Bernard Burns got in touch with us recently to share a bit of cycling history and to comment on what today’s champions put back into a sport that has given them so much. But we felt that Bernard’s career both as a rider, manager and coach was also well worth looking at...
When Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach and seven times Scottish Road Race Champion, Evan Oliphant gets in touch to tell us there’s a junior rider named Callum Thornley that we should be speaking to, we snap to attention.
When Jos Ryan of the David Rayner Fund gets in touch then we know it’s not just to ask how we are. ‘Have you been keeping up with our rider, Toby Perry’s performances in Spain, he’s just had his second win?’ Fortunately for us, we could reply in the affirmative.
If you watched Stage One of the Giro on Eurosport or GCN then you’ll have heard that someone had the great idea to recruit British professional rider, Dan Bigham to join the commentary team as a ‘chrono specialist.’ Here at VeloVeritas we thought it would be good to put to Dan all those sad questions that trouble bike obsessives like us.
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.
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.
With le Grande Boucle set to depart on Saturday June 26th from Brittany – which shares Celtic culture with Scotland - we thought we should have a look at the Scottish riders who have participated in the biggest race on the planet, over the years.
Brexit, Covid, desperate weather, it’s been a long hard winter and we're still in what might be termed the Bleak Mid-Winter, made even worse by the sad news that former Scottish cyclo-cross, grass track and MTB Champion Craig Hardie has lost his fight with cancer. VeloVeritas offers deepest condolences to his friends, supporters and family.
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...
Defending champions and race favourites, Ribble Weldtite with strong men Dan Bigham, James Shaw and Simon Wilson took the CTT Team Time Trial Championships title on a cool, damp but still morning at Irvine on the west coast of Scotland, with a time of 54:01, averaging 55.9 kph to best their own ‘B’ team by 2:32, the line up there being Zeb Kyffin, Joe Wilson and Matt Gibson.
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...
Sunday dawned bright and clear and it was three refreshed men who headed for Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. This was bike skeking taken to a new level; two-and-a-half hours of it, and it wasn't enough. Batavus are an old favourite of ours and their 'Professional X' is cool, matt black against a tide of white this year.
He's been making the headlines again, that Mark Stewart laddie. We last spoke to him after his wins in the British scratch and team pursuit championships - not forgetting his silver in the points race. This time it was success in the second round of the UCI World Cup in New Zealand where he won the scratch race.
Le Tour, The Commonwealth Games, The Tam Gordon interview – there’s just been so much going on at VeloVeritas recently that we must have missed something? Ah yes, of course, Edinburgh Road Club’s Matthias Barnet winning the British Under 16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London in July, for one thing.
It looked to us like Cav and Goss were out of it anyway. There were a lot of riders round that wild bend in Frosinone before we saw Matt on the deck and Pippo looking a tad sheepish as he stood in the road checking to see how that nice Cipollini had stood up to being dropped.
Tour de Trossachs 2007 Mile zero: 09.54, and Alastair McNicol of Kelso Wheelers is on the line. Off No.1 at 10:01, he's not going to miss his start. It's six degrees, there are just wisps of cloud in the sky and Scotland has never looked better. Ferns, conifers and beech, lime green to dark brown form the backdrop for the timekeepers; to the north, the hills of the Trossachs wait quietly for the onslaught.
In a recent article about the Tour de Trossachs I became side-tracked onto the year 1978 and mentioned, amongst other things, the Scottish Milk Race - back when Scotland had a National Stage Race, and for quite a few years before and after. Here I have a look at a few editions of the Milk Race and the Scottish Health Race, where Scotland managed to have a home win with Jamie McGahan in 1983.
The Friday evening prior to the Grand Depart at Mont-Saint-Michel, we're in the Amritsar Indian restaurant in Kirkcaldy – Callum, Dave and I agree that Cav has won his last Tour de France stage, Kittel and Greipel will be the men, and that the 32 stage wins record of Merckx is safe – as is Hinault’s second spot on 28 stage wins. Mark will have to be happy with his 26 bouquets. Not for the first or last time, the little chap from the middle of the Irish Sea made us eat our words; "Cav can never win Milan-Sanremo..."
VeloVeritas has pleasure in bringing you an exclusive interview with new 2012 World Scratch Champion, Britain’s 24 year-old Sky professional, Ben Swift, who provided one of the major surprises of the championship to win the 15 kilometre bunch race ahead of the likes of up and coming road star, Elia Viviani, Dutch flyer Wim Stroetinga and Six Day foxes such as Andreas Müller.
Late June 1972, Loch Lomond and history is made as Sandy’s Gilchrist and Gordon tie for the Scottish ‘50’ mile time trial title with 2:01:46 whilst Ron Gardner is third with 2:05:15. My part in this historic day on the old road which tracked every curve and bump of those bonnie, bonnie but tough banks? I was caught by both winners on my way to some ignominious time which I now no longer remember but which would have been closer to 20 mph than 25 mph...
Kris was just telling us that oxygen cylinders are banned from track centres under UCI regulations. Marc piped-up; "that's a pity, I could have done with a cylinder strapped to my back on the first night!" He's one of the boys now, amazing how much difference a couple of days can make to relationships. It's wet outside and very warm in here, there was a big junior and ladies programme in the morning, complete with the usual crashes. Belgian junior track racing is not for those of a nervous disposition.
The "Green Machine" took first place in last Saturday's team time trial that opened the 90th edition of the pink race. The first to cross the finish line in La Maddalena was the ex-Italian National Champion Enrico Gasparotto who took an unexpected pink jersey.