Here in the UK we've been hammered recently by the weather; for the last few weeks Scotland in particular has resembled an Arctic landscape, with blizzards, white-outs, and motorways frozen closed for days - any bike riding that's been done has been in the garage on the rollers, or spinning down the at the gym. The last few days however, have seen a significant rise in temperature and the resultant thaw has us getting the overshoes looked out again, and the lights back on the bike, ready for recommencing the daily commute, training, and some off-road night riding too.
The launch of next year's Giro d'Italia route a few weeks ago saw Campagnolo offer a sneak peak of it's new-for-2011 electronic 11-speed groupset, fitted to a sleek black and pink Pinarello. It was said at the presentation that only the new Movistar team will be using the equipment next season, and even then only in the Giro, but we'll see. Given that Shimano's Di2 system has been commercially available for quite a while now, it could be argued that Campagnolo have taken their time to get to market with electronic gearing, but they're obviously focused on getting it all perfect before launching, as it's nearly four years ago that we spoke to Predictor-Lotto's Bert Roesems, who had been singled out by the Italian company to use their electronic components in the toughest test arena of them all - the Spring Classics. We thought it would be interesting to revisit what Bert thought of the kit all that time ago...
When you talk about Orbea bicycles and the Euskaltel team, it's about more than light alloy and carbon; it's about people, national identity, unity and pride. On the Tour, many of the teams will have the team vehicles parked 'wagon train' style or have 'crime scene' tapes to keep the civilians at bay. Not at Euskaltel. Riders, mechanics, kids, old folks, journos, camera crews and anyone else who's in the neighbourhood mill around in happy confusion-but the job still gets done.
Ed and I spent a week recently working on the Giro d'Italia, and after doing quite a few trips like this we have our routine down to a tee; we always travel light, just carry-on baggage: it makes getting through airport security checks and moving around in a hire car for a week or two far easier. Since we've got cameras, laptops, BlackBerrys, all the related paraphenalia to go with such as cables and chargers, and we know we'll collect a lot of extra stuff when we're on the race, such as roadbooks, race manuals and so on, there's not much room left for anything else in our wee trolley bags. As we often find when it's time to fly home and our bags are weighed!
Bikes of the Tour de France, 2008: Bicycles, we love them! With the Tour well underway, we thought it would be interesting to take a first look at some of the bikes being used by the teams making the news. When we join the race next week we will of course be bringing you more bike-geek articles!
The big manufacturers always wheel out their new weaponry at the Grand Tours to catch all those eager lenses - and here's the latest TT machine from Scott, the "Plasma2"... Riccardo Riccò, the young team leader for Saunier Duval - Scott and winner of Stage 1 on Sunday, used the new bike in the opening Team Time Trial last Saturday.
SRAM brought out the new Force and Rival groupsets a while back [read our Review of the Force groupset here], and the Saunier Duval ProTour team used it on their Scott bikes to great effect last season. Now SRAM have released the SRAM Red group set and as well as Saunier Duval, the new Astana team will be using the Red group on their Trek Madone frames for the 2008 season as well. We managed to get a sneak preview and a short ride on an Astana team bike recently when they were in Spain for their first training camp.
Which are the fastest tyres in the world?-Dugast, no question. Check out the exotic machines ridden by the world's top track squads, Australia, France and GB, the common denominator? Dugast.
Grand Tour Time Trial Bikes 2007... With the prologue of the Tour taking London by storm, we thought it would be good to take a look at some of the hardware used. These shots came from the Giro.
Cannondale Synapse was the frame of choice for many of the riders of Team Liquigas at last weekend's Tour of Flanders, including Filippo Pozzato and eventual podium-finisher, Luca Paolini. The frame offers a number of features which make it well suited for the cobbled classics, the most physically demanding races of the calendar, both for the riders and their equipment.
SRAM Force Groupset; it’s been tried before - trying to grab a slice of that top-end equipment pie from those greedy Campagnolo and Shimano dudes who want to keep gobbling it all up between them. In the 70’s a French union of Stronglight, Simplex and Mafac failed, despite Bernard Thevenet winning two Tours on the kit. Shimano’s Japanese rivals Sugino and Sun Tour tried to get in on the act and despite the neat Sun Tour groupset being ridden by Jan Raas-managed Dutch pro teams in the 80’s, it never made the breakthrough.
Stuart Balfour’s win in the supporting u23 race to the GP Ouest France Plouay, one of the most prestigious amateur in France, was special. The Dave Rayner Fund thought so too and made him their ‘Rider of the Year.’ As well as his Plouay success he won in Montpichon and at the Ronde Briochine; he was top 20 in the tough Kreiz Breizh UCI stage race and top 10 in the Tour de la Manche. Nice results in what is still one of the sport’s Heartlands and races are hotly contested. We thought we best have another word with the 21 year-old from Heriot in Scotland.
We recently spoke to 15 mile, 100 mile and 12 hour record holder, Alice Lethbridge and now to ‘complete the set’, here's what 10 mile, 25 mile and 50 mile record holder, Hayley Simmonds (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling) had to tell us.
‘Well Phil,’ the words that we all remember so well, used by Paul Sherwen when he was about to put co-commentator Phil Liggett right about something during one of the hundreds of Tour de France stages the pair covered for TV networks from England to Australia via the USA. Sadly, we’ll hear that catch phrase no more, the 62 year-old Briton having passed away in his sleep at his home in Kampala in his adopted nation of Uganda on Sunday.
We caught up with the man behind the team and the holder of the record for most British titles won in one season – eight – Dan Bigham, after he returned from a successful foray to Canada where round two of the Tissot World Cup took place on the boards of the Milton Velodrome in Ontario where the men in black came away with silver.
Here at VeloVeritas we’re pleased to inform you that we’ve hooked up with ace cycling snapper, Gary Main. You may already have seen some of his images in our Mark Stewart and Dan Bigham interviews? We thought it might be a good introduction to his work for our readers if he picked out some of his favourite shots for us - over to you, Mr. Main...
He’s been quiet, that man Mark Stewart, Scotland’s reigning Commonwealth Games Points Race Champion. But he’s back with four World Cup medals on two continents within a matter of days. Best ‘have a word’ we thought to ourselves...