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!
The sad news came through from Belgium on Sunday morning that Graham Webb, British World road champion in 1967, had passed away. Our condolences go to his family and the many friends and fans he had in the cycling community. A great champion and a wonderful guy. Ed interviewed Graham back in 2009, and we thought that reproducing the interview now would be a good tribute to the man. In memory of Graham; his views on the sport back in 2009. 'Former World Road Race Champion,' yes, that would be nice to have that after your name!
It was Phil Edwards’ friend and former team mate back in their amateur days, respected cycling photographer John Pierce who broke the sad news to us that the big man from Bristol, who won both the British Junior and Professional Road race Championships and was right hand man to Italian ‘campionissimo’ Francesco Moser at ‘super squadra’ Sanson for five seasons had died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Monaco on Sunday, April 23rd aged 67 – he was born 03:09:1949. Phil Edwards, British Champion, Olympian, respected member of an elite peloton, successful businessman and gentleman, rest in peace.
Michele Scarponi took fourth on GC at the Tour of the Alps this week and it was a shock to all when word came of his being fatally struck by an Iveco van on an early morning training ride just one kilometre from his home in Filottrano. To Michele Scarponi’s wife, Anna and twin boys Giacomo and Tomamaso, his extended family, friends, fans and team mates we extend our deepest sympathies. Rest in peace, Michele we’re going to miss you.
John Woodburn passed away quietly in his sleep on Good Friday at 80 years-of-age. His career was a remarkable one; he won the British 25 Mile Time Trial Championship in 1961; the first to do so on a geared bike, before that the championship had been the preserve of high revving, fixed wheel pursuit riders. Woodburn loved riding a bike and racing and at 70 he could still return 21:48 for a 10 mile time trial, and in July 2002, he broke the 50 mile time-trial National Age Record for over 65s with a 1:47:40 ride, breaking the record by nearly three minutes.
Following the death in February of 1956 Tour de France winner, Roger Walkowiak, France lost another of her Tour winning sons today when the death was announced of 1967 winner, Roger Pingeon from a heart attack in the village of Beaupont, Ain. Born August 28th 1940 of farming stock in Hauteville-Lompnes in the Ain Departement, a strong 1964 independent season with a win in the Poly Lyon and second in the GP des France saw him win a contract with that most French of French professional teams, Peugeot for 1965.
Here at VeloVeritas we were saddened to learn of the death of Scottish Cycling stalwart, Gerry McDaid. Gerry died on 20th November in the Cochrane Care Home, Johnstone aged 77 years. As I young club cyclist I used to hear stories from my roadie friends about Gerry; they conveyed an image of ‘The Maximum Commissaire’ – an official not to be messed with. I carried this image with me for years but when I got to know the man I found him to affable and of the ‘common sense’ school of race officiating.
It’ll be nine years, this January since we ran our Gary Wiggins obituary. Wiggins, father of Knight of the Realm, current World Hour Record holder, reigning Olympic Team Pursuit Champion and former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, died in hospital in Newcastle, New South Wales the day after an ‘incident’ in Muswellbrook the previous day.
In Scotland the last two weeks have seen us lose two fine young men from our cycling scene; gone before their time, Ben Abrahams and Dougie Young. But over in the Belgian Heartland they’ve suffered too – with the recent passing of Daniel (Danny) Willems at 60 years of age. ‘Who’s Danny Willems?’ I hear you ask. I’m not surprised you should ask that; there’s been very little reaction to Willems demise - but those of my generation remember him as tall, stylish, classy and a big name in pro cycle sport in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
It's with much sadness that VeloVeritas has to report the passing of another young man who's life hadn't really begun. Just days after Ben Abrahams was taken from us, Dougie Young has gone too. Rest in peace, Dougie. Sincere condolences to his friends, family and loved ones from Martin and Ed here at VeloVeritas.
Obituaries, part of the deal if you write about cycling; check their palmarès, think about when you saw them race when you were a boy then put a piece together. But when it's someone you knew, liked, laughed with, there's more to it than that - the randomness of life; one minute a friend is there and happy with a whole life to look forward to, the next, he's gone. A car crash involving a lorry and Ben Abrahams, and here I am writing this.
