VeloVeritas waited until we were sure that James McCallum was displaying no symptoms of dengue fever before we caught up with him at Starbucks for a chat about his third Commonwealth Games.
'I cycled from my house in the West End of Glasgow to Larkhall, that would be around 30 miles, rode a 140 mile road race - it went away down over Beattock - won it, then cycled home - so that was around 200 miles for the day.' Things were different in Jimmy Rae's day. VeloVeritas took a run up to Crieff Hydro to interview one of the very few Scots to have won national tours - Mr. James Rae. Ours neat list of questions went out of the window and we decided it would be best to let Jimmy off the leash, year by year, popping in questions where we could...
We left our Tour of Britain 'catch up' with Evan Oliphant until after the British track champs, on the off chance that he might break the BC/Sky/100% ME grip on affairs - fat chance.
Despite a clash with the Vuelta, the Tour of Britain boasts probably it's strongest ever field. Endura Racing's Evan Oliphant is VeloVeritas man in the peloton.
From jousting with ‘Kermesse King’ Mario Willems to shelf stacking at Tesco, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster week or two for Glasgow Wheelers’ 20 year-old, Dougie Young. We caught him between shifts to give us tales of a summer spent in a land where cyclists aren’t a nuisance and bike racing doesn’t induce blank stares or shakes of the head.
Bike broken, nearly poisoned and having to face 'Kermesse King' Mario Willems four times in a week-it ain't easy when you forsake the smooth tarmac of Westferry for the hard granite sets of Flanders - but 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.' Dooley's Michael Nicholson is just back from the flatlands; he took time to tell VeloVeritas the story...
We all know everything about Armstrong, Contador and the other top names in Pro cycling, but they all had to start somewhere. A young English rider called Mike Cuming has shot from club cyclist to promising Pro in two seasons so nothing is impossible.
Dozens of SMS and emails flash up on my BlackBerry each day, most are chaff and get deleted after a quick glance — but when one comes in to tell me that ‘Michael Mørkøv excluded from the Vuelta by WADA’ that makes me take notice.
It’s been a month or two since we last spoke, and it’s nearly time for Ruaraidh McLeod to head home to land of the long white cloud - but we thought we’d best say ‘congratulations’ on his first win (and see if he’s crossed paths with those Scotsmen that are also over there in Belgium).
It's only metres from the finish in the final stage of the 2006 Vuelta a Cuba and US rider Joe Papp has it in the bag. His wife is in the cheering crowd as he begins to raise his arms in celebration - but an instant before he crosses the line there's a yellow and red haze to his right - Slovenian Borut Božič glides past the American to take his third stage win of the race.
Here at VeloVeritas we're always banging on about riders getting themselves across the North sea to Flanders, so when one actually does, such as Dougie Young, it's only right that we should pay a bit of attention.
If mountain biking is your thing, and you're not really into road bikes, how - and why - would you end up working as a mechanic for a ProTour team? We met Garmin Transisions mechanic Kris Withington recently on the Giro d'Italia, chewin' the fat at the start of Stage 12 in Citta Sant'Angelo, and so we thought it would be great to find out the answer to that question, and discover a little more about this Giro, as well as life on the road with a top professional team.
Ever-versatile Endura man, Evan Oliphant crammed just about every discipline into last weekend - criterium, Premier one day and a British grass track title. We had a word...
Team Raleigh's Dan Fleeman has set the interview up for us, and we're sitting in the "Hotel Anonymous" in Walsall. A dapper, trim figure in blazer and slacks bounds up the stairs; it takes a moment to register - it's our man, Grant Thomas.
For 2009, our 'Kiwi discovery' was Jack Bauer - who will it be this year? Clinton Avery ? Or this man, who has a great Scottish name, but is also from the land of the long white cloud; Ruaraidh McLeod.
"The 'Rutland' is a bit of lottery!" That's what many riders say; but not 2010 winner Michael Berling. He's been top four three times in the last three years - we thought we best have a word with the man VeloVeritas works for every year at the Six Days of Copenhagen.
VeloVeritas caught up with our man in France Tom Copeland recently, who's glad to be back racing after delaying the start of his season.
