I bought most of the 'quality' Sundays, yesterday - to see what they had to say about the Giro. The Observer and Times ? nada. The Independent at least had the result. The Herald had a micro mug shot of Phinney and told us that he also won the opening stage of the Giro in 2010 ? However, the Times did have the 'Sports Rich List.' At number one in the UK is Becks with a fortune worth £160 million. On the world stage it's Tiger Woods, worth £538 mil. According to Chris Hoy's dad, his Keirin King son isn't a millionaire, despite his four Olympic golds. But guess who is ?
Not for the first time, I’m confused by the actions of our sport’s governing body. First, let me quote what World Track Championship scratch and madison animator Andreas Müller told me the other day regarding rulings by the commissairs in Melbourne...
I know we're a hard-core bike racing site, but bear with me - Scotland doesn't produce too many world champions - and of those, none I can think of ever came from Kirkcaldy. Jocky Wilson was a legend and to hear of his death made me very sad - believe it or not, I always wanted to interview the man from the 'China Town' area of Kirkcaldy. I grew up just around the corner from where Jocky latterly lived, and died.
In the welter of knee jerk reactions to judge/condemn Alberto Contador and/or criticize the UCi the real issues of this situation are being missed. There are two main points that need to be addressed that I can see: Justice and Consistency.
Dear Mr. McQuaid, I'm so glad you've decided on VinoKolGate that: "Yes, there are rules about that. It is clear, if there is evidence, there could be penalties after an investigation on our part." I'm sure that you're aware that there have been arrests in the UK for the hacking of mobile phones and email accounts, and that there's not a court in Europe which would accept evidence obtained by hacking, but I realise that these are mere bagatelles to the might of the UCI and those Eastern riders have to be sorted out.
Cavendish and the whole team were brilliant, full stop. There can be no 'buts' or 'maybes' - his team took the race on from what we thought was way too early, controlled it to the end and deserve unreserved praise.
The Danish Press did Cav proud at the World Road Championships 2011; having Peta on his arm doesn't hurt as far as the photo opportunities go. And being the saddo I am, the first thing I did when I got home was to buy the British papers. All of the quality dailies 'done him proud'-The Independent gives him pride of place on their sports section and Alasdair Fotheringham's prose is perfect.
'Senna,' is a powerful film; the man was fast, brave, committed, and ruthless behind the wheel, but religious, handsome, humble, funny, and devoted to his family, very fond of the ladies and an inspiration to a whole nation. And all of Brazil grieved for him when he died in that horrific crash at Imola in 1994. As well as a portrait of an amazing sportsman the film gives us a rare look at the machinations of the men-or rather man-who run the sport at the highest levels.
'If you're right, you're right,' said Malcolm X. However, sometimes it's hard to be right. Despite the fact that I think the UCI are doing a less than brilliant job, I think cycling is right to try to eradicate the pills, potions, transfusions and suppositories that blight it.
The VV View: The UCI constitution is a little bit of a scary document, running to 23 pages with 87 articles, some of which have up to seven sections. We thought we might pick out a few quotes; it's 'a non-profit-making organisation' and should 'encourage friendship between all members of the cycling world' as well as 'promote sportsmanship and fair play' and there should be 'non-interference in the internal affairs of affiliated federations.' Just so we remember what the organisation is meant to be all about.
I'll be glad to get to Berlin, and enter my six day bubble - these last couple of weeks have affected me badly. I love the sport, all of it fascinates me, road, track, cyclo-cross; I'd get into mountain biking but I have to stop the reading, interviewing and writing, somewhere. Lance, Floyd, Alberto, Trent, Matt - and now, Graeme. I have to get it all off my chest before I descend into the bowels of the earth in Berlin...
