It's a long way from Copenhagen to Sanremo. Last autumn we saw Saxo Bank's Michael Mørkøv ride the classic 'sit in and sprint' race in the Copenhagen Worlds netting 18th and best home rider among the absolute cream of world cycling.
Continuing our series of pre-Track Worlds interviews with riders who came from the 'left field' of the velodrome, in this second part we talk to Mike McCarthy. Mike didn't quite come from nowhere to win the 1992 World Professional Pursuit Championship but certainly shocked the world of the Euro Pros to take what was arguably then, the most prestigious of all the track titles.
It's hard to believe but this will be Evan Oliphant's eighth season as a professional. It was back in 2005 when he first pulled on a Recycling jersey; he won the East Yorkshire Classic that year and grabbed second place to Serguei Ivanov on stage four of the Tour of Britain. Last season saw his usual domination of the Scottish scene continue and a strong 11th place on GC in Paris-Correze. For 2012 there's a new name on his jersey - but it's an old name, really.
With the World Track Championships only a few weeks away, we thought we'd talk to some top riders who you may know not much about, guys with interesting stories to tell, our "left-field' stars. Here's Ryan Oelkers tale...
At the recent RadioShack-Nissan-Trek training camp "The Boss" Johan Bruyneel was open to just about any questions. A collection of around a dozen journalists assembled in the Diamante Hotel in Calpe, Spain for a good old chat.
The Scottish road racing season kicked off last Saturday at Gifford and any fears of 'same old, same old' were quickly dispelled by 'Master Tom Arnstein'.
Vik's latest nod to us is regarding an Englishman, Douglas Dewey. Douglas won the British U23 time trial championships last season, but the other week he pulled off a major win in Belgium-Gent Staden, the first major amateur classic of the year.
When Belgium's biggest fan of Aussie bike racing, Mr. Dirk Van Hove asked us to publish his interview with Australian ladies' champion Amanda Spratt there was no way we could refuse. He's chaperoned us around Het Nieuwsblad given us some of our best Aussie contacts and most importantly, introduced us to 'Orvelo' beer - and a fine brew it is.
VeloVeritas recently took time to talk to the man from Devon who is setting the early season roads of Southern France aflame - Endura's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke. We spoke to him soon after took his fourth and fifth wins of the season-the second stage and the GC in the tough Tour Cycliste International Haut Var.
'First race today, took it pretty easy, finished 14th - feel good.' Yes, Hamish Haynes is back to start his 10th season in the flatlands. No World Class Performance Plans, no Lottery funding, just hard graft and dedication. Haynes came late to sport but has been racing and winning in the Flanders since 2003.
VeloVeritas spoke recently to Commonwealth Games Team Sprint Silver Medallist Charline Joiner after her ride at the Rotterdam Six Day.
We spoke to circuit spanner man, Dirk Dekeyser at the Grenoble Six Day. Who makes sure the wheels turn smoothly during a Six Day race? The mechanics are the men who change the gears, stick on the tyres, endlessly polish the paintwork and pick up the pieces after crashes.
'The goal for the Russian team is to break the 3:50 barrier in the London Olympics.' The words of Heiko Salzwedel-over the last few years it's looked as if the 2012 Olympic team pursuit final would be a straight shoot out between GB and Australia.
Erick Rowsell is a name which seems to have been around for a long time; maybe because he was winning British medals five years ago-in 2007 he took bronze in the junior road race and individual pursuit as well as gold in the junior time trial.
When we heard on Sunday that our blogger Ian Field had won the British Cyclo-Cross Championship on a dry and sunny day in Suffolk, we wanted to celebrate that win with a chat.
One man who’s more relieved than most about the new season is VeloVeritas regular, James Moss — let go by Endura after two seasons and very happy to have a contract for 2012.
He’s more Australian than most folks from ‘Down Under’ - despite the fact that he’s from Gent in the heart of Flanders. He’s currently writing a history of Australian cycling, he’s the Drapac team’s European Co-ordinator, he’s a photographer at the Gent Six Day, and he’s VeloVeritas' biggest asset and chauffeur at Het Nieuwsblad. He’s Dirk Van Hove.
Belgian professional Gorik Gardeyn’s name has been a familiar one in the European peloton for over a decade – but for season 2012 he’ll be signing on for events on the other side of the globe, as well as the ‘old continent.’ The 31 year-old has just signed for Chinese Pro Continental team Champion System.
During the entire history of the Peace Race from 1948 to 1989 there were few Western winners, and no English speaker ever won - except one that is, in 1952: Ian Steel of Scotland. The story that the East European propaganda machine circulated after that edition of the Peace Race, 60 years ago, was that the "Westerner" winner Steel had been approached by his country's intelligence agency before he travelled to the race and was asked to; 'keep his eyes open' whilst behind the Iron Curtain - to spy, in other words.
Last July, Jérémy Roy (FDJ) was becoming well known to followers of the Tour de France, his attacking style gathering him lots of attention and admiration in this, his fourth participation, despite the big win in the biggest race eluding him thus far. In his ninth year as a Pro, but not a regular winner, Jérémy was one of the heroes of Friday's Stage 12 from Cugneaux to Luz Ardiden, having been in the break of six riders which escaped soon after the start and remained in front most of the day.
When Steve Cummings rode for Discovery Channel in 2007, he was in the service of Alberto Contador. 'Bert' told the Disco mechanic Allan Butler; "when you ask Cummings to ride on the front-he rides, I'd have him on my team any time!" Praise doesn't come much higher. We caught up with Steve just before he jetted off to the Far East for the new Beijing WorldTour race, to talk Cav, his move from Sky to BMC and-Liverpool FC.
In the first part of our interview with Australian ace Don Allan we discussed his road career, for the second part we talk about his 107 Six Day starts - that's 642 days on the boards; 92 weeks.
f you know your Six Day stats then you'll be aware that the Australian pairing of Danny Clark and Don Allan is the ninth most successful ever, based on wins, with 15; but fifth most successful ever based on points from top four finishes - 15 wins, 15 second places, 11 third places and 12 fourth places.
It hasn't been the best of summers for going fast on a bicycle, but the last day of August saw the Westferry '10' course in a benign mood - Arthur Doyle (Dooleys) dipped under the magical 20 minute barrier with 19:45, not so far away now from Graeme Obree's 19:29 competition record. But the ladies' record did fall, with Jessica Wilson-Young (Edinburgh RC) updating the Scottish ladies mark by four seconds to 21:42.
Scotland doesn't get too many World Cycling Champions-so when John Paul won the World Junior Sprint Championship, it was something special. 'Juniors?' I hear you say... The team pursuit in the Junior Worlds was won by Australia in a time of 4:02 and the man Paul beat in the sprint semis, Max Niederlag of Germany did 9.899 in qualifying. Those are seriously quick times.
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...