This week Andy Fenn was able to put a tick against 'sign for a big team'-they don't come much bigger than Patrick Lefevre's QuickStep, who have just signed the 21 year-old from Hertfordshire who qualifies to ride the Commonwealth Games for Scotland thanks to his mother being Scottish.
George Atkins was a name that suddenly appeared on the Scottish scene back in the summer. And on Sunday the versatile man from Leicester took silver in the British U23 Time Trial Championships, but before his foray into the world of riding 'alone and unpaced', he spent six weeks in Flanders, so naturally we needed to have a word with him, not long before the British Champs.
Last weekend saw Endura's Davie Lines realise one of his big goals in the sport in winning the Scottish Criterium Championships. We had a word with 'Falkirk's Flying Fireman' (sorry), here's what he had to say.
You always miss something when you go on holiday-the latest Super Six at Falkirk, for example; I knew I'd be away for the race but said to the organiser if he let me know who'd won, I'd do an interview with them. Gary Hand (Endura) was the man to take the honours-no surprises then? But there was a caveat; a source close to organisers told us...
It was another surprise win in a Scottish time trial championship as Sandy Wallace Cycles', Steve Nutley took the honours in the '100' on a wet day along the Cromarty Firth, last Sunday.
Rapha Condor Sharp's James McCallum has been at it again; winning, that is-the 46th edition of the Davie Bell Memorial, this time. VeloVeritas unfortunately couldn't make it down to one of our favourite races, but we were on the phone to 'Jamesy' and organiser Chris Johnson, soon after the dust had settled.
The phone rings, it's Vik; "Why haven't you spoken to that Wade Mangham boy? He's getting round all right in Flanders." In line with VeloVeritas policy of trying to keep abreast of who's 'up and coming' in the Flatlands, we tracked young Mr. Langham down - here's what he had to tell us about dodgy club presidents, Shane Archbold's mullet - and he has a chat with his bottle cages.
Dwars door Vlaanderen saw the re-birth of Nick Nuyens (Belgium & Saxo Bank) as winner; for those who know their Spring Classics it branded him as a potential Ronde winner - and so it proved. However, on the same day on similar roads, the Under 23 version of the race, the 'GP Waregem' saw another young Briton take an important step up the ladder with an excellent win over the cream of Flanders' young cycling talent, Dan McLay.
The three guys behind the blog and podcasting site "Velo Club Don Logan" may be 'foul-mouthed and ill-informed' (their words), but they're also nice lads and very entertaining too. After listening to the fantastic podcast of their interview with Graeme Obree - in which Graeme talks openly about previously unexplored aspects of his life and career - we had to find out more about this site and the men behind it, and we caught up with them recently to get a bit of background and to hear their plans... okay, there aren't any plans...
We conclude our review of the 2011 World Track Champs from Apeldoorn with a look at the endurance events; only one of which will be in the Olympic programme - the team pursuit. The individual pursuit, madison, scratch and points have all been axed from London.
The bad news-there's no individual pursuit, points or Madison at the Olympics. The good news is that the team pursuit stays and we get the omnium-I had my doubts about this event but there's no doubt that it produced some savage racing at Apeldoorn; let's see what silver medallist, Shane Archbold had to say.
We became aware of the bike brand Onix when our blogger, Asfra Professional Dan Patten told us he was using them for this coming season. Thrashing around the Flandrian kermises and InterClub races on the cobbles, concrete roads and paths will be sure to give any bike a good test, and Dan has been enthusing to us about his new machines. Turns out Onix Bikes was started recently by Craig Middleton, who gave up his previous job in printing and threw everything into creating something pretty different.
The Track World Champs came and went, and whilst criticising the UCI is the fashion their decision to slot the Worlds into the Cobbled Classics season has to be questioned. The original thought process was that it was to accommodate the six day riders coming off the end of their season-and road men before their season got underway.
'Man in Black' James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp) was too strong for the rest in the second round of the Super Six at Rosneath on Sunday, showing the full field of 80 how it should be done when you're a full time bike rider. The former British criterium champion outsprinted Liam Cowie (Endura/Pedal Power Development Team) and Rob Wilkins to take the honours.
A few years ago, Vik and I were hanging over the barriers at a Friday night kermis near Gent; ex-pro Tony Bracke was Hoovering up the primes but one of the Kingsnorth Wheelers guys was catching our eye, Christopher Macic.
Our pal Viktor has been hard at work; it's not everyone who could do his job, those long hours huddled over a computer screen, day in, day out - checking those Belgian cycling results websites. Lifting his head only to make another coffee ("sometimes my fingertips tingle with the caffeine"), or to phone me; "Ed, there's a boy you should be talking to..."
