Dozens of SMS and emails flash up on my BlackBerry each day, most are chaff and get deleted after a quick glance — but when one comes in to tell me that ‘Michael Mørkøv excluded from the Vuelta by WADA’ that makes me take notice.
La Vuelta a España 2008. The last day for us, but the sun was out, Cudillero and Asturias was looking at it's best and Bill Medley and Jennifer Warne were on Kiss FM; "I've had, the time of my life," - damn right! Cudillero is a nice spot, not unlike one of the 'smugglers villages' in Cornwall, piled high into a steep cleft in the cliffs. We were there before the teams and had time for a wander, a coffee and to buy an Asturias T-shirt, I'm 53, it's sad, I know.
The weather was glorious on Sunday morning in Oviedo. After liberating the car from the car park - at huge expense - we were off, and stumbled right onto race route. The direction arrows made life very easy as we followed the whole 100 mile parcours. Race route ran through El Padrun, a tiny hill top village, in fact it was the first classified climb of the day. Four years ago, Davie and I stumbled upon El Padrun whilst searching for the Angliru.
Hola! It's 15.10 Saturday and we're two kilometres from the finishing line of the Angliru - it's cold, nippy hand, freezy feet cold. It's been glorious weather until now, but low cloud has descended and we're a wee bit panicky about photography, albeit there's around two hours 'til race time. Davie had us up early, we got lost trying to exit Oviedo in the correct direction, but on the second pass we picked up the A630, hung a right to El Foz and in no time were drinking café con leche in a café at the foot of the Angliru.
Hola from Comillas! "Adios Valverde" - so says the sports paper AS in response to Alejandro dropping 3' 23" yesterday in what should have been an innocuous transition stage - those Spanish journos aren't shy. Sleep came easily last night; but I was on the laptop for 07.00 to get my Angliru piece written.
There's gas in the car, the sun is out, we just had Donna Summer on Kiss FM and we're en route Comillas to pester the Astana mechanics about what gears Bert and Levi will be riding tomorrow - what more could you want out of life? I wasn't so chirpy at 04.45 yesterday in the Days Inn at Stansted when the alarm rang.
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.