He was a ‘name’ when I first got into cycling in 1970 and some 50 years later he’s still a ‘name’; Mr. Geoff Cooke, British and Commonwealth Champion ‘back in the day’ and multiple British and World Masters Champion and record holder in recent years.
Dave Dungworth was just a little before my time but when I got into the sport back in 1970 his name was spoken in hushed tones as a twice holder of the ‘Holy Grail’ record in time trialling - the ’25.’ He was also twice a 30 mile record holder and twice a double champion, winning both the ‘25’ and ’50’ titles for two consecutive years.
Remember Peter Murdoch? He raced at a high level as a junior on the road. In those days he roomed with a guy named Bradley Wiggins, whatever happened to him? Peter runs Blanca Bikes, providing the full package for those who want some serious training in the sunshine – or who just want to potter ‘sans thermals’ and enjoy a beer and some tapas with that vibe that you only get in those old Spanish bars.
Kiwi’s in the peloton are no rarity these days; George Bennett, Shane Archbold, Paddy Bevin, Jack Bauer are all well-known figures on the World Tour but the spiritual Godfather of these men whilst as Kiwi as they come was actually born in The Netherlands; Mr. Tino Tabak is definitely old school 70’s and ‘tells it like it is.’
I know, I had a ‘pop’ at ‘Everesting’ in a recent rant but when AN Post Flatlands veteran, Ronan McLaughlin contacts me to tell me he’s just broken the Irish record with 8 hour 09 minutes, the fifth best time in history behind Bert Contador’s 7:27, I have to pay attention…
Professional triathlete Joe Skipper, making up for the disappointment of ‘turning short’ and being technically "DNF" in last year’s CTT 12 hour championship has recorded the first 27 mph 12 hour time trial - 325.5 miles in the CC Breckland event in Norfolk. Here’s what Joe had to say just two days after his historic ride.
How many juniors do you know who train three times every day, clocking up 1,000 kilometres each week? That’s what it took to make Nikolai Razouvaev World Junior Team Time Trial Champion in 1984.
We’ve been big on the ‘retro’ lately – for obvious reasons – but with the season starting to come back to life we’ve been speaking to one of the ‘men of the future’, Lewis Askey. Askey is just 19 years-old and probably best known for winning the 2018 edition of the junior Paris-Roubaix; for season 2020 he’s with Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ, based in Besancon.
Mara Abbott is twice a winner of the overall GC in the Giro Rosa, picking up seven stages along the way not to mention two second places, a fourth, a fifth and 10th on GC. Abbott retired from the sport after finishing fourth in the Olympic Road Race in Rio, 2016. She took time to speak to us not long after her retirement; here’s what she had to say.
There have been an AWFUL lot of crashes in the mere couple of weeks since racing resumed – Kruijkswijk out of the Tour, Roglic out of the Dauphine, Jakobsen pole axed in a Polska finale, Remco over a bridge – and we could go on. When we saw this piece on the website of our amigo, ex-World Junior Team Time Trial Champion, Nikolai Razouvaev aka ‘The Russian Crank’ we thought he made some interesting points.
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...
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.
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Sky did well to pull Wiggins out of the race when they did, starting Stage 14 today could have seen him contract pleurisy if he’d ridden. There’s still a long way to go but Nibali looks like it’s his race to lose. However, the ‘Forum Dwellers’ are at it already; when I was looking on CN for the full stage result I stumbled upon the forum bittie at the bottom.
There’s no telling what you’ll see when you walk up those stairs; you’d expect to see Elia Viviani or Teun Mulder on the rollers on their road bikes or Shane Perkins on his track bike on the rollers — but a juggler?
Cervélo , Contracts and Consumerism. It’s not until you go to a big Fondo, Marca or Sportiv that you’re able to figure out how the likes of Cervélo can sponsor a pro team. On the start line you’ll see hundreds of Looks, Colnagos, Treks and — Cervélos; all sold at full price.
‘When I were a lad’ next to the Milk Race the biggest deal in UK cycling was the BBAR (Best British All Rounder) to find Britain’s best ‘tester’ – over 50 and 100 miles plus the 12 hour. The competition still exists but do you know who the BBAR is? Me neither. Yorkshire’s Peter Hill won the BBAR twice in the 60's but instead of going for his ‘hat trick’ he completely changed direction and headed across the English Channel to France and established himself as one of the world’s leading amateur time trial exponents before turning professional with Peugeot - but in those Machiavellian days it didn’t work out. Here’s his story...
