It was the best event VeloVeritas Reader John Day had ever been in - or would ever be in. It had been full-on for the last 45 of 100 miles, a true classic...
Billy Bilsland – ‘legend.’ An over-used word but entirely appropriate when speaking of this man; here’s one from our vaults we thought you might like to read.
At the time I set off for Flanders in 1973 to live at Mrs Deene's, I only knew two people who had raced there – one of them being Stan Butler’s son Keith - who had done well enough that he had become a professional - so it was entirely word-of-mouth, a case of asking for whatever advice people could offer and setting off on the cross-channel ferry, hoping for the best.
If you had visited or raced in Gent in the 60's and 70's the chances were that you would have stayed at ‘Fat’ Albert Beurick’s "Café Den Engel", his later joint-venture with Tom Simpson five miles out of town, the "Velotel Tom Simpson" motel, or "St David’s Guest House" run by Mrs Deene, right in the very heart of the historic old centre of Gent. Reader John Day reminisces about his time there.
"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.
A couple of years ago we did a piece about the Colombian influence on European Cycle Sport and the best Colombian riders of the modern era, and at the end of it we mentioned a guy who we believed was going to be a 'Big'; Senor Egan Bernal by name. Since Bernal has become the first Colombian winner of the Tour de France we thought you make like to see what we said back then...
Foregoing my usual Saturday night at the movies I set the alarm for 05:00 am, reminded myself how much I like being in the Trossachs of a Sunday morning, sighed and switched off the light. Davie thought we were leaving his house at 06:45 am not 05:45 am - but we were soon on our way along the Hill Foots en route the Gran Fondo Scotland - Summer Edition.
did the last day of the Berlin Six Day, this year and one of the riders I was looking after was Australian Stephen Hall, son of former British Madison Champion, Murray Hall. It transpires Stephen is no mean wordsmith; we thought you might like to read his "Rules for Racing in Belgium" - whilst they're from an Aussie perspective so much of it is rock solid advice irrespective of your nationality, based on experience.
Drew Wilson’s ‘Robert Millar Appreciation Group’ has generated a lot of interest on FaceBook, with 1,185 members - by now everyone must know he was Britain’s greatest stage race rider until Team Sky and their marginal gains came along – we had another name for that ‘back in the day’...
Filmmaker James Poole made the Team KGF documentary after following the team (now re-launched as Team HUUB Wattbike) for a year on their journey from shock national champions through to World Cup and World Championship success, to create a film which presents the amateur riders' debut season which shook up the track cycling world as they self-funded and out-thought their way to the top.
Having a fund raiser a week before the first payday after New Year might not seem like the best idea in the world, with most folk waiting patiently for their bank balance to be replenished. Craig Grieve and his team had other ideas however and delivered a winning formula for the Spokes Race Team Launch 2019.
Here at VeloVeritas we’re pleased to inform you that we’ve hooked up with ace cycling snapper, Gary Main. You may already have seen some of his images in our Mark Stewart and Dan Bigham interviews? We thought it might be a good introduction to his work for our readers if he picked out some of his favourite shots for us - over to you, Mr. Main...
We cyclists have a fair amount of skin exposed so here's some things to consider if you suffer a bee sting when riding your bike.
So it’s that time of year again, festive excesses are the subject of new year’s resolutions that melt away quicker than the recent snow. For some though the resolve is stronger and none more so than the young men of Spokes Racing Team.
Dublin's Shay Elliott was a man of firsts: the first (and only) English speaker to win Het Volk in 1959; the first English speaker to win a stage in the Vuelta and to wear the amarillo jersey of race leadership in 1962; the first English speaker to win a Giro stage in 1960, and the first English speaker to hold the yellow jersey of race leadership in the Le Tour in 1963, but his pro career ended ignominiously and his premature death at just 36 years of age is still the subject of speculation in Irish cycling circles....
Saturday night saw Dave and I make our way to the Spokes Limits team presentation for 2017. It was deja vu with the weather and the venue. The presentation of riders however showed a significant change from last year. There were fewer riders and a number of new faces. Most noticeably Grant Martin having moved on to join his brother at Raleigh GAC.
The last time we spoke to Scotland’s top endurance track rider, Mark Stewart he’d just added to his growing medal collection at the European Championships with bronze in the team pursuit and silver in the scratch. Some nice road results in the Ronde van Oost Vlaanderen followed where he made his breakthrough from riding as a domestique and/or ‘getting round’ to being a serious contender for stage and overall honours.
VeloVeritas interviewed Scottish Legend John McMillan, last year – doing some research into the 'Peace Race' recently we asked John if he’s ever ridden the Warsaw-Berlin-Prague. He said he hadn’t - but he had ridden the Okolo Slovenska, the seven day Tour of Slovakia, which in 1965 was part of Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia and which had the aim of celebrating the liberation of Slovakia by the Red Army in 1945.
As we said the other week, it's always nice to get feedback from readers - even when we get slapped wrists. One of our Scandinavian readers wasn't happy that in our 'Six Day Hardware' piece we missed out the frames of a certain Baron Merckx. We hope the following rectifies things as we look at Merckx machines present and recent past.
