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27/02/2018
 
 

Wiggo’s Warning that the Sky will fall in on young riders

 

The Guardian reports that Bradley Wiggins has warned young cyclists to steer clear of Sky claiming his former employers will “ruin” them.  The 2012 Tour de France winner was speaking at the announcement of a new roster of riders for Team Wiggins, the under-23 team he has set up. He introduced his new signing Tom Piddock and when asked if he had any advice for his young charge, the 37-year-old made a stinging assessment of his former team. “Don’t go to Sky, steer clear of them,” he said. “Go somewhere else because they’ll ruin you.”

Wiggins was speaking against the backdrop of mounting pressure on Team Sky to submit their appeal to a drug test Chris Froome failed at last year’s Vuelta a España. Froome had double the permitted amount of the asthma drug salbutamol in a urine sample and is now trying to prove there is a legitimate physiological explanation for the finding.

While Wiggins declined to comment on Froome’s case he believes Team Sky’s dominance, winning five of the past six Tour de France races, and a building portfolio of controversy have led to a “negative” atmosphere in the sport.

When asked to elaborate on his comments, Wiggins said: “They are not barbed jokes or digs, that’s the reality of the sport at the moment. I saw the reports only last week from Andalusia, or wherever it was, and they are the best team in the world. How many races did they win last week? And there’s a lot of talk about them at the moment and there’s a lot of negative talk as well.”

Wiggins retired from professional cycling in 2016 and has since embarked on a challenge to switch to rowing. He also wants to establish a women’s equivalent to Team Wiggins. He suggested cycling would benefit from a salary cap to lower barriers to entry, again making a barbed reference to Team Sky.




11/02/2018
 
 

A63:  Time Trial Ban

 
Cyclists may be banned from a stretch of the A63 near Hull which was once used by the Olympian Bradley Wiggins, in a move described as deeply concerning by the sport’s governing body.  

Highways England has applied for a traffic regulation order to stop cyclists using part of the road which is regarded as the fastest 10-mile time trial course in the UK.

The agency said it was seeking the ban “in the interests of road safety” after six crashes involving cyclists and vehicles in the past five years, including one fatal collision.

However, the move was criticised by British Cycling and Welcome to Yorkshire, which said the county risked losing its reputation as the “cycling capital of Europe” if it went ahead.

The British Cycling chief executive, Julie Harrington, said the order would set an “extremely dangerous precedent” if approved.

“We believe that this response is disproportionate given the small number of collisions involving cyclists on this route, especially when there are far more incidents involving just cars,” she said.

 
 
 
06/02/2018
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

07/04/2016

Good article from the Inner Ring - a few years old - Spectating Tips for a Grand Tour

It’s great to follow a stage race on TV and the web but the race belongs to the roadside crowds more than any remote audience. Watching the race from the side of the road is the best vantage point possible because if offers more than a visual spectacle, you can hear and smell the race too.

But it’s easy to make a few mistakes. Just as racers need info and plans on a mountain stage, spectators can gain from preparing too. Here are some tips for a day spent watching a grand tour, especially for a day out in the mountains.

Picking where to watch the race is a tough choice but chances the decision is already made for a race like the Tour de France. You will have made travel plans long ago for a holiday in the mountains or maybe you’re British or Dutch and will head to France to catch a Tour de France stage when it visits the north of France. The mountains have few roads meaning access is hard. If you’re in rural France far from the Pyrenees or Alps then you’ll find it much easier to get close to the race. Obviously the mountain stages are famous and you can have a whole day out.

Timings and road closures
The race website or local newspaper will have the schedule listing when the race will pass. However this is more for information because on a big mountain stage all the roads are blocked from the morning onwards. The roads close well in advance of the race. There’s no fixed time but on a big mountain stage you can expect the route to be closed at breakfast time to cars. It’s why many will drive up the day before and camp overnight, indeed even if you drive up a climb you’ll find many of the parking places are taken days before by camper vans.

Drive
One option for driving is to find a side road that joins the route, for example if you want to watch the Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour this year, you can take the road from Sault towards Mont Ventoux and meet the race route halfway up the climb near Chalet Reynard. The later you arrive, the further you’ll have to park and walk.

Bike
Bikes are an obvious option. Whilst the roads are closed to cars, there’s a period when the police let people ride and walk up. But in time, perhaps several hours ahead of the race, they will also stop cyclists because the route becomes a corridor for media and other vehicles and in time the publicity caravan. But it’s not ideal and depends on the climb. If you can find a quiet spot then stick the bike against a fence or a tree but if you’re going to the final climb of the day then giant crowds can occupy every space. The busier the place, the more you’ll need a lock. A a minimum take some spare shoes so you don’t wear out your cleats and, better still more in a backpack. But remember bikes and cycle clothing are for riding, not waiting for hours on a mountain.

