The tall, rawboned rider ambled across to the barrier; Gary Wiggins was broad and square across the shoulders, big-thighed and walked with a loose-limbed gait. His long legs made easy work of straddling the steel fence which separated the riders' enclosure from the paying public at the Gent six, back in the early 80's.
"A week is a long time in politics," said Harold Wilson - even longer at the wheel of a Transit; still, I'm sure that my column in L'Equipe isn't far away, now. Lombardia was great, I love that race, and Milan - San Remo too; do yourself a favour, go and see them - you'll thank me. However, all is not well up in the land of mountains and lakes.
10 years ago we’d have been knocked out by the riding of Vincenzo Nibali – now we question. It’s not a case of cynicism or love of the ‘D-word’ gossip, it’s just that we were fooled for so long and so comprehensively that if a rider is dominating in the fashion of ‘The Shark’ then one does wonder – it’s impossible not to.
It’s almost time for the VV Review of 2019, to file the season under ‘Nostalgia’ and look to season 2020, which will make it half a century I’ve been a fan of cycle sport. I can still remember watching Hugh Porter win the 1970 world professional pursuit championship under the spotlights at Leicester, on our tiny black and white tele. Where did those years go?
Lendelede, early afternoon, and we've missed the start - but the sun is shining and our hero, Guy Smet is riding. This is a kermesse. A criterium, like Friday night's, is usually on a circuit of one to two kilometres which is generally urban in nature, and the event will last one to two hours. A kermesse course, on the other hand, will be on a circuit of six to eight kilometres, and whilst it will start and finish in the village main street, it will be largely rural, race duration will be two to three hours.
It's not a proper Six Day unless it's a marathon to get there - and really you should arrive in a different country. My journey to the Rotterdam Six Day 2012 meant a super-early start, Transit van to West Craigs, cab to Edinburgh airport, plane to Amsterdam, train to Rotterdam, Metro to the Ahoy Stadium - then walk across the road.
Continuing on our recent Irish theme we caught up with Aidan Duff, former Vendee U professional and now owner of Fifty One Cycles – building bespoke carbon frames. 'Fifty One?' we hear you say... The race number for Merckx, Ocana, Thevenet and Hinault when they won the Tour de France. With tales of Jean Rene Bernadeau, Tommy Voeckler and building custom carbon – not ‘off the peg from Taiwan’ - we cover some interesting ground. Let’s go...
'Cav sez; "Gotcha!" to Baz', as the Sun might say if it were to cover Le Tour de France, and today's stage into Saint-Fargeau. It took Barry Hoban a whole career - two decades - to notch up eight Tour stage wins - but they didn't all come from bunch gallops.