Having moved from London in 2016 to Casale Volpe, a small, secluded cycling-orientated B&B in Le Marche region of Central Italy, a gloriously hot July day last summer gave VeloVeritas reader Mike Curtis the chance to meet up and ride, relax and chat over lunch with local ex-pro and gregario di lusso Andrea Tonti.
Given events in Milano today we thought you might like to see what the man in the final Giro d'Italia pink jersey, Tao Geoghegan Hart had to say to VeloVeritas some seven years ago... For 2014 the 18 year-old from London was off to follow the path trodden by his mentor, Movistar’s Essex chronoman, Alex Dowsett; heading for the USA under the tutelage of Axel Merckx at Bissell – formerly Trek/Bontrager.
That Matt Rendell bloke, who’s on the tele, always asking folk questions? Isn’t it time someone asked him some questions? Especially since he’s got a new book out about one of his passions; Colombian Cycling – ‘Colombia Es Pasion’...
We hope you enjoyed our series of interviews with Scotland’s medal prospects for The Gold Coast – we certainly enjoyed speaking to such talented and highly motivated young men and women. But let’s not got too cocky...
It was the Giro made Austin Walsh do it. Do what? Invest so much time and money into his collection of cycling memorabilia which now threatens to overwhelm his bike shop, Quay Cycles. The Italian race started on the Emerald Isle in 2014 and Austin was so smitten by ‘The Pink Race’ that he decided to turn the bike shop which he’s run since 1995 into a bike racing shrine...
It’s been a funny old week – it’s always the same, there’s that void after a Grand Tour and it’s hard to fill. Dumoulin ‘done good’ to win; if you’re as old as me you can remember the last Grand Tour win by a Dutchman, Joop Zoetemelk in 1980 in the colours of TI Raleigh; he’d won the Vuelta the previous year and as well as his Tour win finished in second spot six times – with a record 16 Tour finishes off 16 starts.
It was Phil Edwards’ friend and former team mate back in their amateur days, respected cycling photographer John Pierce who broke the sad news to us that the big man from Bristol, who won both the British Junior and Professional Road race Championships and was right hand man to Italian ‘campionissimo’ Francesco Moser at ‘super squadra’ Sanson for five seasons had died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Monaco on Sunday, April 23rd aged 67 – he was born 03:09:1949. Phil Edwards, British Champion, Olympian, respected member of an elite peloton, successful businessman and gentleman, rest in peace.
You're in the form of your life, you've breasted the biggest climb of the race with the 'Bigs' and there's just one mountain stage to go before you become that rarest of birds, A Grand Tour Winner. But you lose concentration for a moment on the descent, smack a snow bank and come down hard...
Kruijswijk's crash, would you have waited? Wee Esteban says: "I’m very sorry for the crash of Steven (Kruijswijk), unfortunately it’s a part of bike racing and he was unlucky today." Either way, it was a horrible crash - the Dutchman seemed paralysed with fear, it didn't look like he even tried to steer round that bend. Ed rounds up the last three stages roadside.
It looked like Pippo was going to send Italia into raptures on Wednesday's Stage 17 - but big, bad Six Day man and omnium specialist, Roger Kluge (IAM & Germany) spoiled the dream, jumping early from an uncontrolled peloton to take a beautiful stage win. IAM are folding at the end of this year but Rodge will have no bother finding a contract. With so many of the big sprinters gone - Kittel, Greipel, Demare, Ewan, Mezgec and Viviani - there was no one capable or willing to control the last kilometre except Lampre for Modolo and/or Trek for Nizzolo.
It wasn't a good day for Chaves on Tuesday's Stage 16, he lost time to Kruijswijk and Valverde. With three minutes in hand over the Colombian, the Dutchman is going to take a bit of shifting; and there's a danger that Valverde might leapfrog Chaves, too - he's now just 23 seconds in arrears. Nibali lost time, too.
Greipel had just blasted the field to win his first Giro stage the day before; surely there'd be a good write up in the Guardian? I guess he got around 100 words? I used to get more of a word allowance to write up races for "The Comic" [Cycling Weekly] back when Scottish racing got a bit of coverage. Meanwhile said Comic and British Cycling continue to tell us that cycling is now mainstream...
Sometimes on the big tours you have to change plans; road closures, janitors, barrier crews, motorway crashes can all influence your 'best laid plans.' At the end of the day you may not have missed deadline - we rarely do - but there'll be that feeling that you could have done better. Then there are days when you have to struggle then struggle some more but eventually it comes together, you get to where you want to be and get those special pictures.