I've known John for 43 years; we went to school together and although there have been spells when our lives have gone in different directions for a while, it takes us about three minutes to pick up the thread and it's as if we've never been out of touch. John has lung cancer, one tumour in his lungs and three in his brain; he starts chemo and radio therapy, this week. When his son asked me what I thought, immediately I said; 'look at old Lance, he was at death's door and came back to win seven Tours.' Then I got to thinking; if the finest legal minds that Tour Down Under and Giro d'Italia start money can buy are unsuccessful and the 'Federal probe' nails the Texan, what will that have achieved?
It's too long since I had a rant; I'd like to thank Mario Cipollini for providing the spark for this one. I meet my pal Ivan on a weekly basis for a 07:45 coffee at a secret location. The theme of this morning's rant-fest was what would happen if Rik Van Looy met the Schlecks? We reckoned that 'The Emperor' would just need to look at Andy before the start and the 'Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project' (great name for a team) rider would run off home to Luxembourg and his Teddy bear...
It's not until you go to a big Fondo, Marca or Sportiv that you're able to figure out how the likes of Cervélo can sponsor a pro team. On the start line you'll see hundreds of Looks, Colnagos, Treks and-Cervélos; all sold at full price. But how much money can you make on a bike frame?
'With the current system we're shafted' says BC coach Rod Ellingworth regarding the fact that the world's best roadman sprinter will have a whole two team mates in Melbourne. The GB and Sky 'spin machine' continually tell us how strong British Cycling is; but when it comes down to it, we're actually joint 22nd in terms of numbers of riders we're eligible to send to the Elite Worlds. This puts us on par with great cycling nations such as Korea and Brazil.
We've all been hearing recently about the riders who showed questionable figures in their Biological Passports but who have escaped any sanctions so far, whilst certain others have been lambasted, suspended, and are facing the possibility of - or are currently serving - lengthy bans. Last year the word was that a number of very big names in the sport were in the same boat, and may have been asked by officials to 'lay low' for a while until their numbers returned to more normal values, or until the heat died down. And now, thanks to Landis, we are presented with the allegation that Armstrong paid the UCI to bury a positive test result from the Tour de Suisse - but how is that possible?
The women's 500 metre time trial was the first race I caught sight of on the TV - it's hard to get excited about it. But the Ballerup track was looking great, freshly sanded and with new advertising - what you don't realise until you look at the down tube of a bike that has just finished in a Derny race is the amount of soot and oil that the little motorbikes pump out - the joiners have buffed all that off, though.
'Sol y sombra' say the Spanish, 'sunshine and shade.' The 'sunshine' was the Primavera; a race I've been obsessed with ever since I was a young Merckx fan, waiting for my 'Comic' on a 70's Friday - Thursday if I was very lucky. The 'sombra' was Gregor's dad's funeral; although maybe it wasn't 'shade,' as Bill Brockie, the former minister and CTC stalwart who managed proceedings so well, explained to us; 'this is a celebration.' I didn't know Gregor's dad well, but judging by the turn out at the Mortonhall and the anecdotes that were related about him, he was a cool dude.
Rotterdam is readying itself for the Tour de France start this summer, and the Skil - Shimano team used it's 2010 presentation last weekend in the city to recce the route which will be used for Stage 1. The team is largely the same as last season, but has been bolstered by the addition of six riders; Dutchmen Job Vissers and Robin Chaigneau, Frenchmen Alexandre Geniez and Yann Huguet, Belgian Dominique Cornu, and Norwegian Frederik Wilmann.
It's great to see cycling breaking main stream - a double page colour spread in the Times. It's almost as if the guy that bank rolls the team, owns the newspaper. He does? Oh! We're treated to nine examples of marginal gains...
Fourth in the Worlds Elite TT, second only to Zabriskie in the US TT champs and with a Garmin contract neatly signed. But scratch all of the above and file under, "Another one bites the dust!" albeit the 'B' sample might just be 'clean.' We asked Paul Coats, who's a lecturer at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, for an expert view.
