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.
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.
All you’ll read about for the foreseeable future are Porte, Aru, Uran and Contador – plus others who the press will ‘big up’ to make it seem like someone other than those four can win. But of course, there isn’t. So if you’ll forgive us if we’re going back to a time when our champions didn’t Tweet but had much more worth talking about - Germany's Mike Kluge is our man; quality road rider, triple World Cyclo-Cross Champion, top mountain bike rider and equipment innovator – he’s the man who started Focus bikes in 1992.
The German Junior Madison Championships came Rick Zabel’s way in 2009 with more track podiums at national junior level in 2010 in the points, team pursuit and Madison. There were a raft of strong junior road results in 2011 with a fifth place in the Junior Worlds as a high point. His first year as a U23 in 2012 saw him lift the national U23 road race title for Rabobank Continental for whom he also won the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2013. Last year saw him step up to the World Tour with BMC Racing Team and land a share of a win in the Tour of Trentino TTT.
Today’s stage Stage Three was a re-run of Saturday’s with Marcel Kittel proving again that he’s not just quick but very, very strong. Again he was out of position but with the strength of a bull he came over everyone from well back to win. The press always want to attach labels; ‘fastest man in the world’ to sprinters – and whilst it’s never as simple as that, the big German is certainly impressive. His manner is good too with a smile never far away.
Cannondale, F des J, Giant, Greenedge, Sky, Trek - they all tried to take control in the finale in Belfast in Stage Two on Saturday. But none could. It's not until you see a situation like we did in Belfast that you realise just how good Mario Cipollini's Acqua Sapone and Cav's HTC trains really were. In the event, it was irrelevant; Kittel was in a different league. He was way back and would usually have been out of it but turned left, found clear road, turned on the boosters and left the others scrabbling for the placings.
It's a term bandied around a lot; 'legend', too often in fact, in a world where superlatives fly around - but this gentleman really does deserve the title. Robert Bartko has been at the top of his trade for two decades and on Tuesday night in Copenhagen's Ballerup Super Arena he went out in style with his 21st Six Day win off 79 starts. It was just a matter of hours before the Copenhagen finale when his big frame filled the doorway of the VeloVeritas cabin before he sat down to chat to us about his career.
Who’s Paul Martens? He’s a solid professional, comes from Rostock in Germany and rides for Belkin. And back in June he joined that exclusive club of national tour winners, taking the Tour of Luxembourg – a result rather lost in the pre-Tour hysteria.
‘Sorry, I fell asleep, I need my afternoon nap after one of Flavio’s training sessions – a 90 minute chain gang then six laps of a circuit with a steep ‘kicker’ in it.’ That was Hamish Strachan explaining to us why he’d missed our call – good to hear that the young man is back in the groove after a difficult start to his year.
It was 2019 when we last spoke to Iain Macleod - he was with Aberdeen Wheelers then but is now with Kelpie Racing - he’d just won the SC 50 mile championships and the man is making the headlines again; a couple of weeks ago he took the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial title and before that recorded the fastest 100 mile time trial ever ridden on Scottish roads.
It was ironic that Chris Anker Sørensen’s life should end doing what he had become known for after his career as a professional cyclist was over – preparing meticulously for his role as a TV race commentator, out riding the parcours of Sunday’s World Individual Time Trial Championship in Flanders.
We liked our jaunt to the Tour of the Campsies last year and feel at home among the rolling countryside and green hills there so we headed west, first of all paying our respects to the Robert Millar mural at the foot of the Crow Road; when you watch Roglič take the Lagos di Covadonga stage in the Vuelta it’s difficult to imagine the wee fella from Glasgow winning that stage – but win it he did.
We had a look around Hawick as the 2021 Tour of Britain race carnival hit town, we caught up with friends then headed out on the course, hiding from the wind on Wanside Rig to see the peloton as it headed towards Gifford...
With victories already this season in various time trial distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles (with a two mile hill climb win too), Iain Macleod (Kelpie Racing) added the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial 2021 title to his growing palmarès.
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