Archive for October, 2009
It’s 3:00 pm on Saturday and time for my ‘pression’ – draught beer – at Bar Clemenceau, I coincide this with a trip to the shops, so as not to arouse too much suspicion.
The weather is glorious, despite the carpet of leaves on many of the side walks, it’s like a Scottish summer day. Shorts are fine – essential in the heat of the velodrome – in the sunshine and the frantic Grenoble traffic is on valium for the day.
As the first Briton to win 3 Olympic golds at the same Games since 1908, Scotland’s Chris Hoy has become a beacon for British sporting achievement.
This autobiography charts his life from 7-year-old BMX fanatic, supported by a devoted dad and local cycling club, through paralysing self-doubt and a major career overhaul, to the sport’s holy grail.
I’m sitting beside the track, it’s nearly 3:00 pm and last night seems like a long time ago.
Gianni Meersman and Iljo Keisse are up training, they rattle past every 20 seconds – legs have to be kept loose.
The soigneurs and mechanics were all hovering round the stadium gate at 10:00 am, yesterday – like drinkers round the door of Fallin Miners Welfare on a Sunday fore noon.
“A week is a long time in politics,” said Harold Wilson – even longer at the wheel of a Transit; still, I’m sure that my column in L’Equipe isn’t far away, now. Lombardia was great, I love that race, and Milan – San Remo too; do yourself a favour, go and see them – you’ll thank me. However, all is not well up in the land of mountains and lakes.
Milano is apparently mightily pee-ed off by the ‘strike’ in the Giro, when the riders went on a go slow because of the ‘dangerous circuit’ – but the organisers couldn’t help but notice that despite the ‘dangers,’ the peloton raced the last few laps, for the stage win.
Franco Marvulli, twice world madison and scratch champion, four times winner of the Grenoble six and a winner of 25 sixes in total; Jens-Erik Madsen, world team pursuit champion; Luke Roberts, multiple world team pursuit champion; Iljo Keisse, kermesse star and winner of 11 six days; Leon Van Bon, twice Dutch pro road champion and a Tour and Vuelta stage winner – that’s not a bad list for starters.
But I wouldn’t fancy being one of the humble home boys being tee-ed up for mega brutalisation.
Cervelo’s Dan Fleeman left it late to take his first win of the year; but it took him just 3 minutes 18 seconds to convert late season road form to victory in the most specialist and punishing of races-the British Hill Climb Championship, on the 1100 metre Pea Royd Lane climb near Sheffield, England on Sunday.
Against a field of specialist climbers, whose whole season centres around a few weekends in October, Fleeman was in a class of his own-relegating last year’s champion Matt Clinton into second spot by a yawning margin of 14 seconds.
A couple of months have passed since we first spoke to Tom Copeland, who’s living and racing with the French Team Champions, Bic2000, in the Finistère region of Brittany, so we thought we’d get in touch with him and bring ourselves up-to-speed with what’s been happening.
Ronnie Boa was a God like figure, when I was a 16 year-old with Kirkcaldy and District CC.
He would come out at the start of the season and dominate – hilly time trials, road races, APR’s, two-ups and even a stage in the Girvan.
He was red hot favourite for the 25 title after banging out winning 58′s at Stirling on a track iron; but on race morning he was a DNS, leaving the way clear for Drew Brunton to take the title.
If you’re really serious about being a bike racing fan, you have to go and see the five ‘Monuments:’ Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour of Lombardy. You can get Ryanair punishment flights to airports which are convenient for all of these races; use Care Hire 3000 and the Peter Venere website to get cheapo hotels.
I can do my best to take you there, but the first time you see Lake Como, the view from the Ghisallo or cram into a little caff with 50 Italians to watch the finale live on TV – I don’t have the descriptive powers; it’s special, and worth the effort.
Ciao! Five K from Como, 14:42 on Friday. It’s 13.5 degrees on the car computer but feels much warmer in the Lombardian sun.
Dave’s at the helm, we’ve been fed and I’ve got the Gazzetta on my lap – I’m having a “Giro flashback!”
“Domani favoriti Evans e Cunego,” says the Gazzetta.
“It’s cycling Jim, but not as we know it!” The presentation of the Tour de France route is something we used to read about in the mags and not really think twice about. We’d see the route in the Comic and have a blether about it, but maybe not think too much about it until Tour time.
Now, there’s a fleet of satellite TV vehicles outside the Palais de Congres and the event is beamed ‘live and direct’ around the globe.
We interviewed Joe Parkin recently as part of our “Racing in Belgium” series. Joe has written a great book about his experiences entitled “A Dog in a Hat”, and is busy writing his second.
In case we’ve inspired any of you to head over to “the Heartland” and give kermis racing a go, we thought we’d present Joe’s startline checklist…
“RIP VDB” said the text from John Stollery, waiting for me, when I woke up; there were others too, from Dave and Stevie all expressing sadness – for all his faults, he was a hard man to dislike.
He was just 34, cause of death is cited as a ‘blood clot.’
The trouble with Richard Virenque was, that if he was seven times King of the Mountains; he was at least eight times King of the Erses.
The Festina scandal, that mouth of his, his idiotic tactics – all conspired against him.
This meant that when he pulled off a genuine exploit, the journos and slaggers wrote it off as a fluke or; ‘he’ll be on new stuff!’…
There were some great rides in the World Elite time trial championships; the trouble was that Fabian’s towering performance over shadowed everything.
Take the man in 11th spot – Dave McCann of Ireland, no sponsor, no state of the art bike but a solid performance that saw him in the ‘hot seat’ area for a large part of that sunny afternoon in Mendrisio.
But that’s only part of the story…