VeloVeritas interviewed Scottish Legend John McMillan, last year – doing some research into the 'Peace Race' recently we asked John if he’s ever ridden the Warsaw-Berlin-Prague. He said he hadn’t - but he had ridden the Okolo Slovenska, the seven day Tour of Slovakia, which in 1965 was part of Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia and which had the aim of celebrating the liberation of Slovakia by the Red Army in 1945.
As we said the other week, it's always nice to get feedback from readers - even when we get slapped wrists. One of our Scandinavian readers wasn't happy that in our 'Six Day Hardware' piece we missed out the frames of a certain Baron Merckx. We hope the following rectifies things as we look at Merckx machines present and recent past.
Cycle Sport magazine run an article a few months ago, ‘The 25 Most Stylish Riders of all Time’ – Giovanni Battaglin, Roger De Vlaeminck, Francesco Moser, all fair enough. But there were some glaring omissions, Tom Simpson, Ferdi Bracke, Ole Ritter and the big blond Dutchman Roy Schuiten, who in 1971 took silver in The Netherlands amateur pursuit championships. A year later it was gold and there was a third place in the amateur Grand Prix des Nations. Roy Schuiten, ace pursuiter, consummate chronoman and stylist may you rest in peace – you’ll always be one of the very coolest for us at VeloVeritas.
It was Sean Connery's character in the film "The Untouchables" who suggested you don't bring a knife to a gun fight and it was clear that the weapons of choice at the opening classics weekend in Belgium would contribute to the outcome and individual's performance. Having wandered around the teams at both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne it became clear there was a lot of nice kit being readied to race.
We headed to the launch of the recent 2016 Spokes Racing Team, the freezing weather failing to curb the enthusiasm of 120 supporters who had all paid £30 per head to attend the event, held in the Old Manor hotel in Lundin Links, Fife. Spokes team owner owner Craig Greive and director sportiv Blair Whiteside had put together quite an evening with guest speakers including former pro and now DS at One Pro Cycling James McCallum (who's still looking fit), the Lord Provost of Fife and Director at Dunfermline Football Club and quite the celebrity and public speaker, Jim Leishman.
He’s at it again – more pictures! This time John Pierce has sent us some of his favourite images of British track stars of the present and recent past; we hope you like them as much as we do.
Coming to Gent to watch the Six Day, as I have for 20 years, is like meeting up with an old friend, a friend you see just once a year but when you meet you are familiar and easy in each others company. Most familiar is the velodrome, Het Kuipke that hosts the Six Days which has, barring a few upgrades in the bar areas, changed very little during the time I’ve been coming.
My eyes snap open to golden dappled rays silhouetting pine branches above - beneath me a pillow of twigs and earth, nearby a lake nestled between snowy peaks shimmers enticingly. My legs are in a tent, my body protruding out. I think I'm naked.
I am staying at my in-laws in Brittany, as I do every summer since I got married and every two or three years it is my base for watching the Tour on the ground. This year things couldn’t be better, with a stage start about 40 minutes east in the city of Rennes and the finish accessible about an hour to the west. I have enjoyed looking at the team cars, buses at the start in previous years so my plan is to find the ‘paddock’ and see how close I can get. With journalists, soigneurs and directeur sportifs all around, the fan can feel part of the event.
Stage One of this year’s Tour looked tailor made for Tony Martin (Germany & QuickStep); or just maybe rising Giant home boy chronostar Tom Dumoulin? - but a name which kept appearing in the Australian press as Le Tour loomed large was that of BMC’s 25 year-old South Australian rider, Rohan Dennis.
Don’t worry! You’ll get no lectures or swear words from me; just one old cycling lover’s random personal remembrances of another wonderful two weeks spent in La Belle France... is it really just three years since the memorable famous first British victory in the race for Bradley Wiggins? Can Chris Froome take the country's tally to three in a month's time?
The Monday after Kuurne can be a bit of a downer, most of the bike shops are shut and you know that reality is just one sleep away but not this one; first up we had an interview with Rudy Pevenage – strangely, there were no scales, horns or tail on view and rather than being the devil incarnate we met a man who – like so many others – ‘did what he had to do’ in era where the UCI as much as invited you to kit up.
This time last year I was traveling the world, sourcing suppliers for a new Planet X clothing range. One year on and we have made some giant steps forward. Not only has all the hard work paid off, with the new Planet X 365X clothing range now available both in store and online, we are also proudly supporting the Danish Professional cycling team Christina Watches - as official technical sponsor.
