Thursday, January 20, 2022
HomeNuggetsThe VV View: In the Bleak MidWinter

The VV View: In the Bleak MidWinter


Brexit, Covid, desperate weather, it’s been a long hard winter and we’re still in what might be termed the Bleak MidWinter, made even worse by the sad news that former Scottish cyclo-cross, grass track and MTB Champion Craig Hardie has lost his fight with cancer. VeloVeritas offers deepest condolences to his friends, supporters and family.

Continuing on a note of sadness, the sport recently lost one of the all-time greats, arguably the greatest amateur rider in history, Poland’s Ryszard Szurkowski, four times a winner of the Peace Race, World Road Race Champion, twice World Team Time Trial Champion and twice Olympic Team Time Trial silver medallist.

It’s always brings home one’s mortality when a hero of your youth passes; rest in peace, Champion.

And Glenda Hughes, Sir Bradley Wiggins auntie, sister of his father the late Gary Wiggins reminded us that 13 years have passed since her brother died in mysterious circumstances – still an unsolved crime.

We hope the big man has found the peace which eluded him in life.  

Another quality bike rider taken far too early was Big Bert Oosterbosch, Dutch former World Professional Pursuit Champion and chrono specialist supreme.

Mid-Winter Thoughts
Bert Oosterbosch (l) will be featured on VeloVeritas soon.

We’ll be running a tribute piece soon thanks to a collaboration with his nephew, Erwin Oosterbosch; we were flattered and thrilled to receive a copy of a limited edition book celebrating Bert’s life.

VeloVeritas‘ Belgo-file, Ivan has already been recruited for translation duties.

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And whilst we’re dealing with the melancholy, Bleak MidWinter, side of life, it’s sad to hear that we’ve probably seen big, ‘chrono machine’ Tom Dumoulin in action for the last time; and also that Scottish young gun, Joe Nally has called ‘time.’

There were many words written about Big Tam’s decision but former Italian, World and Olympic Champion, Silvio Martinello perhaps summed things up most simply and best; ‘the fire just went out.’ 

In Joe’s case he’s still a young man and a gust of wind might just find a spark again…

Bleak Mid-Winter
Joe Nally. Photo©

To continue in sombre vein I was disappointed to read that as a result of the crash which Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen – with the young Deceuninck rider incurring serious injury – both came down in at the end of a stage in the Tour of Poland last year, Groenewegen has received death threats from Jakobsen fans.

One of the things I always loved about our sport is that the fans respect all riders and there’s none of the tribalism and violence which can mar football (soccer) at times; it’s disappointing to learn that we have our ‘crazies’ too. 

VeloVeritas wishes both men a safe and successful return to the peloton.

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Let’s lift the mood; what about Mathieu and Wout?

Bleak Mid-Winter
Mathieu van der Poel, Cyclocross World Championship in Ostend in 2021. Photo©Imago

If you’re an old codger like me it’s great to relive those days when top road stars like Roger De Vlaeminck and Adrie Van Der Poel – Mathieu’s dad – jumped on their ‘cross bikes at the end of the road season adding spice to the world of mud and sand.

Long may it continue.

Great to see Tom Pidcock right there with the best in the world, even if Mathieu and Wout were in a different race to the rest.

But will INEOS allow young Pidcock to continue to ‘mud-plug’ – we have our doubts on that…

The lack of fans at the big ‘crosses takes a bit of getting used to though – hopefully this coming winter the frites, burger and beer kiosks will return?

There will be no fans either at the Spring Classics with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne organisers employing a security firm to enforce the ban – hard to bear but necessary in these crazy times.

Good to see Euro road sport back on track though with Lorenzo Manzin [Team Total Direct Energie & France] taking Valenciana and Aurelien Paret-Peintre [AG2R Citroen Team & France] taking the Marseillaise.