I hope you all had a good Xmas; Viktor didn't - but that shouldn't surprise us. He did make a good point though - namely that Sky are well behind with their training camps; all of the big squadra have had one, if not two camps already. From a fitness and bonding point of view the digital vision guys are behind the eight ball already; it'll be interesting to see if that makes a difference come flag dropping time.
It's been a good week if you read the Guardian's cycling coverage and like a rant. 'I'm better than Armstrong now,' says Wiggins - reads the headline; of all the bike riders in the world that one should not make that statement about, Lance Armstrong is the absolute top of the list.
Ben Swift-top guy, affable, always happy to chat, looks the business and has a great career ahead of him. But-I don't like what's happening with this Sky business. I might be wrong - and am probably writing my own obituary here, as far as Sky interviews goes - but it smacks to me of; 'we can't get Brad, so we have to get some one else who can win a bit and who's English!'
It's funny how things work out, Alberto Contador signs a contract with Specialized bikes for 700,000 euros last week. So will he be riding for one of the teams who ride on Specialized bikes; Quick-Step or Saxo Bank? Ah! Then Quick-Step announces that they will no longer be riding on Specialized, but will be on Eddy Merckx bikes.
'Are you going to have a rant about this Sky carry on, on that site of yours?' enquires Viktor. 'Damn right!' says I. All pro cyclists demand respect, it's easy to forget that even the guy who finishes stone last in any pro race has to be pretty good to get a pro contract in the first place; but the two French riders just signed by Sky leave me a tad puzzled.
AC/DC got it right; "Come on, come on, listen to the money talking." It looks like VeloVeritas' hot tip on 'Bert bolts to Garmin; Brad flies to Sky,' has unwound. Sky's 'capo,' Rupert Murdoch has deep pockets, but at some stage he has to say- and following on from the musical intro - just like Donna and Babs did; "enough is enough, is enough!"
"A week is a long time in politics," said Harold Wilson - even longer at the wheel of a Transit; still, I'm sure that my column in L'Equipe isn't far away, now. Lombardia was great, I love that race, and Milan - San Remo too; do yourself a favour, go and see them - you'll thank me. However, all is not well up in the land of mountains and lakes. Milano is apparently mightily pee-ed off by the 'strike' in the Giro, when the riders went on a go slow because of the 'dangerous circuit' - but the organisers couldn't help but notice that despite the 'dangers,' the peloton raced the last few laps, for the stage win.
Ronnie Boa was a God like figure, when I was a 16 year-old with Kirkcaldy and District CC. He would come out at the start of the season and dominate - hilly time trials, road races, APR's, two-ups and even a stage in the Girvan. He was red hot favourite for the 25 title after banging out winning 58's at Stirling on a track iron; but on race morning he was a DNS, leaving the way clear for Drew Brunton to take the title.
"RIP VDB" said the text from John Stollery, waiting for me, when I woke up; there were others too, from Dave and Stevie all expressing sadness - for all his faults, he was a hard man to dislike. He was just 34, cause of death is cited as a 'blood clot.'
The trouble with Richard Virenque was, that if he was seven times King of the Mountains; he was at least eight times King of the Erses. The Festina scandal, that mouth of his, his idiotic tactics - all conspired against him. This meant that when he pulled off a genuine exploit, the journos and slaggers wrote it off as a fluke or; 'he'll be on new stuff!'...
"Our pal Bosisio positive,' said the text from Dave. Gabriele Bosisio of LPR Brakes and Italy was the subject of a UCI out of competition test; "the adverse finding was a direct result of a targeted urine test, conducted immediately after a blood test triggered an unusual blood profile within the biological passport program," said their statement. On the Kroonplatz time trial stage of the 2008 Giro, we gave Gabriele a shout as he came down off the mountain, after his ride.
Today the capital city of Spain didn't get awarded the 2016 Olympic Games - they went to the Brazilian City of Rio de Janeiro. I normally have my siesta around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, but today I watched the Olympic Games conference live on TV Copenhagen where they were to vote for the next Games after London. The Spanish contingent made a great job of convincing the Olympic Committee that Madrid would be the best place for the 2016 games.
