Janet Birkmyre won’t be a new name to you if you follow Masters racing; the woman has won on a prolific scale but not just as a Master, at UK Elite level too. Here’s her tale...
The British Hill Climb Championships is as close as you’ll get to a continental race atmosphere in the UK – Grand Tour visits apart – with this year’s joust with Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery taking place on Pea Royd Lane, Stocksbridge near Sheffield in South Yorkshire in front of a large, exuberant gallery. This year’s edition fell to 33 year-old solicitor from Bath, Andrew Feather (BCR Racing); this was his 12th hill climb win this year off 15 starts so it’s fair to say his championship win double underlined his status as Britain’s number one anti-gravity specialist of the moment.
Our first question to Grant Ferguson, perhaps better known for his mountain bike and cyclo-cross (he’s reigning British Elite Cyclo-Cross champion, don’t forget) adventures, following his win in this year's Scottish Hill Climb championships was "did you have a back brake this time, Grant?"
The other day we were congratulating ourselves on the fact that we’d spoken to every CTT competition record holder from 10 miles to 12 hours, including Stuart Travis’s recent blitzing of the ‘30’ record. However, we were reminded that all of those were men’s records and we should pay attention to the ladies. Enter Ms. Alice Lethbridge, competition record holder at 15 miles, 100 miles and 12 hours – not to mention a member of the record breaking teams at 15, 25, 50 and 100 miles.
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.
‘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.
Eight Cycling Medals for Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games; Scottish cyclists hit the jackpot with gold for the inimitable Katie Archibald in the pursuit and for Mark Stewart in the points race. Silver medals went to Katie’s brother, John in the individual pursuit, Jack Carlin in the sprint, Katie in the women’s points race and Neah Evans in the women’s scratch. And there were two bronze medals, one for Neah in the women’s points and one for Callum Skinner in the kilometre. Eight medals – a wonderful performance from all concerned.
The last rant of 2017, where did that year go? In fact, where did the last 11 years go? It seems like t’other day we set the site up. To business! Let’s get the bad bits of 2017 out of the way first...
We hope you enjoyed our series of interviews with Scotland’s medal prospects for The Gold Coast – we certainly enjoyed speaking to such talented and highly motivated young men and women. But let’s not got too cocky, endorsing what Katie said in her interview we’ve heard again that the Aussies are prioritising the Commonwealth Games - on their home ground - above The Worlds. ‘Lighter’ than normal teams have been representing them at the World Cups and it’s all about peaking early April for them. We’ve warned you...
Oh dear. I hate this carry on, writing about drugs scandals. And please, Froomists don’t pick me up on a point of semantics; to the man in the street, it’s a ‘drug scandal,’ pure and simple. OK, here goes. What’s up? The winner of the 2017 Vuelta a España, Christopher Froome of Team Sky returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for the asthma drug ‘salbutamol’ on Stage 18 of the race.
The Tour de Trossachs: when the alarm blasts at 06:30 on a Sunday morning the question is; ‘do I really have to go all the way to Aberfoyle?’ But once you’re breathing that sweet fern scented air on The Duke’s Pass then driving along lovely Loch Achray side you remember why you love this race. Great history, wonderful scenery, a course which challenges your abilities as a bike rider. So why do entries drop every year?
Mondays in the Flatlands of Belgium aren’t the best; most shops are shut but the flight back to Auld Scotia isn’t ‘til late so use has to be made of the time available. Looking out of the window on Monday morning, the man across the road has his priorities right – ‘keep that Jupiler cold!’
Roadside at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and KBK 2018. The first classic weekend of the year has been and gone and safely back in a rather snowy Scotland I've got time to reflect on the Classic season opener. The glorious Belgian sunshine all weekend could not lift the thermometer and the riders endured bitterly cold conditions for both Het Nieuwsblad or Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.
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. Big Pole Lukasz Wisniowski (Sky) takes second with the only Belgian who properly 'honoured the race,' big Sep Vanmarcke (EF) taking third place.
In a classic Six Day finale points shoot-out with the result not confirmed until the finish line, classy Home Boy Michael Mørkøv paired with the current Capo of the Six Day boards, Belgium's Kenny De Ketele to land his seventh Copenhagen Six Day at midnight on Tuesday on the wide boards of the 250 metre Ballerup track.
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...
Paul Jones had the rather splendid idea of writing a book about the man who was British Junior Road Race Champion, British Kilometre Champion, twice British Team Pursuit Champion, six times British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion and who unearthed the Holy Grail of time testing - the 30 miles per hour 25 mile time trial ride; stopping the clock in 49 minutes and 24 seconds in August 1978; Alf Engers.
This is the least favourite part of having our own wee website; writing the obituaries of bright young men with most of their lives still ahead of them. This past week we lost Lewis Oliphant, perhaps best known for his exploits on the grass track. At VeloVeritas we knew Lewis but couldn't claim to know him well; what we've done then is to ask for people who were close to let us have their tributes.
Just days after we penned our tribute to departed six day Great, Germany’s Dieter Kemper, we find ourselves having to write another tribute to a track star. This time, one of Britain’s own, twice World Amateur Pursuit and twice British & Commonwealth Games Pursuit Champion, Norman Sheil.
It was back in May 2015 when Jim Cusick told us about the professional jockey who was riding time trials. Since then Wilson Renwick has swapped equine saddles for the narrower models you find on time trial bikes, winning the Scottish 'Olympic' Time Trial Championship back in the spring of this year and has just added the classic Tour of the Trossachs to his palmares. We caught up with him the day after his epic ride on what was the toughest day most can remember for the event.
The 30 Mile TT Record was held by Michael (Doctor Hutch) Hutchison with 55:39 but was smashed recently in the Leo Road Club event by Stuart Travis, with 53:44. The record actually fell before the Team Bottrill man finished with Gary Chambers (NOPINZ) clocking 55:09 before Travis depth charged that with his 53 minute ride. Travis also led his team to a new team record by a remarkable 10 minutes. Here’s what Mr. Travis had to say to VeloVeritas a day or two after he put his name on the same page in the CTT record book as some of the greatest short distance time trial riders the sport has ever known.
After six times finishing on the podium of the Men Elite Road World Championship, Alejandro Valverde claimed the gold medal for Spain for the first time at the age of 38. He rode away up the Höll, the gruelling climb at the end of the race, along with France’s Romain Bardet and Canada’s Michael Woods to beat them in a four-man sprint after the return of the Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. The final event crowned a wonderful week of sport in Innsbruck-Tirol.