The Rás. A race to strike fear in the strongest heart; huge fields, big hills and mad uncontrollable stages with fearless Irishmen continually firing off the front in death or glory bids. High times VeloVeritas 'had a word' with Mr.McGahan..
According to our research, the village of Plockton in Ross and Cromarty has a population of 378 – but it should actually be ‘377 and one would-be Kermis King.’ And you thought Plockton was only famous for ‘Hamish Macbeth’ and one of VeloVeritas’s favourite movies, ‘The Wicker man.’ Enter young Angus Claxton...
We were chatting about the Scottish Hour Record the other day and it got us to thinking about Roddy Riddle’s 1995 ride of 46.570 which broke Graeme Obree’s 1990 ride of 46.390 - and lasted one year until Jim Gladwell established the current best of 46.650 in 1996. ‘What’s Roddy up to now?’ we mused - the last we heard he was running across the Sahara in the Marathon des Sables. Transpires he’s participating in the 6633 Ultra. The what? Best ask him...
When I get calls from both of our men who trawl the Belgian palmares websites – Vik and Dave – in the one day about a performance, I know it must be a good ride. Michael Nicolson’s 14th place in the tough GP Stad Zottegem over 182 kilometres behind Slovenian hard man Blaz Jarc (NetApp-Endura) with Vacansoleil duo Wouter Mol (The Netherlands) and 2012 Paris-Tours winner Marco Marcato (Italy) third and fifth respectively, certainly falls into that category.
One of the biggest professional kermises in Flanders is the Gullegem Koerse, first held in 1942 when Belgian legend Marcel Kindt claimed victory. Since then it’s been won by many of the hardest kermis riders in the game – Willy Tierlinck, Wilfried Nelissen, Nico Eeckhout, Gert Omloop to name a few. Not to mention some of the best roadmen of their eras; including Nico Mattan, Peter Van Petegem and Philippe Gilbert. And for this year’s edition we can boast of a Scottish winner in Andy Fenn – well, his mum is Scottish and he rode the Commonwealth Games for us in Delhi.
I wish I'd tried it; pals Dave, Ivan, Viktor, and our Editor Martin all did - save up your dough over the winter, take the ferry, doss in the cold little room in Gent. The ride out in the rain to the kermis, change in someone's parlour, the inevitable punctures and kickings, the phone call home from a payphone on Sunday night...
Scotland’s Michael Nicholson was in fine form for the four stage Tour of the North, held over the Easter weekend in Ireland. He took eighth in the stage one prologue, seventh on stage two, won stage three and was 11th on stage four to give him a final second on GC behind Velo Veritas regular, James Moss (Node4-Giordana).
During the entire history of the Peace Race from 1948 to 1989 there were few Western winners, and no English speaker ever won - except one that is, in 1952: Ian Steel of Scotland. The story that the East European propaganda machine circulated after that edition of the Peace Race, 60 years ago, was that the "Westerner" winner Steel had been approached by his country's intelligence agency before he travelled to the race and was asked to; 'keep his eyes open' whilst behind the Iron Curtain - to spy, in other words.
This week Andy Fenn was able to put a tick against 'sign for a big team'-they don't come much bigger than Patrick Lefevre's QuickStep, who have just signed the 21 year-old from Hertfordshire who qualifies to ride the Commonwealth Games for Scotland thanks to his mother being Scottish.
Bike broken, nearly poisoned and having to face 'Kermesse King' Mario Willems four times in a week-it ain't easy when you forsake the smooth tarmac of Westferry for the hard granite sets of Flanders - but 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.' Dooley's Michael Nicholson is just back from the flatlands; he took time to tell VeloVeritas the story...
Eufemiano Fuentes, Jesus Manzano, Operaciõn Puerto, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador... and now Manuel Beltran. All Spanish, all hot topics - but what's the buzz in España? We turned to VeloVeritas Iberian correspondent Al Hamilton for the low down, and asked him some questions on just what the current Spanish perspective is.
‘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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