It was back in July when we first heard about 21 year-old George Woods (Richardson’s Trek Racing Team) ‘doing the business’ in Belgium, we ‘had a word’ with him but with all that Tour carry-on we didn’t get round to writing the interview up. Then the other week we saw he was in the frame again, winning a 114 kilometre kermis at Deinze. High times we gave ourselves a shake and got the piece published!
What’s the best thing an aspiring world class athlete can do? Pick their parents carefully, of course. The hottest U23 property in the world right now, Pavel Sivakov did that very thing; dad Alexei was a pro for 10 years with Roslotto, BigMat, CCC and Auber 93. As an amateur he won the Tour of Serbia and as a pro the Circuito Montanes; he rode the Vuelta and three Tours de France.
It’s not a lot of time is 12 seconds; around 250 metres at the speeds they go at these days; but that’s what separated Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Champion, John Archibald from the podium of the CTT National 25 mile championship in Wales on Sunday. That had to be the first question VeloVeritas asked; "Could you have found those seconds, John?"
We’re proud of our record here at VeloVeritas; we’ve interviewed every British 25 mile time trial champion since 2005. Michael Hutchinson, Jason MacIntyre (rest in peace), Joe Perrett, Matt Bottrrill, Ryan Perry - and this year is no exception with Dan Bigham (Brother NRG Wattshop) taking time to chat to us about his seventh British title of the year [adding to CTT ‘50,’ CTT Circuit TT, TTT, kilometre, individual pursuit and team pursuit] and his ambitions for the future.
Italy’s Bassano-Monte Grappa U23 Classic has been around since 1930 and lists Italian Legend, Gino Bartali as a winner in 1934; with Leonardo Piepoli, Giro winners Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, not to mention Fabio Aru all on the more recent role of honour. It’s a beast of race, flat then rearing up the feared Monte Grappa climb – of Giro fame - to finish at over 1700 metres.
Le Tour, it’s so big that we tend to forget that there’s a lot more to cycling than Froomey breaking a spoke and Louis Meintjes, Simon Yates and Rigoberto Uran getting towed around France. Races like the Under 23 European Track Championships in Sangalhos-Anadia in Portugal where Scotland’s Mark Stewart grabbed not one but two titles – the individual pursuit and omnium.
If you’re a sad old tester like me you’ll remember that wonderful day back in 1978 when ‘King’ Alf Engers discovered the Holy Grail – it took 49 minutes and 24 seconds. The first 30 mph 25 mile time trial. Hard to imagine that Alf’s time would only have given him joint 21st position in the Lea Valley CC ‘25’ on the E2/25 a couple of weeks ago – some four minutes behind the winner, John Dewey of Team Bottrill/HSS Hire.
After his win in the British Time Trial Championship, here’s what Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings told us when we asked him about his chances in the British Road Race Championship: "I’m not at 100% so don’t believe I have the condition to win the road race – it’ll be perhaps another 10 days before I come into my best shape." Despite that, two days later he was topping his second Isle of Man podium as British Elite Time Trial and Road Race Champion.
Steve Cummings, he’s the real deal. Dues fully paid at low budget Landbouwkrediet and Barloworld, he’s also ridden with some of the biggest teams in the sport; Discovery, Sky and BMC - before finding what is the ideal squad for him, Dimension Data where letting him ‘do his own thing’ has paid off for both parties in spades.
Biggest news of the weekend? Spilak wins overall in Suisse - and the Russian team takes the GC at ZLM too with Goncalves; Dillier wins the Route du Sud for BMC or Cav shows form in Slovenia to get the Dimension Data management team off the Valliums? Nope - Richard Bideau. Adam Duggleby’s (Vive le Velo) 3:16:51 to break the British 100 mile time trial record on the e2/100, Newmarket course is the ride which has tongues wagging on this side of the Channel and North Sea. Peter Harrison (AS Test Team) 3:18:58 was also inside the old mark; as was the man we interviewed two years ago when we all thought he’d nabbed the record with his 3:18:54, reigning BBAR Richard Bideau – until the course was re-measured and found to be ‘short’ by 0.2 miles. We caught up with Bideau two days after his ride...
