A beautiful day greeted the 53 riders who took the start of the 56th sponsored The Drummond Trophy Road Race. In glorious sunshine the race rolled out of the small town of Strathaven, situated in the heart of the Avon Valley, Scotland.
The rugged course incorporated a large loop of about 45 miles in length, and three smaller loops covering close to 15 miles.
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.
It would have been his 13th Worlds; but for the first time since 1996 there will be no one from Granton-on-Spey on the British track team, when the series kick off in Manchester in a week-or-so. VeloVeritas caught up with Craig Maclean on the day 'The Guardian' told us that he won't be pulling on a GB 'speed suit' for the team or individual sprints.
Any talk of decline appears to have been, thankfully, premature as 25,000 people had visited the 102nd Berlin Six Day over the first two days. Tonight was ‘Golden Night’ and another massive crowd of around 13,000 trudged through the ice and snow in temperatures of around -13 to cheer and, in Berlin’s inimitable style, whistle the riders around the 250 metre track.
"Bonjour," really that should be the German equivalent there of, but my German is even more limited than my French. We spent the night in Freiburg here at Le Tour de France - just across the German border, the hotel room is huge, if a tad Spartan; but that didn't stop us from sleeping like bricks, before starting our day to Besançon.
It was nice to wake up in the shadow of the Matterhorn this morning; imposing, snow capped and stunning against a picture post card blue sky. Yesterday? There's a clue in what Contador, Aru and Landa call themselves; "professional" cyclists. It's a job, a commercial enterprise, a way to make money for riders, sponsors and organisers. The way we read yesterday is that Alberto is due a big favour from Astana whilst Landa is due one from management and Aru.
Yes, there are days when we’ve criticised the racing – those endless ‘sprinter stages’ where only the last five minutes saves the day. But we were puzzled by the comments we saw about yesterday’s stage to Rodez on social media; the "Bore de France" and the break "allowed for purely commercial reasons"?
I was a sceptic; one of the, “it’s only the blinkin’ flu, for goodness sake!” Brigade. It all seemed like an overreaction, these things happen in places like China with so many folks living on top of each other. Strange days indeed.
Despite the Lance Armstrong Scandal, it’s not hard to dislike Lance Armstrong; he’s arrogant, controlling, self-obsessed, hypocritical and brought to cycling the horrors of bodyguards, blacked-out SUV windows, black socks and celebrity visits to the Tour de France.