In winning the Tour of Thailand, Alex Coutts joined an elite club - British riders who have won an overseas national tour. A couple from the memory banks are: in 1965 Vin Denson won the Tour of Luxembourg and in 1988 the hugely under-rated Cayn Theakston won an epic 19 stage Tour of Portugal - but there aren't many more. We caught up with Alex, just after the Scottish hill climb championship.
We've been stalking him since Beijing; and at last, we've cracked him - Chris Hoy, Olympic gold medallist in the team sprint, keirin and individual sprint. We've heard that he now retains Max Clifford, "PR guru to the stars," as his agent, so we decided we'd better check out the financial aspect of the interview, first.
Hamish Haynes is one of British cycling's 'forgotten men.' Whilst Cycling Weekly tells us about the successes of the U23 Academy riders in Italy, ex-British Elite Champion Hamish just gets on with the job, competing against some of the best riders in Belgium week in and week out. His recent win in the prestigous Reningelst event went unrecorded. Pete Slater at SIS has been helping Hamish with nutrition this year - no 'freebees' though, even Daniel Bennati pays for his 'Go bars' - we thought it would be a good topic to discuss with a man who regularly pushes his body to it's limits.
How do you become a pro? If you’re lucky enough to have some talent and you’re born in England, then you might just end up taking the same road as 20 year-old Ben Swift; he’s won three U23 ‘biggies’ in Italy this season, so we thought we better have a word.
Nine World and Eight Olympic titles; that's Team GB's haul for 2008 - so far, that is. That kind of excellence doesn't 'just happen,' who's behind it? The GB head coach is Aussie, Shane Sutton - he was still in Beijing the day after his squad's triumphant campaign ended, when we spoke to him.
"Cheers Ed! In pub at Evanton and had a few. Brought up touring bikes and off to Ullapool then Hebrides for a week. Reception poor but give it a try..." That was Jim Cusick's (Glasgow Couriers) reply to our congratulatory text message and interview request after he had just won his first 100 mile title on the familiar roads (if you're involved in Scottish testing) around the Cromarty Firth.
Craig Maclean has nine golds and two silvers. That's what Team GB took away from the Manchester World Track Championships, back in April. A repeat performance in Beijing is entirely possible. How does British Cycling do it? One of the reasons is that their selection criteria is ruthless; past glory counts for nothing.
Eufemiano Fuentes, Jesus Manzano, Operaciõn Puerto, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador... and now Manuel Beltran. All Spanish, all hot topics - but what's the buzz in España? We turned to VeloVeritas Iberian correspondent Al Hamilton for the low down, and asked him some questions on just what the current Spanish perspective is.
Scottish rider, Alex Coutts, who is a regular interviewee on VeloVeritas, has been riding in Asia this season for the Giant Asia Race Team; it's now been five months since his season started in the Tour of Langkawi. As "The Burntisland Buzzard" is training again in Spain for a hard six week period of racing in China, Japan and Korea, we thought it was about time we got an up-date on life competing in the UCI Asia Tour circuit.
Evan Oliphant isn't the only Scotsman who's been winning races in the US of A. - up-and-coming under 16 rider, Patrick Galbraith recently scored a criterium win in Rocky Balboa's home town - Philadelphia (what do you mean "it's just a movie!?)...
VeloVeritas caught up with Evan Oliphant recently to chat about his and his team's very successful racing trip to the states, here's what Ev had to say about it.
Nine gold medals at the Worlds for Team GB - wow! So, the rest of the World will be happy to compete for silvers at Beijing? Hardly! One man who'll be doing his best to deny Bradley Wiggins two gold medals in China is Denmark's Michael Mørkøv. He took bronze in the Madison at Manchester, last month partnered by compatriot and former world scratch champion, Alex Rasmussen.
We've previewed Saturday's second round of the Super 6 here, so we thought we'd better have a word with the Series leader, Gary Hand of Pedal Power.
He's won the World Kilometre Championship four times, the World Team Sprint Championship twice, the World Keirin Championship twice, and now he's completed an unequalled sprinters' "quadruple" by winning the World Individual Sprint Championship...Oh - and he's the reigning Olympic Kilometre Champion as well! He's Scotland's Chris Hoy, and after we'd told him how proud we are of him, he took time to answer our questions.
John Herety has won a Peace Race stage, French amateur classics, the British pro road champs and was robbed of the GP Pino Cerami-the judges gave it to local hero Rony van Holen-but photos later showed that the Englishman's wheel was first across the line. Now he's passing all that experience on to a new generation through his role as team manager of London squad Rapha-Condor Recycling, who are north of the border to recce the hills, gravel, rain, wind farms and sheep that are-Girvan.
