Canada’s Steve Bauer enjoyed a hugely successful pro career, riding for teams that included La Vie Claire, Helvetia – in 1989, which is the year this fantastic Villiger bike is from – plus 7-Eleven and Motorola, and taking wins that included a stage of the Tour de France, and stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour DuPont along the way, as well as only just missing out on victory at the 1990 Paris-Roubaix. It was one of the best road bikes at the time.
Bauer moved to Helvetia’s previous guise as Weinmann-La Suisse from La Vie Claire in 1988, and won stage 1 of the Tour de France that year, which gave him the yellow jersey – which he lost the next day, but then regained for four more stages on stage 8.
The team became Helvetia-La Suisse in 1989, when Bauer won Swiss one-day race Züri-Metzgete – which would have been popular with his Swiss employers – and the prologue time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Other riders on the squad that season included France’s Gilles Delion, Swiss riders Mauro Gianetti and Pascal Richard, and Australia’s Michael Wilson.
Neither we, nor the seller, are aware of what the exact model of this 1989 Villiger is, but the Swiss frame is made of Oria RANF steel tubing and kitted out with a full Suntour Superbe Pro groupset, Mavic wheels, stem and handlebars, and a Selle San Marco Rolls saddle, which was, of course, the choice of a number of pros in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Bauer’s name is on the top tube, and the frame’s measurements match Bauer’s, according to the seller – a 55cm top tube and 53cm seat tube – plus it comes complete with a frame number, with the number ’31’ corresponding to the Canadian’s race number at the 1989 Tour.
We thought that the number ‘1’ looked a little sus when compared to pictures of riders’ frame numbers at that year’s race, but then noticed that the seller had noted that it was a reproduction, and very cool it looks, too.
After moving across to 7-Eleven in 1990, Bauer was part of the breakaway that gained more than 10 minutes on stage 1 of that year’s Tour, and again enjoyed a long spell – nine days this time – in the leader’s yellow jersey during the first half of the race.
Perhaps a little unfairly, Bauer is also well remembered for both losing the 1990 Paris-Roubaix to Eddy Planckaert by what was deemed to be less than a centimetre, and for being involved in the crash at the 1988 World Championships road race that brought down Belgium’s Claude Criquielion as the two sprinted for the title, leaving 23-year-old Italian Maurizio Fondriest to come across the line unhindered as the new world champion, while second-placed Bauer was disqualified. Criquielion tried to sue Bauer as a result of the crash, although the court ruled in Bauer’s favour.
Since retiring at the end of 1996, Bauer has run his own bike tour company and worked as a directeur sportif on various teams, most recently with WorldTour squad CCC Team – run by his former 7-Eleven and Motorola manager Jim Ochowicz – as the outfit’s sporting manager, having previously been the director of VIP services.
The Hungary-based seller is looking for US$4,500 (£3,400) for the bike, and is prepared to ship it to wherever in the world the lucky buyer resides.
We’re constantly on the lookout for unique and rare cycling relics on eBay. If you have any suggestions or leads, please send them to [email protected] with ‘eBay Finds’ in the subject line.