Glasgow 2014 today revealed the routes for the Commonwealth Games Cycling road events that will see elite athletes from across the globe race through the heart of Glasgow and beyond. The excitement of the Games will reach audiences in towns and villages around the city as riders battle against the clock during the Time Trial event on Thursday 31 July, while Glasgow itself becomes the race track on Sunday 3 August with the fastest riders chasing each other through the city’s streets for the action packed Road Race.
We often hear about how the riders at the Tour de France study "the Roadbook" to learn the final kilometres of a particular stage, or to identify which stage may be "the one" to go for, but what exactly does the Tour de France Roadbook contain, who uses it, and how useful is it, really? Published by ASO each year a few weeks before the Prologue and in several languages, the Roadbook is also known as the race "bible".
John Lewis has been unveiled as the ‘Official Department Store Provider’ of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The partnership will see the retailer provide bedding and white goods for the Athletes’ Village. Glasgow 2014 merchandise is also available to buy on johnlewis.com now, and, later in the year, dedicated Glasgow 2014 shops will open within John Lewis’s Scottish shops, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
If you’re a regular VeloVeritas reader then you’ll be aware of top Scottish time trial rider, Silas Goldsworthy’s quest to qualify for the individual pursuit in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. We've just written about his victory in the classic Scottish event the Tour des Trossachs, but Silas' most recent opportunity to dip under the qualifying standard for the Games came in that Mecca for Six Day racing - Gent. But not on the tiny 167 metre Kuipke Velodrome where Sercu, De Wilde and Keisse have ruled down through the ages; but on the 250 metre covered track in Gent – scene of the ‘International Belgian Open.’ Those UCI rules just keep changing; and now riders have to qualify individually just to ride World Cups, never mind World Championships. We spoke to Silas after he’d had a chance to gather his thought about his excursion to VeloVeritas’s favourite city.
Have you been clearing out the loft, found an old race programme or finishing sheet and wondering what to do with it? Fire it off to VeloVeritas – we love the smell of the old paper, those names that we’d just about forgotten and remembering that British Cycling did actually exist before Sky came along. Kris, my Six Day boss sent me a photocopied sheet from the past, the other day – it’s not the best print job but it’s just about readable. ‘The Crystal Palace Grand Prix’ was run in April 1978 on the famous circuit of that name in London, where you can still go and ride the mid-week ‘crit.’
The roofs outside our hotel window were steaming in the morning sun when we opened the shutters on Sunday morning. Much as we felt we'd been part of something special on Saturday in the blizzard on the Tre Cime - it was nice to see a clear blue sky and feel the warmth of the sun on our skin. The Hotel Trieste is well up the 'Fawlty Towers' rankings; it was built by the old patron's grandfather - and hasn't been painted since - hot water was at a premium and outside our room, the place was freezing. But the beds were clean, the room was cosy and the wi-fi was A1.
Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 today announced a family-friendly Glasgow Commonwealth Games Tickets strategy focused on delivering packed stadia and a ‘Games for Everyone’. The Organising Committee unveiled that access next year to sporting events at one of the world’s greatest multi-sports Games will start from just £15 for adults.
Nostalgia: “describes a sentimental longing for the past” defines the dictionary. I’m not one to sit and say that everything was better when I was a youngster – bikes certainly weren’t; much of the equipment available was scrap and would get laughed out of court in 2013. Cycling clothing was horrible and cycling shoes were positively medieval. Albeit cars were cooler, music was better and so was the cycling scene.
Jonathan Bellis was one of British Cycling’s brightest lights - until a life threatening scooter crash on September 19th 2009 in his then home of Tuscany. The versatile man from the Isle of Man spent practically a year in hospital and even then had to return for another operation at the end of 2010. Prior to the accident it looked as if Bellis was headed for the very top. Whilst we were at the Copenhagen Six Day a few weeks ago we met Etienne Ilegems who’s a soigneur at the Sixes as well as working for Topsport Vlaanderen on occasion. With his ex-Sky mechanic son, Ken he also runs the Belgian amateur squad, ILLI-Bikes Cycling Team – and that’s how we got to hear where Jonathan was going to spend 2013. In our usual fashion, we thought we’d best ‘have a word.’
This is the first of several excerpts from my book "The Cycling Professor", to give you a flavour of the topics I discuss in it. Thanks to the guys at VeloVeritas for the opportunity to do this. In this extract, which is a short chapter about my idea that professionals cyclists are essentially entrepreneurs, with a product to market that is at once time-limited, unique and fragile - themselves. I explain that despite being employed by a team, most riders have to organise their finances themselves - things that regular employees take a little for-granted such as health insurance, pension contributions and savings plans. I hope you enjoy the chapter "Entrepreneurs on the Saddle".
