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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.
‘Well Phil,’ the words that we all remember so well, used by Paul Sherwen when he was about to put co-commentator Phil Liggett right about something during one of the hundreds of Tour de France stages the pair covered for TV networks from England to Australia via the USA. Sadly, we’ll hear that catch phrase no more, the 62 year-old Briton having passed away in his sleep at his home in Kampala in his adopted nation of Uganda on Sunday.
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 hasn’t been a good week for the sport of cycling’s past champions; but not just men who won races, colourful men with personality. First we lost six day star Andreas Kappes to a bee sting, of all things. And we heard today that Armand de las Cuevas had taken his own life on the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, which was his home in recent years.
It’s with much sadness that we report the death of former Six Day and road star, Germany’s Andreas Kappes at just 52 years of age. He was stung by a bee whilst on cycling team management duties and died from ‘allergic shock’ on 31st July. Kappes was one of the all-time great Six Day men, rated 18th in the last edition of the Six Day results ‘bible’ – ‘Statistieken.’
On Tuesday morning we awoke to the sad news that North of Scotland stalwart, Ivor Reid had died at just 57 years-of-age. Tragic. I wasn’t privileged to call Ivor a close personal friend but I knew the man for a long time; from the early 80’s and when we met there was always a warm hand shake and some good chat. When I saw pictures of him racing as a ‘Master’ on the track I always had to smile; the gear was always the best and right up to the minute - be it aero helmets, ‘keirin’ gloves, wheels, shoes, his enthusiasm and love for all things track cycling shone from those images.
Wouter WeylandtWhen Martin suggested we use the Wouter Weylandt obituary as our 2011 article in our 'VeloVeritas looks back over our last 11 years' series it stirred memories of such a sad day. It's not something I've mentioned to many but on that day of despair I had been waiting to speak to Wouter at the Leopard-Trek bus before the race - but with the depart looming we had to vamoose and get a head start on the peloton. I sometimes wonder that if we'd waited a little longer, met Wouter and spent even a few moments with him then perhaps it may have changed the whole dynamic of his day? We'll never know.
The sad news came through from Belgium on Sunday morning that Graham Webb, British World road champion in 1967, had passed away. Our condolences go to his family and the many friends and fans he had in the cycling community. A great champion and a wonderful guy. Ed interviewed Graham back in 2009, and we thought that reproducing the interview now would be a good tribute to the man. In memory of Graham; his views on the sport back in 2009. 'Former World Road Race Champion,' yes, that would be nice to have that after your name!
On a morning which delivered everything from flat calm with balmy sunshine – complete with midges – to a stiff breeze with stinging rain it was Pro Vision Cycle Clothing’s John Archibald once again delivering the result over 17.8 ‘sporting’ miles around lovely Loch Leven in the Jason Macintyre Memorial Time Trial which was also round four of the CTC ‘Knights Composites Classic TT Series.’ Billed as the ‘Tour of Glencoe’ that was a slight misnomer albeit the race did skirt Glencoe village and pass through Invercoe it was more of a ‘Loch Leven Loop’ but whatever the name the backdrop was stunning – Scotland at it’s best.
Last Saturday I, like many others, was stunned by the news of Scarponi's death, and every day I've become increasingly saddened, indeed, angered by it. I don't know why his death should affect me this way and not any other cyclist's needless demise on the public road and I'm writing not only in the hope that I'll get it out of my system, but to make some observations I believe need making. The regular reporting of the vulnerability of cyclists, traffic incidents involving injury to or death of cyclists, seems to be creating a climate of apathy towards these events.
It was Phil Edwards’ friend and former team mate back in their amateur days, respected cycling photographer John Pierce who broke the sad news to us that the big man from Bristol, who won both the British Junior and Professional Road race Championships and was right hand man to Italian ‘campionissimo’ Francesco Moser at ‘super squadra’ Sanson for five seasons had died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Monaco on Sunday, April 23rd aged 67 – he was born 03:09:1949. Phil Edwards, British Champion, Olympian, respected member of an elite peloton, successful businessman and gentleman, rest in peace.
