The beer's not cheap on Grotestraat in Valkenburg, at two Euros a pop, but with Dario G's 'Sunchyme' banging out, you can't complain. It takes me to Copenhagen and the 'balustrade sprints' at the Six Days. But that's not 'til next year - and we still have this year to put to bed.
We're roadside at Het Nieuwsblad 2020; since the race went World Tour the start just isn’t the same; the buses used to line up in the street, you could look at the bikes right until start time and brush shoulders with the riders as they pedalled to the sign-on. Not now, whilst some of the buses park up outside, the majority park in the huge 30’s exhibition hall adjacent to the Kuipke Velodrome in Ghent...
“There is life after The Flatlands.” The Worlds, Harrogate last month, and I’m ‘poaching’ those ‘just-past-the-finish-line’ pics that I like to nab. ‘Hey Ed!’ hollers an Irish voice. It’s Ronan McLaughlin.
Drew Wilson’s ‘Robert Millar Appreciation Group’ has generated a lot of interest on FaceBook, with 1,185 members - by now everyone must know he was Britain’s greatest stage race rider until Team Sky and their marginal gains came along – we had another name for that ‘back in the day’...
No Steve Cummings – saving it for the road race or just no form? - it looked like a shoot-out then between Dauphine winner, Geraint Thomas and chrono specialist Alex Dowsett (Katusha) for the British Time Trial Championships 2018. The sun was out, our spot on the hill was perfect, the marshal was sound with not a trace of Janitordom and Dave’s cheese and ham pieces were of exceptional quality. And Britain’s best bike riders were set to scoot past us. Not much more a man can want in life.
Forgive me if all I do these days is moan about Six Day finales. But ... As Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis booms out of the PA the scoreboard tells me Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw are FOUR laps clear in the last chase at the Rotterdam Six Day 2018. It's a real cliff hanger ...
As VeloVeritas pundit and critic, Viktor said after the Bergen World Championships; ‘where would we be without him?’ Peter Sagan. Cipo had it, Boonen had it, Peter has it – but Vik and I are both worried about who can pick up the ‘cycling’s showman and charismatic star’ baton when he finally hands his in.
Saturday dawns crisp, cold and sunny for the Omloop Gent Gent. We have a copy of Het Nieusblaad which has all the information we need about the route so its time to head for the start. It's moved this year to the S.M.A.K complex, site of the Gent Six Day. As the car park fills with the now de rigueur coaches, ushered in by whistle blowing attendants we grab a quick pic of world champ Peter Sagan's Specialized before being asked to move on by an unfriendly team staffer...
It’s not every day that you receive pictures from one of the world’s best cycling photographers – they’re way too good to keep to ourselves so with Mr. John Pierce’s permission allow us to share his memories of some of his favourite Six Day riders of the 70’s and 80’s. John attended the last London Six in 1980 and these first images are from that race.
He had a stellar amateur career in a Golden Era for Netherlands Cycling; rode for four of the sport’s most famous teams – Ijsboerke, Capri Sonne, Raleigh and Panasonic; was a highly successful team manager and is still deeply involved with the sport he loves. VeloVeritas is delighted to be able to bring you the thoughts of Mr. Theo de Rooij.
The Giro in Belfast. ‘Joy and Pain, Sunshine and Rain,’ went the song by Frankie Beverley and Maze back in 1980. Joy and sunshine – well, at least no rain - for big Svein Tuft and the GreenEdge loco; but for Dan Martin and Garmin it was all rain and pain. Tuft is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet, the original Gentle Giant – a beast of a man on a bike, off it he’s polite, friendly, gentle and laid back. In my book, one of the ‘Good Guys’ - happy birthday, sir!
‘Waiting for Godot’ is a famous play by Samuel Beckett; two characters wait in vain for Godot – the play’s much discussed third character who gives the drama it’s name but never appears. As the others looked at each other and waited for Godot - whether his name in this case was Sep or Bradley or Greg - Boonen drove and drove. It’s not like a champion of Boonen’s stature to give it the; ‘come through for f##k’s sake boys’ routine but his frustration was palpable.
VeloVeritas thanks you for reading in 2013, hopes that you are having a good holiday season, enjoyed the company of family and friends, ate and drank too much and didn’t have too many arguments. We’ve now entered that no man’s land between Christmas and New Year and whilst we’ll do our best to keep the interviews coming from the track men who are making the boards hum, the rising talents and the men who skim through the mud as sweetly Fred Astaire coming down a staircase – the year cannot be let slip without a rant.
Sometimes you time an interview just right and your subject goes out and does something big right after it. Take British cyclo-cross champion Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) – or should that be, ‘Field de Brit’ as they say in the Flatlands. We spoke to him on Wednesday and on Friday his coach Dan Fleeman of DigDeep Coaching called us to tell us that he’d pulled off a ‘biggie’ – 13th in the Koppenbergcross after leading for the first two laps and a puncture with two laps to go.
I forgot to turn off the message alert on my BlackBerry and it started beeping away just before 04:00 am – it didn’t matter, I was awake anyway. The aphids had breached my defences and the irritation of the bites had wakened me. The French, Danish and Netherlands teams all showed themselves in the Junior Road Race World Championships 2013 - as Androni manager Gianni Savio always says; ‘you must honour the race!’ - with Franck Bonnamour away with Colombian Martinez in the closing stages.
One of the standout performances during the 2013 Giro was Alex Dowsett’s (Movistar & GB) winning ride in the brutal Stage Eight 55 kilometre time trial ahead of all the ‘Bigs’ - to prove categorically that there is; ‘life after Sky,’ Dowsett has shown his class over the years, shining in each level of his career.
There was a big surprise in that British 25 Mile Championship as IG Sigma Sport’s 22 year-old Joe Perrett relegated Hutchinson (In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT) to third; with Matt Bottrill (www.drag2zero.com) in the silver medal spot.
At VeloVeritas we pride ourselves on keeping an eye on who’s on the way up – but this gentleman caught us unawares. We should have spotted that stage win in the 2011 Tour de l’Avenir – there are no ‘soft’ stage wins in that race.
So when 20 year-old Simon Yates took the rainbow jersey in the Worlds points race it shouldn’t really have been a surprise.
But the man from Bury has been a World Champion before, with Dan McLay in the junior madison in 2010 – he was also silver medallist in the junior team pursuit that year.
So there I was in Berlin and it's the ladies’ Six Day - well, three days, actually - and I hear one of the lasses waiting to go to the line speaking in a good Lancashire accent. Check the numbers, #7: Hannah Walker, GB.