It’s almost time for the VV Review of 2019, to file the season under ‘Nostalgia’ and look to season 2020, which will make it half a century I’ve been a fan of cycle sport. I can still remember watching Hugh Porter win the 1970 world professional pursuit championship under the spotlights at Leicester, on our tiny black and white tele. Where did those years go?
The year 2019 is almost behind us, who are the young guns who are going to be making the international headlines in 2020? We’ve picked out our ‘baker’s dozen’ of the best of the best youngsters around, we’ve set the age limit at 23 so that excludes phenomena, 24 year-old Mathieu Van Der Poel and 25 year-old Wout Van Aert...
I have been hard on the Filippo Ganna, putting in print that perhaps he would never rank among the all-time gallacticos of pursuiting, but the big Italian is proving me wrong so I thought I’d go back and look at the man’s career from day one to where he is now; that’s one of the best chrono men and the best pursuit rider on the planet.
On social media the other day I saw someone contend that perhaps the crisis that faces time trialling – i.e. the participation age range becomes older by the season, with a case in point being the Scottish ‘25’ title: three youths, one junior – is as a result of the fact that the youngsters think that to compete on equal terms they MUST have a machine which will cost upwards of five grand.
Nearly 2019, how did that happen? It seems just like last week were sitting in the Vivaldi bar in Gent having watched Dane Michael Valgreen win Het Nieuwsblad - or Gent-Gent as us auld yins would have it - but another year has indeed almost gone.
‘I’m a Believer,’ a great song, the Monkees had the hit back in 1968. I used to be a ‘Believer’ and can remember the sense of relief when we discovered that Lance’s Tour ‘positive’ back in 1999 was all a big mistake; those tricky corticosteroids had been in a cream he used to treat a saddle sore and he had a TUE to cover it. What a relief.
Eight Cycling Medals for Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games; Scottish cyclists hit the jackpot with gold for the inimitable Katie Archibald in the pursuit and for Mark Stewart in the points race.
The last rant of 2017, where did that year go? In fact, where did the last 11 years go? It seems like t’other day we set the site up. To business! Let’s get the bad bits of 2017 out of the way first...
We hope you enjoyed our series of interviews with Scotland’s medal prospects for The Gold Coast – we certainly enjoyed speaking to such talented and highly motivated young men and women. But let’s not got too cocky...
Oh dear. I hate this carry on, writing about drugs scandals. And please, Froomists don’t pick me up on a point of semantics; to the man in the street, it’s a ‘drug scandal,’ pure and simple. OK, here goes. What’s up? The winner of the 2017 Vuelta a España, Christopher Froome of Team Sky returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for the asthma drug ‘salbutamol’ on Stage 18 of the race.
The Tour de Trossachs: when the alarm blasts at 06:30 on a Sunday morning the question is; ‘do I really have to go all the way to Aberfoyle?’ But once you’re breathing that sweet fern scented air on The Duke’s Pass then driving along lovely Loch Achray side you remember why you love this race. Great history, wonderful scenery, a course which challenges your abilities as a bike rider. So why do entries drop every year?
As VeloVeritas pundit and critic, Viktor said after the Bergen World Championships; ‘where would we be without him?’ Peter Sagan. Cipo had it, Boonen had it, Peter has it – but Vik and I are both worried about who can pick up the ‘cycling’s showman and charismatic star’ baton when he finally hands his in.
I wandered down to Meadowbank the other Saturday, I thought it was for the ‘closing gala’ or some such but apparently the Track League can go on for another year? It was a disappointment to all those looking for coffee tables. The 1970 Commonwealth Games were just slightly before my time to spectate but I did read about them at the time; however I did witness the 1986 Games events and did a few laps of me own in anger round those boards.
It was Public Image Ltd. who sang; ‘Two Sides To Every Story’ and whilst VeloVeritas and many of our regular readers feel that the Manx Missile committed ‘Cavicide’ by going for a gap which wasn’t there in the ‘Sagan Saga’ where the Slovak was alleged to have deliberately decked Cavendish and was consequently turfed off the race, not everyone shares our view.
It’s been a funny old week – it’s always the same, there’s that void after a Grand Tour and it’s hard to fill. Dumoulin ‘done good’ to win; if you’re as old as me you can remember the last Grand Tour win by a Dutchman, Joop Zoetemelk in 1980 in the colours of TI Raleigh; he’d won the Vuelta the previous year and as well as his Tour win finished in second spot six times – with a record 16 Tour finishes off 16 starts.
Last Saturday I, like many others, was stunned by the news of Scarponi's death, and every day I've become increasingly saddened, indeed, angered by it. I don't know why his death should affect me this way and not any other cyclist's needless demise on the public road and I'm writing not only in the hope that I'll get it out of my system, but to make some observations I believe need making. The regular reporting of the vulnerability of cyclists, traffic incidents involving injury to or death of cyclists, seems to be creating a climate of apathy towards these events.
It’s that time again when I go from being that old weirdo who’s always going to bike races no one has heard of to the ‘go to guy’ (I do hate that expression) – yeah, you’ve guessed; 'Brailsford, corticosteroids, package, Sky, Wiggo'... I’ve lived through all the doping scandals; Festina, Riis, Pantani, Lance, Tyler, Floyd and the fact is that just like that 1976 disco classic by Bugatti and Musker contends, ‘Ain’t no Smoke Without Fire.’ The pattern is always the same, revelation, vehement denial, steady drip of more damning facts and finally there’s a tearful confession or a ‘guilty’ verdict.
“A Team Sky spokesman said they remained fully behind their team principal (Sir David) despite the claims in the Daily Mail and his admission to the select committee on Monday that he had made mistakes.” If you’re a soccer aficionado you’ll know that if Sky was a football team Sir Dave would be out by Tuesday after a message of support like that from the Board. But word is that if Dave goes then Sky pulls the plug.
Honestly, we think that Jason Kenny is a great sprinter - he can go short, long and is tactically very sharp. He's not six times Olympic Champion across three disciplines because he's a dud. We also think that if he got himself off to Aguascalientes then Monsieur Pervis' 2013 world 200 and 1000 metre records of 9.347 and 56.303 respectively would be in jeopardy; not to mention Chris Hoy's 2007 standard of 24.758 for 500 metres. But how can he be a professional?
It wasn't just Vik and I who thought the Gent Six Day finale was a tad too obvious to be true - "a Fairtytale" Cycling Weekly said, they got that right - we've had feedback from two men who were there. Our man who lives in Gent said; "It was without a doubt the most historic Gent Six I've attended and I don't think we'll see another in our lifetime ( I did say 10 years ago or so that there will never be a British winner of the Tour - what do I know). It was however the most blatantly fixed Six Day I've seen."