It was a great World Track Championships for Scotland with Katie Archibald coming home from Hong Kong as World Omnium Champion. But not such a great Championships for Dundee’s Mark Stewart who was competing in the team pursuit and madison. Unfortunately GB missed out on the bronze medal in the team pursuit to Italy whilst Mark and partner Ollie Wood were DNF in the madison. We caught up with the AN Post professional a week or so after the Worlds, back in his Italian base...
Season 2016 saw John Archibald record times of 50:07, 50:04 and 50:03 for 25 mile time trials - so a big goal for him was to dip below the magic 50 minutes. On Sunday past on the rolling dual carriageway between Brechin and Forfar he didn’t just dip inside the 30 miles per hour standard, he left it way behind with a stunning 47 minutes and 57 seconds ride. In the process he took 46 seconds off Graeme Obree’s 1994 record of 48:43; we just had to, ‘have a word.’
The sad news came through from Belgium on Sunday morning that Graham Webb, British World road champion in 1967, had passed away. Our condolences go to his family and the many friends and fans he had in the cycling community. A great champion and a wonderful guy. Ed interviewed Graham back in 2009, and we thought that reproducing the interview now would be a good tribute to the man. In memory of Graham; his views on the sport back in 2009. 'Former World Road Race Champion,' yes, that would be nice to have that after your name!
A few weeks ago saw the last of the Spring Classics with ‘La Doyenne’ – Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest and arguably toughest of them all with barely a metre of flat road in it’s 258 kilometres. Before that, the U23 version of the race took place over 166 kilometres but taking in many of its famous big brother’s climbs, such as La Redoute. Our colleague from the Six Days, soigneur Martyn Frank put us in touch with James and here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas.
Perhaps you’ve seen them on TV when Eurosport used to cover the Berlin Six Days – or maybe you remember them at Leicester, ‘back in the day?’ The ‘Big Motors.’ Germany, along with The Netherlands were always the ‘Heartland’ for the motor-paced aspects of the sport but in Britain back in the early 70’s we had one of the best in the world in Roy Cox. Cox was six times British Champion, won big on the German ‘stayer’ circuit, rode four World Championships and made the Worlds final in his home Worlds in 1970 – the first British amateur to do so in 70 years.
Once again we’re proud to bring you an exclusive interview with Olympic Team Pursuit Champion, Katie Archibald where she tells us about her latest triumph, in the World Omnium Championship – and puts us chauvinists at VeloVeritas securely in our box! But we still respect and love the lady.
A 19 minute two-up ‘10’ in February, a solo 19 minute ‘10’ in March, Gifford, The Gordon Arms, The Tour of the North and now The Tour of the Meldons incorporating the Scottish National ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Title – that John Archibald (ProVision) laddie is on fire; better have a word...
Alejandro Valverde winning his fourth Doyenne as last Sunday’s hi-lite? Well, we were expecting that – the Movistar Spaniard and Sky’s Polish flyer Kwiatkowski were ‘super favourites’ and delivered two of the three podium places. But what we weren’t expecting was the phone call from VeloVeritas soothe sayer and mentor, Viktor on Sunday evening; ‘your man Dan Fleeman’s just won The Rutland!’ Now, that was a surprise!
VeloVeritas first spoke to 24 year-old Aussie Jordan Kerby three years ago; he was 2010 world junior points and team pursuit champion but then turned to the road. Success came quickly and he won the 2013 Australian U23 Road Race Championship. There followed a forgettable spell with Michael Rasmussen’s ill fated Christina Watches team before he moved back to Australia, winning the 2014 Australian U23 Time Trial Championship. We caught up with Jordan shortly after his Worlds success where he rode the third fastest time ever in qualifying then beat reigning world champion Filippo Ganna of Italy in the final.
