The First 11 Years of VeloVeritas!
Daniel Holloway does the countdown in his Californian-Swedish, ten down to six; the crowd takes over from five down to one, the cannon report just about bursts everyone’s ear drums, then there’s the smoke. For a split second nothing happens, everyone is too stunned by the noise and reek of gunpowder. But there’s the bongos – and Paul Delicato’s velvet voice; 'Cara Mia mine, must we say goodbye...' It can only be the Copenhagen Six Day 2018 !
'Beauty and the Beast' is the first entry in our Berlin Six Day 2018 scrapbook - handsome devil Denmark's Marc Hester warms up on his rollers as the German sprinters' mechanic waits for the next gear change job. Marc rode with Jesper Mørkøv ‘til kidney stones forced the younger Mørkøv bruv out. Meanwhile our boy Nico plays shy but Achim gives us a smile. Nico is the son of sprint legend, Lutz Hesslich - Berlin was his second last race - he calls 'time' after Copenhagen.
"All is forgiven," Mr. Kenny De Ketele. After the two and four lap finale debacles of Gent and Rotterdam the Belgian former World Champion finally served us up a proper, entertaining final chase in the Bremen Six Day 2018; five teams were all in with realistic podium chances going into the closing 60 minute chase and the winning move only came late in the day.
At the Rotterdam Six Day Gent winners Moreno De Pauw and Kenny De Ketele carried on where they left off – but instead of winning by two laps, they made it four... dominant for sure but no spectacle. We drove north for a couple of hours then parked up in a truck stop for what passes as sleep on the Six Day carousel... Bremen is the next stop, an industrial city of more than two millions souls in Northern Germany.
Forgive me if all I do these days is moan about Six Day finales. But ... As Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis booms out of the PA the scoreboard tells me Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw are FOUR laps clear in the last chase at the Rotterdam Six Day 2018. It's a real cliff hanger ...
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.
The David Rayner has been helping young riders realise their continental dreams since 1995 with David Millar one of the first to benefit, and Theo Hartley from Bolton in Lancs will be one of the grant recipients in 2018. He'll be joining the Belgian Illi Bikes squad, run by long term Six Day soigneur and track aficionado, Etienne Illegems and his son Ken who was for a time a mechanic with Team Sky but could get round a tough kermis on his good days.
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...
It was 1971 when I first joined a cycling club; Kirkcaldy & District CC with their red, yellow and black strip. One of the coolest guys in the club was Dave Gardiner, a signwriter to trade so whilst we rode somewhat mundane Mercians, Robertsons, Andy McNeils and Flying Scots his bike would be liveried up in proper red and white Faema trim, a la Merckx, right down to the little Duomo motif on the head tube.
He may be best known as a cross country MTB man but on a course at Hetton Lyons Country Park, Sunderland which included a little of everything, not so far from his Peebles home in the Scottish Borders, 24 year-old Grant Ferguson ran away with the British Elite Cyclo-Cross championships. Beating into second place the man mostly closely associated with the title in recent years, five times champion, Ian Field. The look on Field's face reflected the fact that a British champion's jersey is worth around 1,000 Euros in start money in any big continental 'cross.
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.
Sergio Henao will head Team Sky’s charge in his homeland at the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz (6-11 February). The Colombian heads a lineup including fellow countrymen Sebastian Henao and Egan Bernal for the new six-day stage race, which will see Team Sky race in Colombia for the first time ever. Debutant Jonathan Castroviejo, Tao Geoghegan Hart and David Lopez complete the six-man squad.
Lasse Norman Hansen sealed Aqua Blue Sport’s first win in 2018 season in spectacular fashion by powering to victory in an hectic sprint finale on stage one of Jayco Herald Sun Tour. The Dane, who is also the new yellow jersey of the race, made cycling history by taking the first UCI professional road race win with a 1x drivetrain bike - the 3T Strada.
The 2017 FT Bidlake Memorial Prize has been awarded to Chris Froome in recognition of his achievement of winning the Tour de France for the fourth time, then being the first British rider to win the Vuelta a España in the same year.
Michal Kwiatkowski is hoping to tackle the Tour of Flanders this season as he looks to continue his momentum following a standout 2017 campaign. The Pole enjoyed arguably the best 12 months of his career with marquee victories at Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Clasica San Sebastian, before heading to the Tour de France to help wingman Chris Froome to a fourth title.
John Archibald has ‘done the business’ when it comes to qualifying for the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia come the spring. But Scotland has another young man chasing qualification for those lung shredding four kilometres, Mr. Kyle Gordon; we had a word with him after his recent adventures in Europe.
Dylan Van Baarle has improved each time he has competed at the Tour of Flanders, and in 2017 was knocking on the door of a podium with fourth place. Now 25, the Dutchman is ready to challenge for more on the cobbles, and can’t wait to slot himself into the team’s Classics group.
We’ve spoken to Dan Bigham more than once this year, he won eight British Championships this year, against the watch and on the track. But there’s more to Bigham and his KGF team than domestic success; they’ve been riding the UCI World Cup series and in December rode international track meetings in Portugal and Switzerland with strong results.
KASK have today unveiled their most aerodynamic road helmet, which be available to buy later this year. The KASK Utopia offers the very latest technology in aerodynamics and ventilation, giving cyclists a super-fast ride while retaining excellent safety and cooling capabilities.