Mark Cavendish, there's little left to say, really. He's the best roadman sprinter in the world - and his partnership with Steegmans is developing into something special. It's not as if anyone is going to lean on Big Gert...
Ryder Hesjedal is one of the nicest professional athletes you’ll ever meet, polite, grounded, sincere, soft spoken and likeable. To see him languishing in the gruppetto with Cav, yesterday was really quite sad. He was strong at Liège, paving the way for the win which took Dan Martin from ‘up and coming,’ to firmly, ‘arrived!’
The Giro isn’t over for Bradley Wiggins, but every day he has like today makes it harder to envisage that he’ll make the podium in Brescia. He lost time again today as team mate Uran launched an attack with five miles to go and no one could get him back; the plan looked to be that all Brad had to do was sit on the other GC riders as they chased Rigoberto Uran.
The Giro d'Italia – if it ended right now it would have been great, aggressive race, but the fact is that there are still two full weeks to go. I did a race preview for, ‘a well known North American website’ so thought I’d take a rest day wander back and see how my tips for the top are doing...
He has a beard (but he’s not Fabio Baldato), he’s not a fan of disc wheels and would eventually like to cycle around the world; he also took victory in the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship – meet Whitley Bay and Paisley Velo’s Ben Peacock.
Known as one of the strongmen of the peloton, today Adam Hansen shook off the company of his five breakaway companions one by one and battled hard in the pouring rain and on glacial road surfaces to take a fantastic solo win on the Giro d’Italia’s seventh stage, finishing over a minute clear of the small group led in by Italy’s Enrico Battaglin and Danilo Di Luca.
There are aspects of the sprinting phenomenon which is ‘Cav’ that don’t rest easy with me. The baby and Paul Smith on the podium, mouthing off about his team, the swearing... But when I see him sprint, I could forgive him just about anything. He has the coolness under fire, the spacial awareness, the grinta and the raw speed – but most of all he wants to win so badly.
There’s a great Spanish movie from 2001 starring Max von Sydow called ‘Intacto.’ The premise of the film is that for some people luck isn’t a matter of sheer chance; it’s a commodity which they possess and which they can trade – or steal. Argos fast man John Degenkolb may be one of them. Granted it wasn’t luck that he was actually in the group of 95 which contested the finish – which is more than can be said for Cav, Gavazzi, Goss and Modolo.
Just when I was about to write that there are few fairy tales in Grand Tours, as ‘re-born’ late escapee and former Baby Giro and Giro winner, Danilo Di Luca succumbed to a group of men desperate to put an end to their pain in the closing metres of the tough 246 kilometres from Policastro to Serra San Bruno, Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, up popped 23 year-old Enrico Battaglin.
I was the one who said that the Giro d’Italia doesn’t have a great field – but the fact is, ‘so what?’ It’s only stage three but already the ‘Bigs’ are at it, knocking lumps out of each other. I was thinking of an ABC of ‘key words’ for each of today’s protagonists – for big Ryder Hesjedal it was ‘aggressive’ but maybe it should be ‘anxious?’
Sky’s Salvatore Pucccio pulled on the pink jersey at the end of the second stage TTT as specialists Garmin never got to grips with the tricky parcours and Sir Brad got his Giro campaign off to a great start. Pucci is 23 and doesn’t have much of a pro palmares – but he’s a worker for Sky, not a winner.
Goss had a perfect lead out on Stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia; Viviani can beat his ‘bars all he wants - but Cav is King. The QuickStep boys did their job early but it all went mass critical on that last lap. Steegmans was with Cavendish coming into the final, then seemed to have a mechanical - it was all down to Mark.
On a typical Scottish spring afternoon of ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ Herbalife/Leisure Lakes’ talented 18 year-old English rider, Harry Tanfield fully justified the ‘Elite’ stamp on his license to win Kennoway Road Club’s David Campbell Memorial Race over 80 tough Fife miles around the Cults Hills. With 2013 results which include, 10th Heist Op Den Berg; 2nd Evergem Belzele and 8th Tourinne-Saint-Lambert Kermises in Belgium, Tanfield’s win would have come as no surprise if we’d done our homework.
Scottish Time Trial Championships in April? But like Dylan said; ‘The Times They are a Changin’... Sunday was horrible, wind, rain, cold – just what my bad throat and chest didn’t need. Step forward our Editor, Martin who, despite having been riding in the storm all morning to help with filming John Anderson's Tour o' the Borders sportive, braved the ghosts from the biggest Iron Age in Scotland, which sits up on the 1400’ White Meldon to brandish the Nikon into the gale force storm.
When do the boys at VeloVeritas stop thinking about the Six Days? When we’re sleeping; but sometimes we dream about them... A man who we've had the pleasure to work with and who impressed us with his speed and spirit is America's Guy East – and he’s crazier than us about the Sixes. We thought we’d give him a shout and see how he’s coping with a world of sunshine, no Euro pop, real food and proper toilets.
As the Pros battle it out across Flanders, the young men who aspire to do the same in the future are locking horns in another famous name from the history of warfare – Normandy. Le Tour de Normandie is one of the premier events on the calendar for men on the way up – Viatcheslav Ekimov, Thor Hushovd and Samuel Dumoulin are among the riders who have won the race.
East Lothian in springtime should be an idyllic setting for a bike race; but today she showed her spiteful side for the traditional east coast season-opening Musselburgh 3-up, with a freezing, grey day which granted no favours to the weak. John Anderson’s Bicycleworks 'tester trio' of Sharkey, Dale and Caesar proving strongest on the day. But one must remember that Scotland’s notorious cannibal, Sawney Bean was born in East Lothian – perhaps on a day like this . . .
VeloVeritas and chums were over at the Belgian season opening Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne semi-classics. Unfortunately the latter was cancelled but we still snapped away – here’s a selection of our favourite images from the weekend.
Sportsmen in general, and cyclists are no different in this respect, are a superstitious lot. So it goes without saying that good omens are often looked for when we set out to the first race of the new Scottish season. Sunday morning dawned bright, clear and sunny as sixty teams of two warmed up for the Fullarton Wheelers Ice Breaker 2-Up Time Trial on the outskirts of Irvine, and the unseasonably favourable weather was the omen that most had looked for.
Demonstrating that the Scottish 'Cross scene is in burgeoning good shape, there were lots of riders in each category at the Scottish Cyclo-Cross Championships, with the Senior riders going off last and enjoying the nicely churned course in drying but ever-colder conditions.
It’s not every year there’s a Grand Tour taking place at the same time as the European Cyclo-cross Championship but this is ano 2020 and the ‘new normal’ is upon us. The podium places contained more cheer for us ‘Anglos’ with bronze going to Scotsman, Cameron Mason and silver to Englishman, Thomas Mein.
Rolf Gölz might not be a name that readily comes to mind, but from 1983 to 1993 the man from West Germany filled his palmarès with Olympic and World medals, National championships, Tour stage wins, Classics and a list of other race wins. Ed Hood caught up with Rolf for a chat over old times.
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.
‘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...
VeloVeritas is back at a Grand Tour, La Vuelta 2019. This year it kicks off with a super-fast team test around the salt lagoons of Torrevieja before heading straight into the mountains on stage two - no 'easing in' to this race. Martin and Ed have taken advantage of the hospitality of VV amigo and local resident, Al Hamilton - formerly of the Dear Green Place that is Glasgow - to catch the primero quatro tappas.