Despite his flyweight 56 kilos Eddie Dunbar has already established himself as one of the worlds' best U23 riders with top ten finishes in the European and World U23 Time Trial Championships - and riding for the Irish team rather than his usual US Axeon Hagens Berman team he took Ronde victory in that bike riders’ Mecca, historic Oudenaarde.
‘When I were a lad’ next to the Milk Race the biggest deal in UK cycling was the BBAR (Best British All Rounder) to find Britain’s best ‘tester’ – over 50 and 100 miles plus the 12 hour. The competition still exists but do you know who the BBAR is? Me neither. Yorkshire’s Peter Hill won the BBAR twice in the 60's but instead of going for his ‘hat trick’ he completely changed direction and headed across the English Channel to France and established himself as one of the world’s leading amateur time trial exponents before turning professional with Peugeot - but in those Machiavellian days it didn’t work out. Here’s his story...
‘Back in the day’ when he was World Team Sprint Champion and a silver medallist in the World Individual Sprint Championship we used to speak to Scottish fast man Craig Maclean on a regular basis. Since then he’s gone on to be a successful tandem pilot on the paralympic scene and, he’s gone into coaching – as well as ‘playing in the band.’ High times VeloVeritas ‘had a word.’
If you had to name one man who single handedly changed the face of Scottish time trialling? The man who made sure a ‘59’ wasn’t going to win you the ‘25’ champs anymore... Dave Hannah is the man; VeloVeritas caught up with him recently at his home in Shieldhill for a long overdue chat.
When VeloVeritas was at the Copenhagen Six Day last month, we witnessed a successful attempt on the Danish Hour record by Martin Toft. It got us thinking; ‘is Jim Gladwell still the Scottish Hour record holder?’ And indeed he is – ‘best have a word,’ we thought to ourselves...
George Edwards? The name might not mean much to you but along with Brian Smith, Robert Millar and David Miller he’s one of few Scotsmen who have won the British National Road Race Championship – in his case the BLRC version in 1946. George passed away in 1992 at the age of 68 but Harry Tweed connected us with George’s son who shares the same Christian name and now lives in the Netherlands. Here’s what George had to say to VeloVeritas, recently.
We recently ran an interview with Liverpool Mercury stalwart, Ricky Garcia; we’re sure that Ricky would agree that perhaps the best rider The Mercury ever produced never really realised his full potential. His name is Dave Rollinson; twice British Amateur Road Race Champion, Tour de L’Avenir stage winner, French amateur Classic winner and twice a Worlds top 20 finisher.
Only once has an English speaker won the Peace Race – in 1952 Scotland’s own Ian Steel took the honours. We were fortunate at VeloVeritas to interview the great man before his death, last year and before we’re done we’d like to speak to all surviving Scots who’ve participated in this historic event. Sandy Gilchrist, Jimmy Rae, Martin Coll and Ken Clark have all been kind enough to give of their time to us; next on our agenda is former Scottish 50 mile record holder, Velo Sportiv stalwart and all-rounder, Mr. Ron Gardiner.
We first spoke to Harry Tanfield a couple of years ago having seen him ride well in the Gordon Arms time trial – most recently we spoke to him after he won the David Campbell Memorial road race in Fife back in the spring of 2016. So when we opened this week’s ‘Cycling Weekly’ and there he was spread across two pages as the UK’s number one rated Elite rider we thought we best ‘have a word’...
He's been one of the outstanding track riders of the last decade, world champion four times across three disciplines - scratch (twice), madison with Michael Mørkøv and team pursuit. There's been a raft of national, European and World Cup titles and podiums not to mention an Olympic team pursuit silver. On the Six Day scene he's won in Berlin, Bremen, Copenhagen, Ghent and Grenoble. And that's before we mention his road palmarés - two stages in the Dunkirk Four Day, the GP Herning, Philadelphia... But Alex Rasmussen has called 'time' on all of that and will race this season on a low key domestic programme.
