In this Rant, we remember Sandy Wallace's palmarès and Alex Coutts' career, ponder Rapha CC and cycling as a middle class pastime, and try to imagine when Elia Viviani will get to wear his Rainbow Jersey.
It's been a while since we ranted, so in this edition of the VeloVeritas View we offer a thought or two on Strava, Zwift, Everesting and other Covid-19 aspects of cycling - as well as whether we consider jockey wheels for a grand a good deal...
‘Cycling Weekly’ printed a list of their ‘10 best Classic Races of all time.’ It’s not the usual time of year for ‘retro’ pieces, the Classics should be in full swing but Covid-19 has blown apart a lot of well laid plans this spring. So here’s our top dozen British Classics Rides, in what we see as order of merit...
Folks say to me that Viktor, "VeloVeritas's answer to Nostradamus" doesn’t exist, he’s just a vehicle for me to express extreme view points. They’re wrong. The man actually lives and breathes – and mostly for all things cycling and the Coronavirus crisis has seen him at his ranting best.
It’s a fair old trek from Manchester to Fife after there was no race to watch, so what else was I going to do as I sat in the passenger seat but RANT! Let’s start with the only topic in town: Corona Virus and me...
The bike cost more than the car did and 300 dollars/euros/pounds shoes don’t faze you. But you still don’t feel you’re cutting it in the Sunday run posing stakes? Perhaps it’s time you had a style make over... But we warn you, some of what you’re about to read in our Style Guide might hurt.
‘I’m a Believer,’ a great song, the Monkees had the hit back in 1968. I used to be a ‘Believer’ and can remember the sense of relief when we discovered that Lance’s Tour ‘positive’ back in 1999 was all a big mistake; those tricky corticosteroids had been in a cream he used to treat a saddle sore and he had a TUE to cover it. What a relief.
Eight Cycling Medals for Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games; Scottish cyclists hit the jackpot with gold for the inimitable Katie Archibald in the pursuit and for Mark Stewart in the points race.
Sir Brad wasn't even off his bike when the phone rang; "Are you watching this? Isn't it heartwarming, nostalgic? I'm almost in tears ..." Yes, friend and sage of VeloVeritas, Vik had just watched the finale of the Gent Six Day on the box – so did I; for the first time in years I wasn't there – that ‘real life’ stuff got in the way. And last week's Cycling Weekly brought us ’12 things you didn’t know about Jason and Laura Kenny’ – to push their new book...
‘Why do you rant about cycling?’ they ask us. ‘Because someone has to!’ we reply. There has to be a voice in the wilderness ... Did you watch the Worlds? Dave, Ivan and Vik all boycotted it – although they admitted to watching the finale. The Belgian offensive in the desert would have done Field Marshal Erwin Rommel proud – but apart from that and Sagan’s killer finale the race was processional.
TUE's - once again I'm reminded of Elton John's words; 'and all this science I don't understand...' The forums are ablaze with righteous indignation from carpet fitters and bike shop mechanics, all of whom are well versed in conditions which affect an athlete's breathing and the treatment of any ailments related thereto. Me? I'm a glazier originally and I can't remember Prednisolone ever cropping up once during my 'apprenticeship.'
Who’s Filippo Ganna? Just the World Individual Pursuit Champion, that’s all. But don’t worry, we’d never heard of him either, until he won it. The rot first set in when the UCI ‘unified’ the professional and amateur pursuit titles in 1993 and cut the distance back to 4000 metres – the pros had previously contested the title over 5000 metres. But wet rot gave way to even nastier dry rot after the Beijing Olympics when the UCI announced that the individual pursuit was being chopped from the Olympic programme.
We make no apology for more ranting – there’s much to get upset about in the sports firmament at the minute. It’s hard to believe that the public would be so naive as to believe that Athletics would be squeaky clean given the sums of money washing around and the vested interests of the massive sportswear companies who depend on big results from their sponsored athletes to shift their sweat shop trainers, track suits, sweats and Tee’s.
It’s a while since we had a decent VeloVeritas rant and the year end is always a good time to take stock; in this VV View edition we compare the Six Day men of then and now, Chris Froome's data, Cycling Weekly's change from specialist to generalist magazine, disc brakes and of course, sadly, doping.
