Monte Ologno, high above Lago Maggiore, Thursday 15:00 hours; we had to get up here early to beat the road closures; we got a slapped wrist from Vancouver for 'missing the cut' on the Mortirolo so no slip ups, today. The stage describes a big curve from Melide near Lugano to Verbania on Lago Maggiore; but there's a late surprise - which we're sitting at the top of. It's a nasty one; 10.4 K @ 9.0% average with a max of 13% makes it Category 1 and very tough. Where we are - 450 metres to go - it's scenic with wonderful vistas across the lago but lower down it's not unlike the Mortirolo in that much of it is a tunnel through the trees.
Dozens of SMS and emails flash up on my BlackBerry each day, most are chaff and get deleted after a quick glance — but when one comes in to tell me that ‘Michael Mørkøv excluded from the Vuelta by WADA’ that makes me take notice.
Just one stage to go - I'll miss the race, the coffee, the weather, the Gazzetta - but not the time spent sitting in the car, before, during and after stages.
Saturday was a monstro - Salerno was where we spent the night; we had a two hour drive to the start, then a 217 kilometre stage followed by a mad breenge to the Sicily ferry, on the very toe of the Italian boot.
At least the ferry was very straightforward, no dramas; and we did get a chat with Paolo Bettini - a nice guy.
It was two years ago when we first interviewed Bath solicitor, Andrew Feather as CTT National Hill Climb Champion. In 2018, his Championship win was his 12th hill climb success off 15 starts - impressive. But not as impressive as this year with his Championship win the now 35 year-old’s victory was his 15th hill climb win off 15 starts.
At VeloVeritas we pride ourselves on keeping an eye on who’s on the way up – but this gentleman caught us unawares. We should have spotted that stage win in the 2011 Tour de l’Avenir – there are no ‘soft’ stage wins in that race.
So when 20 year-old Simon Yates took the rainbow jersey in the Worlds points race it shouldn’t really have been a surprise.
But the man from Bury has been a World Champion before, with Dan McLay in the junior madison in 2010 – he was also silver medallist in the junior team pursuit that year.
Having had Michael Mørkøv’s take on de Ronde, we thought we’d chat to a man a bit closer to home about his experiences in what is at least in the top three of the world’s single day races – along with Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix. The Tour of Flanders was one of the few races left on Russell Downing’s ‘to do’ list – but now he can wear the T-shirt.
Perhaps you’ve seen them on TV when Eurosport used to cover the Berlin Six Days – or maybe you remember them at Leicester, ‘back in the day?’ The ‘Big Motors.’ Germany, along with The Netherlands were always the ‘Heartland’ for the motor-paced aspects of the sport but in Britain back in the early 70’s we had one of the best in the world in Roy Cox. Cox was six times British Champion, won big on the German ‘stayer’ circuit, rode four World Championships and made the Worlds final in his home Worlds in 1970 – the first British amateur to do so in 70 years.
It was with much sadness that VeloVeritas heard of the passing of 70’s legend and former British Amateur Road Race Champion, Grant Thomas. As our tribute to one of the coolest men ever to throw a leg over a racing bike we’d like to re-run our interview with the man. RIP, Grant.