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.
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.