Michele Scarponi took fourth on GC at the Tour of the Alps this week and it was a shock to all when word came of his being fatally struck by an Iveco van on an early morning training ride just one kilometre from his home in Filottrano. To Michele Scarponi’s wife, Anna and twin boys Giacomo and Tomamaso, his extended family, friends, fans and team mates we extend our deepest sympathies. Rest in peace, Michele we’re going to miss you.
John Woodburn passed away quietly in his sleep on Good Friday at 80 years-of-age. His career was a remarkable one; he won the British 25 Mile Time Trial Championship in 1961; the first to do so on a geared bike, before that the championship had been the preserve of high revving, fixed wheel pursuit riders. Woodburn loved riding a bike and racing and at 70 he could still return 21:48 for a 10 mile time trial, and in July 2002, he broke the 50 mile time-trial National Age Record for over 65s with a 1:47:40 ride, breaking the record by nearly three minutes.
Following the death in February of 1956 Tour de France winner, Roger Walkowiak, France lost another of her Tour winning sons today when the death was announced of 1967 winner, Roger Pingeon from a heart attack in the village of Beaupont, Ain. Born August 28th 1940 of farming stock in Hauteville-Lompnes in the Ain Departement, a strong 1964 independent season with a win in the Poly Lyon and second in the GP des France saw him win a contract with that most French of French professional teams, Peugeot for 1965.
Here at VeloVeritas we were saddened to learn of the death of Scottish Cycling stalwart, Gerry McDaid. Gerry died on 20th November in the Cochrane Care Home, Johnstone aged 77 years. As I young club cyclist I used to hear stories from my roadie friends about Gerry; they conveyed an image of ‘The Maximum Commissaire’ – an official not to be messed with. I carried this image with me for years but when I got to know the man I found him to affable and of the ‘common sense’ school of race officiating.
In Scotland the last two weeks have seen us lose two fine young men from our cycling scene; gone before their time, Ben Abrahams and Dougie Young. But over in the Belgian Heartland they’ve suffered too – with the recent passing of Daniel (Danny) Willems at 60 years of age. ‘Who’s Danny Willems?’ I hear you ask. I’m not surprised you should ask that; there’s been very little reaction to Willems demise - but those of my generation remember him as tall, stylish, classy and a big name in pro cycle sport in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
It's with much sadness that VeloVeritas has to report the passing of another young man who's life hadn't really begun. Just days after Ben Abrahams was taken from us, Dougie Young has gone too. Rest in peace, Dougie. Sincere condolences to his friends, family and loved ones from Martin and Ed here at VeloVeritas.
Obituaries, part of the deal if you write about cycling; check their palmarès, think about when you saw them race when you were a boy then put a piece together. But when it's someone you knew, liked, laughed with, there's more to it than that - the randomness of life; one minute a friend is there and happy with a whole life to look forward to, the next, he's gone. A car crash involving a lorry and Ben Abrahams, and here I am writing this.
In the passing of Rudi Altig from cancer on June 11th 2016 from cancer at 79 years-of-age, Germany and the sport of cycling have lost one of it’s giants. He was a man who could win everything from his nation’s amateur national sprint championship to the Vuelta by way of the world professional pursuit and road race titles, Monuments and Six Day races.
It’s with much sadness that VeloVeritas reports the passing of Canadian Cycling Legend, Jocelyn Lovell on June 3rd at 65 years of age. ‘Controversial,’ ‘outspoken,’ ‘colourful,’ are all adjectives which have been used to describe the sleek, blond kilometre specialist but for me he’ll always simply be, ‘one of the coolest.’ Always immaculate, slim and long limbed; astride a track bike with that beautiful pale blue with white sleeves and maple leaves Canadian national jersey on his back he looked like he’d been born to perform the role.
It’s a while since we had a decent VeloVeritas rant and the year end is always a good time to take stock; in this VV View edition we compare the Six Day men of then and now, Chris Froome's data, Cycling Weekly's change from specialist to generalist magazine, disc brakes and of course, sadly, doping.
