If you’re my age then you’ll remember Basque climbing legend, Marino Lejarreta in the colours of Caja Rural back in the 80’s. The name has been associated with Spanish cycle sport off and on since then and season 2015 will see an English name alongside the likes of Amets Txurruka in Spain’s only Pro Continental team. Hugh Carthy’s win in the UCI Tour of Korea has catapulted the 20 year-old from Lancashire into the big leagues after two seasons with John Herety at Rapha Condor JLT.
"That was horrid", said the winner Evan Oliphant, as I asked him moments after he crossed the line at the Scottish Cycling Super 6, how he enjoyed it. "It was just like being back at the Rás, what with the rain - and those roads!". Oh! I I thought he was talking about his teammate James McCallum congratulating him with a sloppy kiss on the cheek!
Dreams can come true. Ask Highlander Kyle Gordon. When we spoke to him last December, he'd turned in some nifty performances on the track over the winter - his dream was to make it to The Games. And he did...
The ANC saga continues, albeit Mr. Vern Hanaray maintains that he wasn’t really the mechanic with the team, he ‘just washed the bikes then passed them to a real mechanic.’ But before he donned his Wellington boots and picked up a sponge he wasn’t at all bad on a bike himself; three times champion of New Zealand and a winner of major events in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium.
Italy’s Bassano-Monte Grappa U23 Classic has been around since 1930 and lists Italian Legend, Gino Bartali as a winner in 1934; with Leonardo Piepoli, Giro winners Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, not to mention Fabio Aru all on the more recent role of honour. It’s a beast of race, flat then rearing up the feared Monte Grappa climb – of Giro fame - to finish at over 1700 metres.
East Lothian in springtime should be an idyllic setting for a bike race; but today she showed her spiteful side for the traditional east coast season-opening Musselburgh 3-up, with a freezing, grey day which granted no favours to the weak. John Anderson’s Bicycleworks 'tester trio' of Sharkey, Dale and Caesar proving strongest on the day. But one must remember that Scotland’s notorious cannibal, Sawney Bean was born in East Lothian – perhaps on a day like this . . .
Off to the World Road Championships 2006. It was a 04.00 alarm job to get ready to leave at 06.00 and I hadn't had time to pack the night before. It's always the same driving to Prestwick-you think you are making great time until you get to Stepps and the vast car park that is the M8 during the rush-hour. Check-in at Prestwick wasn't too bad but the Colgate had to go-I wouldn't mind but it drives me crazy not knowing how to convert it into an explosive device.
Endura Racing Team's Gary Hand topped a near perfect day for the Scottish UCI Continental squad with a solo win in the second round of the Super Six Series - the Duncan MacGregor Memorial Road Race over 80 miles around the "Rigging of Fife." Team-mates Gordon Murdoch and Duncan Urquhart took second and fourth respectively, to make it a quality day for the men in red and white. Spoiling the party just a little was Rapha-Condor's Matt Cronshaw, who, despite a severe working-over from the winners, grabbed third place.
It was a privilege to be there and great to be part of it all on Stage 20; a marvelous spectacle on the 'sterrato' without doubt - but is it sport or simply a circus? The cameras love it and it's great copy - maybe I'm being too harsh? Paris-Roubaix throws back to the old days so why not have stages like this, many would say?