We last spoke to our two men inside the Ras after stage three on Tuesday evening; with the toughest stage of the race to come the next day. It was Friday when we spoke again; we hadn't had a chance to check the results for the day, so that was our first question.
Whilst the world goes 'Giro crazy,' other races that don't involve pink jerseys go on their way without Lance and all the hype-the FDB Insurance Rás is one of them. When Viktor and I heard that Nico Eeckhout, Jaan Kirsipuu and Bert Roesems were riding, we nearly hopped the ferry to Ireland there and then.
"Do you remember the James Cambridge boy we were talking to at that kermesse in Sersekamp, four or five years ago?" says Viktor. "Red Specialized, great tan, pro's legs and a cool Craft under vest?" I reply.
It's not every day that a GB rider wins a Netherlands amateur classic; but that's exactly what 19 year-old Welshman Luke Rowe did recently in De 'arjaan De Schipper Trofee'-to give it the full Dutch treatment - a race won by a certain Fabian Cancellara, a few years ago.
In our Girvan interviews with Evan Oliphant, Gary Hand and James McCallum, we mistakenly referred to Callum Wilkinson as 'best Scot at Girvan,'-we got that one wrong! We thought we'd best set things to rights with the man who actually was, 'best Scot at Girvan'-26 year-old Gareth Montgomerie of the Sigmasport-Specialized-Sportful Cycling Team.
Girvan; who's ridden it most times? Squadra Via Manzini-Race Tool rider, Paul Coats must be in the running with 13, or is it 14 starts? Paul's not as young as he used to be at 39, so we'll forgive him the memory lapse. We caught up with him recently, to get his Girvan memories...
Martin: "Here! Ed! Shouldn't we be doing a piece about the World Track Champs?" Ed: "They've never been the same since Daniel Morelon retired and Hughie Porter had that crash, then they ditched the big motors and..." Martin: "Hold on - go and speak to Craig Maclean!" Ed: "Aye, right, he'll know a bit, being an ex-world champ and all..."
Kristian House (Rapha Condor & GB) is one of those riders who 'looks the part,' dark skinned and stylish, he just looks like he can win races. When we heard about him riding very strongly in the pre season Bay Criterium Series in Australia, we thought we'd better 'have a word.'
Amore & Vita, the sunshine and glamour of the Italian pro scene; scorching Australian road race championships; Girvan on a cold April Monday afternoon - Tom Southam has seen it all. We caught up with the man with esoteric musical taste on a cold February afternoon-after he'd just done three hours.
The "Chris Hoy effect," is Scottish Cycling capitalising on it? We decided to speak to British Cycling's new Olympic talent scout for Scotland, Mark McKay.
He seems to have been part of the continental professional scene forever; but all good things must come to an end and Garmin & Sweden (or is it Wales?) strong man Magnus Backstedt has decided it's time to come out of the 11 sprocket for good. Magnus's retiral from top line racing was recently announced by his manager, friend and business partner, Martin McCrossan.
In the 70's, very few British riders graced the Euro peloton; this year there are four just with Cervélo alone. VeloVeritas caught up with the latest young Briton to cross the channel, Southend's Daniel Patten, who has signed with Martin McCrossan and Magnus Backsted's Team Cyclesport.se -MagnusMaximusCoffee.com for season 2009.
It's been a long time coming, but the Vikings from the north are finally starting their comeback tour of the World! Team Cyclesport.se is the brain child of Dennis Nystrand who has worked tirelessly for five years to bring Sweden its first professional team of the modern era, and to do so he's enlisted the help of UK based sports management company Sprocket Promotions to bring in some sponsors, which lead ultimately to a new partnership with Sprocket owner Martin McCrossan.
He's a part of triathlon history and has contributed back to the sport he loves in many ways. Frank Day is the inventor of PowerCranks, one of the most effective ways to improve your cycling efficiency, with dividends paid off in the form of faster cycling and running times.
At the start of the 2008 season we hadn't heard of Chris Froome, but all of a sudden his name was everywhere-including le Tour. We thought we'd better have a word with the man who has to go training at 5.00am to beat the Johannesburg traffic.
Whilst Endura have been getting all the attention recently, other Scottish riders have been looking to raise their game too. Rab Wardell is taking his talent south - to Southport's Kinesis team. We caught up with him to talk about the move - eventually. (Rab is a fan of having his mobile on 'silent' after five pm - but of course, this means he doesn't hear it when it rings!)
It's the 2007 Three Days of De Panne, stage one, hilly, windy and there are men dying out there. But at the front a powerful figure attacks constantly into the wind which scythes in off the North Sea-and he doesn't quit his huge 'digs' until the race defining break has formed around him.
"Ride a bike, ride a bike, ride a bike," the words of 'il Campionissimo'-'champion of champions,' Fausto Coppi when asked to give advise about training. The same advice holds still holds good for the 21st century, but it's a tad more sophisticated in these cyber days.