It's always sad when you lose a friend - when it happens on Christmas Day it makes it all the more painful. So it's with particular sadness we report the loss of John F. Murray, sponsor for several years of Scottish cycling team, GS Modena / M & M Windows. John and I set up M & M in 1988; hitherto GS Modena had been sponsored by CR Smith.
If you’re of this generation then Sven Nys will probably be your King of ‘crosses - but if you grew up in the 70’s then you’ll know that the true Monarch of the Mud was that stocky man of Flanders; Erik De Vlaeminck, big brother to ‘Monsieur Paris-Roubaix’ Roger De Vlaeminck. Sadly, the elder De Vlaeminck brother died today in the town where he was born, Eeklo in the heart of East Flanders.
We learnt with sadness yesterday that Scottish rider Ian Steel had passed away, at the age of 86. Ian became national champion in 1952 and rode and won the famous Peace Race by taking the lead on stage eight of twelve as his British team won both the individual and team titles. We thought readers would appreciate revisiting out interview with Ian from a few years ago.
The death of Claude Criquielion was announced to me in a simple text message from my English friend, Ian Whitehead who lives in Gent; ‘Claudy has died.’ During the night of 15/16 February 2015, Criquielion suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized in critical condition; he died at 9:00 am on 18 February 2015 in hospital in Aalst, Belgium.
If you're a VeloVeritas regular you'll be aware that we take full advantage of our, "right to rant." Freedom of Speech is something we take for granted in a Western Democracy. But recent events in Paris remind us that it's a principle which people surrender their lives to uphold.
We learnt recently that Ernie Mitchell, or 'E.V.' as he was known, Scottish star of the 1950's has passed away. As a tribute to him we thought we would re-run the interview he gave us last year where he told us about being the first man in the country to break the two-hour mark for 50 miles, virtually owning the pursuit crown and motor pacing behind his brother's bus ...
I wasn’t privileged enough to call Alan Hewitt a close friend but he was certainly a pal and on the infrequent – unfortunately for me - occasions I met him in recent years he would always greet me as a long lost brother with that smile, a hearty chuckle and a big, strong handshake. Alas, there’ll be no more of those.
It was 11:20 am on Thursday September 5th 2013 on the A91 road between Gateside and Strathmiglo when we lost Ali Speed. He was just 49 years-old, out on his bike and doing what he loved when he was snatched away. Ali rode his first race at just 12 years-old and was racing just days before he died. VeloVeritas ran an obituary for Ali at the time of his death and it goes without saying that we had to attend the 50 mile time trial his sister Mhairi organised in his honour on behalf of Fife Cycling Association. We thought that rather than straight race reportage – albeit not ignoring Iain Grant’s (Dooleys) dazzling 1:47 to win – we’d drive most of the course and look at the roads and places Ali trained and raced on.
Matt Rendell narrates much of the Pantani, the Accidental Death of a Cyclist film – but I’m a little puzzled by his ‘Marco the martyr and victim’ stance. In his well researched book – upon which the film is based – "The Death of Marco Pantani", Rendell leaves us in little doubt that the Italian rarely raced ‘clean.’ And Greg Lemond’s pronouncements are hard to fathom; ‘even without the drugs Pantani would have been one of the best’ or words to that effect. That’s from the ‘they were all at it, so what’s the difference?’ – school of thought to which I used to subscribe. There’s a ‘but’ or two to that one, though...
The Copenhagen Six Day is a special race for us here at VeloVeritas – it was the first Six Day we worked at, nearly a decade ago. We’ve built good relationships with Danish riders over that period, especially reigning Danish Elite Road Race Champion, Michael Mørkøv who’s no stranger to our pages. Therefore it was with sadness we received an email from Mr. Henrik Elmgreen – for many years the organiser of the Copenhagen Six Day – to inform us that one of Denmark’s Six Day legends has died.
Six years ago Jason MacIntyre was fatally injured in a collision with a lorry whilst out for an easy ride around his home town of Fort William. Jason had won British Championships in a convincing manner and by doing so - and in the way he conducted himself on and off the bike - he had forced his way into the attentions of British Cycling.