Cycle Sport magazine run an article a few months ago, ‘The 25 Most Stylish Riders of all Time’ – Giovanni Battaglin, Roger De Vlaeminck, Francesco Moser, all fair enough. But there were some glaring omissions, Tom Simpson, Ferdi Bracke, Ole Ritter and the big blond Dutchman Roy Schuiten, who in 1971 took silver in The Netherlands amateur pursuit championships. A year later it was gold and there was a third place in the amateur Grand Prix des Nations. Roy Schuiten, ace pursuiter, consummate chronoman and stylist may you rest in peace – you’ll always be one of the very coolest for us at VeloVeritas.
It was Sean Connery's character in the film "The Untouchables" who suggested you don't bring a knife to a gun fight and it was clear that the weapons of choice at the opening classics weekend in Belgium would contribute to the outcome and individual's performance. Having wandered around the teams at both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne it became clear there was a lot of nice kit being readied to race.
We headed to the launch of the recent 2016 Spokes Racing Team, the freezing weather failing to curb the enthusiasm of 120 supporters who had all paid £30 per head to attend the event, held in the Old Manor hotel in Lundin Links, Fife. Spokes team owner owner Craig Greive and director sportiv Blair Whiteside had put together quite an evening with guest speakers including former pro and now DS at One Pro Cycling James McCallum (who's still looking fit), the Lord Provost of Fife and Director at Dunfermline Football Club and quite the celebrity and public speaker, Jim Leishman.
He’s at it again – more pictures! This time John Pierce has sent us some of his favourite images of British track stars of the present and recent past; we hope you like them as much as we do.
Coming to Gent to watch the Six Day, as I have for 20 years, is like meeting up with an old friend, a friend you see just once a year but when you meet you are familiar and easy in each others company. Most familiar is the velodrome, Het Kuipke that hosts the Six Days which has, barring a few upgrades in the bar areas, changed very little during the time I’ve been coming.
My eyes snap open to golden dappled rays silhouetting pine branches above - beneath me a pillow of twigs and earth, nearby a lake nestled between snowy peaks shimmers enticingly. My legs are in a tent, my body protruding out. I think I'm naked.
I am staying at my in-laws in Brittany, as I do every summer since I got married and every two or three years it is my base for watching the Tour on the ground. This year things couldn’t be better, with a stage start about 40 minutes east in the city of Rennes and the finish accessible about an hour to the west. I have enjoyed looking at the team cars, buses at the start in previous years so my plan is to find the ‘paddock’ and see how close I can get. With journalists, soigneurs and directeur sportifs all around, the fan can feel part of the event.
Stage One of this year’s Tour looked tailor made for Tony Martin (Germany & QuickStep); or just maybe rising Giant home boy chronostar Tom Dumoulin? - but a name which kept appearing in the Australian press as Le Tour loomed large was that of BMC’s 25 year-old South Australian rider, Rohan Dennis.
Don’t worry! You’ll get no lectures or swear words from me; just one old cycling lover’s random personal remembrances of another wonderful two weeks spent in La Belle France... is it really just three years since the memorable famous first British victory in the race for Bradley Wiggins? Can Chris Froome take the country's tally to three in a month's time?
The Monday after Kuurne can be a bit of a downer, most of the bike shops are shut and you know that reality is just one sleep away but not this one; first up we had an interview with Rudy Pevenage – strangely, there were no scales, horns or tail on view and rather than being the devil incarnate we met a man who – like so many others – ‘did what he had to do’ in era where the UCI as much as invited you to kit up.
This time last year I was traveling the world, sourcing suppliers for a new Planet X clothing range. One year on and we have made some giant steps forward. Not only has all the hard work paid off, with the new Planet X 365X clothing range now available both in store and online, we are also proudly supporting the Danish Professional cycling team Christina Watches - as official technical sponsor.
Glasgow 2014 today revealed the routes for the Commonwealth Games Cycling road events that will see elite athletes from across the globe race through the heart of Glasgow and beyond. The excitement of the Games will reach audiences in towns and villages around the city as riders battle against the clock during the Time Trial event on Thursday 31 July, while Glasgow itself becomes the race track on Sunday 3 August with the fastest riders chasing each other through the city’s streets for the action packed Road Race.
We often hear about how the riders at the Tour de France study "the Roadbook" to learn the final kilometres of a particular stage, or to identify which stage may be "the one" to go for, but what exactly does the Tour de France Roadbook contain, who uses it, and how useful is it, really? Published by ASO each year a few weeks before the Prologue and in several languages, the Roadbook is also known as the race "bible".
