A History of Racing Eyewear Part I: André Leducq

To celebrate summer, grand tours and the heritage of road racing fashions we present portraits of iconic riders epitomising the epoch (and eyewear) they competed in. First up it’s André Leducq, the strong-chinned Parisian who holds the third highest number of Tour de France stage wins and two overall victories at the race.

Racing during the 1920s and 1930s Leducq could be noted as one of those ‘Giants of the Road’, self sufficient riders who were more akin to mountaineers and explorers than members of the modern-day grupetto. These pioneers of stage racing had to carry out all of their own repairs, travel with spares and tools and make do with whatever equipment they happened to acquire.

In the early days of cycle sport when Leducq was racing, riders would endure atrocious road conditions. Gravel, mud and dust meant eye protection was critical. These routiers favoured an intrepid aesthetic so aviation or motoring goggles made from leather and glass were popular. Other options included welding glasses and ‘glacier’ goggles. Leducq’s fame and fortune as a rider ensured he used only the finest motoring goggles, similar to those used by Malcolm Campbell in his Rolls Royce Blue Bird LSR car. These gave complete wraparound protection, or as it is sometimes known ‘edge-to-edge vision’.

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