There was controversy today; none of us – including Pidcock – knew that the ‘jury was out’ on big Dutchman, Nils Eeekhoff’s ‘victory.’
A cracking ride from 18 year-old bearded American Quinn Simmons, a barn door of a man who goes to World Tour team Trek Segafredo for 2020. We were roadside to take in the action.
How did we do with our Worlds Elite Men Time Trial pre-race predictions? Well, to start with, we weren’t sure if the slim Aussie Rohan Dennis could come back from his pre-Tour time trial abandon – but it’s amazing what a couple of months with a sport psychologist can do and the tattooed chrono specialist was in a class of his own...
We look back at the final five stages of the Vuelta 2019, a great race with hardly a dull moment which saw the emergence of yet more tremendously talented youngsters.
In our Rest Day 2 Review we take a look back at the Vuelta action since the first rest day, starting with Stage 10, the Individual TT.
Our Rest Day Review of the first week of La Vuelta 2019. Remember all those jokes about getting sent to the salt mines for misdemeanours? Those World Tour riders must have been real bad to get this gig; a 13.4 kilometre team time trial around the salt lagoons of Torrevieja.
As a wise man once said; “all good things must come to an end,” and the salida of Stage Four was our last couple of hours on the 2019 Vuelta. We’d planned a certain ‘shape’ of piece, which finished with a fantastic win for Angel Madrazo, but events of that stage and Thursday’s Stage Six rather over took our plans as abandons dominated the news.
Stage Three heads back into the hills; Ibi to Alicante over 188 kilometres, not as tough as Stage Two but with two third cat. climbs, the Puertos de Biar and Tibo – due to the geography of the stage we chose the latter.
Today’s stage started in Benidorm, not beside the sea but on the north side of town, away from the football strip clad, burnt red, stag and hen madness and the karaoke bars. We caught the action at three spots before Nairo Quintana stormed into Calpe for a tremendous win.
VeloVeritas is back at a Grand Tour, La Vuelta 2019. This year it kicks off with a super-fast team test around the salt lagoons of Torrevieja before heading straight into the mountains on stage two - no 'easing in' to this race. Martin and Ed have taken advantage of the hospitality of VV amigo and local resident, Al Hamilton - formerly of the Dear Green Place that is Glasgow - to catch the primero quatro tappas.
The first Women's Tour of Scotland had some great racing, a wonderful parcours and somewhat mixed fortunes, suffering a cancelled stage and lots of rain and wind. Still, it's Scotland in August and not unexpected. Ed and Martin took in the action from the roadside.
A man who can wheel about with Ineos World Tour beasts Ian Stannard and Ben Swift then win the Stockton Grand Prix with a 100 kilometre solo break was never going to have too much trouble with the Scottish Road Championship 2019 – and so it proved; John Archibald solo - ed to a four minute victory across the Backwater Dam on a bright but breezy day in the Angus hills.
Overhauling a 34 second deficit from Saturday’s savage Lomond Hills Stage One finale, New Zealand rider Finn Fisher-Black in the colours of Netherlands outfit WWV Junioren took Stage Two and the overall win at the Junior Tour of the Kingdom in Kennoway on Sunday.
On a rain sodden but mild and fast Sunday morning on the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen dual carriageway, starting and finishing at Forfar, Kyle Gordon (RT23) added to his Scottish 10 Mile TT Title with a rapid 48:53 to win the Scottish 25 Mile TT Championship 2019 crown from jockey-turned-bike-rider, former Olympic TT Champion, Wilson Renwick (Java Partizan Pro Cycling Team) on 49:16 and former Hill Climb Champion, David Griffiths (Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes) with 49:24.
On a day which was a total contrast to last Sunday’s Monifieth polar conditions; with warm sunshine and a gentle breeze, Kyle Gordon (RT23) showed us that perishing or pleasant, he’s the man to beat on the Scottish time trial scene. Averaging 28.796 mph around the rolling, scenic 26.3 mile Loch Ken Time Trial course in the fourth round of six in the CTT Sigma Sports Classic Series.