A third place in last Sunday's Drummond Trophy alerted us to 18 year old Robert Hassan's form, so we thought we better have a word. His dad introduced him to cycling five years ago, initially mountain biking, and has mentored him ever since then, with Robert getting more into the road scene as he turned Junior a couple of years ago...
The 2010 edition of the Drummond Trophy saw Endura's domination of the domestic road racing scene march on with a 1-2 for Evan Oliphant and James McCallum; and only a determined Robert Hassan kept Ross Creber off the podium and prevented an Endura whitewash.
‘Burrows, le Pantani Anglais,’ said the French papers - when VeloVeritas saw that le Plateau de Beille climb was to be included in the 2011 Tour route we decided we had to have a word about it with the man who once held the record for the tough 10 mile ascent. Jamie Burrow was rated number one under-23 rider in the world, he turned pro for US Postal and despite some very promising rides in the pro ranks he never scaled the heights expected of him.
Tour Doon Hame final stage winner, Endura's New Zealand National Elite Road Champion, Jack Bauer took time, just a few hours after his win, to tell VeloVeritas how it was done.
hatever happened to Sean Newington?' says me to Vik. The next day, Vik's back on the phone: 'he's in Belgium - I saw his name in the results.' Time for that detective work!
Junior racing isn't exactly flourishing in Scotland, so it's good to see one of the youngsters getting a bit of the limelight - 17 year old Finlay Young took the honours in the Jack Murray road race at Dunfermline over the weekend.
When Cofidis slid from Pro Tour to Pro Continental, they shed a few riders; it looked like it was the end of his pro career for Alex Blain. Enter Brian Smith and Endura - followed by some strong performances from the man from the South. He spoke exclusively to VeloVeritas after his excellent ride in the Tour of Murcia.
We make no apology for featuring Endura Racing again - they're out there, getting on with the business of pro bike racing. The Tour of the Med, Haut Var, Murcia and now - Singapore. We caught up with former British criterium champion and reigning British omnium champion, James McCallum to get the low down on one of the richest crits around - (he was on the way to the supermarket when we spoke to him, but don't tell anyone, those glam pros aren't supposed do the 'trolley thing.')
We spoke to Dan Patten a couple of times last year, when he was a member of the Magnus Maximus team. This year, he's off in search of cobbles, riding for a famous name - ASFRA-Flanders, the team started by the late and sadly missed, Frans Assez.
Our man in the peloton - Endura's Evan Oliphant - took us through the rigours of The Med and Haut Var. Murcia may have been no cake walk but it had a happy ending for Endura - taking the sprints jersey and numerous top ten finishes. Here's what Wick's finest had to say...
Viktor calls; 'there's an English boy - James Spragg - riding the Three days of West Flanders - he rode the Samyn too - you should find out about him.' For sure, Vik!
The first Super Six of the year was held at Gifford on Saturday, to our shame, VeloVeritas were not in attendance. But we've tried to make amends by interviewing third placed Rab Wardell.
"Goodie bag!" I'm not used to "freebies;" by the time Dave or Martin and I stumble into the press room, all the goodies have gone - but we have the best sun tans. However, when Jim McFarlane mentioned "goodie bag" I was out to Livingston like a ferret. It seemed like a shame to waste a trip to Endura and not interview the main man. The timing was perfect, Jim was just back from seeing his boys in action at Haut Var.
Two years ago, Ross Creber was a mountain biker, last year he won the Scottish road race championship. And this year he's part of Endura Racing's continental adventure; he rode the savage Tour of the Mediterranean, sat out Haut Var but will back behind the oars, ankle chains and all, for the Tour of Murcia.
Down in the South of France it was AG2R and F des J reminding us that the French teams work hard in the winter, too at Haut Var. Long term 2009 Tour yellow jersey wearer, Rinaldo Nocentini took stage one and the man with the lucky four leaf clovers on his tricot, Christophe Le Mevel took stage two and the GC.
Tour of the Med Stages one and two were a whirlwind of snow, wind, attacks from the gun, echelons and pain - but the inner chain rings enjoyed the rest! Were days three, four and five any easier? VeloVeritas' man in the peloton, Endura Racing's Evan Oliphant was there 'til the bitter end.
