Obituaries, part of the deal if you write about cycling; check their palmarès, think about when you saw them race when you were a boy then put a piece together. But when it's someone you knew, liked, laughed with, there's more to it than that - the randomness of life; one minute a friend is there and happy with a whole life to look forward to, the next, he's gone. A car crash involving a lorry and Ben Abrahams, and here I am writing this.
To misquote Shakespeare; 'that which I greatly feared is upon us.' Brad hasn't been taking bottles in the chases thus far and we'd no reason to think he'd start tonight, but he did. Right at the moment his mitted hand clutched that bottle, my heart sank - I've lived this nightmare before.
One of the biggest professional kermises in Flanders is the Gullegem Koerse, first held in 1942 when Belgian legend Marcel Kindt claimed victory. Since then it’s been won by many of the hardest kermis riders in the game – Willy Tierlinck, Wilfried Nelissen, Nico Eeckhout, Gert Omloop to name a few. Not to mention some of the best roadmen of their eras; including Nico Mattan, Peter Van Petegem and Philippe Gilbert. And for this year’s edition we can boast of a Scottish winner in Andy Fenn – well, his mum is Scottish and he rode the Commonwealth Games for us in Delhi.
Back in the 70’s when ‘The Comic’ was virtually the only source of information on bike racing during the winter there were comprehensive reports on ‘cross and the Six Days over the winter months. There was a man whose face graced the magazine most weeks during the 'cross season – Eric Stone, a wiry ex-runner who made the top 20 in the Worlds six times including a top ten result.
Eight Cycling Medals for Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games; Scottish cyclists hit the jackpot with gold for the inimitable Katie Archibald in the pursuit and for Mark Stewart in the points race.
"Rest day", that's a misnomer right away. The ferry was late into Civitavecchia; we had to do a death march with our bags across town to get our Hertz car; then there was a 300 K drive south; the Permanence in Montevergine Di Mercogliano wasn't set-up (there were mountains of rubbish in the streets, so maybe it wasn't surprising) and to finish-off we had to pad the streets of Salerno until we found an internet cafe.
VeloVeritas owes an apology to the Frenchman who rides for that most Belgian of teams, Lotto’s Tony Gallopin; we thought he’d had his ‘day in the sun,’ wearing le maillot jaune on Bastille Day. And if we may digress for a moment; since World war Two the jersey has been worn on Bastille Day by a French rider on 17 occasions, including Anquetil on five, Hinault three times with Bobet and Tommy Voeckler both achieving this feat twice – as well as Monsieur Gallopin, this year.
You ride your first race in March 2015 and by 2017 you’ve won the U23 Gent-Wevelgem. Promising? Yes, that’s what we thought. Jacob Hennessy is only 21 years-old and has left the shelter of the British Cycling plans and programmes for the rough and tumble of the Continental Teams and the UCi Asia Tour. Mitchelton-BikeExchange is his home for season 2018.
In Part One of our interview with former Irish Champion, Alan McCormack we covered his junior days, his seasons as a pro in the UK with Carlton-Weinmann and in Belgium with Old Lords-Splendor then his introduction to the 80’s US scene. By seasons ‘83 and ‘84 he was a fixture on the US race scene...