Dress the part
The mountains may look sunny but there’s a reason riders ride past blocks of snow in July. As an imperfect rule of thumb with every 100 metres of vertical gain you lose 1°C. Regardless it means a 2,000 metre high mountain pass can be cold and of course the wind can be stronger Take some warm clothes even if it’s sunny. Beware the strong sunshine too, if you can find a vantage point in the shade, all the better.

 

Picnic
As well as clothing, pack some food and drink. The waiting can be long and ideally visit a local shop and stock on some regional specialities. Indeed one way to think of your trip is really a big picnic for hours where a bike race will happen to ride past. This is the best option if you’re making a family visit to watch the race, come equipped with food, drink and distractions to keep everyone busy for hours.

Indeed you’ll see some people might even camp for days on the mountains. Many daytrippers will come with folding chairs and tables to make the wait more comfortable.

Live Coverage
Just because you’re not watching the race on TV doesn’t mean you can’t watch the race on TV. In the big races a lead car will often broadcast the race situation but it can be hard to hear or maybe the in-car commentator doesn’t give out the info when passing you. So a portable TV, a pocket radio or a smartphone can ensure you keep up to date with the race. With phones the signal quality can vary but the networks have invested a lot in the ski areas so coverage is often better than you think although if you’re visiting Italy or France, check your data charges. But this can also be a day to forget everything. Sit on a mountain and escape and let the show come to you.

 

Where’s the race?
There are many vehicles ahead of the race. A few police vehicles doesn’t mean the race is coming. Instead wait for the helicopters to announce the race is coming. There are several TV cameras following the Tour de France and their presence tells you where the race is.

 

Avoid towns
Another tip would be to avoid the finish of a stage if it’s coming into a big town. If you happen to be in the town, join in but as a destination you’ll find it packed and unless you’re willing to stand by the finish line for hours then it’s hard to see what is happening. Indeed with the VIP stands, TV and more an actual spot near the finish line is hard. If you do go, pick out a place where you have a clear line of sight to the giant TV screens so you can watch the racing whilst you wait.

 

Philosophy
For all the practical tips, perhaps the biggest thing to remember is the philosophical difference between being part of the crowd and a TV spectator.

“The Tour de France is for everyone but above all it belongs to the innumerable crowds”
Anotine Blondin, L’Equipe, July 1964

You wait all day only to see the race flash past. Pick your spot on a mountain stage and the procession of riders could take half an hour, half a day if you visit a time trial. But often you wait hours only to see the riders go faster than you thought possible, passing you so quick you don’t know where to look. But this the wait is part of the experience, from the gradual rise in tension to picnicking somewhere scenic to meeting fellow cycling fans so ensure you’re ready to enjoy the day rather than just focus on the race.

A word on the crowd. If you’ve come to this website it’s because your interest takes you as far as niche cycling blog. But most people out to watch a stage of the Giro or Tour are there for the show. You might be able to spot a Campagnolo brakehoods from 100 metres but you’ll soon find many people can’t even name the race leader. Of course you’ll also find fellow travellers, the Tour de France in particular brings many fans from around the world.

The Master Plan

Taste is personal and everyone’s travel plans will be different. But if you can find a mountain stage and the sun is shining then aim for the penultimate climb of the day and drive as near to the route as you can get, perhaps using an access road that meets the Tour route on the mountain pass. Don’t rush, there’s no point being in place at dawn but aim to be settled by lunchtime in a scenic spot with some good food and maybe a book to read to pass the time.

Enjoy the publicity caravan, either join in the scrum or take the anthropological stance to watch adults fight like wolves for plastic keyrings scattered from passing vehicles. Cheer on the riders from first to last and wait for the broom wagon to roll past. This done, head to a local café that you’ve located earlier and watch the final of the stage on TV in the company of locals.

One final tip, don’t bother with photos. They might come out but if they don’t it means you looked at the race through a lense rather than your own wide-angle eyes. It’s much better to have memories of the moment in your mind than some blurred photo of half a rider obscured by a limb.

 

03/04/2016

It has been a rough couple of days for the sport of cycling.  First Antoine Demoitie, a young Belgian pro with Continental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert, died after being struck by a motorbike at Ghent-Wevelgem. He was 25 years old, recently married, and on Friday made an escape in his first WorldTour race, the E3 Harelbeke.  Antoine Demoitié, died on Sunday following a crash at the Ghent-Wevelgem semi-classic.

On the same day, his compatriot Daan Myngheer, three years younger than Demoitie at 22, abandoned on the first stage of the Criterium International in Corsica after feeling unwell. He suffered a heart attack in an ambulance en route to hospital. On Monday overnight it was confirmed that he, too, had died.  Aside from the fact that they were both young, Belgian and had their whole lives in front of them, there was little to connect these two tragedies.  