On a raw morning of bitter north westerly winds, with a grey Firth of Tay and North Sea brooding to the south, Kyle Gordon (RT 23) produced a ride just nine seconds shy of 30 mph to win the Scottish 10 Mile TT Championships 2019 from Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes duo, second placed Jamie Davidson and bronze medallist, David Griffiths; seven and 18 seconds back, respectively.
Chris Lawless became the first British winner of the Tour de Yorkshire after defending champion Greg Van Avermaet won an enthralling final stage in Leeds. Van Avermaet (CCC Team) forged clear with Lawless and his Team Ineos team-mate Eddie Dunbar as the 175km trek from Halifax neared its conclusion, and while it was Van Avermaet who sprinted to victory along The Headrow, Lawless came home in second to seal the biggest overall race win of his fledgling career.
A wall of sound greeted Alexander Kamp as he sprinted to a nail-biting victory on the third stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. Scarborough’s North Bay provided a dramatic finish location for the fifth year in succession, and as the waves crashed onto the coastline, a crescendo of noise also erupted as a vastly reduced peloton raced onto the closing straight.
Bedale was packed to the rafters to see Rick Zabel claim a stunning sprint victory on a hugely successful second day at the Tour de Yorkshire. By the time they reached Market Place it was Rick Zabel who hit top speed and romped to victory in front of some unbelievable Yorkshire support. The win was his first since 2015 and one which will live long in the memory.
The wet weather didn’t dampen the spirits on the opening stage of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire as Jesper Asselman sprinted to a dramatic breakaway victory in Selby. The riders received a warm welcome in Doncaster’s Market Place at the start of the day and continued to be cheered along by the sizeable crowds who braved the elements to see the world’s best riders in action.
Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne UCI 1.1 HC is the bridesmaid to Het Nieuwsblad’s UCI WT bride but it’s a race with a long history dating back to 1946 and has some interesting winners including Roger De Vlaeminck, Patrick Sercu, Johan Museeuw, George Hincapie, Cav – and a certain Patrick Lefevere in 1978.
It is pretty cool to watch the team wagons roll in for the start of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2019, very military - but the diesel fumes aren’t so much fun. The teams do their best to keep saddos like us away from the bikes with those tapes they use outside night clubs – no creds for us for this race, we’re just fans – so you have to make do with the ‘B’ bikes on the team car roofs for...
It's the start of the season proper with UCI World Tour Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and UCI 1.1 HC Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. It was a tad savage when the alarm blasted at 03:10 on Friday but on the other side of the scales we were on Belgian soil bright and early.
On a day of relentless rain which couldn’t decide whether it was apocalyptic or biblical, former jockey and reigning Scottish Olympic Time Trial Champion, Wilson Renwick (RT 23) was the man who coped best with the drastic conditions. Last man off and former Trossachs top dog, Chris Smart (GTR – Return To Life) finished second with 1:09:57 to Renwick’s 1:07:47. Last place on the podium went to Scottish Hill Climb Champion, David Griffiths (Bioracer-Project GO) with 1:10:23.
An RTTC championship in Scotland? VeloVeritas couldn’t miss that – on the way down I was thinking about opening lines; ‘Marcin Bialoblocki gives himself as a birthday present a clean sweep of all CCT titles from 10 to 100 miles' but John Archibald was having none of it and pulled off the testing surprise of the year.
Mark Robertson (Army CU) who successfully defended his 2017 title, confirming that he’s ‘not just a sprinter’ and giving lie to suggestions that his win last season was a ‘fluke.’ VeloVeritas hasn’t been to the Scottish Road Race Championship for a year or two but when we heard it was in Cromarty, one of favourite places on the globe there could be no excuse for absence.
In the language of the Gael, Glasgow is, ‘The Dear Green Place,’ on Sunday for the European Road race Championship 2018 it was certainly ‘green’ – we’re not do sure about ‘dear’ though; it was grey, miserable, and wet – just plain DREICH. But we still love the city – last time we went west for the Commonwealth Games Road Race, this time we decided to get soaked in the East End.