Trinidad and Tobago’s Emile Abraham has been on the international pro scene for a long time; 2013 will be his 12th season. But he’s still grabbing those podium places on the super-fast US criterium scene, not to mention racking up the stage wins year on year in his home race, the Tour of Tobago.
Italian professional Marco Pinotti's new book, "The Cycling Professor" isn't so much a classic biography as a collection of anecdotes and experiences. In the book, the 36 year-old BMC rider from Bergamo takes the reader through his fourteen years as a professional cyclist, why he began in the sport later than his peers, his thoughts on the changes to the roads and training methods, and he details his views on some personalities and the major races on the calendar. Marco has said that compared to riding a three week national tour, writing a book is much harder, but we're not convinced and caught up with him before the BMC team launch in Belgium to ask him about his extra-curricular project ourselves...
You’re in Glasgow on your bike and need a good cup of coffee and some healthy victuals, but don’t need the stares; you like good sounds and you want to talk bicycles, not fitba’ and maybe you’re looking for the latest in ‘fixie’ street cred hardware and kit? Look no further – 162 Dumbarton Road, Partick should be your destination. Siempre Bicycle Café is the name of this oasis in the desert of bad coffee and ‘I’m too sexy for my job’ bicycle shop staff.
I watched the stage finale at Casa Vik, today. It was kind of him to invite me over; I wouldn’t have made it home in time to see the finish. But it wasn’t the same, not being there, not being part of it all. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and more sentimental, but this year I felt the strongest connection to the race I’ve had in the seven times I’ve covered it.
It's a pleasure to be given the opportunity to write for the guys at VeloVeritas, and hopefully this might give a little insight as to what it's like for the lesser-known riders, trying to establish a career in such a cut-throat sport. But before we get to all that it seems appropriate to sort out the who, what, where, & how.
'First race today, took it pretty easy, finished 14th - feel good.' Yes, Hamish Haynes is back to start his 10th season in the flatlands. No World Class Performance Plans, no Lottery funding, just hard graft and dedication. Haynes came late to sport but has been racing and winning in the Flanders since 2003. In the last decade the 37 year-old Haynes has ridden for the DFL, Cyclingnews, Maestro and Jartazi pro teams, but more recently with solid Belgian amateur and Continental teams such as Yawadoo and Colba-Mercury.
Back in mid-December, VeloVeritas pal Mike Zagorski noticed that 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button was in Hawaii, by happy coincidence the same island that he lives on. As it turns out, Jenson was on a bit of a holiday with his girlfriend, a Japanese model named Jessica Michibata, and long-time friend Chris Buncombe (24hr Le Mans driver) - and they had brought their bikes! Mike made contact with Jenson and within a day or two had managed to nail down a time and place to ride.
Our friend John Young, of Fietsenphotography, worked at the Rotterdam Six Day this year, and sent us a bunch of photos. We thought you'd like them!
'There's a time to come and a time to go,' the words of Danny Stam when he announced that he would retire at the end of this winter season, the Dutchman is 39 years-old. But whilst the former British under 23 road race champion, twice British hill climb champion and Tour of the Pyrenees winner, Dan Fleeman is 10 years younger than the six day man, he's arrived at the same conclusion.
Desserts And Grace. Great food pun. Well, an ok food pun. I'm sure there are some unemployed former News Of The World staffers who could come up with something better". Enough of unimportant stuff though! Onto the cycling. Last night was a very tough stage-Voeckler's team did indeed keep things quite close to ensure he retained the yellow jersey, and Gilbert hit out hard to try and shake the sprinters prior to the finale.
Apologies for not updating the site for a little while folks - we've both been very busy with our day jobs. Ed has been clearing the decks before heading over to Italy to cover the Giro d'Italia shortly, and so to get us in the mood we thought you'd enjoy revisiting one of our diary articles from Stage 11 of last year's race, a 262km haul from Lucera to L'Aquila, when a break of over 50 riders threatened to overturn the race completely...
After the excellent articles on Alf Engers competition record published on VeloVeritas, specifically Part 2, but also Part 1, I thought I should try to recall my memories of that day away back in 1978. At 14 years old it's not often that you can say that "I was there" but I was.
In My Shoes. Imagine you are a young man. You are racing in your first Tour De France. You do not know it will be your only one. You have climbed the ladder from the outside in, from day one. You have won the Olympic Games, you have survived a season on your own in Belgium, you have survived all things Grewal. Your entire life has been to win your father's approval, to be seen in his eyes and hence in your own as a winner. Nothing you have done to date has ever made that possible. Not even a Gold Medal...
Hidden away in North East Africa - 'The Horn' - bordering Ethiopia and Sudan is a little known country called Eritrea, officially 'The State of Eritrea.' At 118,000 square kilometres it's around half the size of the United Kingdom; with a population similar to that of Scotland at an estimated five million It's better known for producing athletes of the running variety, but one ambitious, young sportsman is breaking the trend...
