Daniel Holloway does the countdown in his Californian-Swedish, ten down to six; the crowd takes over from five down to one, the cannon report just about bursts everyone’s ear drums, then there’s the smoke. For a split second nothing happens, everyone is too stunned by the noise and reek of gunpowder. But there’s the bongos – and Paul Delicato’s velvet voice; 'Cara Mia mine, must we say goodbye...' It can only be the Copenhagen Six Day 2018 !
There’s been a ‘changing of the guard’ in Scottish middle distance time trialling in 2019; Iain Macleod [Aberdeen Wheelers] in the '50' and now the ‘100’ with Andrew Underwood [Carse of Gowrie Velo] topping the podium he stood on a lower step of last year.
It's the start of the season proper with UCI World Tour Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and UCI 1.1 HC Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. It was a tad savage when the alarm blasted at 03:10 on Friday but on the other side of the scales we were on Belgian soil bright and early.
Sometimes a ride comes along and right away you can just tell he has what it takes. We first caught sight of Joe Dombrowski at the Italian Valle d’Aosta stage race, last year. Aosta, l’Avenir, the Baby Giro and the U23 Worlds are where the pro talent scouts do their window shopping.
He started making shorts on the kitchen table, his suppliers used to manufacture his products inside out; but he's just recruited double world champion, 'Big Bob' Hayles to ride for and manage his UCI Continental team - things have come a long way for Jim McFarlane!
In the Flèche Wallonne - just for a few minutes, as the much diminished peloton ran in towards Huy and the final gun fight on the Mur - it looked like Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal might just steal it. The 31 year-old Garmin ex-mountain biker in company with Norwegian Sky man, Lars Petter Nordhaug blasted big gears into the foot of the hill.
‘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.
Rik Evans continues telling his story, from giving away a Worlds title to Commonwealth Gold medal, top club 34 Nomads and his slide out of cycling but into depression. Evans has now settled in Australia and cycling has come back into his life.
Another race, another Endura clean sweep on a glorious day for the David Bell Memorial Road Race at picturesque Straiton; Evan Oliphant winning solo from team mates Ross Creber and Gary Hand; these two crossing the line hand in hand to remind us of their team's spirit - as if we'd forget?