The team has taken to wearing masks, concealing their fangs.

Is Cofidis a team of vampires?

The French cycling team is in the crosshairs of the memelords, who are adamant that #cofidisisvampires.

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During the world’s biggest bike race, Instagram’s cycling meme accounts are operating at their peak. There’s a fertile array of memeable moments – Omi & Opi signs, daring attacks, Cavendish’s return – and a greater audience invested in the sport. The usual suspects are all there – Anakin and Padmé, Disaster Girl, Anthony Adams Rubbing Hands – with cycling-related text over the top.

This year, though, there’s an addition to the cycling meme canon that has come out of left-field, steadily building in momentum over the past few weeks to become the question on everyone’s lips:

Are the riders of Team Cofidis vampires? 

A background

Let’s back up a bit. Team Cofidis, a French WorldTeam, has been in existence since 1997, with notable alumni including a pre-diagnosis Lance Armstrong and a mid-doping David Millar. Since its inception it has held a title sponsorship from the French money-lending firm, Cofidis, which, since 1982, has specialised in giving consumer loans over the phone or internet. 

In 2020, Team Cofidis stepped back to the top tier of the sport after almost a decade as a second-division Pro Continental team. In that year, Guillaume Martin was an animator of the Tour de France, ultimately finishing in 11th place on the GC, an improvement on 12th in 2019.

In the lead-up to last year’s Tour, the (very excellent) CyclingTips contributor Tom Owen began collecting Panini stickers with the riders of the peloton on them. He then wrote an (also very excellent) article explaining what he thought the riders looked like. Of Guillaume Martin, he had this to say: 

Guillaume Martin is the proprietor of an eerily quiet roadside B&B. During check-in you glance down at the gleaming brass bell on the reception desk and, just for a moment, it seems like he has no reflection. Don’t be foolish, you think to yourself, Guillaume Martin is not a vampire.

If this is the origin of the Team Cofidis vampire legend, it’s understandable why. With his brooding charisma, elfin features, and expressive eyebrows, Martin certainly has the look of a guy that could be cast as a vampire in an off-season, off-Broadway play. 

His temperament seems to match. He’s one of the peloton’s intellectuals – he holds a masters in philosophy, is the published author of a book of philosophy called Socrates on a Bike, and dabbles in playwrighting.

I’m not saying he’s a vampire. But I’m also not saying that he’s not a vampire.

From Martin to madness

Tom Owen’s initial observation planted a seed which, a year later, has blossomed into a beautiful tree laden with fruity memes. 

Instagram meme account @i_simp_alaphilippe is at the fore of the #cofidisisvampires movement. Since May, the account has steadily built a mythos in support of the joke, which has gradually become more surreal in its evolution. 

Over the last couple of weeks, other cycling meme accounts have jumped on board, furthering the #cofidisisvampires narrative arc. 

@meme_handups posits that Lachlan Morton is a vampire hunter, and his Alt Tour is a cover for a France-wide quest:

Morton’s not the only vampire hunter looking for Cofidis riders: Van Wiggins is on the case, too:

@froomesinhaler has found a picture of Cofidis’s spooky abandoned castle, and also has a big scoop involving the team’s development squad:

@chapeaubidon has created a Wikipedia page with the team’s fake (… or is it?) back story:

Both the team and its riders are relentlessly tagged in posts, and plenty – plenty – of people have been left very confused.

Team Cofidis management has played it straight so far, making no comment either in support or denial of the allegation that they are a cycling team made up of literal vampires. Guillaume Martin has, to the best of my knowledge, also failed to bite.

But Simon Geschke has addressed the issue head-on, in a paid Cameo video:

You’ll note that he denies being a vampire, and provides a reflection in a mirror as proof. But the bed headboards look vampiric as hell, and he would say that he’s not a vampire, wouldn’t he? So take that denial with as much of a pinch of salt as you like. 

Is Team Cofidis a squad of vampires? I mean, no. They’ve got a massive sun on their jersey, for starters.

But in this moment of the internet doing its absolute, ludicrous best work, isn’t it fun to pretend?

An interview with i_simp_alaphilippe

 

For background, where are you located?

