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Stars And Watercarriers

Updated on October 12, 2010

The movie, Stars and Water Carriers or "STJERNERNE OG VANDBAERERNE, is my favorite cycling movie.

It's about the 1973 Giro d'Italia or the "Tour of Italy".

After watching the video one has to conclude that winning is grand, but there is a formula and a participation from so many who love the sport of cycling, that the Giro is beyond individuals.

We know that Eddy Merckz is the winner as in the previous year. But little is paid attention to the "podiums" after races every day.

Stars and Watercarriers is an instructional manual for how cycling "was".

You'll see the "old school" Campagnola parts that are works of art today as they were decades ago.

This video will show you the old (and new) team structure.

It will show you racers with the masseur.

You'll see the Bianchi team mechanics doing their chores under a shade tree.

It will tell you the ins and outs of the Giro but will never leave the action for long.

The video shows the old stars of cycling, the kings of the road of decades ago.

Merckx, Filice Gimondi, Battaglin, Basso, Ole Ritter, Francesco Moser, etc.!

In many respects, the manual is current.

Stars and Watercarriers Part 1

The Giro d'Italia is a three-week race around Italy.

This is the first giro that was international.

This year's race starts in Belgium.

They cross the Alps to enter Italy.

At the end of each day the times of the racers for that day are added to the riders total time. The winner, at the end of weeks of racing, will be the rider with the least amount of time.

The Tour de France has the same format.

manuskript of instruktion -Jorgen Leth

"...the Spaniard doesn't seem too interested in putting his heart into the breakaway. Ritter pushes forward again, and his lead is concentrated. and forceful. He's determined to pull the others on.but they slug on, reluctantly, not keen on sacrificing themselves. Ritter shortens the lead to keep the break from petering out. He's taking a long , hard lead, but he's in "bad company"...

"It's a beautiful waste of energy."

I love the description here. "He was in bad company".

I love it all. The commentary flows as poetry.

Schunmacker and Hussman are the Henchmen of the greatest cyclist Eddy Merckx.

As in the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia of old, today elite riders can build a team to help advance, care for, support, and protect their team leader and the win.

You can see how a grade can string everyone out like an accordion.

With shorter hills it can be more like an accordion recoiling and then stretching back out. If you're on the tail end of that accordion you can be popped off the back in a flash. A rider is probably "on the rivet" as the great race commentator, Phil Liggett, might say. He's tired as his place at the rear denotes. Then that "accordion makes another recoil over the next hill. As it does, the rider is separated and "that's all folks". He's a solo rider without any help with the head-wind. It just gets worse from here.

I must say thanks !!! to the motorcyclist, Sergio Penazzo for giving his cameraman the wonderful advantage to take these beautiful videos.

God bless the cameraman, Dan Holmberg! Yes, this is old school. There are not a lot of cells making up this film of the 70s. My guess is the camera itself must have been so cumbersome! 

Here is a shot of the cycling great, Filice Gimondi. He's wearing the green, white, and red Italian Champion's jersey.He's riding for the Bianchi team. Bianchi is one of the world's oldest bicycle manufacturers. They've been in business for over a century.

"Manuskript og instruktion by Jorgen Leth" must mean that this person was in charge og the script? If so, I sure want to thank you! Many will prefer the exciting "I'm going to have a heart-attack this is so exciting" announcers. They are out there and as you can see in this film there are those for that live performance. Occasionally I like that too.

But, yes, I certainly love the way this video is done. Many bike riders and racers have been around for decades and many will never see this video and never know "this" history, which is just a glimpse into the history of cycling.

The Giro causes people to phone into work sick!

The villages turn out to see the greatest show on asphalt (and dirt)!

Our announcer explains the "echelon" where cyclists "fan" out laterally to block the wind. A side wind can be as treacherous as the head wind.

