John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.
I’ve checked the legendary Italian ‘CONI’ cyclists training manual but can find no mention of it. I’m talking about ‘Kestrel Super Lager’, 9% by volume, but that was the ‘recovery drink’ of choice of a certain Mick Bradshaw, one of the fastest time testers around in the 70’s and 80’s and 1988 RTTC 50 Mile Time Trial Champion.
British rider Sam Watson finished in seventh spot behind Michele Gazzoli of the Colpack Ballan squad in the GP della Liberazione - few top u23 races in Italy don’t have a Colpack man on the podium. Sam would be a good lad to catch up with, we thought to ourselves…
With so many tales of broken promises, teams folding and disillusioned young men heading home to Blighty from Europe, it’s good to tell a story where it all comes together and there’s a podium involved. Paul Double has been on our radar for a while, first as a ‘Zappi Man,’ a CTT Hill Climb medallist, riding for one of Italy’s top u23 teams – the mighty Colpack Ballan – then last year back as a ‘Zappi Man.’
Mick Ives won 81 British Cycling Championships in all disciplines and 19 World Championship medals, he’s the only male cyclist to represent Britain in all disciplines: road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain biking; and he held a racing license continuously from 1957 to 2019.
We were looking at the result of the u23 Trofeo Piva in Italy, recently to see how Flavio Zappi’s boys had done when a name caught our eye; in 11th spot was a certain Mason Hollyman [Israel Cycling Academy] with a little union jack beside his name. Best ‘have a word’ with the 20 year-old gentleman from the rugby Heartlands around Huddersfield and Wakefield, we thought to ourselves.
Flavio Zappi’s boys are in full effect in la Bella Italia and Scotsman Calum Johnston is turning the pedals in anger in Espana and the man who won the Memorial Zumzarren in Estella-Lizarra, Navarre, Northern Spain where Calum finished 14th recently, was an Englishman; 21 year-old Toby Perry from Ashford in Kent, by name.
Seven years ago, in 2014, we interviewed Matthias Barnet, he had just won the 2014 British u16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London. Since then we’ve not heard much of the man but when we spotted that he had signed up with Flavio Zappi’s squadra for season 2021 – along with fellow Scott, Hamish Strachan, who we spoke to recently – we just had to have a word with him.
The top 20 of the recent, hard fought GP Monsere in Belgium saw a name familiar to VeloVeritas but unsung in the UK take a fine top 20 placing in the company of top opposition: Ollie Robinson, who we interviewed last year. He’s now with a Ukrainian UCI continental team, Lviv Continental so we thought a catch up chat was well in order.
It was May 1981 when Phil O'Connor took his first race picture; Manxman, Steve Joughin winning a stage of the Tour of Britain, 'Milk Race' as it hurtled into Bournemouth - some months later he managed to get it published in a cycling magazine.
Covid having put paid to her 2020, ‘End to End’ bid after her brave but ultimately unsuccessful 2019 attempt, Christina Mackenzie (Stirlingshire Bicycle Club) had to re-focus and made the CTT 12 Hour Championship her goal for the year. ‘Mission accomplished,’ winning by some 12 miles with a provisional 251.64 miles on a tough course in equally tough conditions.
It's been a while since we ranted so in this Nugget Ed offers some Mid-Winter Thoughts on Tom Dumoulin's decision to stop, the 'Cross Worlds, AG2R's New Jersey, flat-bar gravel bikes and the latest 'best rider' rankings...
As the sleeping beast that is the 2020 cycling season stirs after it’s long snooze, we thought it would be good to look at how Scotland’s ‘Young Turks’ spent lock down and what their plans are for the rest of this strange year.
It's been a while since we ranted, so in this edition of the VeloVeritas View we offer a thought or two on Strava, Zwift, Everesting and other Covid-19 aspects of cycling - as well as whether we consider jockey wheels for a grand a good deal...
The piece we ran recently by reader John Day about staying with Mrs Deene in Belgium aroused a lot of interest on social media but it was spread over a number of different pages and apps. We thought it would be a shame to let some fascinating and funny comments go to waste so we pulled a selection together for you.
‘Cycling Weekly’ printed a list of their ‘10 best Classic Races of all time.’ It’s not the usual time of year for ‘retro’ pieces, the Classics should be in full swing but Covid-19 has blown apart a lot of well laid plans this spring. So here’s our top dozen British Classics Rides, in what we see as order of merit...
Folks say to me that Viktor, "VeloVeritas's answer to Nostradamus" doesn’t exist, he’s just a vehicle for me to express extreme view points. They’re wrong. The man actually lives and breathes – and mostly for all things cycling and the Coronavirus crisis has seen him at his ranting best.
It’s a fair old trek from Manchester to Fife after there was no race to watch, so what else was I going to do as I sat in the passenger seat but RANT! Let’s start with the only topic in town: Corona Virus and me...
The bike cost more than the car did and 300 dollars/euros/pounds shoes don’t faze you. But you still don’t feel you’re cutting it in the Sunday run posing stakes? Perhaps it’s time you had a style make over... But we warn you, some of what you’re about to read in our Style Guide might hurt.
I thought I’d check out what where the expression, “awa’ the Crow Road” came from before Davie and I headed for the Tour of the Campsies; ‘Crows take your soul to the hereafter it’s thought in many cultures and superstition.’