The Tour of the Med, a nice way to ease into the season; a big bunch floating along under early sunshine with a bunch sprint at the end? Not quite! How about 95 K in 1:45 with the peloton ripped apart from the gun and conditions so cold that the contents of your bottle are frozen solid in five minutes?
My buddy, John Hardie is a 65 time Scottish grass track champion; his hero 'back in the day' was Danny Clark. When he heard that 'Six Day King' Danny Clark and me were breakfasting together at Copenhagen, it wasn't long before the email arrived with the questions he wanted me to ask the great man.
For once, Adam Hansen isn't burning up the tar at the Aussie champs, he's off shore in the Med, getting ready to try and help HTC-Columbia top a remarkable 2009 season. Worried that he may be getting bored, VeloVeritas flashed him 20 questions - here's what the big man had to say...
Ex-British Criterium Champion and Commonwealth Games track medalist James McCallum has recently returned from a few months racing and resting in the antipodes, and is looking forward to getting stuck into the new season with his re-vamped Endura Racing team. We met James for a good old chinwag this week over lunch: he turned up at the restaurant looking hungry, and with a huge Endura team bag over his shoulder...
It was Vik (who else?) first spotted the man; 'there's a New Zealand rider winning a lot of races for Kingsnorth Wheelers in Flanders just now, you should get hold of him!' he told me, last summer. We duly tracked down Jack Bauer and have been keeping an eye on him and talking to him, ever since.
John Lee Augustyn is probably best known outside of the African continent for his head-first lunge down the scree slopes of the Col de la Bonette-Restefond descent to Jausiers in the Tour de France a couple of years ago, and this after leading the race over it's summit in glorious solitude - only Frederico Bahamontes and Robert Millar share that particular accolade. Last season was difficult for John Lee, but now though, things look like they're going to change for the 23 year old, and we recently chatted to him to find out more...
Viktor calls; "That home page on the site hasn't changed for days. There's a Scottish pro called Alex Coutts out training in Spain, trying to get ready for the season, why aren't you talking to him?" Just one of the things that bugs about Vik, is that he's actually right a lot of the time!
Oh no! Not another drugs article! Yes, but this one is positive - ah, no, not that kind of a 'positive!' Dan Fleeman texted me the other day to tell me that he'll be getting a bit of an airing on the Bike Pure site, due to his decision to continue with UCI Biological Passport level blood testing with Raleigh - at his own expense.
Joe Papp is one of the very few riders to admit, face up to and openly discuss the fact he failed a drugs test. Like most folks, we're sick of the drugs scandals, but then the Tom Zirbel situation pops up and we to have accept that it's still a problem and we need to understand it better. Here's what Joe had to say - and it's scary!
Last year at this time, life was ice cream and fairies for Dan Fleeman; he'd won the Tour of the Pyrenees; Cervelo Test Team had snapped him up and a start in a Grand Tour looked like a formality. But pro cycling is an unforgiving sport, and 2009 didn't go according to the script for the likeable man from Lichfield.
We didn't make the Scottish cyclo cross champs, this year; new house for Martin; major drive to accumulate Brownie points for me - those pictures of Big Wendy from Gent make it hard to plead; 'it was hell out there!' Anyway, congratulations to new champion, 17 year-old junior, Kenta Gallagher (Scott UK) who took the senior title; we thought the man deserved to be interviewed.
Peter Jacques used to be the track judges nitemare; but he's mellowed with age and is now easing open - rather than breaking down - the door on a management and promotion career. We heard there were a few commissaires went for a celebratory beer when you quit, Pete?
He started making shorts on the kitchen table, his suppliers used to manufacture his products inside out; but he's just recruited double world champion, 'Big Bob' Hayles to ride for and manage his UCI Continental team - things have come a long way for Jim McFarlane!
The cheer from the cabin next door to ours - below the Grenoble velodrome - told us that the result Flanders had been holding it's breath for, had arrived. Belgium's number one Six Day man, Iljo Keisse's 'positif' in the 2008 Gent six day race has been dismissed on the grounds of 'insufficient evidence.' "Cathine was not found in the 'B' sample and HCT was there in quantities so small as to have no effect on performance."
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.
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.
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..