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British Tour de France winners are now commonplace but back in my youth, we could only dream of such things; however we had warriors out there, battling Johnny Foreigner in his back yard – Barry Hoban, Mike Wright and a chap called Derek Harrison. Harrison died in Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France on May 12th last year at 74 years-of-age.
It wasn't just Vik and I who thought the Gent Six Day finale was a tad too obvious to be true - "a Fairtytale" Cycling Weekly said, they got that right - we've had feedback from two men who were there. Our man who lives in Gent said; "It was without a doubt the most historic Gent Six I've attended and I don't think we'll see another in our lifetime ( I did say 10 years ago or so that there will never be a British winner of the Tour - what do I know). It was however the most blatantly fixed Six Day I've seen."
Team Sky’s Ben Swift seems to have been with us a long time but the fact is he’s that he’s still only 28 years old, just coming into his prime as a rider. And if any of us thought his third place in the 2014 Milan-Sanremo was a fluke we had that notion debunked when the man from Rotherham stepped up one place on the podium to second spot behind controversial winner, Arnaud Démare (F des J & France) in this year’s race – Démare having been accused of taken pace from his team car on the Cipressa climb whilst coming back from a crash.
Coaches, everyone has one these days and a name which keeps cropping up when we interview riders is that of Jon Sharples and his ‘TrainSharp Cycle Coaching’ company. In time honoured VeloVeritas fashion we ‘had a word.’
Dan Fleeman has been British National U23 Road Race Champion and twice British Hill Climb Champion; and now he's gone and won another national title - the British Cross Country Marathon Mountain Bike Championship. We'd been meaning to speak to him about his new title for ages but needed our memories jogged; so he came up with eighth place in the Beaumont Trophy road race putting him among the UCI Euro Tour points. And then - he placed 14th in the British Elite Road Race Championship.
Here at VeloVeritas we’ve been doing a bit of research into Six Days from years gone by and a name that cropped up was that of Derek Hunt. Hunt was a very successful schoolboy and junior on the UK scene in the 70’s before moving to The Netherlands where he was a regular participant in the amateur Six Days – notably, winning the Maastricht race.
Where do the World's Top Riders come from? It creeps up on you, the need, nae, the burning desire to rant. The last straw was Chris Froome's comments about the Tour organiser's intention to include cobbles in the 2014 race. Chris isn't keen - he wants just long, flat time trials and mountain stages; but we guess he's OK with the sprinter stages. too?
The sports news came on Radio Two and as Johnny Saunders uttered the words which jarred; ‘Italian cyclist,’ I thought; “no, please not Vincenzo!” But no, it was Vini Fantini’s Mauro Santambrogio.