It's a split stage today for the Driedaagse, 119 kilometres in the morning, then 11 kilometres contre la montre in the afternoon. The morning stage means an early start all-round and at 09.05 the bunch rolls out of De Panne, it's parky but sunny.
Stage two is the longest at nearly 230 K, from Zottegem to Sint-Idesbald, a quick breenge around the bergs then a charge back to the coast and two finishing laps. Viktor wanted to see his hero, Guy Smet at a kermesse near Bruges, so my race watching was courtesy of the plasma screen in a cafe.
Stage one is Middelkerke (home to the Tom Boonen fan club) to Zottegem, wearing-on for 200 K, when you include two laps of a circuit in the 'bergs' near Oudenaarde. All of the hills which give Het Volk, Kuurne, De Panne and Flanders their particular character are contained within a relatively small area.
Viktor has barred us from attending any races which are patronised by Graham Baxter Tours, this means that the Tour of Flanders is out.
The next-best thing therefore, is Driedaagse van De Panne. It covers many of the roads that Flanders does, the 'Flanders fever' is in full flow but the security is non-existent so you can skek bikes and annoy mechanics to your heart's content.
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.
One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.
When Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach and seven times Scottish Road Race Champion, Evan Oliphant gets in touch to tell us there’s a junior rider named Callum Thornley that we should be speaking to, we snap to attention.
When Jos Ryan of the David Rayner Fund gets in touch then we know it’s not just to ask how we are. ‘Have you been keeping up with our rider, Toby Perry’s performances in Spain, he’s just had his second win?’ Fortunately for us, we could reply in the affirmative.
If you watched Stage One of the Giro on Eurosport or GCN then you’ll have heard that someone had the great idea to recruit British professional rider, Dan Bigham to join the commentary team as a ‘chrono specialist.’ Here at VeloVeritas we thought it would be good to put to Dan all those sad questions that trouble bike obsessives like us.
John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.
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