As far as i_simp_alaphilippe can be said to be located anywhere, we are merely a figment of your collective imaginations, buried in the uncharted depths of the human heart and the darkest recesses of mankind’s psyche.

I can trace the #cofidisisvampires hashtag back to May – is this when you first started posting about it? 

The first use of #cofidisisvampires in the public realm, beyond the hushed whispers and secret glances exchanged between true believers, occurred in May, when Victor LaFay’s victory in Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia confirmed our suspicions that #cofidisisvampires.

What is the #cofidisisvampires ecosystem?

The group to whom you refer is known as the League of Extraordinary OC Memeurs:

  • @bryanparkmemes
  • @cruella_derailleur
  • @froomesinhaler
  • @fucksrammemes,
  • @i_simp_van_aert (the original cycling simp account)
  • @mediocrecat2
  • @meme_handups
  • @chapeaubidon
  • @shimanodior
  • @getzwifty
  • @waterbodl
  • @midpack_memes
  • @dad.watts
  • @world.famous.montrose.

We are a brother-and-sisterhood of brilliant, talented, and modest cycling memers dedicated to uncovering the truth about #cofidisisvampires and sometimes insulting Mathieu van der Poel’s fictional, yet-unborn child.

Is the origin of the meme from Tom Owen’s CyclingTips article?

The origin of #cofidisisvampires is undoubtedly centuries old and shrouded in mystery, but yes, the first recorded mention of the phenomenon in the modern era occurred in your own publication, when a traveller stumbled upon a Bed & Breakfast owned by Guillaume Martin and noticed that he did not appear to have a reflection.

I pondered on this notion for more than a year and I found more questions than answers: Had I ever seen Guillaume Martin’s reflection? Had anyone? If someone claimed to, wouldn’t they almost certainly be lying? How do I know for sure that a French cycling team is not in fact a coven of mythical monsters that descends from their macabre and melancholy castle in the depths of the night to prey upon the blood of innocent villagers?

In lieu of negative proof and reason, my only option was to reject facts and sense and indulge my imagination in its wild flights of fancy.

Guillaume Martin, on the evidence before us, is an apparent vampire. But which Cofidis team member, based on your research, leads the coven? 

I will divulge that we believe Guillaume Martin and Simon Geschke to be the elected Elders, but we have remaining questions regarding the structure of the coven and revealing what we do know could put our field agents at risk.

Which is the oldest of the Cofidis vampires?

While we are familiar with the current, publicly visible members of the team and some of their subordinates, we have not yet traced the bloodlines back to the Originals, though we are working on it.

Have you gotten an official denial from Cofidis management that the team is vampires, or is Geschke’s entirely unconvincing, vampiric Cameo performance the closest to an official acknowledgement of the meme’s existence that you’ve received? 

All we have is Simon Geschke’s clearly staged and heavily edited denial. If you look at the video, you can easily see his fangs, his cape on top of his Victorian armoire, the coffins on the ground behind the untouched beds, and the shimmer that indicates vampiric magic when he claims to show his reflection. He ends the video by drinking blood, which he claims is “cherry juice,” as if that were a thing. It is all precisely what a vampire would say – a textbook and fraudulent denial.

Cofidis’s silence speaks volumes and any official denials would be met with heavy skepticism and doubt. We need definitive proof that they are not vampires and should they provide it, we will remain adamant and steadfast in our refusal to believe it.

@meme_handups is reporting that Lachlan Morton is, in fact, a vampire hunter, and the Alt Tour is a cover for a nation-wide vampire hunt. Is Team Cofidis directly targeted, or is he pursuing the civilian vampire population?

@meme_handups is a respected member of the League of Extraordinary OC Memeurs, but I am not privy to any independent field operations they may or may not be conducting and can neither confirm or deny that both Lachlan Morton and Sir Bradley Wiggins are monitoring Cofidis’s actions and hunting vampires through the French countryside, nor can I confirm that our ultimate mission is to free these pitiable souls from their centuries of lifeless and loveless torture so they may finally find the rest they seek.

Thank you for your interest, but my time is precious and I must now re-embark upon my quest to bring the great truth of our time to light. #cofidisisvampires

Fangs for your time.

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