Well, as our amigo Dave is won't to say at this stage; "our creds are no good to us now." Just a curiosity on the windscreen; the Giro is won and lost, Contador confirmed as one of the all time great stage racers - he's won all three Grand Tours - one of only six men in history to do so, along with Nibali, Gimondi, Anquetil, Hinault and Merckx, and now stands fourth in the all time Grand Tour winners list. The route from Torino to Milano today was as bland as you could get but Radio Nostalgia was cool and our coffee stop was a cracker. The Milano circuit was similarly bland and it's one aspect where the Giro doesn't quite get it right but Iljo Keisse and Luke Durbridge delivered an exciting finale as you get.
It was a privilege to be there and great to be part of it all on Stage 20; a marvelous spectacle on the 'sterrato' without doubt - but is it sport or simply a circus? The cameras love it and it's great copy - maybe I'm being too harsh? Paris-Roubaix throws back to the old days so why not have stages like this, many would say?
It was nice to wake up in the shadow of the Matterhorn this morning; imposing, snow capped and stunning against a picture post card blue sky. Yesterday? There's a clue in what Contador, Aru and Landa call themselves; "professional" cyclists. It's a job, a commercial enterprise, a way to make money for riders, sponsors and organisers. The way we read yesterday is that Alberto is due a big favour from Astana whilst Landa is due one from management and Aru.
Monte Ologno, high above Lago Maggiore, Thursday 15:00 hours; we had to get up here early to beat the road closures; we got a slapped wrist from Vancouver for 'missing the cut' on the Mortirolo so no slip ups, today. The stage describes a big curve from Melide near Lugano to Verbania on Lago Maggiore; but there's a late surprise - which we're sitting at the top of. It's a nasty one; 10.4 K @ 9.0% average with a max of 13% makes it Category 1 and very tough. Where we are - 450 metres to go - it's scenic with wonderful vistas across the lago but lower down it's not unlike the Mortirolo in that much of it is a tunnel through the trees.
If you're working the race it's really hard to see a stage finish - the best spots get grabbed hours before. The answer is to find a good bar with a big tele, order a beer and enjoy the racing. That's what we did today, we were at the start then on the big climb and that was about all we could cram in. The traffic around Milan/Como/Lugano is absolutely horrible and to get from points A to B takes forever. There was no way we could make the finish, so a bar it was - on lovely Lake Como side, Bellana with cool beer and a nice TV...
You forget how gruesome the climbs are here in Italy; I'd never been over the Mortirolo before but it was an eye opener - 11.9 kilometres (that's more than seven miles) with an AVERAGE gradient of just under 12% and a maximum of 18%. Lance reckoned it was the toughest climb he ever raced and 'Bert' was on 34 x 30; 'nuff said !' On most of the big climbs there are sections where it eases a little; not on this swine, it's unrelenting and unforgiving - ask Fabio Aru ...
Mezgec’s sprint was timed to perfection in what was a real free-for-all of a finish. And isn’t that Giant jersey livery just so effective? – there was no doubt about which kind of bike had just won as Big Luka crossed the line. Nacer Bouhanni (F des J & France) didn’t seem his usual desperate self, he said later he was too concerned about crossing the line upright and preserving his red points jersey.
We thought it would good to talk with the previous ‘Woman of the Hour,’ Ms. Bussi about her record of 48.007 kilometres set on September 13th 2018 at high altitude on the boards of the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico.
On a day when we watched hard men like Gran Piemonte winner, Matt Walls and Tro Bro victor, Connor Swift crack before our very eyes it was reigning champion, Ben Swift who extended his tenure in that lovely jersey from 2019 through 2020 and 2021 into at least June 2022.
Ribble Weldtite track and chrono man, multiple British Champion and aero guru, Dan Bigham [Ribble Weldtite] produced a stunning 54.723 kilometre ride on the boards of Switzerland’s Grenchen Velodrome on October 1st, breaking the British Hour Record and recording the fourth fastest World Hour ride.
We missed you last year Tour de Trossachs, so let’s begin with a large ‘thank you’ to Jason Roberts and his team for reviving this great race and organising it so well. Men of the day: Messrs. Friel, Maclean and Creber; Woman of the day: Lynsey Curran.
It’s a while since we had a rant so we discuss Patrick Lefevere's recent comments, what exactly is 'Project GO'?, the UCI getting it's claws on gravel biking, and John Purser fondly remembers Norman Hill.
In recent weeks we’ve lost three important figures within our King of Sports; Norman Hill, a man who did it all, road, the Belgian Kermis scene, Six Days, big motors, even cyclo-cross, Bernard Tapie, the man responsible for riders beginning to get paid what they were worth, and track coach Heiko Salzwedel.
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