Here at VeloVeritas we felt that those Endura Racing boys would be giving us plenty to write about in 2009, so we thought we'd better sit them down with them and have a few words. As well as Jonathan McBain (owner of Pedal Power Cycles) and a lean and fit looking Gary Hand, a keen as mustard James McCallum was there too; so it turned into a lot of words!
"It is quite noisy when your head's scraping along the ice !" Craig Maclean's answer to our question as to whether it's noisy in a two man bobsleigh. What's the former World Team Sprint gold medallist and Individual Sprint silver medallist doing in a bobsleigh? Read on!
Former British pro champion and team-mate of Lance - that's Brian Smith? Apparently he's a dad now, and has been spotted running marathons in the states? - we needed to find out more!
We all dream about it (or have dreamt about it) but 20 year-old South Quensferry man, Ross Creber has done it-put pen to paper on a pro contract, with Plowman Craven. VeloVeritas were on the phone, before the ink was dry...
In winning the Tour of Thailand, Alex Coutts joined an elite club - British riders who have won an overseas national tour. A couple from the memory banks are: in 1965 Vin Denson won the Tour of Luxembourg and in 1988 the hugely under-rated Cayn Theakston won an epic 19 stage Tour of Portugal - but there aren't many more. We caught up with Alex, just after the Scottish hill climb championship.
We've been stalking him since Beijing; and at last, we've cracked him - Chris Hoy, Olympic gold medallist in the team sprint, keirin and individual sprint. We've heard that he now retains Max Clifford, "PR guru to the stars," as his agent, so we decided we'd better check out the financial aspect of the interview, first.
Hamish Haynes is one of British cycling's 'forgotten men.' Whilst Cycling Weekly tells us about the successes of the U23 Academy riders in Italy, ex-British Elite Champion Hamish just gets on with the job, competing against some of the best riders in Belgium week in and week out. His recent win in the prestigous Reningelst event went unrecorded. Pete Slater at SIS has been helping Hamish with nutrition this year - no 'freebees' though, even Daniel Bennati pays for his 'Go bars' - we thought it would be a good topic to discuss with a man who regularly pushes his body to it's limits.
How do you become a pro? If you’re lucky enough to have some talent and you’re born in England, then you might just end up taking the same road as 20 year-old Ben Swift; he’s won three U23 ‘biggies’ in Italy this season, so we thought we better have a word.
Nine World and Eight Olympic titles; that's Team GB's haul for 2008 - so far, that is. That kind of excellence doesn't 'just happen,' who's behind it? The GB head coach is Aussie, Shane Sutton - he was still in Beijing the day after his squad's triumphant campaign ended, when we spoke to him.
"Cheers Ed! In pub at Evanton and had a few. Brought up touring bikes and off to Ullapool then Hebrides for a week. Reception poor but give it a try..." That was Jim Cusick's (Glasgow Couriers) reply to our congratulatory text message and interview request after he had just won his first 100 mile title on the familiar roads (if you're involved in Scottish testing) around the Cromarty Firth.
Craig Maclean has nine golds and two silvers. That's what Team GB took away from the Manchester World Track Championships, back in April. A repeat performance in Beijing is entirely possible. How does British Cycling do it? One of the reasons is that their selection criteria is ruthless; past glory counts for nothing.
Eufemiano Fuentes, Jesus Manzano, Operaciõn Puerto, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador... and now Manuel Beltran. All Spanish, all hot topics - but what's the buzz in España? We turned to VeloVeritas Iberian correspondent Al Hamilton for the low down, and asked him some questions on just what the current Spanish perspective is.
Scottish rider, Alex Coutts, who is a regular interviewee on VeloVeritas, has been riding in Asia this season for the Giant Asia Race Team; it's now been five months since his season started in the Tour of Langkawi. As "The Burntisland Buzzard" is training again in Spain for a hard six week period of racing in China, Japan and Korea, we thought it was about time we got an up-date on life competing in the UCI Asia Tour circuit.
Evan Oliphant isn't the only Scotsman who's been winning races in the US of A. - up-and-coming under 16 rider, Patrick Galbraith recently scored a criterium win in Rocky Balboa's home town - Philadelphia (what do you mean "it's just a movie!?)...
VeloVeritas caught up with Evan Oliphant recently to chat about his and his team's very successful racing trip to the states, here's what Ev had to say about it.
Nine gold medals at the Worlds for Team GB - wow! So, the rest of the World will be happy to compete for silvers at Beijing? Hardly! One man who'll be doing his best to deny Bradley Wiggins two gold medals in China is Denmark's Michael Mørkøv. He took bronze in the Madison at Manchester, last month partnered by compatriot and former world scratch champion, Alex Rasmussen.
We've previewed Saturday's second round of the Super 6 here, so we thought we'd better have a word with the Series leader, Gary Hand of Pedal Power.