It would have been his 13th Worlds; but for the first time since 1996 there will be no one from Granton-on-Spey on the British track team, when the series kick off in Manchester in a week-or-so. VeloVeritas caught up with Craig Maclean on the day 'The Guardian' told us that he won't be pulling on a GB 'speed suit' for the team or individual sprints.
Wick's Evan Oliphant carried on for his Plowman Craven team where Tony Gibb left off at last week's Eddie Soens' Memorial Race, by winning the second stage of the Bikeline two day in North Wales yesterday, and finishing up the two-day race in second overall today. The man in pink and blue won the stage yesterday despite the presence of three of the Rapha team in the finale. VeloVeritas spoke to Evan shortly after his win, and again today once the race was finished.
So, was Lance's bike nobbled in the 2003 Tour? I'm referring to the rubbing rear brake story... "Media hype, the calliper was probably bumped against a wall or another bike on the way to the start." When the man telling you this is one of Big Tex's mechanics and a no-nonsense Nottingham man to boot you cannot argue. Eh - a Nottingham man? You thought that Lance's personal mechanic was Belgian? Only for Le Tour - the rest of the season Lance's Trek is cared for by the USPS team of mechanics under the leadership of Julien de Vries.
'Scottish Aussie,' Paul Rowney (Velo Ecosse) rode Sunday's British Elite Cyclo-Cross Championship; we caught up with him [hands"“free, of course] as he chased the cat's eyes north after the race.
Every year I write a route preview of the up and coming Vuelta a España, normally I talk to the locals in my village and last year I had the input of Alex Coutts (Babes Only-Flanders) and David Harrigan (DFL). This year I managed to enlist the help of ex-pro, Fabian Jeker, and we spoke about next year's Vuelta - but as these things often go, we spoke at length on many other topics: life; cycling; Festina; and the future.
You're the Olympic kilometre champion, but the 'powers that be' decide to remove the event from the programme at the next Olympics-what do you do? If you're Chris Hoy, you go out and transform yourself into the best keirin rider in the world!
Its not every day you get the chance to talk to a Tour de France winner, so when I received the invitation from Team Astana's press office to spend some time with Alberto Contador, I jumped at it. It meant an early rise and a couple of hours drive, but it was well worth it to see a Pro-Tour team at work and hear what the top man had to say.
The 2006 season was a great one for James McCallum; it's not every year you win a Commonwealth Games medal. It seemed like it would take a lot to top 2006; how does the 2007 British Criterium Championships and the most glamorous crit in Britain sound?
An Aussie winning Scottish cyclo crosses; what's that all about? VeloVeritas went walk-about and tracked him down for a billy-can of tea beside the billabong.
Back in the UK, to win the British Cycling time trial championships, David Millar took time out of his busy schedule to speak to VeloVeritas, and discuss his ambitions and his move to a new team.
Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles), who successfully defended his Scottish 12 title and narrowly missed breaking his own record for the event last Sunday, on the roads near Invergordon explains; 'I was catching Carlos on that long leg out to Portmahomack, but I was feeling terrible, I had a macaroon bar and the bad patch passed quickly!' Sadly, it was an Asda macaroon bar and not the authentic Lees item, if it had been, then maybe the record would have been his?
One good thing to come out of the washed-out British Madison championship at Meadowbank over the weekend was that there was plenty of time for VeloVeritas to talk to one of Britain's best roadmen, Dean Downing. The 32 year-old from Rotherham had originally intended to kill two birds with one stone; ride the champs and show his fiancee the sights of Edinburgh. The way it worked out, his fiancee had a wedding dress fitting and the race was rained-off. Never mind, he got to talk to us instead.
It was a good week for Scottish cycling, in the same week that David Millar (Saunier Duval) won the British elite road race title; at the other end of the spectrum, 14 year-old Patrick Galbraith took two stage wins and the overall win in Eire's Kerry Youth Tour. The Kerry Youth Tour is one of the largest events of its kind in the world; comprising four stages over three days - two road races, a circuit race and a time trial.
With Robbie winning the first stage of the Tour today into Canterbury, we dug out an interview from the recent Giro with the woman behind his shoes! Whilst running-down another set of camera batteries, taking endless pictures of time trial bikes before the stage one ttt at the Giro, VeloVeritas bumped into the lovely Rosella Signora of Sidi.
VeloVeritas got an opportunity to chat with Iban Mayo at the Saunier Duval team launch in Estepona in January this year. It's interesting to publish it now, on the eve of the Tour after Iban won a stage of the Giro. It was after 10.00pm when I finally got time with Iban. He was patient and polite; but he doesn't speak French, English or Italian - just Spanish (or rather Castille, as the Basques would have it), and Basque, naturally.
"I knew that if I was second or third round the last corner then nobody would beat me." And so it proved, as James McCallum added British Criterium Championship gold to Commonwealth Games points bronze, last night in Otley. VeloVeritas spoke to James just hours after his win.