Righteous indignation - we’re all good at it. The Astana situation gives us the opportunity to use words like ‘scandal,’ ‘disgrace,’ ‘joke,’ ‘appalling’ and all the rest. Here’s the ‘but’: whilst here at VeloVeritas we’re not card carrying members of the UCI and Brian Cookson Fan Clubs we do understand that that the organisation has to work within a framework called ‘rules.’
You have to be in the right frame of mind to rant – unless you’re a Master, like Vik – VeloVeritas’s cycling sage and soothsayer, Vik can waken up ranting and probably rants in his sleep. I can’t do it to order – but the stars have aligned this morning and there’s a lot to get off my chest...
I can remember perfectly where I was when Marco Pantani died; sitting in my living room in Dysart. The flash came over Eurosport News and I rang Viktor to tell him; ‘hardly surprising’ was the reply. I knew what he meant, the little Italian’s life had been on a self destructive spiral for a some time - rehab or disaster were the only two possible destinations. It was the Spartan philosophers who first coined the expression, ‘never speak ill of the dead.’ And whilst it’s always dreadfully sad to see a young life wasted, I’m puzzled by the current revisionist accounts of his life which are doing the rounds on the 10th anniversary of his death.
VeloVeritas thanks you for reading in 2013, hopes that you are having a good holiday season, enjoyed the company of family and friends, ate and drank too much and didn’t have too many arguments. We’ve now entered that no man’s land between Christmas and New Year and whilst we’ll do our best to keep the interviews coming from the track men who are making the boards hum, the rising talents and the men who skim through the mud as sweetly Fred Astaire coming down a staircase – the year cannot be let slip without a rant.
In the film, ‘A Few Good Men’ Tom Cruise’s military lawyer character is cross examining Jack Nicholson as a high ranking officer; ‘I want the truth!’ says Cruise. Jack’s reply has now entered movie folklore and cliché; ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ He got that one right, I can’t handle the truth – whilst I’m well aware that most of the peloton was kitted up for two decades and that it's indefensible, I can’t see how yet another biopsy is going to change anything.
Where do the World's Top Riders come from? It creeps up on you, the need, nae, the burning desire to rant. The last straw was Chris Froome's comments about the Tour organiser's intention to include cobbles in the 2014 race. Chris isn't keen - he wants just long, flat time trials and mountain stages; but we guess he's OK with the sprinter stages. too?
Saturday at the Berlin Six Day and the first Madison was a ‘potato chase' – best expressed as a ‘non-death’ race as the minnows were allowed to pull a lap back here and there. As well as the men who ride behind the big bikes, the crowd’s darlings are the sprinters.
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.
It's all clear to me now, Lady Laura explained it: "The Worlds are irrelevant, all that matters are The Olympics." Right! So those riders who win the world individual pursuit championships and world kilometre title are just wasting their time, horsing around? I'm glad we've clarified that - and there was me hero worshipping Hughie Porter for 45 years for nothing ...
Ciao ! Ciao ! It's 9.30 pm here in Verona, city of opera, Romeo and Juliet and Stage 14 of the 2008 Giro., from Modena. We're sitting outside our hotel with our "welcome drink" - not a bad beer, as it happens. It's been a long one - up at 03.30 am; car to Turnhouse; Easyjet to Stanstead; Ryanair to Brescia with two screeching Essex girls in the seats in front of us, then hire car to Verona.
On a rain sodden but mild and fast Sunday morning on the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen dual carriageway, starting and finishing at Forfar, Kyle Gordon (RT23) added to his Scottish 10 Mile TT Title with a rapid 48:53 to win the Scottish 25 Mile TT Championship 2019 crown from jockey-turned-bike-rider, former Olympic TT Champion, Wilson Renwick (Java Partizan Pro Cycling Team) on 49:16 and former Hill Climb Champion, David Griffiths (Bioracer-Moriarty Bikes) with 49:24.
A man who caught the tail end of the Golden Age of sprinting wave back in the 60’s was Australian Ron Baensch. Ron was born in 1939 but still rides his track bike twice each week; "Us old guys ride a 40 lapper!" he delights in telling us.
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