After a quieter spring than he’d perhaps have liked, and the disappointment of not making the Saxo Tinkoff Tour de France team, Michael Mørkøv bounced back in the best way possible with a stunning victory in the Danish Road Race Championships on Sunday.
I remember once, after the last chase in a Six Day I asked Dirk, our Belgian mechanic; ‘was that finale ‘straight’ Dirk?' He fixed me with a patient stare, much as a good parent would do after their child has said something silly, ‘have you ever seen a ‘straight’ Six Day, Ed?’ I took his point, they’re all pretty much choreographed – but like I keep saying, you have to be able to take laps out of a string riding at 52-53 kph to win. But I reckon that on Sunday evening I did see a straight finale.
Here at the Rotterdam Six Day 2011 the buzz off iljo's rollers fills my ears as I write this; despite the best efforts of the UCI, he's still here and looking sharp. My amigo, Dirk the mechanic was telling me that Iljo is retaining two of the three best lawyers in Belgium - I'm glad I'm not paying the bills.
The first big mountain stage of the Tour has exposed the form of the riders who have intentions of finishing on the podium in the race. The best five in the race to date have been Wiggins, Evans, Nibali, Froome and Van Den Broeck (VDB). Bizarrely, Chris Froome is probably the best in the race right now: he completely cracked Cadel Evans AND (briefly) dropped his own team leader.
Canada’s Alex Stieda became the first North American to pull on the most famous and coveted jersey in professional cycling. Le Tour 1986, Stage One and Stieda heads off up the road solo, the peloton lets him go – a Canadian ? Paah! But there’s method in his madness as he scoops up intermediate points and time bonuses along the way; and when the winning breakaway train of five catch him he has enough strength and presence of mind to purchase a ticket. The break just holds of the screaming pack; Stieda grabs fifth behind Belgium’s Pol Verschuere – but those time bonuses have propelled the Canadian pursuiter into cycling history – he’s maillot jaune.
Dave Akam is best remembered as the first man to crack the 30 mph barrier for a 10 mile time trial, recording 19:50 on the Portsmouth Road in 1980 in the colours of the Gemini BC. But there’s a wee bit more to the man than that, like wins in the British Pursuit Championship, the amateur Trofeo Baracchi in Italy; French chrono classics the Grand Prix de France and Chrono de Herbiers, not to mention the prestigious GP Timmermans time trial in the Netherlands and a shed load of road wins in France and The Netherlands.
With the bells of beautiful Ampleforth Abbey peeling in celebration, Sky made it a hat trick of British National Road Race Championships titles; strong man Ian Stannard following on from Geraint Thomas in 2010 and Bradley Wiggins in 2011.
In Part I of Alf's interview, we found out about his childhood, his coach and mentor, and his track and time trialling records. In Part II, we talk to Alf about that British 25 Mile Time Trial Record: 49:24! Before we do though, let's find out a bit more about the bike. 'The Speed Machine', as Cycling Weekly called it in May 1978, was Alf's gem of a Shorter TT iron...
We’re feeling a bit smug, this morning, on the eve of Stage Three we said; ‘It could be one for the breakaway but GreenEDGE may control it for Clarke and Michael Matthews – and maybe Yates?’ And they man they call ‘Bling’ due to his penchant for jewellery proved us correct. The 23 year-old from Canberra again proved that in an uphill finish, if his motivation is good – there’s a little question mark over his grinta - then he’s very hard to beat.