While "googling" DeVlamick, I may have run across a relative:

Modern painter Maurice de Vlaminck was born on April 4, 1876, in Paris. Both his parents were musicians. His mother, Josephine Grillet, was a pianist and his father, Edmond Julien de Vlaminck, was a violinist. Music was like second nature to Maurice. He learned to play violin and bass from his father. At the age of 16, the artist moved to Paris to learn painting under painter Henri Rigalon. He earned his living as a violinist and a bicycle racer. Vlaminck married Suzanne Berly in 1894 and later joined the army.

The Road of Pain!

Village after village!


Merckx and La Course en Tete!

Control the race by taking the lead.

Merckx will grind you into a fine power!

It's as if ghosts are riding through the countryside.

The beauty never ends.

We see the roads of champions and the champions!

Stars and Watercarriers Part 2

                                               The Road of Pain!

"They're all aware that something will happen soon."

"Now it's really important to be up front with the leaders before the field breaks up."

"And that's bound to happen soon the way Merckx is heaping coals on the fire."

"All the strongest have assembled up front."

"Now the real climbing starts."

"And the field begins to crack."

"It's here the first elimination takes place and the public are well aware of it."

"They know this is the spot for break-throughs" and "break-downs".

"The pace is grueling among the leaders."

"Riders get coupled off, one after the other."

"Fuentes loses ground, fouled up by a gear change."

I love Campagnola parts. They were invented by Tulio Campagnola.

Tulio was a racer from "further back". He was from an "older school".

He lost a race because of a flat. His hands were too cold to use a wrench.

He invented the "quick-release" for a bicycle wheel.

His parts were the best in the old school days and they are now.

But- for that shifter. It was a fore-runner of many shifters but it was fallible.

Fuentes was using "bar-end" mounted shifters which exaggerated the problem.

It worked with metal and plastic parts. The screw had to be tightened well.

It was best to have a "loc-tite" solution for the threads so that the screw did not back out. If the screw backed out, the shifter relaxed, the cable therefore relaxed, your derailleur's spring for returning the derailleur to it's "relaxed position" worked and brought the derailleur into the smallest sprocket on the rear which is high gear. You can't climb the alps in race mode in high gear. Unfortunately - "loc-tite" wasn't invented yet.

In my memory banks is a hill in Asheville, NC leading up to the Old Toll Road. The street is named Cherokee. With those old "Campy" friction shifters- the shifters shifted into the hard gears on that one. There was something about the difficulty and stress on the equipment that facilitated this problem.

Finally my shifters rusted in well and I was able to climb Cherokee with only muscle strain and respiratory failure.

South Carolina State champ of the day, Chris Hardwick, used Suntour "rachet type" shifters. That was the solution. Mix in a good shifter with that beautiful Campy stuff!

Fuentes continues to close up on Merckx and company.

Now he sees the vanguard.

A final surge and he's up there.

"The opening round of the fight is over."

"The decisive eliminations have been made."

"But stiffer gradients are yet to come."

Fuentes' rule is "never take a lead".

Young Battaglin is the man for that.

In his first season as a pro he's about to confirm his promotion.

You can see the difficulty here. But Merckx remains seated.

Battaglin stands and rocks with the upper body.

The winner of this stage is decided.

Another stage victory for Merckx!

One of the all-time greats is - dejected!

A bit of saddle-sore meds if you please?

Ah! Much better!

This is old school- the wool jerseys and wool shorts.

Stars and Watercarriers Part 3

The wool didn't have the colors we have today.

A leather chamois in the seat and we did alright.

This is the "celeste" colored Bianchi car.

The gates to the Bianchi factory are painted this color.

Another beautiful city.

A storm is gathering!

A chase on dirt!

String them out!

The road goes up!

Filice Gimondi, Champion of Italy, with trophies to fill a house!

Eddy Merckx takes another stage!

Another day. Another race.

Another day in paradise!

The world stands still as men race bicycles.

Fuentes attacks relentlessly every day!

Fuentes breaks away and nabs a win!

Stars and Watercarriers Part 4

The Time Trial Stage

The camera follows Ole Ritter as he rides a super TT. The Dane, Ole Rotter, was a great road racer and time-trialist.