The 2018 European Time Trial Championships didn’t produce a surprise winner, or runner-up but there were a few surprises lower down the order, men who we’d expected to go a tad faster. But the parcours was pretty technical and not one for the pure ‘Boulevard Blasters.’ Here’s the VeloVeritas rap on the top 15.
Four men – counting the one behind the camera – their mission, to eat as many sandwiches, scotch eggs and sausage rolls as possible in one afternoon, whilst soaking up the sun, roadside at the British Elite Road Race Championships 2018. One of the local lads had the race on his iPhone and the result was confirmed: 1) Connor Swift for Madison Genesis; 2) Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue); 3) Owain Doull (Sky).
No Steve Cummings – saving it for the road race or just no form? - it looked like a shoot-out then between Dauphine winner, Geraint Thomas and chrono specialist Alex Dowsett (Katusha) for the British Time Trial Championships 2018. The sun was out, our spot on the hill was perfect, the marshal was sound with not a trace of Janitordom and Dave’s cheese and ham pieces were of exceptional quality. And Britain’s best bike riders were set to scoot past us. Not much more a man can want in life.
Greg van Avermaet dedicated his stunning Tour de Yorkshire success to the memory of BMC Racing Team owner Andy Rihs after a superb final stage saw him crowned champion in Leeds. Rihs passed away at the age of 75 last month, with BMC still in mourning after losing a friend and passionate cycling fan as well as owner.
A wall of sound greeted Maximillian Walscheid as he sprinted to victory on a sizzling third stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. The crescent-shaped slopes of Scarborough’s North Bay provided a perfect natural amphitheatre for the fourth year in succession and tens of thousands of fans bathed in temperatures hotter than Palma, Paris and Tenerife to watch another dramatic finish unfurl.
Magnus Cort Nielsen couldn’t even hear himself breathe, such was the noise that greeted his mesmeric finish to win stage two of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire. But if the Dane thought that finale in Ilkley was loud, the Yorkshire Bank and Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries leader’s jersey holder hasn’t heard anything yet. History was made as the Tour finished on a summit for the first time, the brutal second stage from Barnsley finishing atop the Cow & Calf hill some 149km later.
Yorkshire has a new cycling hero – and Harry Tanfield can’t quite believe it. Never before had a local won a Tour de Yorkshire stage but with one superb breakaway and one big push to the line, this 23-year-old from Great Ayton had the Doncaster crowd rocking, to take stage 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire 2018.
Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo & The Netherlands) goes from way out, Arnaud Demare (FDJ & France) scrambles for his wheel but is lengths back at the line with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain & Italy) doing well for a man whose speciality is late season races in balmy Italy, taking third. We agree it was a great sprint from the Dutchman but it wasn't a vintage Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.
"Ooooohhhhhhh!" The moan echoes around the bar; these boys are aficionados, they all know that solid Astana Dane, Michael Valgren Andersen isn't coming back - he timed his jump to perfection, there was that fatal second or two of hesitation among the frozen men behind him and he was gone, en route to win Het Nieuwsblad 2018.
On a day when a raw wind scythed across the Borders hills, that slim man who must feel the cold more than most, David Griffiths (Pro Vision Scotland) defended his Scottish Hill Climb Championship on the savage, technical climb out of Stow Village in the rolling Scottish Borders. Griffiths tells us he’s heavier than last year but still looks pretty damn skinny to us.
Chris Smart (GTR) made it a hat trick of wins in the classic Tour de Trossachs 2017 time trial over 24.5 beautiful but demanding miles on a calm, mild and dry autumn Sunday morning, adding to his 2014 and 2015 victories - the race was cancelled last year due to roadworks.
VeloVeritas took a wee run over to Glasgow on Saturday to the Glasgow Sprint Grand Prix; here are some snaps we took which we hope you like. In the language of the Gael, Glasgow is the ‘Dear Green Place’ and right across the road from the splendid Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome it’s even more sublime that that – ‘Paradise.’ At least that’s what the Celtic fans call their Parkhead ground.
