What was it Oasis sang? ‘Don’t look back in anger.’ We look back on 2020 not with anger but with sadness - if you or your friends, colleagues or family have had the misfortune to encounter Covid then you have our commiserations. Here's our hindsight view of the VeloVeritas year.
Perhaps VeloVeritas sage and mentor, Viktor summed it up best; ‘he was the coolest – nobody looked better on a bike than Grant Thomas, he was everything I wanted to be in a cyclist.’ We thought that we should share more of the tributes which have been paid to the man.
It was with much sadness that VeloVeritas heard of the passing of 70’s legend and former British Amateur Road Race Champion, Grant Thomas. As our tribute to one of the coolest men ever to throw a leg over a racing bike we’d like to re-run our interview with the man. RIP, Grant.
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.
VeloVeritas has spoken to Katie Archibald and Jack Carlin - but our review of Scottish medallists at The Track Worlds in Apeldoorn wouldn’t be complete without speaking to Mr. Mark Stewart, bronze medal winner in the points race behind that remarkable Aussie, Cameron Meyer who took his fifth points title with big Dutchman, Van Schip taking silver.
Are we ready yet. Two days out from the start of the Tour. The whole team has arrived at the hotel, and the Show is about to begin! It's very exciting, but not much is really going on.
Hardware at the Six Days: it’s not nearly as exciting as it used to be when you mooch around the pits, with Dolans and Cervélo’s in abundance and Fuji creeping up; but it’s always nice to look at and talk about racing bikes – one of life’s simple pleasures. When Michael Mørkøv hooked up with Dolan, it was the start of the Merseyside builder becoming one of the main names on the winter boards.
Hidden away in North East Africa - 'The Horn' - bordering Ethiopia and Sudan is a little known country called Eritrea, officially 'The State of Eritrea.' At 118,000 square kilometres it's around half the size of the United Kingdom; with a population similar to that of Scotland at an estimated five million. It's better known for producing athletes of the running variety, but one ambitious, young sportsman is breaking the trend; Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Attack! Attack! After years of Lance Armstrong inspired sensible bike racing where the best teams would put all of their boys on the from to make life difficult throughout a stage and then have a final climb big gun hit out, early attacks are back. And we, the viewing public, are all the richer for it!