The story of Luis Ocana is a story of passion, triumph and suffering. When it comes to legends of cycling, Luis Ocana certainly has a place within their ranks.
Jesus Luis Ocana Pernia was born in Priego Cuenca Spain in 1945. Like many of the riders of his generation he came from very humble beginnings. His family struggled to make a living until they moved to a Village in the South of France in 1957. Yet, despite this improvement, it was still a difficult life for them. As he grew older Luis began to work as a carpenter’s apprentice until he quit school at the age of 14. But, with this work, he was able to purchase his first bike to pursue his dream of becoming a professional rider. In 1961, after turning 16, he obtained his racing license and quickly went to work, winning in just his second race!
After being spotted by a professional trainer, Luis still had to work six days a week as a carpenter’s apprentice with a day off for training and racing. Over the next three years, he moved up to the first category level in France eventually riding as an “independant” for the Mercier team.
Finally, in 1968, he signed with the Spanish team Fagor. Luis won the Spanish National Road Race Championship in 1968 and began his ascent into the professional road racing circuit.
Ocana was very early convinced that winning a major race would have to mean attacking Eddy Merckx at any given opportunity. A task of which he thought most other riders were doing a poor job. In 1971 Ocana joined the powerful Bic team which finally gave him the opportunity to hunt the cannibal. He defeated him at the Puy de Dôme and humiliated him in the 11th stage by winning and taking more than 8 minutes out of him.He was the man of the hour. But when he was chasing Merckx in a fast descent in pouring rain on th 14th stage, his luck drew to an end. He crashed. When he did get up to continue racing, he was hit by another rider and, then, as he tried to recover, another rider slammed into him. This second impact knocked him out completely to a point where he had to abandon the race. In 1972 his notoriously fragile health kept him from joining the Tour de France. But it did not keep him from preparing meticulously for the next year. He was determined to defeat Merckx and win at all costs. As a result, in preparation, he took things to another level. This included the special choice of the five road bikes he was to ride that season. Like Merckx he was obsessed over every technical aspect of his bikes. So only the best equipment was good enough.
Rather than ride the Motobecanes which had been prepared for him in the previous seasons, he enlisted Henri Depierre in Paris to build his frames for the 1973 season. Henri Depierre was the founder, owner and sole frame-builder of the famous GEMINI racing frame brand from Paris - And the trusted builder to some of the best French riders of their time.
While it was a glorious year for Luis leading to his victory in the Tour de France in 1973 it was without the satisfaction of going up against Eddy Merckx. Due to contractual issues and other pressures Eddy decided to race only the Vuelta and Giro instead. Despite the absence of Merckx in the Tour de France Luis put on a devastating display in every way leading to a winning margin of astonishing 15 minutes and 51 seconds.
He finally retired in 1977 from professional racing. But, his “panache” as a rider left a deep impression on the riders and racing fans from that era.
The owner of the bike we present here has always been in search of one of Luis Ocana's bikes from 1973 but despite a wealth of knowledge of the industry and connection to other collectors, riders and supporters from that era, he was never able to even come close to finding one.
When finally deciding on building a replica bike, it turned out that even finding a GEMINI frame from that era to create such a replica of Luis Ocana’s bike from 1973 was, indeed, a monumental task itself. However, in the end the quest was successful. And here it is:
What you see before you is a “one-of- a-kind” replica and, possibly, the only known example of one of Luis Ocana’s bikes he used to win the Tour of France in 1973. Unlike the many replicas of Eddy Merckx bikes this is an ultra rare bike as Motobecane didn’t produce a detailed copy.
This here is an exacting replica done in humble tribute to one of the true legends of professional cycling. A rider who always left everything out on the road in pursuit of his dreams.
|Rahmenhöhe (Center-Top)||60 cm|
|Kurbel||Campagnolo Record Strada; 170mm; 54/44; drilled|
|Naben||NOS Campagnolo Record|
|Felgen||Super Champion Competition|
|Reifen||NOS Clement Seta Extra 700c tubular|
|Vorbau||Cinelli 1A; 90mm|
|Lenker||Cinelli Criterium; 39mm|