It was like one of those American cop movies, where the old detective takes the young buck under his wing and together they buck the system - veteran Andrew Davies (the bicycleworks) and junior Hamish Creber (Sandy Wallace) rode away from the field in the opening laps of Saturday's Scottish criterium championships at Glasgow Green, with the wily Davies taking the gold medal, one hour later, in front of a big crowd, there to see the finale of the Tour of Britain.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport doesn't like Gibo Simoni, he gets a 3 out of 10 for yesterday's effort, where he contrived to drop 17:59 on the stage - ouch! Saving it for today's stage to Monte Petrano? We'll see.
Hidden away in North East Africa - 'The Horn' - bordering Ethiopia and Sudan is a little known country called Eritrea, officially 'The State of Eritrea.' At 118,000 square kilometres it's around half the size of the United Kingdom; with a population similar to that of Scotland at an estimated five million. It's better known for producing athletes of the running variety, but one ambitious, young sportsman is breaking the trend; Daniel Teklehaimanot.
The issue of weather for Het Nieuwsblad 2011 (or Gent - Gent as the locals still call it) is a dichotomy: if it's wet it's a proper man's race but you get frozen and soaked whilst spectating; but if it's a nice day and you're not near-death when you stumble into your favourite bar to watch the finale then you end up watching 100-plus riders contesting the finish.
Here at VeloVeritas we try to keep our eye out for young men who are ‘doing it’ – getting themselves over to Europe and trying to make the grade. Take 22 year-old American Joshua Berry, it’s a long way from his home town of Ketchum, Idaho to the French Mediterranean coast – but that’s where he’s riding, for La Pomme Marseille.
It's not everyday we get emails from Time Trial Royalty, so when BBAR and 100 mile time trial legend Ian Cammish tells us; "Hi, just been involved in a brief exchange of emails with a guy from Moray Firth CC - Callum Finlayson. He's just won the Scottish 100 champs with the 2nd fastest time EVER in Scotland. Got a pretty good story to tell too ... suffered a Stroke a few years ago!"
The World Tour, the pinnacle; but unless you're a super talent nurtured from your junior years a la Taylor Phinney or Bradley Wiggins, how do you take the first step up the mountain where only the Super Teams can breathe the rarefied air? Well, you could do a lot worse that speak to a certain Peter Murphy - Jack Bauer did and the rest is history. Peter is one of the men behind Kingsnorth Wheelers - the Flandrian team with the English name.
Roger St. Pierre... Interviews – I’ve done hundreds. Some are easy – Jamesie McCallum for example, will 'talk 'til the cows come home' and always give good quotes. Liquigas and Lotto ex-pro and now Sky’s PR, Dario Cioni used to fill me with dread – but I learned that after five minutes of ‘yes’s, no’s and aahhh’s’ he’d loosen up and you would get some of the most insightful answers about pro bike racing that you could ever wish for.
In winning the Tour of Thailand, Alex Coutts joined an elite club - British riders who have won an overseas national tour. A couple from the memory banks are: in 1965 Vin Denson won the Tour of Luxembourg and in 1988 the hugely under-rated Cayn Theakston won an epic 19 stage Tour of Portugal - but there aren't many more. We caught up with Alex, just after the Scottish hill climb championship.
I forgot to turn off the message alert on my BlackBerry and it started beeping away just before 04:00 am – it didn’t matter, I was awake anyway. The aphids had breached my defences and the irritation of the bites had wakened me. The French, Danish and Netherlands teams all showed themselves in the Junior Road Race World Championships 2013 - as Androni manager Gianni Savio always says; ‘you must honour the race!’ - with Franck Bonnamour away with Colombian Martinez in the closing stages.
The 2019 Race Across America (RAAM) was won by a man who’s already won it five times previously – the undisputed king of the ultra-distance riders, Austria’s Christoph Strasser. We caught up with Christoph a week or two after his epic ride – by his own admission, the hardest RAAM he has ever participated in.