As Julian Alaphilippe defended his maillot jaune in the first mountain stage of le Tour today, it’s 10 years since we lost another man who not only wore that beautiful jersey but won it outright twice in 1983 and 1984. Monsieur Laurent Fignon. Here’s what I wrote about the man back on that sad day in 2010.
Harry Hampson wasn’t a man that VeloVeritas knew personally but we knew of him from the many mentions of his name in the ‘Cycling Weekly’ in the days when the magazine was the main reporting organ for cycle sport in the UK. And when Mr. Hampson died recently we were struck by the outpouring of emotion from the men he mentored/coached, ‘back in the day.’
We recently ran Pip Taylor’s fine obituary to Mr. Ron Webb, former professional bike rider, track builder, father of the modern Six Day format, team manager and mentor to many. Below, we’ve drawn together some of the tributes we received from Ron’s friends and former charges:
British Tour de France winners are now commonplace but back in my youth, we could only dream of such things; however we had warriors out there, battling Johnny Foreigner in his back yard – Barry Hoban, Mike Wright and a chap called Derek Harrison. Harrison died in Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France on May 12th last year at 74 years-of-age.
‘Well Phil,’ the words that we all remember so well, used by Paul Sherwen when he was about to put co-commentator Phil Liggett right about something during one of the hundreds of Tour de France stages the pair covered for TV networks from England to Australia via the USA. Sadly, we’ll hear that catch phrase no more, the 62 year-old Briton having passed away in his sleep at his home in Kampala in his adopted nation of Uganda on Sunday.
This is the least favourite part of having our own wee website; writing the obituaries of bright young men with most of their lives still ahead of them. This past week we lost Lewis Oliphant, perhaps best known for his exploits on the grass track. At VeloVeritas we knew Lewis but couldn't claim to know him well; what we've done then is to ask for people who were close to let us have their tributes.
Just days after we penned our tribute to departed six day Great, Germany’s Dieter Kemper, we find ourselves having to write another tribute to a track star. This time, one of Britain’s own, twice World Amateur Pursuit and twice British & Commonwealth Games Pursuit Champion, Norman Sheil.
It hasn’t been a good week for the sport of cycling’s past champions; but not just men who won races, colourful men with personality. First we lost six day star Andreas Kappes to a bee sting, of all things. And we heard today that Armand de las Cuevas had taken his own life on the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, which was his home in recent years.
It’s with much sadness that we report the death of former Six Day and road star, Germany’s Andreas Kappes at just 52 years of age. He was stung by a bee whilst on cycling team management duties and died from ‘allergic shock’ on 31st July. Kappes was one of the all-time great Six Day men, rated 18th in the last edition of the Six Day results ‘bible’ – ‘Statistieken.’
On Tuesday morning we awoke to the sad news that North of Scotland stalwart, Ivor Reid had died at just 57 years-of-age. Tragic. I wasn’t privileged to call Ivor a close personal friend but I knew the man for a long time; from the early 80’s and when we met there was always a warm hand shake and some good chat. When I saw pictures of him racing as a ‘Master’ on the track I always had to smile; the gear was always the best and right up to the minute - be it aero helmets, ‘keirin’ gloves, wheels, shoes, his enthusiasm and love for all things track cycling shone from those images.
Let’s start with the price of wheels; £3,300 for a pair of Lightweights – as Woody Allen might say; ‘what ! are you crazee ?’ Men are winning kermises every day in Belgium on thousand euro bikes; if you’re a Grand Tour rider looking for every advantage on some horrible mountain stage – yes. If you’re riding Ingliston criteriums – NO!
A day or two after the dust from the ’25’ Champs had settled on the A71 and A78, VeloVeritas caught up with the gold and silver medallists to get their in depth comments on the race. We had expected a four way battle between Iain Grant (Dooleys), team mate Arthur Doyle, Ben Peacock (Paisley Velo) and Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace). We got some of it right; Iain did indeed win and Paisley Velo were in the frame – but not with Ben; Messrs Peter Murdoch and Chris Smart took silver and bronze respectively. Peter Murdoch shared bronze with Sean Childs in last year’s ‘25’ title race but this year made silver his own.
Mezgec’s sprint was timed to perfection in what was a real free-for-all of a finish. And isn’t that Giant jersey livery just so effective? – there was no doubt about which kind of bike had just won as Big Luka crossed the line. Nacer Bouhanni (F des J & France) didn’t seem his usual desperate self, he said later he was too concerned about crossing the line upright and preserving his red points jersey.
Friday's gig was to do a course recce for Paris - Roubaix 2007. There are 28 sectors and you can't skek them all, so we decided to do the track at Roubaix, the final four sectors, a new sector which has just been added and the two legendary sectors - Carrefour de L'Arbre & Arenberg.
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.
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.
"In Spring a young man’s fancy..." Well, this Spring, being no longer young, my fancy turned to applying for volunteering at the World Road Championships on the "Yorkshire Team", the events being held 22st to 29th September in Yorkshire, where I have been living for the past eleven years.