Following in the footsteps of Scottish track stars Mark Stewart and Katie Archibald, we believe Scotland’s Joe Nally to be the youngest ever winner of the British Senior Points Race Championship at just 17 years-of-age. The race was held at the Manchester Velodrome but Nally is another product of Glasgow’s beautiful indoor track; taking bronze in the team pursuit to go with his points gold. ‘Best have a word with the man,’ we thought ourselves here at VeloVeritas.
The last time we spoke to Scotland’s top endurance track rider, Mark Stewart he’d just added to his growing medal collection at the European Championships with bronze in the team pursuit and silver in the scratch. Some nice road results in the Ronde van Oost Vlaanderen followed where he made his breakthrough from riding as a domestique and/or ‘getting round’ to being a serious contender for stage and overall honours.
The Rás. A race to strike fear in the strongest heart; huge fields, big hills and mad uncontrollable stages with fearless Irishmen continually firing off the front in death or glory bids. High times VeloVeritas 'had a word' with Mr.McGahan..
Young Scot, Stuart Balfour is off to France again for season 2017 – VeloVeritas decided we needed to hear this young man’s story...
In part one of our interview with Martin Coll we discussed his career – but any chat with Martin wouldn’t be complete without mention of the times he spent with his brother-in-law; the legend that is Graeme Obree. Martin became The Flying Scotsman’s manager, confidante, driver and personal assistant during the period when Graeme and ‘Old Faithful’ were much in demand on the continental boards.
The Girvan Three Day; a Scottish Easter racing institution but now late lamented – sunshine, ice, snow and everything else in between but whatever the weather it was never a race for the faint-hearted. Some of the biggest names in British bike racing have won over that tough South West Scotland parcours. Let’s go back to 1986; aforementioned Paul Curran is after his third win in the event – but Scotland’s Martin Coll has other ideas... We recently caught up with Martin at his home in Arizona to ‘talk a little Girvan’ and - the Peace Race.
Vic Haines - does the name ring a bell? If you're into time trialling you'll know him as a long-term sponsor in English cycling and a multiple tandem time trial record holder. Closer to home you'll recognise him as the man who organised Graeme Obree's successful Hour Record attempt in Hamar, Norway. But his controversial 'split' with Obree came not long after the Scottish phenomenon had eclipsed Italian legend, Francesco Moser's record - with, according to Haines, the new Ayrshire Hour Record holder due him a lot of money. We thought a chat with the man might be worthwhile...
If you watched the recent live stream of the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing (part of the inquiry into "Combatting Doping in Sport") you'll know the bulk of the session focused on the key question "what was in the jiffy bag?" which was transported from the UK by Simon Cope, handed to Dr. Richard Freeman at the end of the Critérium du Dauphiné, for use by Sir Bradley Wiggins. Committee member John Nicolson (Member of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire and the SNP spokesperson on Culture, Media and Sport) demonstrated an amazing ability to ask logical, 'boiled-down' questions which presented a narrow set of options as answers.
The 70’s; great music, great cars and great riders – Merckx, De Vlaeminck, Gimondi, Thevenet, Raas, Knetemann, and the biggest rivalry British cycle sport has ever seen – Liverpool's clubs, the Kirkby versus the Mercury; their rivalry was anything but friendly. In conversation I mentioned Phil Thomas who had left the Kirkby to join the Mercury; the room went quiet, Matthews fixed me with a stare; ‘we don’t talk about him in this house’. I nodded and changed the subject, quickly.
If you were around the Scottish race scene a few years back then you’ll remember Rob Palmer, he was at university up here in Bonnie Scotland – VeloVeritas mentor and Cycling Sage, Vik always reckoned that the man bore a striking to another Robbie – Mr. Williams. But our man isn’t into communicating with Aliens – unlike the ex-Take That man – not that we know of, anyway.