I had one of my secret meetings with Ivan yesterday-I can't tell you when or where, in case the Moderator from Velo Riders tries to arrange a 'hit!' The man from behind the Urals was telling me that we didn't see on Eurosport, after Cadel's win, was the press conference he gave.
Some cycling pundits (aye, you Ed) have said that the Spanish team had a terrible World Championships - well bronze, a fourth, ninth and fifteenth is better than any other country than I guess Australia and Russia, although Russia only had two riders in the top twenty. The most important Spanish National TV station (TVE 1) top-lined the result on the main evening news on Sunday evening.
"Cometh the hour, cometh the man," the hour was a sunny late September afternoon in Mendrisio, Switzerland, the man was Cadel Evans. Al Hamilton mentioned Cadel's name before the race and I concurred that he could be in the mix and worth a medal-but the winner?
A great ride from Peter Kennaugh; fourth is always the worst place to finish - it's hard enough to remember silvers and bronzes; never mind who was fourth. But a good ride and one that bodes well for his pro career. I spoke to him after the British Elite road champs at Abergavenny, where it looked like his race, until the closing metres. I was given a tongue lashing from him for allegedly miss- quoting him.
Fabian Cancellara is a wonderful athlete, class personified. He looks at one with the bike and he's quite fearless; it's hard not to gasp as he blasts along at his 60 kph average (take out the corners, roundabouts and the climb, and that's the speed he's sitting at), skiffing walls and flicking that Specialized through narrow village streets like a kermesse king - a pleasure to behold. He's certainly the finest time trial rider of his day. But, the greatest ever?
The Vuelta has finished, so has the Tour of Britain, the Worlds are this weekend, the crosses have started and there's a nip in the air in the mornings - autumn is here. My favourite time of the year: in Scotland it rains less, the skies are blue, the air is fresh and leaves are so beautiful as they turn.
Ed Hood is a sad old git who is stuck in the minutia of cycling facts and figures! The trouble is that so am I, maybe even worse! Ed was very excited by the book (Tu vueltas) I sent him with all the details of all La Vuelta a España's from 1935 to 2008, lots of info for us sado's. Ed touched on some details earlier, but two specific years caught my eye.
Barring accidents or a dreadful time trial on Saturday it looks like Alejandro Valverde has stitched up his first Grand Tour (at last!). At the end of all of the big stage races we need to ask some questions and La Vuelta a España throws up some thought-provokers! I think it was a good Vuelta - the start in Holland was a great success, personally I was wrong about the time trial on a closed circuit, it had a big crowd as did all the Dutch roads, and it was the same in Germany and Belgium.
Talking to people who had been to the start in Holland and the stages through Belgium and Germany it was a great success which attracted bigger crowds than expected, if they could only have moved the Spanish weather there it would have been perfect. The stages up there were not expected to affect the eventual overall out-come, but the next week in the area of Valencia were, and did!
I was coming down the 'parachutes' in the Transit on Friday - the old East 25 course - when I got the text message from Dave; 'Garcia and Hesjedal away with two K to go.' I was talking to Ryder only last night-about his great ride on stage 9, when he was second to Simon Gerrans; then the next text came in; 'Your man has won!'
It was like Xmas, hustling the Transit across town to John Anderson's shop - to get my 'Vuelta presie' courtesy fellow 'Pezzer' Al Hamilton. The last one was my Vuelta gillet; only used abroad, somehow a Vuelta gillet doesn't work at Wallyford. Anyway; it was a book, packed with stats on every Vuelta from the first one in 1935 up 'til last year - heaven! Let's browse!
"Today the 204.7km eighth stage from Azlira to Alto de Aitana tackles seven rated climbs before the finish-line summit at the Aitana climb, rated 'especial' in the Vuelta as a stage ending atop a climb. At 21.7km long with an average grade of 5.7 percent, the Aitana climb will give a first good indication of who's up to winning the race." I couldn't have put it better me self; but that's what the Cervélo: press release had to say tonight.
