When Ed Hood said he and VeloVeritas editor Martin Williamson were going out to watch the Tour de Trossachs it brought back my memories of watching the race for the first time in 1978. When I started my reminiscences it was going to be all about the Trossachs but one thing led to another and now we are looking at the early career of Robert Millar and the state of Scottish cycling.
We caught up with Scottish professional Evan Oliphant shortly after he returned from a winter spent racing in Australia, and just prior to his new DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team's official launch in Holland.
It's just under two weeks now until the 2007 European season starts with the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise in the south of France on February 6th. The first major tests come a few weeks later though, on the first weekend in March, far from the Mediterranean, to the north, in Flanders. Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are true classics in all but UCI category, albeit shorter than the Tour of Flanders with which they share many kilometres of parcours.
July 1960, the GB Tour de France team hotel somewhere in France. Britain's white hope for Tour de France glory, the late, great Tom Simpson is discussing the events of the day with team mate, Brian Robinson. Simpson had punctured during the stage and one of his GB team domestiques had brought him back up to the bunch; "I'll tell you what, Brian - that John Kennedy is strong, he was riding like ten men today when we were coming back from that puncture."
2006 in Bonnie Scotland we had a lot to cheer about as the late, great Jason Macintyre had a fantastic season, winning the British Circuit TT Championship and the 'Blue Riband,' the British 25 Mile TTl Championship to join the likes of Alf Engers, Sean Yates, Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree on the roll of honour.
It's been another successful British track championship for the Scottish contingent with two of the blue riband events coming north of the border, the Kilometer to World Champion Chris Hoy and the Sprint to World's Silver Medalist Craig Maclean. In addition, Ross Edgar, Kate Cullen and Evan Oliphant all "medalled" - as the Americans would say. VeloVeritas spoke to Craig MacLean a few days after his win.
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.