The season of 2017 started with positive vibes. I was extremely dedicated and trained hard all through winter. My progression was measured by regular testing with my coach. By February I was counting down the days until I moved to Belgium where I would undertake my first season of racing on the Continent. Prior to leaving for my new home, I discussed a handful of targets to aim for during the season. This really motivated me to knuckle down and complete the last few weeks training.
The Scottish Elite men’s and women’s Road Race Championships winners medals went to new homes with neither of last year's winners Evan Oliphant or Eileen Roe on the start sheet for Sundays events. An exciting day's racing saw the victory in the Elite Men’s race go to the Army CC’s Mark Robertson with Julie Erskine riding appropriately for Cycle Team on Form taking the Women’s title.
Former Dutch Champion, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL) struck out early on Stage 21 and held on for his seventh win of the season after stage wins in Dubai, Yorkshire, two in Norway and two in the Ster ZLM Tour. He’s had two sixth places, a fifth, a third and a second in this Tour but with that big hurdle called Kittel out of the way, this one belonged to him.
It was Vince Lombardi the legendary American Football coach and sports philosopher who said; “show me a ‘good loser’ and I’ll show you a loser.” Romain Bardet has no need to worry, sitting on the cold concrete of the stadium tunnel floor, back against the wall, glazed eyes staring at the wall opposite, oblivious to the pats on the back of consolation, empty, devastated to lose second place. He’s anything but a ‘good loser.’
To paraphrase the late, great Donna Summer; ‘they work hard for the money.’ Those Sky boys. Perhaps Henao had a few mountain days where Sir David and Le Chien Froomey didn’t think the Columbian did enough graft – he made up for it on Stage 19 though, riding tempo remorselessly on the front of the peloton. Spectacular? No. Damn hard work? For sure.
As James Bond might say; ‘there musht be shom mishtake!’ Louis and Rigo doing a spell? Steady boys! In fairness to the UAE man from the RSA his pull didn’t last long. And neither did the Cannondale Colombian’s - but the former National Time Trial Champion and Giro TT winner had real power in his spell to close Froome down on the Izoard.
A decisive battle? No. A day of attrition? Absolutely. The ‘Royal’ group at the head of affairs behind winning LottoNL ski jumper turned cyclist Slovenian, Primož Roglič speaks for itself; Christopher Froome ((Sky & GB) is back in his usual position, at the front with a hugely strong team to back him and a time trial ‘buffer’ if he needs it.
In his classic song, ‘Pink Houses’ John Mellencamp says; ‘And there's winners, and there's losers - but they ain't no big deal.’ We’re not sure that Sunweb or QuickStep, the biggest winners and losers of the day would agree. Sunweb’s day was perfect; they isolated Kittel; took Matthews to the intermediate sprint win and then the stage win.
Sunday, Stage 15 and VeloVeritas’s last shift on Tour - so we headed for the biggest hill we could find to remind ourselves how special and beautiful France and this race really are. Today we’re in the heartland, perhaps not deepest agricultural ‘France Profonde;’ the rural, simple, beautiful heart of the nation, not with the gorges and cols - but it’s quiet, lovely and some of the simple, striking images surprise as you drive the parcours.
Yes, there are days when we’ve criticised the racing – those endless ‘sprinter stages’ where only the last five minutes saves the day. But we were puzzled by the comments we saw about yesterday’s stage to Rodez on social media; the "Bore de France" and the break "allowed for purely commercial reasons"?
VeloVeritas soothsayer, Viktor and I have long been critics of Warren Barguil (Sunweb & France) as a ‘one hit wonder,’ with his two stage wins in the Vuelta in 2013 then very little else; but in this Tour he’s certainly been reborn. He was so close to Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale & Colombia) last Sunday after being the hero of the day and today, on Bastille Day he scored the biggest and most beautiful win of his career with a historic stage victory.
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.
‘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.
‘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.
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.
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?
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.