It's been a while since we spoke to our friendly Scottish Pro Evan Oliphant, so we figured this was a good time to get a progress report for the season so far, how life is treating him in Belgium and the setup in the new DFL team.
It was too good an opportunity to miss - Viktor with his pils; me with my Diet Coke; Ghent-Wevelgem and De Panne winner, Nico Mattan with his Carlsberg. I was interviewing Nico thanks to his DFL team mate, Evan Oliphant, who set the meeting up.
We mentioned the other day that Craig Geater is now working for the Discovery team, but before that he was a spannerman for Riis' CSC outfit, and it somehow seemed fitting to now publish our interesting interview with him from that period.
The last few seasons have seen few youths or juniors names grace the start sheets in Scotland, but 2006 saw a few of those 'green shoots of recovery' the politicians tell us about. The man charged with nurturing the crop is Gary Willis, so VeloVeritas decided we should ask him some questions. First off, we spoke a little about the job itself.
We caught up with Scottish professional Evan Oliphant shortly after he returned from a winter spent racing in Australia, and just prior to his new DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team's official launch in Holland.
It's Leicester's Saffron Lane velodrome, August 1974. The newly crowned British 20 kilometre champion, Maurice Burton waves his bouquet. Sections of the crowd are booing. Is it because the champion rode a tactical race, not killing himself in the winning break, conserving his sprint? Perhaps, but Burton has just made history, he is Britain's first black senior champion.
It's just under two weeks now until the 2007 European season starts with the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise in the south of France on February 6th. The first major tests come a few weeks later though, on the first weekend in March, far from the Mediterranean, to the north, in Flanders. Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are true classics in all but UCI category, albeit shorter than the Tour of Flanders with which they share many kilometres of parcours.
After a year at DFL, 23 year-old Scottish professional Alex Coutts from Gorebridge, has renewed old sponsorship links with Flemish bike concern, Flanders. We caught-up with him recently at mentor John Anderson's Edinburgh shop, the Bicycleworks. Coutts was just back from a training trip to Spain and is already looking like he is ready for action.
Here’s a question for you; “How many British riders have won a three-week continental stage race?” Here’s a clue: the answer isn’t “none”. In 1988, 23 year-old Cayn Theakston from Worcester who never had a day’s coaching in his life, fought and won in one of the toughest arenas in Europe to claim the 19-stage Volta a Portugal, overcoming crashes, mountains, horrendous roads and even combines within his own team to record a win which is remembered in Portugal to this day.
Some times it's difficult to get an interview, especially if your target is World Road Race Champion, Paolo Bettini. He has a Quick Step entourage with him and he's testing his new Specialized road bike for 2007. But us VeloVeritas guys are persistent, and after stalking him all afternoon I was granted just five minutes of his precious time.
We caught up with Scottish rider Ross Edgar recently to chat about the World Championships and the British team setup; here's what he had to say...
We caught up with Evan after he secured another medal at the British level, this time on the track in the Points Race Championship. Read on to hear Evan's thoughts on his achievement, and whether he's coming back to race on the grass too...
Kate Cullen's decisive victory in the British Track Championships is the strongest indication yet that those, including the selectors of the WCPP, who had written her off as 'too old', will have to reappraise her situation. VeloVeritas talked to her when she got back from Manchester.
After her win in the recent Trossachs classic time trial at Aberfoyle, we thought it was about time that we chatted to Pippa Handley, one of the Edinburgh Road Club's top women riders, a voracious trainer and top 10 place-getter at the British level.
Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) scored his second consecutive victory in the Scottish 12 hour Championship on the roads around Invergordon on Sunday. His mileage of 276 is the second highest ever ridden in Scotland after his 279 last year which broke Steve Beech's long-standing 275 mile mark.
We make no apology for interviewing Jason MacIntyre again. It's not every day that a Scotsman pulls-on a British champion's jersey and the Fort William man did that very thing after Sunday's British circuit time trial championship near Farnborough. In second place was multiple time trial champion and fourth-placed in last winter's Commonwealth Games TT, Michael Hutchison.
Concluding our series of interviews with Scottish medalists at the British Track Championships we have pleasure in bringing you the words of World Kilometre Champion, Chris Hoy.
If there is one thing that can transform the way bicycle rides and handles, it's the tyres. We were fortunate enough recently to catch-up with Continental's Head of Marketing and Sales, Jorg Malcherek, together with the man who handles the brand in the UK, Shelley Childs.
So what brings a surfer dudette to West Flanders? The smart answer would be-ha! The team car! Robyn Taylor is a CSC soigneuse, she comes from Brisbane and has arrived in the male dominated world of pro cycling via water polo, surfing, The AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), and the now-defunct Team Fakta. Robyn found a few minutes to talk to us between stages at the 2006 de Panne 3 Day.