The Olympics in L.A. Mission Viejo, Sunday July 29th 1984 and Alexi Grewal wins the 190 kilometre Los Angeles Olympic Road Race for the United States in front of an estimated 300,000 home fans. It should have been the start of a magnificent career for the talented man from Aspen, Colorado, but it didn't work out quite like that. Despite contracts with some of the best teams of the era-Panasonic, 7-11 and RMO-and flashes of brilliance, his Euro career never caught fire and he returned to the USA. The wins came there, but to knowledgeable observers, his was always an example of unfulfilled genius.
It seems like a lifetime ago that we (that's the 'royal we' i.e Stef) were packing the car and heading off for the first world cup of the season in Aigle, Switzerland. Ten days, eight countries and two races later we are on our way home to Oudenaarde. Having tasted local delicacies along the way I can say hand-on-heart my favourite food is still Italian. Not wanting to write entirely about food though - although it is one of my favourite subjects - I will include the odd incident which hasn't coincided with mealtime, for those trying to diet...
On Friday La Vuelta arrives in Burgos, having travelled from Rinón de Soto, famous as the pear capital of La Rioja. VeloVeritas will be in Burgos and we'll be following the race for a few days as it enters Cantabria, finishing at Peña Cabarga on Saturday and Lagos de Covadonga (where Robert Millar once made us teary eyed with national pride as he left the best Spanish climbers in his wake) on Sunday. We thought it would be interesting to revisit the last time we were in Burgos for La Vuelta, a couple of years ago.
If you're heading to Mallorca on holiday or for a training camp it makes a lot of sense to hire a bike over there rather than take your own machine to the island. I recently spent a couple of weeks in PollenÃ§a in the north east of Mallorca, on a family holiday - and for simplicity I decided to do just that. Here's how it went...
A week after the Tour, and Mands and I got ourselves over to San Sebastian for a bit of vacation relaxery after the saga that is the nose to the grindstone month of the Tour. We needed to drop off some key stuff for the team that was working the race (as an excuse to get over to one of the coolest towns in Europe-not bad!) Two birds, one stone, all of that! We rocked up at the team hotel the morning before all of the riders arrived, dropped off what was needed and skedaddled.
Racing for Asfra flanders, VeloVeritas contributer Dan Patten bagged his first win of the year in Belgium, at a kermis in Ghoy. It has been on the cards for a while but Dan finally got the first one under his belt. Away from the beginning of the race in the break, Dan rode away from what was left of the group with around 30km remaining as they were being chased down by another group - so even though it was still a long way from the finish he felt it was the right moment to go...
Last weekend saw the Duncan Macgregor Memorial road race take place in Fife. The race almost didn't happen, so we thought we'd ask organiser, Callum Macgregor what the story was.
I clicked on Hamish Haynes' name on a palmares website, just to see who it is that he's beating to win these races in Flanders; 'Melle 2005' that was Steven de Jongh - twice a Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne winner. Or how about when he won the British Elite road champs in 2006 - Roger Hammond was the victim. Despite the fact that year in, year out, he competes with and regularly beats the best cyclists that Flanders has to offer - including quality East Europeans - he's one of British Cycling's forgotten men.
Raleigh - Back in the Game. The all-new British-based Team Raleigh was launched recently. Our pal Dan Fleeman - who together with Tom Barras will lead the squad - kindly sent us some pics from the team's presentation which took place at the Eastwood Hall Conference Centre and Hotel in Nottingham, home of the legendary marque.
Endura Racing Team was today unveiled to the UK press, media and special guests at the Porsche Human Performance centre at Silverstone. The launch followed months of hard work and dedication from the whole of the Endura Racing set-up, and culminated with many of the attendees leaving with a sense that this team are on the cusp of a great season in 2010.
It's two years since we lost Jason MacIntyre. We thought it might be appropriate to remember one of his greatest triumphs, here's what he had to say to us after he won his first British '25' title back in June, 2006.
"It's cycling Jim, but not as we know it!" The presentation of the Tour de France route is something we used to read about in the mags and not really think twice about. We'd see the route in the Comic and have a blether about it, but maybe not think too much about it until Tour time. Now, there's a fleet of satellite TV vehicles outside the Palais de Congres and the event is beamed 'live and direct' around the globe.
We interviewed Joe Parkin recently as part of our "Racing in Belgium" series. Joe has written a great book about his experiences entitled "A Dog in a Hat", and is busy writing his second. In case we've inspired any of you to head over to "the Heartland" and give kermis racing a go, we thought we'd present Joe's startline checklist...
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