Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that last Strega on top of the Erdinger, Malbec and Grappa last night? But when we got an invite to the Loch Ken Round of the Merlin Cycles Classic TT Series from the organiser and he takes the trouble to send you the start sheet and rider information sheet, hangovers must be ignored.
Defending champions and race favourites, Ribble Weldtite with strong men Dan Bigham, James Shaw and Simon Wilson took the CTT Team Time Trial Championships title on a cool, damp but still morning at Irvine on the west coast of Scotland, with a time of 54:01, averaging 55.9 kph to best their own ‘B’ team by 2:32, the line up there being Zeb Kyffin, Joe Wilson and Matt Gibson.
I thought I’d check out what where the expression, “awa’ the Crow Road” came from before Davie and I headed for the Tour of the Campsies; ‘Crows take your soul to the hereafter it’s thought in many cultures and superstition.’
I love the drive from Gent up to Kuurne for the Kuurne Brussels Kuurne semi-classic... staring out of the car window at the fields, the canals, tree-lined avenues, the steeples, tiny concrete roads that would be great to explore on the bike. There was a little rain on the way up but by the time we got to Kuurne it was a mild, sunny morning; ideal for wandering down the main drag where the busses line up and checking out 2020’s new hardware.
We're roadside at Het Nieuwsblad 2020; since the race went World Tour the start just isn’t the same; the buses used to line up in the street, you could look at the bikes right until start time and brush shoulders with the riders as they pedalled to the sign-on. Not now, whilst some of the buses park up outside, the majority park in the huge 30’s exhibition hall adjacent to the Kuipke Velodrome in Ghent...
From the very first chase there was little doubt about who was in charge of the Copenhagen Three Day 2020; Dutchmen Jan Van Schip and Yoeri Havik were the strongest men on the track. In the recent UCI World Cup in Milton, Canada Van Schip won the Omnium then teamed up with Havik to win the Madison – so we knew they were on form.
‘Easy like Sunday morning,’ said the Commodores – you got that one wrong guys. The racing here at the Bremen Six Day 2020 finished at 02:00 am with the guys back on those nice new boards at 12:35. In the meantime, the pee pails have to be emptied and disinfected; the washing done for four guys – each with shorts, three under vests, three jerseys, socks and mitts – then dried, folded and laid out...
Patti Smith is telling me at pain threshold levels; ‘because the night belongs to lovers.’ No girl! It belongs to that bed in the camper van which I’m using my last dregs of energy to reach. The racing may be over for the night at the Bremen Six Day 2020 but the party is 100% ON, Bremen isn’t called the ‘Party Six’ for nothing.
Ed parachuted in to the Rotterdam Six Day 2020 on Tuesday afternoon to help Kris break camp and load the camper in anticipation of driving up to Bremen and the Six Day which started there on Thursday evening. When you wander up the tunnel stairs and into the track centre at Rotterdam with the u23’s hurtling round, the lights blazing and the PA pumping it’s still damn cool...
We took a trip to watch the Dunfermline Cyclo-Cross. It’s a wee while since we’ve been to a Scottish cyclo-cross race and the sport has changed beyond all recognition from the early 70’s when your ‘cross bike was your winter bike with the muddies removed.
On a dry morning with little wind and a temperature which varied from mild to chilly depending on how the clouds whirled into the Lomond Hills, 23 year-old Kyle Beattie (Cairngorm CC) took the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2019 north with a 7 minutes 43 seconds ride; a margin of 12 seconds over Fife rider Robin Downie (Team Andrew Allan Architecture) who put a single second into bronze medalist, Tom Merry (Edinburgh University).
Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished. He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy - the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.
Annemiek Van Vleuten crosses the line after a 60 mile solo – local legend, the late, great Beryl Burton would be proud of this ride on her Yorkshire roads. The Orange-woman is immediately mobbed by a pack of feral photogs, but instead of being led away by the UCI podium guys, she effects a tricky clamber over the barriers and into the arms of mum and dad for a huge embrace.
How did we do with our Worlds Elite Men Time Trial pre-race predictions? Well, to start with, we weren’t sure if the slim Aussie Rohan Dennis could come back from his pre-Tour time trial abandon – but it’s amazing what a couple of months with a sport psychologist can do and the tattooed chrono specialist was in a class of his own...
When I think about the Elite World Championship Time Trial, I always ponder how many of these titles Anquetil, Merckx and Indurain would have won between them, had this event existed, ‘back in the day?’
Glasgow, The Dear Green Place, George Square on a Saturday morning with the sun shining – not much more one could ask for. With the icing on the cake being some of the world’s best cyclists about to start the Tour of Britain 2019. Dave and I went through for a meander around the busses and took a few snaps in the process...
I felt like one of those football reporters at the racing here in Trinidad & Tobago at the Arima Velodrome, who has the copy all neatly spell checked; then the 2-1 down losing side bangs in two in the last 90 seconds. Roberto Chiappa was going to win the sprint final 2-0 against Home Boy, Sellier.