Yorkshire rider Adam Blythe first grabbed the big headlines when he won two stages and the GC in the 2010 Circuit Franco-Belge; a UCI 2.1 stage race with a history stretching back to 1924. Blythe became one of the youngest-ever winners in the event, beating Sep Vanmarcke (Topsport Vlaanderen) by six seconds and Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) by seven.
It's 05:30 CET Monday in the North Sea, somewhere. Our epic through the night time snow of Central Europe after the Zürich Six Day was rewarded by a nice autumn morning in The Netherlands, even if the coffee was extortionate at the services. We were in plenty of time for the 17:00 ferry to Newcastle. I couldn't keep my eyes open after 20:00, so that's why I'm up and about at 05:00 am - and that North Sea air is fresh. But let's talk winter track racing - I can't say 'Six Days' in this case.
Germany, somewhere near the Taunus mountains at 09:22 Sunday. We left the Zürich Six Day at 03:00 and there are still 400 kilometres to go to the ferry at Amsterdam. It began to snow like Hell about an hour into Germany; there were roadworks, we were diverted off the motorway and there were either no diversion signs or they were snowbound. Whichever it was, we ended up hideously lost and dropped a chunk of time.
It's 11:29 on Sunday, somewhere on an autobahn in Bavaria. The race finished at 02:30 but it was around 03:45 before we got away from the track. We parked up at 05:00 at a motorway services and rose at 10:15; we're en route Düsseldorf, which will take us the best part of the day. It's all part of the game.
The hotel I'm in for the Zürich Four Days 2011 is nice, a double bed, en-suite shower and beautiful breakfast spread - but it's a logistical pain. Kris has to 'make massage' with Jesper at lunchtime, but I don't want to hang around the hotel all morning - there's work to do at the track. I had to scrounge a lift - always a pain.
From the chaos emerged a track centre bar and restaurant, cabins for us, work space for the mechanics - and something to race on. I can't say too much about the track - or Pete will slap me, but it obviously can't be as smooth as a permanent one. The stadium restaurant is good; we get one meal each day - last year it was two. Maybe they figure that since it's only four days we don't need fed as much?
Monday passed in a trice - a motorway is motorway and a Formule 1 hotel is a Formule 1 hotel. Now it's 14:15pm on Tuesday and hard to imagine the building site I'm sitting in the midst of will be hosting the Zürich Four Days 2011 in a little over 24 hours. But it has to - first and foremost, the Sixes are a business proposition.
‘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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