Borut Božič, no, I didn't know much about him either, 'til I checked him out. He turned pro in 2004 with Perutnina Ptuj (Ptuj being the capital of Slovenia) and took four wins that year-a stage in the Jadranska Magistrala in Croatia; two stages in the Tour of Slovenia and a stage in the Tour of Serbia.
Greipel - Columbia again ! It's been quite a season for the US team, the wins started and have never stopped. Griepel takes another stage.That was what Adam Hansen cited as the main difference between the old T-Mobile and the new High Road-Columbia; "now, we win races!"
- Reported by Alasdair Maclennan - I've been out here for the weekend, and I thought more people would have made the easy journey from the UK to Holland for a Grand Tour depart but so far the only ones we've bumped into are Neil and Maria Martin who are here for obvious reasons. I had my doubts about the Assen TT before we arrived but it turned out to be a spectacular venue with at least half the course visible from the stands.
Dave was giving me the SMS updates on stage 2; when it came together I decided that it was between Tyler and Tom - wrong again. Greg Henderson, another Columbia boy made good - how many wins is that, now? 70-odd! He was working for Greipel, looked back saw he wasn't there, looked up, saw the line, sprinted - and won his first Grand Tour stage; simple as that.
A Clean Vuelta? I hope so, but let's look at the facts: The Spanish sports papers quote Oscar Freire; "Rabobank want a stage win in Holland" and I'm sure all the other teams want the same, but the Dutch bank have spent a lot of money bringing La Vuelta a España to Holland for the race start.
It’s not just the boys which the Rayner Fund supports, the young ladies get their opportunities. Here’s what 19 year-old Miss Henrietta Colborne from the north of England had to tell us...
If there’s a rider more closely associated with a city than Iljo Keisse is with Gent then I can’t think of it. Born and bred in the capital of East Flanders, raised on the boards of the Blaarmeersen velodrome, the Gentenaars love him and he loves them. Iljo's dad, Ronie Keisse owns the legendary Café de Karper, a favourite student haunt in Gent, just a five minute walk from the Kuipke and the only place to be on a November Sunday evening when the Six Day finishes, so we sat down with Ronie on the Monday morning after the Six to discuss the life and times of his boy, one of the very last real ‘vedettes’ – star Six Day men.
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year is an interesting proposition for Scotland, with Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner now Olympic champions, Mark Stewart a double under 23 European Champion and Neah Evans on the top step of a World Cup podium - and don't forget 'left fielder' Jonny Wale, reigning British team pursuit champion and 1:01 kilometre man. VeloVeritas spoke to all of them about their 2017 seasons and prospects in Australia come the spring, and we start with Callum Skinner...
As VeloVeritas pundit and critic, Viktor said after the Bergen World Championships; ‘where would we be without him?’ Peter Sagan. Cipo had it, Boonen had it, Peter has it – but Vik and I are both worried about who can pick up the ‘cycling’s showman and charismatic star’ baton when he finally hands his in.
The last time we spoke to Dan Bigham (Brother NRG Wattshop) there was just a chance that he’d have to line up for the hill climb championship to net a record breaking EIGHTH British title of the year - to go with the kilometre, pursuit, team pursuit, team time trial, CTT 25 mile title, CTT 50 mile title and CTT circuit time trial title. But on the tough Cockermouth 10 mile time trial course, the day was saved when the CTT ‘10’ championship went his way too – so that’s title number eight!
John Pierce is one of the world’s great sports photographers, he’s a friend of VeloVeritas and in our site’s best tradition, the man can RANT about the sport he’s been a part of for 50 years. We had a good long chat with John about his racing and photography careers - here in Part One, John tells us about his early successes and how he became interested in photography, his first equipment, his travels and adventures.