John Lewis has been unveiled as the ‘Official Department Store Provider’ of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The partnership will see the retailer provide bedding and white goods for the Athletes’ Village. Glasgow 2014 merchandise is also available to buy on johnlewis.com now, and, later in the year, dedicated Glasgow 2014 shops will open within John Lewis’s Scottish shops, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
If you’re a regular VeloVeritas reader then you’ll be aware of top Scottish time trial rider, Silas Goldsworthy’s quest to qualify for the individual pursuit in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. We've just written about his victory in the classic Scottish event the Tour des Trossachs, but Silas' most recent opportunity to dip under the qualifying standard for the Games came in that Mecca for Six Day racing - Gent. But not on the tiny 167 metre Kuipke Velodrome where Sercu, De Wilde and Keisse have ruled down through the ages; but on the 250 metre covered track in Gent – scene of the ‘International Belgian Open.’ Those UCI rules just keep changing; and now riders have to qualify individually just to ride World Cups, never mind World Championships. We spoke to Silas after he’d had a chance to gather his thought about his excursion to VeloVeritas’s favourite city.
Have you been clearing out the loft, found an old race programme or finishing sheet and wondering what to do with it? Fire it off to VeloVeritas – we love the smell of the old paper, those names that we’d just about forgotten and remembering that British Cycling did actually exist before Sky came along. Kris, my Six Day boss sent me a photocopied sheet from the past the other day – it’s not the best print job but it’s just about readable; the Crystal Palace Grand Prix...
The roofs outside our hotel window were steaming in the morning sun when we opened the shutters on Sunday morning. Much as we felt we'd been part of something special on Saturday in the blizzard on the Tre Cime - it was nice to see a clear blue sky and feel the warmth of the sun on our skin. The Hotel Trieste is well up the 'Fawlty Towers' rankings; it was built by the old patron's grandfather - and hasn't been painted since - hot water was at a premium and outside our room, the place was freezing. But the beds were clean, the room was cosy and the wi-fi was A1.
Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 today announced a family-friendly Glasgow Commonwealth Games Tickets strategy focused on delivering packed stadia and a ‘Games for Everyone’. The Organising Committee unveiled that access next year to sporting events at one of the world’s greatest multi-sports Games will start from just £15 for adults.
Usher Silver Tankard Nostalgia: “describes a sentimental longing for the past” defines the dictionary. I’m not one to sit and say that everything was better when I was a youngster – bikes certainly weren’t; much of the equipment available was scrap and would get laughed out of court in 2013. Cycling clothing was horrible and cycling shoes were positively medieval. Albeit cars were cooler, music was better and so was the cycling scene.
Jonathan Bellis was one of British Cycling’s brightest lights - until a life threatening scooter crash on September 19th 2009 in his then home of Tuscany. The versatile man from the Isle of Man spent practically a year in hospital and even then had to return for another operation at the end of 2010. Prior to the accident it looked as if Bellis was headed for the very top.
"Entrepreneurs on the Saddle" is the first of several excerpts from my book "The Cycling Professor", to give you a flavour of the topics I discuss in it. Thanks to the guys at VeloVeritas for the opportunity to do this.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Emile Abraham has been on the international pro scene for a long time; 2013 will be his 12th season.
Italian professional Marco Pinotti's new book, "The Cycling Professor" isn't so much a classic biography as a collection of anecdotes and experiences.
You’re in Glasgow on your bike and need a good cup of coffee and some healthy victuals, but don’t need the stares; you like good sounds and you want to talk bicycles, not fitba’ and maybe you’re looking for the latest in ‘fixie’ street cred hardware and kit? Look no further – 162 Dumbarton Road, Partick should be your destination. Siempre Bicycle Café is the name of this oasis in the desert of bad coffee and ‘I’m too sexy for my job’ bicycle shop staff.
It's a pleasure to be given the opportunity to write the Peter Smith Blog for the guys at VeloVeritas, and hopefully this might give a little insight as to what it's like for the lesser-known riders, trying to establish a career in such a cut-throat sport.
'First race today, took it pretty easy, finished 14th - feel good.' Yes, Hamish Haynes is back to start his 10th season in the flatlands. No World Class Performance Plans, no Lottery funding, just hard graft and dedication. Haynes came late to sport but has been racing and winning in the Flanders since 2003.
Back in mid-December, VeloVeritas pal Mike Zagorski noticed that 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button was in Hawaii, by happy coincidence the same island that he lives on.
'There's a time to come and a time to go,' the words of Danny Stam when he announced that he would retire at the end of this winter season, the Dutchman is 39 years-old. But whilst the former British under 23 road race champion, twice British hill climb champion and Tour of the Pyrenees winner, Dan Fleeman is 10 years younger than the six day man, he's arrived at the same conclusion.
Apologies for not updating the site for a little while folks - we've both been very busy with our day jobs. Ed has been clearing the decks before heading over to Italy to cover the Giro d'Italia shortly, and so to get us in the mood we thought you'd enjoy revisiting one of our diary articles from Stage 11 of last year's race, a 262km haul from Lucera to L'Aquila, when a break of over 50 riders threatened to overturn the race completely...
After the excellent articles on Alf Engers competition record published on VeloVeritas, specifically Part 2, but also Part 1, I thought I should try to recall my memories of that day away back in 1978. At 14 years old it's not often that you can say that "I was there" but I was.
Alexi Grewal; In My Shoes. Imagine you are a young man. You are racing in your first Tour De France. You do not know it will be your only one. You have climbed the ladder from the outside in, from day one. You have won the Olympic Games, you have survived a season on your own in Belgium, you have survived all things Grewal.