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..
It's not often that the Comic [Cycling Weekly magazine - editor] inspires me, these days-they don't care, they get my subscription cash-but when I saw the 'minute with' ex Lance team mate and Fondo star Jamie Burrow, I thought; "there's a man I've been stalking, I need to get a grip of him!" His win this year in the Maratona delle Dolomiti was big news in Italia. Here's what he had to say...
Brian Smith has been helping put the 2010 Endura Racing squad together - we spoke to him yesterday and here's what he had to say.
Cervelo's Dan Fleeman first came to our attention when he won the 2008 Tour of the Pyrenees; we've kept in touch with the 26 year-old Englishman ever since; through Langkawi, Paris-Nice and into the Ardennes classics.
Adam Hansen was just off the massage table when we caught up with him on Tuesday evening, we couldn't talk during massage because the masseur is a; "full on techno anthems, trance guy,"-just like Davie Urquhart, then? (Just joking, Davie!)
VeloVeritas first met Kiwi Tim Gudsell (Francaise des Jeux) at Ghent Wevelgem, back in the spring; he was on the way back from a bad crash in the Tour Down Under-six months later he's much further south, the hills are a lot bigger and it's much warmer as we spoke to him after the Vuelta's second mountain stage.
Christian Meier (Canada & Garmin) is a man for his stats. Monday's mountain stage breaks down like this: 4,600 metre of climbing, 5,000 kilo joules expended, that's the equivalent of 5,400 calories - that's one hard day at the office.
It was a sad day today for VeloVeritas' newly married editor Martin; he had to go back to his day job-and on the rest day! Life just isn't fair! Meanwhile we caught up with Columbia's ex Aussie Elite TT champion and twice podium finisher in the Aussie Elite road race champs, Adam Hansen, to get the story so far as the Vuelta eventually returns home.
"A Dog in a Hat," has to be one of the best books about pro cycling ever written. Author Joe Parkin took some time to talk to VeloVeritas about life, bike racing, his next book-yes, and Lance!
Here at VeloVeritas, we encourage you to submit your race results and stories to us, and young Tom Copeland recently did just that.
"Ed! All this Tour de France nonsense - you should be talking to Mario Willems, he's the top man in the Flanders kermis' right now!"
VeloVeritas missed the 100 Champs again-we're not men enough to disappear to the Tour for two weekends then vanish to Invergordon at 04:00 the first Sunday we're back.
Michael Nicholson's (Dooleys) first '50' was a 1:51 and it took him to the Scottish title on a wind swept Saturday night along the banks of the Cromarty Firth. We thought we'd better have a word with the man.
Continuing our series about racing in Belgium, we had a chat with Tom Murray last week, who is back racing on the continent after the Plowman Craven Madison team ceased operations.
Scottish bike racing; let's face it, no matter how well you do in the Super Sixes, or how quick you can go around West Ferry, you're going nowhere if you stay in Auld Scotia.
This is the first in a series of articles in which we explore racing in Belgium, and chat to a few guys that "have done it the hard way", outside of "The Plan", and on their own. To kick us off, we caught up with Rapha Condor star Dean Downing between Tour Series criteriums.
It's not everyday that we have the African champion racing on Scottish roads so when we met Dan Craven of Rapha/Condor after his fine third place at the recent Drummond Trophy, we thought we'd better make the most of it.
What's happening at Plowman Craven, but I guess we should say 'Madison', now? With Scots professionals Evan Oliphant and Ross Creber on their books, we thought we'd best find out what's going on.
Giro or not, we had to do our final catch up with a man who doesn't just talk about racing - he's in the saddle, jousting with old war horses like Kirsipuu and Eeckhout; Rab Wardell. As we approached the Monte Petrano climb, yesterday I caught up with Rab, back in the Old Country, via the wonders of digital technology.
We last spoke to our two men inside the Ras after stage three on Tuesday evening; with the toughest stage of the race to come the next day. It was Friday when we spoke again; we hadn't had a chance to check the results for the day, so that was our first question.
Whilst the world goes 'Giro crazy,' other races that don't involve pink jerseys go on their way without Lance and all the hype-the FDB Insurance Rás is one of them. When Viktor and I heard that Nico Eeckhout, Jaan Kirsipuu and Bert Roesems were riding, we nearly hopped the ferry to Ireland there and then.
"Do you remember the James Cambridge boy we were talking to at that kermesse in Sersekamp, four or five years ago?" says Viktor. "Red Specialized, great tan, pro's legs and a cool Craft under vest?" I reply.
It's not every day that a GB rider wins a Netherlands amateur classic; but that's exactly what 19 year-old Welshman Luke Rowe did recently in De 'arjaan De Schipper Trofee'-to give it the full Dutch treatment - a race won by a certain Fabian Cancellara, a few years ago.
In our Girvan interviews with Evan Oliphant, Gary Hand and James McCallum, we mistakenly referred to Callum Wilkinson as 'best Scot at Girvan,'-we got that one wrong! We thought we'd best set things to rights with the man who actually was, 'best Scot at Girvan'-26 year-old Gareth Montgomerie of the Sigmasport-Specialized-Sportful Cycling Team.
Girvan; who's ridden it most times? Squadra Via Manzini-Race Tool rider, Paul Coats must be in the running with 13, or is it 14 starts? Paul's not as young as he used to be at 39, so we'll forgive him the memory lapse. We caught up with him recently, to get his Girvan memories...
Martin: "Here! Ed! Shouldn't we be doing a piece about the World Track Champs?" Ed: "They've never been the same since Daniel Morelon retired and Hughie Porter had that crash, then they ditched the big motors and..." Martin: "Hold on - go and speak to Craig Maclean!" Ed: "Aye, right, he'll know a bit, being an ex-world champ and all..."
Kristian House (Rapha Condor & GB) is one of those riders who 'looks the part,' dark skinned and stylish, he just looks like he can win races. When we heard about him riding very strongly in the pre season Bay Criterium Series in Australia, we thought we'd better 'have a word.'
Amore & Vita, the sunshine and glamour of the Italian pro scene; scorching Australian road race championships; Girvan on a cold April Monday afternoon - Tom Southam has seen it all. We caught up with the man with esoteric musical taste on a cold February afternoon-after he'd just done three hours.
The "Chris Hoy effect," is Scottish Cycling capitalising on it? We decided to speak to British Cycling's new Olympic talent scout for Scotland, Mark McKay.
He seems to have been part of the continental professional scene forever; but all good things must come to an end and Garmin & Sweden (or is it Wales?) strong man Magnus Backstedt has decided it's time to come out of the 11 sprocket for good. Magnus's retiral from top line racing was recently announced by his manager, friend and business partner, Martin McCrossan.
In the 70's, very few British riders graced the Euro peloton; this year there are four just with Cervélo alone. VeloVeritas caught up with the latest young Briton to cross the channel, Southend's Daniel Patten, who has signed with Martin McCrossan and Magnus Backsted's Team Cyclesport.se -MagnusMaximusCoffee.com for season 2009.
It's been a long time coming, but the Vikings from the north are finally starting their comeback tour of the World! Team Cyclesport.se is the brain child of Dennis Nystrand who has worked tirelessly for five years to bring Sweden its first professional team of the modern era, and to do so he's enlisted the help of UK based sports management company Sprocket Promotions to bring in some sponsors, which lead ultimately to a new partnership with Sprocket owner Martin McCrossan.
He's a part of triathlon history and has contributed back to the sport he loves in many ways. Frank Day is the inventor of PowerCranks, one of the most effective ways to improve your cycling efficiency, with dividends paid off in the form of faster cycling and running times.