The time-trial race is the race of truth.

The "indidvidual time trial" segment is just that.

Each rider starts, in this case, 2 minutes apart.

The riders cannot draft one another.

Each cannot benefit from another's speed and effort.

If you pass other riders, you must do so quickly.

The bicycle part of a triathlon incorporates the same rule.

The leader in the over-all event is last to start. This is a psychological advantage.

Our announcer on the video is pretty thorough and colorful in explaining.

The pro mechanics are "at it" under the tree.

Bottom bracket overhaul and relube!

The Campy bottom bracket and lock ring remover/spanner.

Today most of the better BBs are a sealed cartridge type.

Old school cut off water-bottle for a sink.

Here are the "old school" toe clips and straps.

Your shoe has a cleat that slides onto a somewhat locking surface.

The toe-strap must be pulled up to "cinch" the the cleat onto the pedal wall.

To release- you reach down and push the toe-strap buckle outward.

In the Time trial segment of the three week Giro d'Italia, each rider is held up by an assistant. Riders depart every two minutes. The racers ride alone. There is to be no help with drafting whatsoever. Each rider races the clock.

And Ole Ritter is off!

Ole Ritter is an excellent road-racer and an excellent time-trialer.

Ritter keeps an excellent pace.

He's very fluid. He has it down to a science. But he's a work of art.

He keeps a high pedal revolution per minute.

I've not timed his rpm but I'm sure he's over 90 often.

The end is near and so his heart is put into it.

Ole Ritter has ridden a beautiful Time Trial.

It was a work of art.

Ole Ritter made it look so easy on camera.

The effort is very visible as sweat drops from his face.

Stars and Watercarriers Part 5


Here we see two flat tires exchanged.


Extra bottles are in the jersey pockets.

This is THE reason to have 3 pockets to balance one or two or three.

One could go in the middle. Two could be balanced on the sides.

All bets are off as the need for water is above all else.

The Giro d'Italia bicycling heroes are welcomed everywhere!

You don't see this today!

This looks like the toughest guy on the road.

Riding without hands, he unwraps the top of the bottle.

He takes the bottle opener around his neck and pops a cap!

This man is SO smooooth! He never misses a beat!

And it's a great hand-off!

Stars and Watercarriers Part 5

The Tour of Italy - and the business.  Flats, money, nutrition.

A feed zone is here and the teams hand out "musette bags" with nutrition!

Stars and Watercarriers Part 6

And- so it goes - the Giro d'Italia!

I've had the VCR version of the video, Stars and Watercarriers for many years.

I was in search of the video on DVD. There are not a lot of options. I searched. My search took me to youtube.

It's grand in a way because so many more people can see it.

It's a little sad, in that it seems it's "deserved stature" has drooped in the film industry and in bicycling movies for theatres genre.

To me- this is art.

What do I know about art?

I know-

              this is it!

Stars and Watercarriers Part 7

"Stars and Watercarriers" is indeed beautiful!

"Stars and Watercarriers" is pleasant.  The music flows.

The music flows.

Stars and Watercarriers Part 8

The scenery is Belgium, Switzerland, Italy.

And- the chicks! Oh yeah!

Stars and Watercarriers Part 9

So- go ahead and get into this video!

Get some popcorn.

Call friends over if you have any,

                                                    and get into this movie!

Micky Dee


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    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Yo Tony! Spin it out BrotherMan. Spin and win! God bless you Tony!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent one, my bro'! Loved every turn ofthe wheel and pump of the legs - ouch! mine are sore now! LOL!

      Thnanks for another passionate and beautiful Hub, my brotherman!

      Love and peace


    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      You pmccray you! You know I love you Girl! Once around the park for pmccray!

    • pmccray profile image


      7 years ago from Utah

      Never heard of this movie looks quite interesting. Ride on bro!!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      I'm very glad you liked this Story. Your writing just gets better and better. Thank you!