He's won the World Kilometre Championship four times, the World Team Sprint Championship twice, the World Keirin Championship twice, and now he's completed an unequalled sprinters' "quadruple" by winning the World Individual Sprint Championship...Oh - and he's the reigning Olympic Kilometre Champion as well! He's Scotland's Chris Hoy, and after we'd told him how proud we are of him, he took time to answer our questions.
John Herety has won a Peace Race stage, French amateur classics, the British pro road champs and was robbed of the GP Pino Cerami-the judges gave it to local hero Rony van Holen-but photos later showed that the Englishman's wheel was first across the line. Now he's passing all that experience on to a new generation through his role as team manager of London squad Rapha-Condor Recycling, who are north of the border to recce the hills, gravel, rain, wind farms and sheep that are-Girvan.
It would have been his 13th Worlds; but for the first time since 1996 there will be no one from Granton-on-Spey on the British track team, when the series kick off in Manchester in a week-or-so. VeloVeritas caught up with Craig Maclean on the day 'The Guardian' told us that he won't be pulling on a GB 'speed suit' for the team or individual sprints.
Wick's Evan Oliphant carried on for his Plowman Craven team where Tony Gibb left off at last week's Eddie Soens' Memorial Race, by winning the second stage of the Bikeline two day in North Wales yesterday, and finishing up the two-day race in second overall today. The man in pink and blue won the stage yesterday despite the presence of three of the Rapha team in the finale. VeloVeritas spoke to Evan shortly after his win, and again today once the race was finished.
So, was Lance's bike nobbled in the 2003 Tour? I'm referring to the rubbing rear brake story... "Media hype, the calliper was probably bumped against a wall or another bike on the way to the start." When the man telling you this is one of Big Tex's mechanics and a no-nonsense Nottingham man to boot you cannot argue. Eh - a Nottingham man? You thought that Lance's personal mechanic was Belgian? Only for Le Tour - the rest of the season Lance's Trek is cared for by the USPS team of mechanics under the leadership of Julien de Vries.
'Scottish Aussie,' Paul Rowney (Velo Ecosse) rode Sunday's British Elite Cyclo-Cross Championship; we caught up with him [hands"“free, of course] as he chased the cat's eyes north after the race.
Every year I write a route preview of the up and coming Vuelta a España, normally I talk to the locals in my village and last year I had the input of Alex Coutts (Babes Only-Flanders) and David Harrigan (DFL). This year I managed to enlist the help of ex-pro, Fabian Jeker, and we spoke about next year's Vuelta - but as these things often go, we spoke at length on many other topics: life; cycling; Festina; and the future.
You're the Olympic kilometre champion, but the 'powers that be' decide to remove the event from the programme at the next Olympics-what do you do? If you're Chris Hoy, you go out and transform yourself into the best keirin rider in the world!
Its not every day you get the chance to talk to a Tour de France winner, so when I received the invitation from Team Astana's press office to spend some time with Alberto Contador, I jumped at it. It meant an early rise and a couple of hours drive, but it was well worth it to see a Pro-Tour team at work and hear what the top man had to say.
The 2006 season was a great one for James McCallum; it's not every year you win a Commonwealth Games medal. It seemed like it would take a lot to top 2006; how does the 2007 British Criterium Championships and the most glamorous crit in Britain sound?
An Aussie winning Scottish cyclo crosses; what's that all about? VeloVeritas went walk-about and tracked him down for a billy-can of tea beside the billabong.
Back in the UK, to win the British Cycling time trial championships, David Millar took time out of his busy schedule to speak to VeloVeritas, and discuss his ambitions and his move to a new team.
Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles), who successfully defended his Scottish 12 title and narrowly missed breaking his own record for the event last Sunday, on the roads near Invergordon explains; 'I was catching Carlos on that long leg out to Portmahomack, but I was feeling terrible, I had a macaroon bar and the bad patch passed quickly!' Sadly, it was an Asda macaroon bar and not the authentic Lees item, if it had been, then maybe the record would have been his?
One good thing to come out of the washed-out British Madison championship at Meadowbank over the weekend was that there was plenty of time for VeloVeritas to talk to one of Britain's best roadmen, Dean Downing. The 32 year-old from Rotherham had originally intended to kill two birds with one stone; ride the champs and show his fiancee the sights of Edinburgh. The way it worked out, his fiancee had a wedding dress fitting and the race was rained-off. Never mind, he got to talk to us instead.
It was a good week for Scottish cycling, in the same week that David Millar (Saunier Duval) won the British elite road race title; at the other end of the spectrum, 14 year-old Patrick Galbraith took two stage wins and the overall win in Eire's Kerry Youth Tour. The Kerry Youth Tour is one of the largest events of its kind in the world; comprising four stages over three days - two road races, a circuit race and a time trial.