Giving It A Go In Belgium; In part four of our (irregular) series on racing as an amateur in Belgium, VeloVeritas own web manager and editor, Martin, talks about when he had some time in the mid-80’s between completing a college course and starting a new job, and decided to head off to Flanders for the season...
We make no apology for interviewing Jason MacIntyre again. It's not every day that a Scotsman pulls-on a British champion's jersey and the Fort William man did that very thing after Sunday's British circuit time trial championship near Farnborough. In second place was multiple time trial champion and fourth-placed in last winter's Commonwealth Games TT, Michael Hutchison.
Steve Cummings, he’s the real deal. Dues fully paid at low budget Landbouwkrediet and Barloworld, he’s also ridden with some of the biggest teams in the sport; Discovery, Sky and BMC - before finding what is the ideal squad for him, Dimension Data where letting him ‘do his own thing’ has paid off for both parties in spades.
Man of the Flatlands, the multi talented Greg Van Avermaet (BMC & Belgium) pulls off a splendid ‘double’ on the first day of climbing; solo in the grand manner he wins the stage and takes the yellow jersey – and by the considerable margin of 05:11 on Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx & France) who remains second and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar & Spain) who’s in third spot.
Stage Three heads back into the hills; Ibi to Alicante over 188 kilometres, not as tough as Stage Two but with two third cat. climbs, the Puertos de Biar and Tibo – due to the geography of the stage we chose the latter.
It's only metres from the finish in the final stage of the 2006 Vuelta a Cuba and US rider Joe Papp has it in the bag. His wife is in the cheering crowd as he begins to raise his arms in celebration - but an instant before he crosses the line there's a yellow and red haze to his right - Slovenian Borut Božič glides past the American to take his third stage win of the race.
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.
Double Challenge. Mountain stages in bike races are inevitably decisive in sorting where riders finish in the race overall. They pose a number of challenges to a team atop the obvious physical barrier of the terrain itself.