice that Virenque is holding a baseball hat.|
|Jan Ullrich and Eric Zabel in '97. Mountains winner Virenque goes hat (and cap) less.|
|Of course we know what this guy wore for all his wins. But there's Basso and Ullrich, wearing baseball hats, too, in '05.|
|Contador takes aim on tradition. . . and blows it away!|
|Froome, Wiggins, and Nibali in 2012. Two British, and one Italian rider -- not a cycling cap in sight. Froome would wear a baseball hat on the podium in 2013, and Nibali, too, in 2014.|
All those photos are from the Tour de France, but look for pictures of podiums from any bicycle race in the last 20 years, and they all look pretty much the same. Baseball hats have taken over.
No Frenchman has won the TdF since Hinault in '85. I do have a completely crackpot theory that it has something to do with the fact that the definitively American baseball hat supplanted the traditional cycling cap among most racers. Nuts, I know, but think about it.
|In my teens, this was the only head-wear I ever wore. It told|
people "I'm a cyclist." No baseball hats for me. Period.
What else can I say? The traditional cap is one of those little items that tells people "I'm a cyclist" -- even when you're off the bike. Embrace it!