A man who caught the tail end of the Golden Age of sprinting wave back in the 60’s was Australian Ron Baensch. Ron was born in 1939 but still rides his track bike twice each week; "Us old guys ride a 40 lapper!" he delights in telling us.
It's hard to break into the six day circuit; but if there's a local rider with promise or a road star that needs mentoring then there has to be a rider on the circuit to provide hands on guidance. Enter Austria's Andreas Müller. Müller was a member of the German track squad during the last decade with strong results, like silver in the 1999 Moscow World Cup team pursuit; Madison bronze in the Chinese round of the World Cup in 2002 and Madison gold in the Moscow and Sydney rounds of the 2003 World Cup.
If it's the first weekend of the month and the snow drops have burst through - it must Scottish Super Six time. VeloVeritas caught up with the first Super Six winner of the year, 19 year-old Dumbarton man Robert Hassan (Endura/Pedal Power Development Team) the day after he'd triumphed over 65 miles of beautiful East Lothian countryside in the Edinburgh Road Club promotion at Gifford.
We've always had a soft spot for Orbea at VeloVeritas-we like the Basque country and the fact that it's a workers co-operative; last year the bikes from Euskadi appeared in the UK peloton as 'Orbea-For Goodness Shakes' but for 2011 the incarnation is 'Twenty3c Orbea.' DS Steve Skuse and manager James Whatling are the men who'll be guiding them in their assault on the Premier Calendar. They recently took time to chat to VeloVeritas...
In any sport there comes a time when the order changes, the old stars fade away and the new ones begin to shine brighter. But Dane Marc Hester is no super nova, shining brightly then gone, it's taken him several years to get to where he is in the Six Day constellation.
If you ever decide to promote a Six Day race there's a check list you'll have to go through. Start with a short steep indoor track; the best riders you can afford; food and drink concessions; a cool light show; a good 'speaker'; maybe some live acts-but one of your key ingredients will be music. Enter Peter Traynor, originally from the Wirral Peninsula across the Mersey River from Liverpool - the city that gave us the Beatles and the 'Mersey Sound'.
T-Mobile, Slipstream and HTC stalwart Adam Hansen; a key cog in the 'Cavendish sprint machine,' surprised many when he decided to leave the US team and follow HTC's 'other sprinter,' Andre Greipel to Lotto. But that's not all!
In the autumn of 2009 James Moss was still a surveyor and a 'weekend warrior' on the bike-within weeks he was a full time pro with Scotland's Endura team, dueling with the Pro Tour squads in the Tour of the Mediterranean and Tour of Murcia. We thought we'd catch up for a 'Xmas end of term report` on his first Pro season with the 25 year-old from Newcastle.
I knew that Ian Whitehead had finally gone native when I received the email to inform me that his mail address no longer ended in "dot uk" but in "dot be"-that was the last link with the 'old country' gone. However, English Christmas pudding was consumed on the 25th-so there are still links to the 'old ways,' despite what he says. Ian is one of the men behind Kingsnorth Wheelers, the Belgian Team with an English name that's been home to so many good Commonwealth riders over the years...
Soup for breakfast? Welcome to the Peace Race. Ivy CC stalwart Ken Clark took time to talk to VeloVeritas, and our resident Peace Race expert Ivan, about what it was like to ride the 'Communist Tour de France.' It was quite an adventure...
With all the recent transfer news about who is going where in the ProTour, or UCI World Tour as it will soon be known, certain 2011 signings of interest seem to have slipped under the radar. One which caught the attention of VeloVeritas was with Team Radioshack's U23 feeder team, Trek-Livestrong. After another stellar season for Trek with at least five riders moving up to top UCI World Tour teams; including Britain's Alex Dowsett who's making the step up to Team Sky. These moves leave spaces to be filled and one of the riders moving into the top American U23 line-up is New Zealand's up-and-coming star George Bennett.
In Part I of Alf's interview, we found out about his childhood, his coach and mentor, and his track and time trialling records. In Part II, we talk to Alf about that British 25 Mile Time Trial Record: 49:24! Before we do though, let's find out a bit more about the bike. 'The Speed Machine', as Cycling Weekly called it in May 1978, was Alf's gem of a Shorter TT iron...
'A.R. Engers' the start sheets used to say, 'Alfred Robert' but to us he was 'Alf' or 'The King.' Time trials weren't boring affairs when Alf was on the throne. He was a man on a mission; to take the British 25 mile record through the 30 miles per hour barrier - and more than 30 years after he broke the barrier there are still not many riders who can claim a '49' or faster.
Callum Gough is a life member of Liverpool Century but races now as a vet for Onimpex Racing Team — back in the 80’s Gough’s name was one that appeared regularly in "the Comic" [Cycling Weekly] as a winner of road races both in the UK and on the continent.
