Despite the many high profile riders associated with the team such as founder Raphael Geminiani, Jacques Anquetil, Tom Simpson, Roger Riviere etc. we like to think of the team as the spiritual home of Yorkshire hero Brian Robinson.
He was a true pioneer and opened the door for many Brits looking to make a pro career in Europe. Brian spent many years riding for St-Raphaël in all their incarnations, taking major wins in the biggest races, including two Tour de France stages and the overall in 1961 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.
The team name came from sponsors St-Raphaël who manufactured an aperitif popular at the time. The team had several co-sponsors during their existence, Campagnolo, Dunlop, Helyett, Hutchinson, Gitane and Quinquina (a subsidiary of St-Raphaël). The years 1959 & 1960 saw St-Raphaël replaced on the jersey by Rapha which was the inspiration for the UK clothing brand. In 1961 however, St-Raphaël returned to the jersey.
With so many variations to choose from, it was a tough choice when revising this classic retro jersey but we have gone for one of the many 1958 variations as modelled by "Gem" (Geminiani) in this classic photo. We suspect it was taken at the 1958 Bordeaux-Paris, a monster of an event @ approx 560kms/350 miles which was partly "Derny" paced. BordeauxParis began to lose prestige in the 1980s. It required special training and clashed with riders' plans to compete in the Vuelta a España or Giro d'Italia stage races. Fields began to dwindle and the last motor-paced version was 1985; three non-paced versions were held from 1986 but 1988 proved the last as a professional race.
Brian Robinson excelled at the 1958 edition with a remarkable 5th place only 9.03 mins down on Frenchman Jen-Marie Cieleska's winning time of............14hours 36mins 26secs!!!! Fascinating interview with Brian here
Brian is a man who has been there, done that and currently holds the position of president of the Dave Rayner Fund
who provide support for aspiring pro British cyclists abroad - which we fully support through sales of our Rocket Espresso range