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.
Sunday, I did my hour on the bike this morning; had my shower, washed me vest and hat - time to amble down to the newsagents to pick up The Observer. Just to see the prologue result in print; there might even be a paragraph or two, but no - "nada." As far as the press goes, there's the Tour and the Olympics - and drugs, of course.
La Vuelta a España in Holland! So, La Vuelta a España started on Saturday in the Dutch town of Assen, joining in with the other Grand Tour by starting outside its borders. The Spanish Tour has done this once before, but it was still on the Iberian Peninsula; Lisbon in Portugal. Anyway, here are my (rhetorical) questions: Why did it start in Assen? And why have an opening TT on the motor racing circuit?
Fabian Cancellara - I got that one right; and I said that Tyler Farrar would be right up there, as Meat Loaf would say; "two outta three ain't bad!" Tom Boonen in second was a surprise; it's good to see him back. I like Boonen, I don't condone his cocaine use - he's meant to be a roll model - but he's young, full of fun and human.
I did a Vuelta preview the other day; I mentioned the Castillan (Spanish), Basque, Catalan and Galician languages. But Al Hamilton has put me right; "Spain has five languages registered at the EU; Castillano, Basque, Galician, Catalan and Valenciano." It reminded me of what they say about Belgium; "there's no such place as Belgium." It's a conundrum, that diversity is what makes Spain the country it is.
La Vuelta; have you seen the parcours ? Brutal ! In my opinion, too hard; if it was Italy or Spain they'd engineer it to suit the characteristics of the 'home boy,' but in España it's one for the mountain men - maybe they forgot that Alberto wasn't riding; that we may have seen the best of Carlos; that Valverde will have a bad day and that José Manuel Fuente and Luis Ocaña have left us (God rest their souls).
Vino's back! Richard Pestes's reaction was; "I'm still aghast at the arrogance of that guy.. " And whilst I can understand the PezMeister's outrage, we have to take a minute to try and put ourselves inside the mind of the little Kazahk.
"B & Q car park, Livingston; got me diet Coke and tuna roll, time to settle down and read about Russell's great win in Ireland. I scan "The Guardian" sport section three times - no dice. But we do get one sentence in "On the web" - 'Lance Armstrong was among 56 riders to withdraw from the Tour of Ireland's rain-hit final stage.' Poor old Lance; and good to see that cycling has really entered the mainstream of sports coverage.
There was sunshine on Bishopton, a car park full of riders and shiny bikes - not sure about the guy on the fixed Dolan, though - lots of marshals, pieces to feed the five thousand, the requisite scout hall strip; and - the council cutting the verges down on Westferry. Therefore - no dice, all go home. It's easy to be a smarty pants, but shouldn't it be on the race organisers 'tick box list' to check with the local council?
I've achieved an ambition today - I'm sitting in John Anderson's Six Million Dollar Man pick up truck. John and I are up front, unfortunately we don't have Daisy Duke in the back; just an out of sorts Dave Martin - never mind. We're en route the TTT champs at Bishopton, last week I was aboard the Velo Ecosse car - which has got me to thinking about bike shops.
The score may have been Dunfermline 1 Queen of the South 2 at East End Park, the other night, but in Flanders just now it's Guy 24, Mario 22. That's Guy Smet on 24 wins and recent VeloVeritas interviewee Mario Willems on 22.
Thursday - "Comic Day;" back in 1982 or '83 I was desperate to get my paws on it to read about 'Lloydy' winning the "25." I'd bought a Telegraph on Monday morning, so I knew the first six, but that was all. There was no VeloVeritas, back then. I can still remember my impassioned plea to the newsagent when he told me it wasn't in; "but you don't realise how important this is, I need to see that magazine!"
I was at the football last night, I took my son to see Dunfermline v. Queen of the South. At half time, the old guy next to us said of a one-nil down Dunfermline; "difficult to see where the goals are going to come from." Very astute, sir.
Matt, my Aussie Pez cobber has clued me in on the Lance gig - he's notching a few K's whilst in here for the U2 gig, before he heads for the Tour of Ireland. You can ride with the great man, leaving the Ashtree House Hotel, 9 Orr Square, Paisley at noon.
That's 12 days out of 14 or 15 I've been out on the bike; I was getting out regularly before the Giro but life was just so hectic after I came back that I let it go. This time, though, I'm back - I want to ride around the Trossachs with Martin as we do the race report. I spoke to Tyler Farrar tonight, he's always cool to talk to - he proves that you don't necessarily have to be controversial to be a sprinter.
I was out on the bike at crack of dawn today - my buddy John comes over, we go for a potter up the coast then have a coffee and a scone at the Beach House in Portobello - if you see us, give us a smile; scowls use a lot more energy, guys. I had to cover the Hamburg Classic for today; it was a good finale and great to see Tyler Farrar win.
The Scottish road race; a nice day, a good course - past the village green at Denholm is cool - well marshalled, a full field. But why start 30 minutes late; why is it so difficult to get a start sheet and why not take it into Hawick, each lap - past the pubs ?
"Cycling dismay as events frozen out for London 2012" says the headline in the Guardian. The bottom line of the article is that there will still be the same number of women's track events in London - three, sprint, pursuit and team pursuit. The men get seven; the three named above plus madison, points, team sprint and keirin.
When I was a younger man my 'Mr Motivator' was a certain man from the West; Willie Gibb. I recall battering myself on a training ride alone thinking "Willie Gibb would be going faster" invariably in the races he was and I have no recollection of ever having beaten my one time motivator. I got in touch with Willie to find out more about his story and as it transpired find his palmarès was something else again...
That man John Archibald is back in action again – and with a 48 minutes and 13 seconds ‘BANG !’ down on the Westferry course in the CTT ‘25’ Champs on Sunday past. It gave us a good excuse to catch up with the Commonwealth Games individual pursuit silver medallist and see what he’s been up to since The Gold Coast and what’s next on the agenda for him?
‘I’m a Believer,’ a great song, the Monkees had the hit back in 1968. I used to be a ‘Believer’ and can remember the sense of relief when we discovered that Lance’s Tour ‘positive’ back in 1999 was all a big mistake; those tricky corticosteroids had been in a cream he used to treat a saddle sore and he had a TUE to cover it. What a relief.
Sometimes on the big tours you have to change plans; road closures, janitors, barrier crews, motorway crashes can all influence your 'best laid plans.' At the end of the day you may not have missed deadline - we rarely do - but there'll be that feeling that you could have done better. Then there are days when you have to struggle then struggle some more but eventually it comes together, you get to where you want to be and get those special pictures. This day was such a day; lost, lost again, a massive detour through the mountains - against race route to the top of the Colle Delle Finestre - but we really enjoyed our pizza after this one...
‘The best Commonwealth Games performance ever by the Scottish cycling team’ – that’s for sure. VeloVeritas hopes to speak to all of the athletes concerned and we’re proud to start with individual pursuit silver medallist, John Archibald.
In 2016 in Belgium Ethan Hayter won the tough junior races, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, GP Serge Baguet, De Klijte-Heuvaelland, was in the winning team in junior European team pursuit champs and was British Madison champion with Joe Holt. Last year he won the u23 Berlin Six Day with Matt Walls, took a medal in every British track championship he rode and was part of the winning u23 Europeans team pursuit squad. This season he began training with the senior team in January and was world champion within weeks, at 19 years-of-age.