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She only started cycling to connect with a cute guy… that never happened but she did go on to win a World Road Race Championship and more than 100 races. Swedish-born but now a resident of the USA, Ms. Marianne Berglund took time recently to speak to us.
The Irish duo of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche won virtually every major race on the calendar: The Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana, Tour of Romandie, Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice – Kelly an impossible seven consecutive times - Pais Vasco, Catalunya, Criterium International, World Road Race Championship, Tour of Lombardy, Milan-Sanremo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Roubaix... Apart from the nation of their birth and talent, the two men have another common denominator; they were both managed by Dubliner, Mr. Frank Quinn.
We didn't realise when we made our way to the Civic Hall in Leeds for the sign-on of the 2019 Elite World Road Championships just what an epic day we were in for; emergency purchasing of umbrellas in the local outdoor centre didn't quite cut it as the deluge lasted almost the entire race.
Perhaps it was the ‘Scottish’ weather at Harrogate which made the Scots perform so well at the recent World Road Championships? Stuart Balfour spent much of his u23 Championship ‘up the road’ to help set up GB team leader, Tom Pidcock for his eventual bronze medal; Balfour finished in 39th spot.
"In Spring a young man’s fancy..." Well, this Spring, being no longer young, my fancy turned to applying for volunteering at the World Road Championships on the "Yorkshire Team", the events being held 22st to 29th September in Yorkshire, where I have been living for the past eleven years.
Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished. He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy - the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.
Annemiek Van Vleuten crosses the line after a 60 mile solo – local legend, the late, great Beryl Burton would be proud of this ride on her Yorkshire roads. The Orange-woman is immediately mobbed by a pack of feral photogs, but instead of being led away by the UCI podium guys, she effects a tricky clamber over the barriers and into the arms of mum and dad for a huge embrace.
There was controversy today; none of us – including Pidcock – knew that the ‘jury was out’ on big Dutchman, Nils Eeekhoff’s ‘victory.’
A cracking ride from 18 year-old bearded American Quinn Simmons, a barn door of a man who goes to World Tour team Trek Segafredo for 2020. We were roadside to take in the action.
How did we do with our Worlds Elite Men Time Trial pre-race predictions? Well, to start with, we weren’t sure if the slim Aussie Rohan Dennis could come back from his pre-Tour time trial abandon – but it’s amazing what a couple of months with a sport psychologist can do and the tattooed chrono specialist was in a class of his own...
After six times finishing on the podium of the Men Elite Road World Championship, Alejandro Valverde claimed the gold medal for Spain for the first time at the age of 38. He rode away up the Höll, the gruelling climb at the end of the race, along with France’s Romain Bardet and Canada’s Michael Woods to beat them in a four-man sprint after the return of the Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. The final event crowned a wonderful week of sport in Innsbruck-Tirol.
The U23 Worlds in Bergen; a great race with a great finale with GB well there – Ollie Wood in fourth and our very own Mark Stewart a key part of the team which got Wood into a position to sprint for the bronze medal. We just had to ‘have a word’ with Scotland’s own double European track champion, Mr. Mark Stewart...
The sad news came through from Belgium on Sunday morning that Graham Webb, British World road champion in 1967, had passed away. Our condolences go to his family and the many friends and fans he had in the cycling community. A great champion and a wonderful guy. Ed interviewed Graham back in 2009, and we thought that reproducing the interview now would be a good tribute to the man. In memory of Graham; his views on the sport back in 2009. 'Former World Road Race Champion,' yes, that would be nice to have that after your name!
It was Mark Stewart suggested we have a word with this young man, Gabriel Cullaigh; he’s been riding strongly for the GB U23 Academy in Italy but recently decided to make his own way in the tough world of continental bike racing, joining strong Dutch Continental outfit, SEG Racing Academy. Here’s what Gabriel had to say to us just the other day...
Spanish sports paper, Mundo Deportivo says; 'El Tigre, en la Lieja-Ponferrada-Lieja' comparing the race to an Ardennes Classic. 'A complete cyclist with a brilliant future,' they say of the 24 year-old Pole Michal Kwiatkowski. Despite a tiny box on the front cover, the race gets two-and-a-half pages with nice colour pictures.
I hate to keep moaning about these Worlds, but ... There's no way you can get from the two K to go sign at the foot of the final descent and up onto the climb. Barriers, tapes, police, volantarios (volunteer janitors) - grim! A man who can't walk the course ends up in too many bars.
Well, if there's a pizza place in Ponferrada, we can't find it. It's rude to criticise your host's abode but we're mystified by how the Worlds came to be here. The communications are terrible, it's four-and-a-half hours by road or rail out of Madrid or get transfer flights up to the North West and more driving.
Sometimes you can just tell a rider is a bit special, BMC's Swiss road and track man, Silvan Dillier is one such rider. We first came across him on Six Day duties, he made the podium in Gent and Zürich but was forging a name for himself in the summer, too... and now, as a first year full pro, Silvan is an Elite World Champion....
Young Sky star, Alex Dowsett's early season was compromised by a bad crash in the Three Days of West Flanders - but he's come back strongly. He took eighth in the World Elite TT champs, rode strongly in the Tour of Beijing, aiding team mate Boasson Hagen on to the podium and closed his season with second place with Luke Rowe in the Duo Normand two-up time trial.
As the Worlds memories begin to fade and thoughts turn to the late season classics in northern Italy and France, VeloVeritas takes a last look back at the Cauberg. But this time through the eyes of a man who rode that beast of a hill all 11 times on Sunday, Ireland’s Ronan McLaughlin.
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