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      MickeyDee, I love how you are so focused. I saw this title in your profile and thought it might be poetry- such a great title, I might steal it, lol... stars as in cosmic and water carriers as in we lowly humans toiling from dawn until dusk. I could do a lot with that, haha.

      How could I be confused, considering you have deepened my knowledge of bicycling and touring and all that requires strong legs and large lungs.

      Breathe on, friend, breathe on!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yo BrotherMan- I love this video. It tells the young ones about the inner workings of cycling. It's retro but still current. God bless you Bro!

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Mic, great piece, I could tell you were diggin it, dust

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Thank you Darling Nell!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, Micky, wow, you certainly did some work on this one! amazing! great commentary and pics, loved it, cheers nell

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago



      always exploring

      God bless you people for saying these wonderful things. Thank you for lifting me up. My fellow hubbers are so kind and encouraging! It makes a difference when yoour Sisters and Brothers lift each other up!

      This hub kinda wrote itself. I worked with the pictures. I had to type words onto the page, etc. But I do know a couple of folks who would have written better for this. But we are the old school for today and we live and lived as they are living. Of course we on our club rides pretend we are the folks on these videos. But some of us have been living it and studying it for decades and we studied the films like this and Breaking Away and anything we could get our hands on. Thank you for appreciating a beautiful sport and the racers of yesteryear! God bless y'all!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great hub Micky. The music is cool. I could almost feel the pain of number 3 You have to love riding to endure this. Thank you for sharing.

      God Bless

    • DjBryle profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

      It is so interesting to read a hub with the knowledge that the hubber is so passionate about the topic... the writings and images turns to life... and suddenly you are one of the crowds looking by! Thanks for sharing this hub, you're such a brilliant writer! =)

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant hub again and you write so vividly . You do very cleverly blend both words , photos and video clips that gives us a sense of very nearly being there. Obviously a beautiful and voting up.

      ake care and God Bless you Micky.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Coolmon- you are soooo kooool! You are a Stradivarius! You lit me up! God bless you!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      It is nice to read an article written by someone who is passionate about the topic written. I enjoyed your cycling article, well written and great pictures as usual.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yo yo yo!!! I am DB Cooper! I haven't seen you since you bailed out on us! God bless you! There's a lot more than helmets keeping us here.

      Though sometimes - a helmet has really helped!

      God bless!!!

    • I am DB Cooper profile image

      I am DB Cooper 

      8 years ago from Whereabouts unknown at this time

      Incredible! Absolutely wonderful seeing all these legendary riders on what are now considered classic bicycles. Who needs helmets anyway?

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Yo twentyfive! Thank you for dropping by and tuning in. This is a very inspirational movie. When you get time, treat yourself. The movie is long. You'll find parts that you might watch over and over.

    • twentyfive profile image


      8 years ago

      I started bicycling again. No words to describe how great it is. This movie sounds so interesting. :)

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Petra! Thank you My Dear! I just read your "Another Path". It was beautiful as all your work. I do love cycling. Thank you Petra!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Sa'ge my Dear! Everyone of these pics-(100)-I froze the video and retrieved them. These pics reflect to the video. I'm so very surprised that the video has gone to youtube. I left all pics small as you see them here because as you blow them up they get more blurry. Thank you Dear Sage! Love that "Exquisite" poem!

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Your passion for the sport shows throughout this most documented hub, Micky. The beauty of the effort those people put into the sport could only be matched by the magnificent scenery

    • Sa`ge profile image


      8 years ago from Barefoot Island

      oh my you did it you did it.. wow watched the whole movie, awesome race, I had never seen any beginning to end. so beautiful, so many words to describe , those roads like snakes winding upward then down, the cyclists like a long snake moving along the country side. was beautiful. Thank you for that wonderful movie. I gave me an understanding of what a real cyclist life is life and the passion that holds each together along with the heartbreaking sorrow at times. I cha cha cha on them buttons of yours. this was awesomely beautiful. :D love you!


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