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.
With Robbie winning the first stage of the Tour today into Canterbury, we dug out an interview from the recent Giro with the woman behind his shoes! Whilst running-down another set of camera batteries, taking endless pictures of time trial bikes before the stage one ttt at the Giro, VeloVeritas bumped into the lovely Rosella Signora of Sidi.
VeloVeritas got an opportunity to chat with Iban Mayo at the Saunier Duval team launch in Estepona in January this year. It's interesting to publish it now, on the eve of the Tour after Iban won a stage of the Giro. It was after 10.00pm when I finally got time with Iban. He was patient and polite; but he doesn't speak French, English or Italian - just Spanish (or rather Castille, as the Basques would have it), and Basque, naturally.
"I knew that if I was second or third round the last corner then nobody would beat me." And so it proved, as James McCallum added British Criterium Championship gold to Commonwealth Games points bronze, last night in Otley. VeloVeritas spoke to James just hours after his win.
It's been a while since we spoke to our friendly Scottish Pro Evan Oliphant, so we figured this was a good time to get a progress report for the season so far, how life is treating him in Belgium and the setup in the new DFL team.
It was too good an opportunity to miss - Viktor with his pils; me with my Diet Coke; Ghent-Wevelgem and De Panne winner, Nico Mattan with his Carlsberg. I was interviewing Nico thanks to his DFL team mate, Evan Oliphant, who set the meeting up.
We mentioned the other day that Craig Geater is now working for the Discovery team, but before that he was a spannerman for Riis' CSC outfit, and it somehow seemed fitting to now publish our interesting interview with him from that period.
The last few seasons have seen few youths or juniors names grace the start sheets in Scotland, but 2006 saw a few of those 'green shoots of recovery' the politicians tell us about. The man charged with nurturing the crop is Gary Willis, so VeloVeritas decided we should ask him some questions. First off, we spoke a little about the job itself.
We caught up with Scottish professional Evan Oliphant shortly after he returned from a winter spent racing in Australia, and just prior to his new DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team's official launch in Holland.
It's Leicester's Saffron Lane velodrome, August 1974. The newly crowned British 20 kilometre champion, Maurice Burton waves his bouquet. Sections of the crowd are booing. Is it because the champion rode a tactical race, not killing himself in the winning break, conserving his sprint? Perhaps, but Burton has just made history, he is Britain's first black senior champion.
It's just under two weeks now until the 2007 European season starts with the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise in the south of France on February 6th. The first major tests come a few weeks later though, on the first weekend in March, far from the Mediterranean, to the north, in Flanders. Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are true classics in all but UCI category, albeit shorter than the Tour of Flanders with which they share many kilometres of parcours.
After a year at DFL, 23 year-old Scottish professional Alex Coutts from Gorebridge, has renewed old sponsorship links with Flemish bike concern, Flanders. We caught-up with him recently at mentor John Anderson's Edinburgh shop, the Bicycleworks. Coutts was just back from a training trip to Spain and is already looking like he is ready for action.
2006 in Bonnie Scotland we had a lot to cheer about as the late, great Jason Macintyre had a fantastic season, winning the British Circuit TT Championship and the 'Blue Riband,' the British 25 Mile TTl Championship to join the likes of Alf Engers, Sean Yates, Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree on the roll of honour.
Here’s a question for you; “How many British riders have won a three-week continental stage race?” Here’s a clue: the answer isn’t “none”. In 1988, 23 year-old Cayn Theakston from Worcester who never had a day’s coaching in his life, fought and won in one of the toughest arenas in Europe to claim the 19-stage Volta a Portugal, overcoming crashes, mountains, horrendous roads and even combines within his own team to record a win which is remembered in Portugal to this day.
Some times it's difficult to get an interview, especially if your target is World Road Race Champion, Paolo Bettini. He has a Quick Step entourage with him and he's testing his new Specialized road bike for 2007. But us VeloVeritas guys are persistent, and after stalking him all afternoon I was granted just five minutes of his precious time.
We caught up with Scottish rider Ross Edgar recently to chat about the World Championships and the British team setup; here's what he had to say...
We caught up with Evan after he secured another medal at the British level, this time on the track in the Points Race Championship. Read on to hear Evan's thoughts on his achievement, and whether he's coming back to race on the grass too...
Kate Cullen's decisive victory in the British Track Championships is the strongest indication yet that those, including the selectors of the WCPP, who had written her off as 'too old', will have to reappraise her situation. VeloVeritas talked to her when she got back from Manchester.
After her win in the recent Trossachs classic time trial at Aberfoyle, we thought it was about time that we chatted to Pippa Handley, one of the Edinburgh Road Club's top women riders, a voracious trainer and top 10 place-getter at the British level.
Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) scored his second consecutive victory in the Scottish 12 hour Championship on the roads around Invergordon on Sunday. His mileage of 276 is the second highest ever ridden in Scotland after his 279 last year which broke Steve Beech's long-standing 275 mile mark.
We make no apology for interviewing Jason MacIntyre again. It's not every day that a Scotsman pulls-on a British champion's jersey and the Fort William man did that very thing after Sunday's British circuit time trial championship near Farnborough. In second place was multiple time trial champion and fourth-placed in last winter's Commonwealth Games TT, Michael Hutchison.
Concluding our series of interviews with Scottish medalists at the British Track Championships we have pleasure in bringing you the words of World Kilometre Champion, Chris Hoy.
If there is one thing that can transform the way bicycle rides and handles, it's the tyres. We were fortunate enough recently to catch-up with Continental's Head of Marketing and Sales, Jorg Malcherek, together with the man who handles the brand in the UK, Shelley Childs.
So what brings a surfer dudette to West Flanders? The smart answer would be-ha! The team car! Robyn Taylor is a CSC soigneuse, she comes from Brisbane and has arrived in the male dominated world of pro cycling via water polo, surfing, The AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), and the now-defunct Team Fakta. Robyn found a few minutes to talk to us between stages at the 2006 de Panne 3 Day.
Here at VeloVeritas we think that Scotland's great performances at the Commonwealth Games Velodrome didn't get the attention they merited. In order to set things right we decided to catch up with as many of our medallists as we could and learn a bit more about them and their medal-winning rides. James McCallum came back with a bronze medal from the 20 Kilometer Scratch, making a mockery of those who felt he wasn't worthy of selection.
You can't fault Scotland's track performances-Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar and James McCallum have all done the business at Commonwealth and World level recently. What about the road though? Can anyone think of a decent ride by a Scottish roadman outside of Britain this year? I can't.
It's been another successful British track championship for the Scottish contingent with two of the blue riband events coming north of the border, the Kilometer to World Champion Chris Hoy and the Sprint to World's Silver Medalist Craig Maclean. In addition, Ross Edgar, Kate Cullen and Evan Oliphant all "medalled" - as the Americans would say. VeloVeritas spoke to Craig MacLean a few days after his win.
It was to be the big one, the Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship this Saturday, June 17th at Irvine. The British 25 Mile TT Champion, Jason MacIntyre versus the man who ran him to within 13 seconds in the Scottish 10 Mile TT Championship the previous week-former double World Pursuit Champion and World Hour Record holder, Graeme Obree (Fullarton Wheelers).
Ten years after Graeme Obree became the first Scotsman to win the British 25 Mile Time Trial Championship, Jason MacIntyre has taken the holy grail of time-trialling north of the Antonine Wall again - all the way to Fort William. A common denominator over the ten years has been the presence on the podium of former world points race and team pursuit champion who won the 25 in 1999, Chris Newton [now Recycling, back then with North Wirral].