Given that Shimano's Di2 system has been commercially available for quite a while now, it could be argued that Campagnolo have taken their time to get to market with electronic gearing, but they're obviously focused on getting it all perfect before launching, as it's nearly four years ago that we spoke to Predictor-Lotto's Bert Roesems, who had been singled out by the Italian company to use their electronic components in the toughest test arena of them all - the Spring Classics.
'Close, but no cigar' was the story of Evan Oliphant's Games - two top six placings on the track, a sterling support job for David Millar in the road race and a top 12 finish against the clock couldn't compensate for not bringing home a shiny disc of bright metal. Despite the disappointment with his results Evan took time to talk to track, road, time trials - and mosquitoes, to VeloVeritas...
VeloVeritas waited until we were sure that James McCallum was displaying no symptoms of dengue fever before we caught up with him at Starbucks for a chat about his third Commonwealth Games.
'I cycled from my house in the West End of Glasgow to Larkhall, that would be around 30 miles, rode a 140 mile road race - it went away down over Beattock - won it, then cycled home - so that was around 200 miles for the day.' Things were different in Jimmy Rae's day. VeloVeritas took a run up to Crieff Hydro to interview one of the very few Scots to have won national tours - Mr. James Rae. Ours neat list of questions went out of the window and we decided it would be best to let Jimmy off the leash, year by year, popping in questions where we could...
We left our Tour of Britain 'catch up' with Evan Oliphant until after the British track champs, on the off chance that he might break the BC/Sky/100% ME grip on affairs - fat chance.
Despite a clash with the Vuelta, the Tour of Britain boasts probably it's strongest ever field. Endura Racing's Evan Oliphant is VeloVeritas man in the peloton.
From jousting with ‘Kermesse King’ Mario Willems to shelf stacking at Tesco, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster week or two for Glasgow Wheelers’ 20 year-old, Dougie Young. We caught him between shifts to give us tales of a summer spent in a land where cyclists aren’t a nuisance and bike racing doesn’t induce blank stares or shakes of the head.
Bike broken, nearly poisoned and having to face 'Kermesse King' Mario Willems four times in a week-it ain't easy when you forsake the smooth tarmac of Westferry for the hard granite sets of Flanders - but 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.' Dooley's Michael Nicholson is just back from the flatlands; he took time to tell VeloVeritas the story...
We all know everything about Armstrong, Contador and the other top names in Pro cycling, but they all had to start somewhere. A young English rider called Mike Cuming has shot from club cyclist to promising Pro in two seasons so nothing is impossible.
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.
It’s been a month or two since we last spoke, and it’s nearly time for Ruaraidh McLeod to head home to land of the long white cloud - but we thought we’d best say ‘congratulations’ on his first win (and see if he’s crossed paths with those Scotsmen that are also over there in Belgium).
It's only metres from the finish in the final stage of the 2006 Vuelta a Cuba and US rider Joe Papp has it in the bag. His wife is in the cheering crowd as he begins to raise his arms in celebration - but an instant before he crosses the line there's a yellow and red haze to his right - Slovenian Borut Božič glides past the American to take his third stage win of the race.
Here at VeloVeritas we're always banging on about riders getting themselves across the North sea to Flanders, so when one actually does, such as Dougie Young, it's only right that we should pay a bit of attention.
If mountain biking is your thing, and you're not really into road bikes, how - and why - would you end up working as a mechanic for a ProTour team? We met Garmin Transisions mechanic Kris Withington recently on the Giro d'Italia, chewin' the fat at the start of Stage 12 in Citta Sant'Angelo, and so we thought it would be great to find out the answer to that question, and discover a little more about this Giro, as well as life on the road with a top professional team.
Ever-versatile Endura man, Evan Oliphant crammed just about every discipline into last weekend - criterium, Premier one day and a British grass track title. We had a word...
Team Raleigh's Dan Fleeman has set the interview up for us, and we're sitting in the "Hotel Anonymous" in Walsall. A dapper, trim figure in blazer and slacks bounds up the stairs; it takes a moment to register - it's our man, Grant Thomas.
For 2009, our 'Kiwi discovery' was Jack Bauer - who will it be this year? Clinton Avery ? Or this man, who has a great Scottish name, but is also from the land of the long white cloud; Ruaraidh McLeod.
"The 'Rutland' is a bit of lottery!" That's what many riders say; but not 2010 winner Michael Berling. He's been top four three times in the last three years - we thought we best have a word with the man VeloVeritas works for every year at the Six Days of Copenhagen.
VeloVeritas caught up with our man in France Tom Copeland recently, who's glad to be back racing after delaying the start of his season.
A third place in last Sunday's Drummond Trophy alerted us to 18 year old Robert Hassan's form, so we thought we better have a word. His dad introduced him to cycling five years ago, initially mountain biking, and has mentored him ever since then, with Robert getting more into the road scene as he turned Junior a couple of years ago...