It’s not often we have a professor in the pages of VeloVeritas but that’s exactly what Richard Davison is; as well as Assistant Dean (International) at the University of the West Coast of Scotland. He was also instrumental in the setting up of British Cycling’s current coaching system and does ‘one on one’ coaching with riders. Richard was also a successful rider on the Scottish scene a year or two back – and that’s where our interview starts...
The last time we spoke to Dan Gardner he’d just ridden the 2015 Worlds TTT in Virginia as part of the American Astellas team. This season saw him back with Astellas for the first part of the season before a mid-season move to the Heartland – Flanders – and a ride with the Baguet Bicycle Center Cycling Academy. The man behind the team, Serge Baguet is a Belgian ex-professional who rode for Lotto and QuickStep and can count a Belgian Elite Road Championship and Tour de France stage among his palmarès.
Over the last couple of winters we’ve tracked down and spoken to some of the ‘greats’ of British cyclo-cross, John Atkins, Keith Mernickle, Chris Wreghitt and Barry Davies to name four. But our Spanish mentor, Al Hamilton pointed out to us that we hadn't spoken to the man who won the title seven times in the 80’s and 90’s – Steve Douce.
Most of the hugely successful GB Olympic cycling team are taking a break - but not Scotland's Katie Archibald who undertook a hugely successful campaign at the recent European Track Championships in Paris. And that's before we talk about her racing and winning at the London Six Day... We caught up with her post Paris but pre-London to discuss her two golds and one silver medal Euro haul.
They’re not all going to make it; some do – Dan McLay, Adam Blythe, Jack Bauer... But they keep heading for the Heartland. And we’ve got another name for you to conjure with; David Hewett, is on the kermis trail in search of that elusive crisp World Tour contract - here’s his tale...
The European Cyclo-Cross Championships were held in Pont Chateau, France last weekend. ‘A Flatlands Fest, no doubt’ I hear you say. Well, the Ladies’ race was won by Thalita De Jong of the Netherlands; the U23 Men’s went to Quinten Hermans of Belgium and in a tactical Elite race former past and present World Champions, Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands) and Wout Van Aert (Belgium) finished second and third respectively behind Toon Aerts of - Belgium. But to break the Benelux monopoly, the junior race was won by an English rider, 17 years-old Thomas Pidcock from Leeds.
It was Mark Stewart suggested we have a word with this young man, Gabriel Cullaigh; he’s been riding strongly for the GB U23 Academy in Italy but recently decided to make his own way in the tough world of continental bike racing, joining strong Dutch Continental outfit, SEG Racing Academy. Here’s what Gabriel had to say to us just the other day...
It’ll be nine years, this January since we ran our Gary Wiggins obituary. Wiggins, father of Knight of the Realm, current World Hour Record holder, reigning Olympic Team Pursuit Champion and former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, died in hospital in Newcastle, New South Wales the day after an ‘incident’ in Muswellbrook the previous day.
Unfortunately, VeloVeritas editor, Martin and I got out priorities wrong and instead of freezing on Purrinden for the Scottish Hill Climb Champs we were in warmer climes. But fear not, we tracked down the new champion, David Griffiths (Pro Vision) and here's what he had to say...
VeloVeritas senior mentors and pundits Dave and Vik are always quick to let us know if there’s a name to be chasing over in the Flatlands – step forward Irishman Conor Hennebry who’s making a name for himself in the Kermis School. In time honoured VV fashion we tracked the man down and ‘had a word.’
According to our research, the village of Plockton in Ross and Cromarty has a population of 378 – but it should actually be ‘377 and one would-be Kermis King.’ And you thought Plockton was only famous for ‘Hamish Macbeth’ and one of VeloVeritas’s favourite movies, ‘The Wicker man.’ Enter young Angus Claxton...