Ciao, come sta? Viareggio on the west coast of Italy, 06:30 Saturday May 15 and VeloVeritas is on the Giro - well, not quite, we have our credentials to collect from the Gazzetta camper van, this morning at the stage start in Carrara. The trip down wasn't too bad, Edinburgh to Luton, then Luton to Pisa - there was an hour's delay at Luton, but we were on Easyjet, so no one gets too stressed.
'Close, but no cigar' was the story of Evan Oliphant's Games - two top six placings on the track, a sterling support job for David Millar in the road race and a top 12 finish against the clock couldn't compensate for not bringing home a shiny disc of bright metal.
Despite the disappointment with his results Evan took time to talk to track, road, time trials - and mosquitoes, to VeloVeritas...
When I started cycling back in 1971 I quickly learned that there were five men I should stand in awe of; Belgians, Eddy Merckx - no explanation necessary - and Patrick Sercu, world sprint champion, Olympic kilometre champion and Grand Tour stage winner; Danish super stylist, world hour record holder Ole Ritter; British 25 mile record holder, Alf Engers and long term Scottish 25 mile record holder, John McMillan. Over the years I’ve managed to get my picture taken with Eddy and Ole, interviewed Alf and have even had the odd chat with Patrick.
This week Andy Fenn was able to put a tick against 'sign for a big team'-they don't come much bigger than Patrick Lefevre's QuickStep, who have just signed the 21 year-old from Hertfordshire who qualifies to ride the Commonwealth Games for Scotland thanks to his mother being Scottish.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011 used to be the 'revenge match' for Gent-Gent (Het Nieuwsblad); after poor showings in Saturday's race, QuickStep usually rode on Sunday with great panache to salvage the weekend-they did this with Nuyens in '06, Boonen in '07 & '09 and brilliantly with de Jongh in '08.
After her win in the recent Trossachs classic time trial at Aberfoyle, we thought it was about time that we chatted to Pippa Handley, one of the Edinburgh Road Club's top women riders, a voracious trainer and top 10 place-getter at the British level.
Deeside Thistle APR and 43 riders in 5 groups set off with the scratch group 15 mins behind the front-runners. The weather was warm and sunny but the riders faced a strong westerly wind gusting up to 30 mph. Ray Wilson of Dunfermline CC and Alistair Watt of Granite City RT broke away on their own and caught all the groups with about 7 miles to go, then Ray won the sprint to the line.
What’s the best thing an aspiring world class athlete can do? Pick their parents carefully, of course. The hottest U23 property in the world right now, Pavel Sivakov did that very thing; dad Alexei was a pro for 10 years with Roslotto, BigMat, CCC and Auber 93. As an amateur he won the Tour of Serbia and as a pro the Circuito Montanes; he rode the Vuelta and three Tours de France.