It's easy to sigh and shake your head when you read or hear that a drone has yet again 'zapped' the wrong target out there in the Middle East - and easy to carry on with your day. But when it's on your door step, in a place you love, it's altogether different. I heard on the radio, early on the Saturday morning that a helicopter had crashed on to a pub in Glasgow at 10:30 pm on Friday but didn't catch the name of the bar. 'That's horrible' I thought to myself and carried on editing our Yuriy Metlushenko interview.
It’s with great sadness that VeloVeritas records the passing of one of the cornerstones of Fife time trialling; Archibald Speed – better known as ‘Archie.’ A doubly sad situation in light of the fact that it’s only a matter of weeks since we penned our tribute to his son Alistair, the victim of a fatal rear-end impact from a Vauxhall Corsa on the Strathmiglo road, whilst out for a run on his bike.
It is with sadness that we record that Scottish Cycle Sport has lost one of it’s stalwarts. Alistair Speed - son of Scottish veteran’s 24 hour time trial record holder, Archie Speed – has died following a collision with a car on the A91 between Strathmiglo and Gateside, a road he trained and raced on many times.
Here at VeloVeritas we were saddened to hear of the recent loss of one of the names from our youth. Former French professional champion and Tour de France ace Raymond Delisle died recently at the age of 70. One of those super cool Peugeot riders from the late 60's and early 70's with names like Pingeon, Thevenet, Danguillaume, Ovion - and Delisle, they even sounded classy.
Friday 19th April was a sad day if you're a Six Day fan; Denmark's best-ever Six Day rider, Palle Lykke died in Belgium at 76 years-of-age. Born in Denmark in 1936 Lykke won 21 Six Days between 1958 and 1967 - Aarhus, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin, Bremen, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Frankfurt, London, Montreal, Munster and Zürich all fell to the handsome man from Ringe.
So I've been meaning to put together a blog post of my latest experiences of life here in Flanders. This season has certainly had its ups and downs, but all this seems rather irrelevant after the events of this week. Cycling indeed has its fair share of tragedies and the death of Wouter Weylandt in Stage 3 of the Giro this year is another one added to that list.
Wouter Weylandt tragically lost his life today, in a crash on the twisty, steep dangerous descent of the Passo del Bocco climb, about 12.4-miles from the finish of stage three of the Giro. The briefest of pictures of the scene were shown on live TV before the broadcasting director wisely stopped showing any more, but that was enough to be able to tell that the situation was grave.
Less than a month after the death of Peter Post, Dutch cycling has lost another of its 'Greats' with the news that Fedor Den Hertog succumbed on Saturday 12th February, after a long battle with illness. For anyone involved in cycle sport in the late 60's and early 70's, amateur Den Hertog's name was as well known as any of the top professionals.
With the news on Friday that Peter Post had died in Amsterdam at the age of 77 the sport lost one of it's Colossi. Born in Amsterdam in November 1933, the son of a butcher, he had a hard childhood growing up in Nazi occupied Holland. He turned professional in 1956 for Legendary Amsterdam bicycle makers RIH Sport; he would remain in the peloton until 1972 having ridden for some of the most famous teams in the history of cycle sport-Flandria, Faema, Solo-Superia and Willem 11.
On a lovely sunny afternoon, Arthur Doyle (Dooleys Cycles) rocketed around the Scottish Championship 10 mile course at Corpach outside Fort William to take the gold medal for the third year in a row. Arthur also won the fabulous Jason MacIntyre Memorial Trophy, awarded in memory of Jason who was tragically killed just over two years ago and who was the winner of 'the 10' himself four years back.
The death of Richard Russell leaves a large gap in the Lothians CTC. Richard was an important figure on the Scottish cycling scene, following his father into the Cyclists' Touring Club, the Edinburgh Road Club and the Scottish Road Records Association. One of his earliest memories was of sitting in a small wicker seat on the back of his parents' tandem on trips around East Lothian, an area he always loved.
It's funny how things work out, Alberto Contador signs a contract with Specialized bikes for 700,000 euros last week. So will he be riding for one of the teams who ride on Specialized bikes; Quick-Step or Saxo Bank? Ah! Then Quick-Step announces that they will no longer be riding on Specialized, but will be on Eddy Merckx bikes.
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