It was completely surreal. It was the 26th of July last year, and we were in Lourdes, sitting in a neon-lit, scruffy, greasy-spoon café at 1:00 in the morning. Our pizzas were cooking in the oven, but we weren't really that hungry anymore. We had travelled to the summit and back down again today, both literally and metaphorically; we'd had a wonderful day working on Stage 16 of the Tour de France which took the race to the ski station, 5,600 feet high, at Gourette - Col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees, and it had been turned completely on its head.
When I think about the Elite World Championship Time Trial, I always ponder how many of these titles Anquetil, Merckx and Indurain would have won between them, had this event existed, ‘back in the day?’
There’s no telling what you’ll see when you walk up those stairs; you’d expect to see Elia Viviani or Teun Mulder on the rollers on their road bikes or Shane Perkins on his track bike on the rollers — but a juggler?
Truth be told it wasn't him but his double, Paul Tabak, manager of Dutch outfit BRC Kememesland-burgundy blazer, black gingham shirt, grey flannels and shades-dapper guy! Dead ringer for Nicholas. A tad incongruous among the club jerseys, tee-shirts and fleeces at the managers' meet though. The UCI guys were really nicely turned out in blue, logo-ed shirts and body-warmers, so now you know where all that money goes.
Dozens of SMS and emails flash up on my BlackBerry each day, most are chaff and get deleted after a quick glance — but when one comes in to tell me that ‘Michael Mørkøv excluded from the Vuelta by WADA’ that makes me take notice.
The sprinters are denied - but it's a sprinter who wins. It was big smiled Aussie, Michael Matthews (Orica) kicking to glory from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) in third spot – a podium of real quality from the big day-long breakaway. And whilst Sagan may not have taken the stage bouquet he took the stage by the scruff of the neck and thrust himself back into green – possible all the way to Paris, now.
It’s a while since we had a decent VeloVeritas rant and the year end is always a good time to take stock; in this VV View edition we compare the Six Day men of then and now, Chris Froome's data, Cycling Weekly's change from specialist to generalist magazine, disc brakes and of course, sadly, doping.
Andre Greipel, the big man with enough horsepower to be a chance at beating Cav in a straight sprint took the stage win today. We, the fans unfortunately didn’t have tthe chance to see the two great men going head to head as they did on Stage 2 (one of the best sprints I’ve ever seen) as Cav was caught in a crash and hit the road a couple of km from the finish. The Carnage Continues...