Super Prestige Pernod - Arc en Ciel
By Brett Horton
The Super Prestige Pernod was not a single race, but a season long competition similar to the Pro Tour of today. Riders accumulated points throughout the year, with bigger races providing more points. It was a big deal to win because the idea was that the winner was truly the best all round rider of the year. These [1973, 74 and 75] were also the prime years that Merckx rode De Rosa built bikes.
The Pernod trophy was a largely French invention. Over the years of its existence, there were a few different Pernod trophies in a variety of categories.
The photo below, from page 11 of the December 1974 Miroir du Cyclisme (Issue #195), shows Eddy Merckx receiving the Super Prestige Pernod trophy as the best rider in the world. (Of course, all the Super Prestige races were on the road so it would be a bit difficult for a track rider to ever be classified as the best cyclist in the world!)
You will note in the photo there are other riders receiving their Pernod trophies. I know one of the Pernod trophies was for the best French rider. At one point in time there was one a for the best track rider, and one or two other incarnations. The big daddy with the most prize money was the Super Prestige Arc en Ciel. Eddy won it every year from 1969-1975.
Each of the winner's sashes was different. The sash for the winner of Super Prestige had the Arc en Ciel (rainbow) stripes (if you look closely you can make them out in the photo). I have Freddy Maertens sash from one of the years he won, but off the top of my head I cannot recall if the words Arc en Ciel are embroidered on the sash or not.
This second photo, from pages 350 and 351 of the Velo annual, 1976 edition, lists all the races that made up the Super Prestige Pernod in 1976.