I love the drive from Gent up to Kuurne for the Kuurne Brussels Kuurne semi-classic... staring out of the car window at the fields, the canals, tree-lined avenues, the steeples, tiny concrete roads that would be great to explore on the bike. There was a little rain on the way up but by the time we got to Kuurne it was a mild, sunny morning; ideal for wandering down the main drag where the busses line up and checking out 2020’s new hardware.
We're roadside at Het Nieuwsblad 2020; since the race went World Tour the start just isn’t the same; the buses used to line up in the street, you could look at the bikes right until start time and brush shoulders with the riders as they pedalled to the sign-on. Not now, whilst some of the buses park up outside, the majority park in the huge 30’s exhibition hall adjacent to the Kuipke Velodrome in Ghent...
We took a trip to watch the Dunfermline Cyclo-Cross. It’s a wee while since we’ve been to a Scottish cyclo-cross race and the sport has changed beyond all recognition from the early 70’s when your ‘cross bike was your winter bike with the muddies removed.
On a dry morning with little wind and a temperature which varied from mild to chilly depending on how the clouds whirled into the Lomond Hills, 23 year-old Kyle Beattie (Cairngorm CC) took the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2019 north with a 7 minutes 43 seconds ride; a margin of 12 seconds over Fife rider Robin Downie (Team Andrew Allan Architecture) who put a single second into bronze medalist, Tom Merry (Edinburgh University).
Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished. He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy - the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.
Annemiek Van Vleuten crosses the line after a 60 mile solo – local legend, the late, great Beryl Burton would be proud of this ride on her Yorkshire roads. The Orange-woman is immediately mobbed by a pack of feral photogs, but instead of being led away by the UCI podium guys, she effects a tricky clamber over the barriers and into the arms of mum and dad for a huge embrace.
How did we do with our Worlds Elite Men Time Trial pre-race predictions? Well, to start with, we weren’t sure if the slim Aussie Rohan Dennis could come back from his pre-Tour time trial abandon – but it’s amazing what a couple of months with a sport psychologist can do and the tattooed chrono specialist was in a class of his own...
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.
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.
In a sport where Grand Tours are won or lost by mere seconds, every advantage counts. It's no secret that many top pros use PowerCranks as part of their training program, but most prefer to keep that secret. But we found three pros - Marco Pinotti, Dario Cioni, and Matt Brammeier who not only use the cranks, but were happy to talk to us about them. In today's Part I, we asked each about how they got turned on to PowerCranks, and their experiences getting started.
The three guys behind the blog and podcasting site "Velo Club Don Logan" may be 'foul-mouthed and ill-informed' (their words), but they're also nice lads and very entertaining too. After listening to the fantastic podcast of their interview with Graeme Obree - in which Graeme talks openly about previously unexplored aspects of his life and career - we had to find out more about this site and the men behind it, and we caught up with them recently to get a bit of background and to hear their plans... okay, there aren't any plans...
Peter Sagan is a breath of fresh air, the accent, the sense of humour, the hair, the bike handling, the speed, the versatility – third behind Cav and Kittel then beating Alaphilippe and Valverde. There’s no one more deserving of the maillot jaune – with all mention of the ‘curse of the rainbow jersey’ forgotten.
It seems just like yesterday we were asking James McCallum if he’d ever consider turning pro – but that was back in 2006 after his second Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal in the scratch race. The following year he did indeed turn professional for Plowman Craven and since has ridden for Endura, Rapha Condor; and for 2014 he joins new – and much talked about – NFTO.
First mission in Périgueux was to have a good look at the chrono hardware on display. There's a dazzling amount of tech on display from Canyon, Pinarello and the rest - it's hard to keep up with the manufacturers' claims and to get your mind round what's the best solution. Concealed front brakes, for example are a confusing one - whilst Trek's Speed Concept conceals the mechanisms within the fork blades, which is perhaps the optimal solution, the likes of Giant and Ridley have the brakes behind the fork crown.
The UCI is Always Right? Not for the first time, I’m confused by the actions of our sport’s governing body. First, let me quote what World Track Championship scratch and madison animator Andreas Müller told me the other day regarding rulings by the commissairs in Melbourne...
"What are you doing, you red fu**er?" The words of world champion, Tom Boonen (Belgium & Quick Step) to Danish rider, Michael Mørkøv when the youngster attacked, on team orders, in contravention of a Boonen-imposed ban on racing in yesterday's stage of the Tour of Britain. As well as following Evan's progress around Britain, I've been talking to Michael Mørkøv.
Before we hear what Evan has to say I thought you should hear Michael's story from yesterday.
176.9km, 3000m ascent. This Volta a Portugal 2012 stage was a tough one, we had a huge mountain right at the start and several others to follow. The roads were crummy also, which made descending awkward.
As a colleague from another life used to say; ‘you should never drink on an empty head.’ A sentiment I can endorse as we sit in our hotel in Vielha, Spain. Having left Pau, there were no digs to be had in France near the stage finish – the Tour is a black hole which sucks up every hotel room within an hour’s drive and we had to cross the border after the finish at Bagnères-de-Luchon to get to our digs. QuickStep, Saxo, Movistar and Euskaltel all did the same thing and are here in Vielha, too.