He’s back; IAM’s Heinrich Haussler was ‘quiet’ last year but in January he grabbed the first major result of 2015; the Australian Elite Road Race Championship. IAM stepped up to Pro Tour status for 2015 and this season could hardly have started on a higher note for HH, with a win in the Australian Elite Road Race Championship – never an easy race to win given the number of Aussies in the Pro Tour and the high standard of their domestic racing. He followed his win up with a whole host of top ten stage placings in the Tour Down Under and in the Tour of Qatar.
The Big Gorilla didn't pack his climbing legs for this year's TDU. Translation: Andre Greipel couldn't stay with the peloton as it went up the very tough Mengler's Hill at warp speed.
Oscar Freire, however, did, and he led a good-sized bunch over the line in Tanunda today. It was a very good result for the race as much as anything: processions tend to put the fans off.
It’s hard to believe it’s 10 years since last I spoke to Paul Watson about a great ride he pulled off in 1987. Paul was British Amateur Road Champion in 1985, the same year as he was third in the Tour of Britain, ‘Milk Race’ behind Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner, Eric Van Lancker of Belgium and the man who should have been a super star but never quite was, Roy Knickman (USA). He rode pro with Van Lancker’s Belgian Fangio team at the end of that year but returned to Britain to ride for Raleigh in 1986.
Maybe it was all those minds thinking; 'I hate split sessions' that made the access panel in the track jam? In fact, it was an electrical fault, caused by someone who didn't understand the procedure for shutting the big sliding panel in the track's back straight that meant the Saturday afternoon session was cancelled.
Chris Smart (GTR) put on another exemplary performance in the Tour of the Meldons hilly time trial in the Scottish Borders to retain his national title for the 'Olympic Time Trial' for the third time in a row, his 56:08 being 75 seconds faster than his time for the same course last year and 67 seconds faster than silver medallist Kyle Gordon (Sandy Wallace Cycles). Third was Jon Entwistle (Team JMC) a further 10 seconds back.
Greg van Avermaet dedicated his stunning Tour de Yorkshire success to the memory of BMC Racing Team owner Andy Rihs after a superb final stage saw him crowned champion in Leeds. Rihs passed away at the age of 75 last month, with BMC still in mourning after losing a friend and passionate cycling fan as well as owner.
Joaquim Rodriguez is building on the foundation of respect he laid at the Giro. The little Catalan isn’t sitting around waiting on Froome bludgeoning him in the ‘contra reloj’ on Wednesday; he’s riding like a champion, ‘la course en tete’ – at the head of the race, especially when heading 'home' to Andorra.
VeloVeritas senior mentors and pundits Dave and Vik are always quick to let us know if there’s a name to be chasing over in the Flatlands – step forward Irishman Conor Hennebry who’s making a name for himself in the Kermis School. In time honoured VV fashion we tracked the man down and ‘had a word.’
Every year I write a route preview of the up and coming Vuelta a España, normally I talk to the locals in my village and last year I had the input of Alex Coutts (Babes Only-Flanders) and David Harrigan (DFL). This year I managed to enlist the help of ex-pro, Fabian Jeker, and we spoke about next year's Vuelta - but as these things often go, we spoke at length on many other topics: life; cycling; Festina; and the future.