Hennie Kuiper's Jacky Aernoudt team jersey has been faithfully recreated by Santini, who was the original jersey sponsor during the 1983 season. Postcard on top is Hennie inaction during the Paris Roubaix which is one of twelve in our previously-sold postcard pack.
Join respected author & journalist Herbie Sykes who explains just who the mysterious Jacky Aernoudt name is plastered across Hennie Kuiper's 1983 Paris-Roubaix team jersey.
Lovely jersey, isn’t it?
It’s lovely, iconic jersey and its prevailing leitmotif is an iconic rider. Who can forget Hennie Kuiper dropping the best of them at the 1983 Paris-Roubaix? Who can forget him puncturing and then, as Moser, Duclos and Madiot pounded into view, his mechanic duffing up the wheel change? Then the look of cardiac horror on his face as he threw his leg over the spare top tube, compelled now to win Paris-Roubaix for the second time. They were three and he was one, but somehow he rode away from them once again. Hennie Kuiper. Sensational.
Do you know Joop Zoetemelk? If you don’t then shame on you, but he and Hennie had grown up but two hours apart. They were two of the nicest blokes in cycling, and of course, it’s tempting to ascribe their humility to the fact that they came from Holland. The Dutch are reputed to be the straightest of all the Western Europeans. By all accounts, they’re not as perfidious as the English, and nor as litigious as the Germans. Seemingly they’re less myopic than their southern neighbours as well, and they have a great many more bikes.
Everyone loved Hennie because he was exemplary. He won Olympic gold in Montreal and then, three years later, the worlds in Yvoir. They made him favourite to win a couple of the post-Merckx Tours de France as well, but ultimately he didn’t quite made it. He was runner-up in 1977 behind Thevenet (he looked nailed on until a jour sans in the final TT) and 1980 behind… Zoetemelk. Goodness what a party the Dutch had that year.
Anyway everyone loves a cliché, and it’s a matter of fact that the Dutch aren’t big on waffle (Stroopwafel aside). However they’re very big on rigour, and Hennie would be a decent enough metaphor for that. He didn’t win often, but when he did he didn’t half. Flanders and Sanremo, Lombardy and the national championship, the Tour de Suisse and more stages than you can shake a tulip at.
All of which leads us back, in a roundabout way, to his day of grace on the pavé and to the calm, judicious understatement of the 1983 J. Aernoudt jersey.
Because the thing with the jerseys is that they project. Molteni’s suggested moral rectitude, probity and sobriety because, quite simply, that was what Merckx brought to mind. La Vie Claire’s Mondrian rip-off inferred modernism and creativity, cycling as high art and high intellect. In point of fact both Ambrogio Molteni and Bernard Tapie, the respective proprietors, were thoroughgoing wrong ‘uns. Both served time for corruption and Molteni had a charge sheet as long as your arm. He died broken and drunk, and Tapie has been dodging judicial bullets for decades.
In 1975, when Hennie won his rainbow jersey, he’d been in the employ of Frisol. One of his domestiques had been José De Cauwer, and the two of them had subsequently moved on to the Dutch uber-team Raleigh. Then, when Hennie shipped out to Peugeot, he insisted they take José as well. That was it. Hennie and José. Indivisible.
De Cauwer retired in 1981 and started working for Fred De Bruyne, the legendary classics rider of the fifties. Fred’s team was sponsored by DAF Trucks, he liked José, and he very much wanted Hennie Kuiper to ride for him. Hennie made them both look really clever by winning Flanders and Lombardy, but then DAF said they’d had all the brand awareness they’d needed and withdrew. Bloody hell Hennie!
The large format, coffee table Hennie Kuiper Kampioen Wilskracht has some amazing photos that document every highlight of his career.
Now, however, a hotshot young furniture retailer named Jacky Aernoudt stepped into the breach. He knew everything, he told them, and he knew how to build a team. He’d be bankrolling them from here on in, and they’d be winning the Tour in no time flat. Oh yes. The funds may be a bit slow initially while he sorted some logistical bits and pieces, but Fred agreed to forego the fancy bus and the winter training camps in Liguria. Know-it-all Jacky told him the riders would be leaner, hungrier and more united for it. All for one…
The rest is the history of cycling. They generally stop paying the wages sometime around March, and it leaks out to the press around early June because by then the riders have started to run out of a) hope and b) money. We don’t know whether Hennie was paid for winning Paris-Roubaix, but we do know that by May it had all gone to worms. Jacky had stopped paying and started blaming, a soap maker and an Italian dishwasher appeared on the jersey at the Tour, then the federation, then the lawyers and then…
I think we all get the picture.
Hennie retired just shy of his 40th birthday, and Fred’s kidneys packed in aged 64. José famously talks cycling on Belgian tele’ whilst it seems that Jacky, as befits a Paris-Roubaix winner, just keeps barreling on.
His name disappeared from planet cycling but not, it seems, from the ‘papers. Last we heard from him was 1997, by which time he’d bankrupted three travel agencies, a cleaning company, another furniture store, a “household objects retailer” and goodness knows what else. His latest venture, ABBA travel, had just gone pop with debts of 70 million Belgian Francs. That was about £1.3 million, at least as near as makes no difference when you’ve assets on the books worth seventeen hundred quid.
What a story. What a jersey. What a guy.