In the passing of Rudi Altig from cancer on June 11th 2016 from cancer at 79 years-of-age, Germany and the sport of cycling have lost one of it’s giants. He was a man who could win everything from his nation’s amateur national sprint championship to the Vuelta by way of the world professional pursuit and road race titles, Monuments and Six Day races.
It’s with much sadness that VeloVeritas reports the passing of Canadian Cycling Legend, Jocelyn Lovell on June 3rd at 65 years of age. ‘Controversial,’ ‘outspoken,’ ‘colourful,’ are all adjectives which have been used to describe the sleek, blond kilometre specialist but for me he’ll always simply be, ‘one of the coolest.’ Always immaculate, slim and long limbed; astride a track bike with that beautiful pale blue with white sleeves and maple leaves Canadian national jersey on his back he looked like he’d been born to perform the role.
It's always sad when you lose a friend - when it happens on Christmas Day it makes it all the more painful. So it's with particular sadness we report the loss of John F. Murray, sponsor for several years of Scottish cycling team, GS Modena / M & M Windows. John and I set up M & M in 1988; hitherto GS Modena had been sponsored by CR Smith.
If you’re of this generation then Sven Nys will probably be your King of ‘crosses - but if you grew up in the 70’s then you’ll know that the true Monarch of the Mud was that stocky man of Flanders; Erik De Vlaeminck, big brother to ‘Monsieur Paris-Roubaix’ Roger De Vlaeminck. Sadly, the elder De Vlaeminck brother died today in the town where he was born, Eeklo in the heart of East Flanders.
We learnt with sadness yesterday that Scottish rider Ian Steel had passed away, at the age of 86. Ian became national champion in 1952 and rode and won the famous Peace Race by taking the lead on stage eight of twelve as his British team won both the individual and team titles. We thought readers would appreciate revisiting out interview with Ian from a few years ago.
The death of Claude Criquielion was announced to me in a simple text message from my English friend, Ian Whitehead who lives in Gent; ‘Claudy has died.’ During the night of 15/16 February 2015, Criquielion suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized in critical condition; he died at 9:00 am on 18 February 2015 in hospital in Aalst, Belgium.
'Beauty and the Beast' is the first entry in our Berlin Six Day 2018 scrapbook - handsome devil Denmark's Marc Hester warms up on his rollers as the German sprinters' mechanic waits for the next gear change job. Marc rode with Jesper Mørkøv ‘til kidney stones forced the younger Mørkøv bruv out. Meanwhile our boy Nico plays shy but Achim gives us a smile. Nico is the son of sprint legend, Lutz Hesslich - Berlin was his second last race - he calls 'time' after Copenhagen.
How long a career do you need to have to win 10 [yes ten] World titles? US ‘chrono girl,’ Chloé Dygert Owen has won that many and she’s still only 23 years-old; and there are two Pan Am golds and an Olympic silver in the dresser drawer too. High times we ‘had a word’ with the young lady out of Indiana.
The last time we spoke to ex-pro Tom Southam he was Rapha Condor’s press officer - but he’s moved on again and is now the man behind the steering wheel in the Drapac team car. The team have been rampant with stage wins in the Tour Down Under and most recently the Jayco Herald Sun Tour courtesy of Wouter Wippert and Will Clarke, respectively. Tom took time recently to chat to VeloVeritas about his move from word processor to team car.
It's 23:11 and the 500 metre time trial has just finished here at the Bremen Six Day. We're awaiting the start of the 300 lap chase, and the singer has kicked off. He's currently butchering 'Sailing' - a cool song, not Rod's version, the original Sutherland Brothers version.
We've always had a soft spot for Orbea at VeloVeritas-we like the Basque country and the fact that it's a workers co-operative; last year the bikes from Euskadi appeared in the UK peloton as 'Orbea-For Goodness Shakes' but for 2011 the incarnation is 'Twenty3c Orbea.' DS Steve Skuse and manager James Whatling are the men who'll be guiding them in their assault on the Premier Calendar. They recently took time to chat to VeloVeritas...