cycling matters


The VV View: the Tour de Trossachs, the Comic, and oh, Sammy!

The Tour de Trossachs: when the alarm blasts at 06:30 on a Sunday morning the question is; ‘do I really have to go all the way to Aberfoyle?’

But once you’re breathing that sweet fern scented air on The Duke’s Pass then driving along lovely Loch Achray side you remember why you love this race.

Tour de Trossachs

The Tour de Trossachs,  one of the few races with a genuine historical relevance. Photo©Martin Williamson

Great history, wonderful scenery, a course which challenges your abilities as a bike rider.

So why do entries drop every year?

Perhaps because you can’t curl up in a ball and never leave that position as you look at your power meter for 21/55 minutes on nice flat dual carriageway?

But where did all the roadmen go?

It has to be faced up to that despite John Archibald’s stellar ‘10’ and ‘25’ records, Scottish time trialling isn’t in the best of health.

Fields are largely made up of veterans, junior entries are scant and this year there was no ‘50’ championship, ‘100’ championship and consequently no Scottish BAR.

We all know the reasons – road works, vehicle’s breaking down on the course, weather...

But the bottom line is – three championships lost.

In all the years I’ve followed the sport I can’t remember a single RTTC/CTT championship being cancelled.

Perhaps it’s time for a ‘B’ course to be nominated for championships?

So in the event of any of the aforementioned unforeseen circumstances another course can be used?

Or perhaps bringing the ‘50’ and ‘100’ champs forward to give more ‘wriggle room?’

As VeloVeritas soothsayer, Viktor would have it; ‘are there only 50 miles of useable road in the whole of Scotland?

Tour de Trossachs

Charlie Tanfield. Photo©Ed Hood

But good to see Glasgow making the headlines with Charlie Tanfield’s superfast pursuit ride – a full page-and-a-half in Cycling Weekly, no less.

Kenny Steele deserves plaudits for staging the event, hopefully Tanfield’s time means that the more riders will wish to take advantage of the speed in those boards at future meetings?

And that’ll draw more spectators?

Tour de TrossachsBut on the subject of aforementioned Cycling Weekly, is it just me or is it getting worse by the week?

If you’re into cycling history, the ‘Comics’ from my youth are a valuable resource for results, photography, comment and interviews.

Not now, but I guess they have to survive in a cycling landscapes where sportives, reviews of expensive kit and ‘training advice’ dominate magazine pages.

Cycling Weekly’s sister, race oriented mag, ‘Cycle Sport’ didn’t fold for nothing; the Weekly’s circulation has dropped by 3,000 in recent years from 27,000 to 24,000.

None of my racing fraternity friends buy it anymore; the publishers are banking on the new sportive/Rapha/Strava/Zwift crowd picking the mag up – but there are so many cycling publications on the racks now.

All with covers which replicate that of the US ‘Bicyling’ magazine from the 80’s – tanned, cut, attractive – possibly bearded - individuals smiling their way out from the cover with not a drop of snot in sight and usually wearing socks that could induce a fit in Viktor.

Tour de Trossachs

Brian Holm. We've heard him being described as "a cross between a wookie and a U-boat commander". Photo©Ed Hood

Guest columnist in the weekly is QuickStep DS, Brian Holm who we are told is a ‘style icon.’

Holm is at length to explain that Vlaanderen manager Walter Planckaert is behind the times by banning beards because beards attract; ‘hipsters, or your Rapha-type cyclists.’

Right, Brian...

This is the man who, when joining a new pro team chided the mechanic because his new bike had an 11 cm handlebar extension.

The mechanic tried to explain that the new bike had a longer top tube than his old machine so he had fitted a shorter stem, Holm was unmoved; ‘men ride 13 cm stems,’ was the riposte.

Tour de Trossachs

Nibali takes a great win at Lombardia. Photo©Yuzuru Sunada/AP

Let’s talk racing.

You’ll have seen Vincenzo Nibali’s beautiful win in the Lombardia?

The 89th U23 version, the ‘Piccolo Giro di Lombardia’ was won by Russia’s Aleksandr Riabushenko of Team Pala Fenice.

Interesting’ I hear you say but, ‘so what? 

The race is one of the most important U23 races in the world and Team Wiggins were invited but didn’t go.

However, they did go all the way to Hong Kong for the, ‘Cyclethon’ – all expenses paid.

The word ‘respect,’ or lack thereof comes to mind.

And there’s no truth in the rumour the team is toiling financially...

Tour de Trossachs

Samuel Sanchez took gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Photo©Carl de Souza/AFP

Our rants have been relatively ‘kit free’ of late, thank God so it was very sad to see Sammy Sanchez ‘done,’ last week.

A great career and very much a mentor to his young team mates, BMC’s Silvan Dillier told me;

"He’s a really big champion, he has so much experience and is very good at motivating you – a nice word from him at just the right time is such a boost to your morale.

"He always stays calm; you know that if you follow him then everything will be OK."

Like I said, a sad end to his great career.

And whilst we’re on kitting, I came across an old ‘Esquire’ magazine t’other day from July 2003.

Under the heading of, ‘Man at his Best’ we have a piece by Tim Moore – author of French Revolutions - on a man who is challenging for the fifth of his NO Tour de France wins.

Yes, the man from Plano.

"He took his bike on honeymoon and timed his wife’s pregnancy so as not to interfere with the Tour."

What a guy!

"Armstrong either doesn’t feel pain or is so used to pain that it’s been downgraded to a slightly irksome distraction."

When you read that sort of drivel, which we all initially – me included – lapped up, it’s little wonder that Chris Froome tends to keep it bland and uncontroversial.

But on the other side of that coin is the fact that when riders go from hanging on the back of the peloton to winning the Tour or from relative anonymity in a short space of time they have to be prepared for the public to cast their minds back to Lance and his ‘Clockwork soldiers.’

See you at the hill climb champs?



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