Unconfirmed reports suggest Myngheer had a pre-existing heart condition but had been cleared to race. At this stage, it seems there was little that could have been done to prevent his death. Demoitie’s, on the other hand, may well have been avoidable.  t pays not to be too hasty in these situations and we must await the outcome of the investigation into the incident to find out the exact circumstances surrounding Demoitie’s death.  As Wanty-Groupe Gobert press officer Jose Been - who wrote a moving piece on Facebook about how she dealt with the tragedy - was careful to stress on Monday, there was no blame being apportioned by the team to the motorbike rider in question.  He was by all accounts hugely experienced, utterly devastated and, of course, would have tried his best to avoid the crash ahead of him. But that does not mean that more could not have been done in general. It is difficult to avoid the impression that this was an accident waiting to happen.

There have, to put it mildly, been too many motorbike-related incidents in the last 12 months, some of them involving some of the biggest hames in the sport.
Most notably Peter Sagan, the current world champion, who was forced out of last year’s Vuelta a Espana after being hit by a motorbike. So why have the UCI been so slow to instigate change? There are all sorts of things they could have done by now, from capping the speed at which motorbikes pass riders, to making it harder to get a licence to drive in races, to limiting the number of vehicles in-race.
To be fair to the UCI, there are reports of a working group which has been looking into all of this (although it you would be hard pressed to know as cycling’s world governing body has not exactly been vocal on the matter, failing to reply to requests for comment and putting out the most perfunctory of statements in the wake of the most recent tragedy). But it is hard to imagine, had Sagan died in the Vuelta, that some of these reforms would not already have passed into the sport’s laws. Instead, the Slovak was was fined for abusive language and received a separate fine for “behaviour that damages the image of cycling” after kicking the motorbike in question.
•  Graeme Obree shows why we all love a maverick genius The sad truth is that perhaps, as Michael Rogers suggested on Monday, a tragedy of this nature was required to provide a real catalyst for change.
Not just in terms of the UCI but the media and the public too. We are all very quick to jump on the latest doping scandal but when there have been near-misses in races, perhaps we have not applied as much pressure. Again, had tragedy befallen Sagan last autumn, you can bet that the reaction would have been 1000 times as big. Instead, the incident was a footnote in an absorbing race.  Demoitie's accident occurred during the 242.8km Gent-Wevelgem race.
What is required now is real pressure to make change, and leadership from the governing body to carry out those changes. Not just in terms of motorbikes and in-race vehicles, but dangerous street furniture and other safety hazards. It is not easy to make a sport like cycling safe, but there is certainly a huge amount more can be done.  
As the sprinter Marcel Kittel who has written an excellent comment piece on the matter, said: “It’s clear: Cycling’s biggest problem was doping and still has to be fought. But the safety issues that are obvious, should get the same attention and priority as the fight for clean sport. It’s necessary to set higher and better standards for professional bike races. We owe it to Antoine that we do everything to let that never happen again.”

 

Lessons are not being learned from in race fatalities with race vehicles.

  
 

Tour de France: Froome stays yellow after TTT

Sky’s lead man Chris Froome remains in the yellow jersey but the inability of Nicolas Roche to stay in touch with his team-mates in the closing metres of the team time trial cost Team Sky the stage 9 TTT win by the most slender of margins: one second. It was rounded up from 0.62sec, BMC’s actual margin of victory over the 28km course.

Having put down a significant marker in last month’s Critérium du Dauphiné the BMC team of Tejay van Garderen were again triumphant on a day when they had made no secret of their hopes of getting their leader into the maillot jaune.

 

“Personally, it’s quite difficult for me,” said Roche. “This was a massive opportunity for me for a stage win. Over the last few Tours I’ve been riding as a domestique and winning a TTT is something very particular, something you work at. There’s no luck, it’s all about sticking together and being there. It’s something that I really dreamed of, so it’s a bit of a tough one. But looking at the bigger picture, Froomey is in top shape, we kept the jersey, we’re in contention and we’re really ready to be in the mountains now.”

 

“Team time trials are usually held on stage four or five of Grand Tours; UCI rules decree they “shall take place during the first third of the race” in order to give teams as fair a chance as possible of fielding a full-strength line-up in a discipline where the time of the fifth man to cross the finishing line is the one recorded.  Including rest days this year’s Le Tour is already nine days into a total of 23, on the ninth stage of 21 in an event where 40% of the total distance has already been completed.  

 

Orica GreenEdge suffered most from the anomalous scheduling having lost Michael Albasini, Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey to injury in the opening week while their Tour debutant, Michael Matthews, struggles on with damaged ribs that continue to restrict his ability to breathe. He was nursed through this stage by his remaining team-mates without having to do a tow in front.

 

On a course that finished with a tough climb up the 1.7km Côte de Cadoudal, Contador came off worst of the trio; his Tinkoff-Saxo team finished 28 seconds behind the eventual winners. BMC posted a time of 32min 15sec, which Sky only just failed to match. 

 

With Froome, Geraint Thomas, Leopold König, Richie Porte, Wouter Poels and Roche tasked with closing out the stage after Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe had exhausted themselves on the flat, Poels hoisted the white flag at the bottom of the ascent and, of the remaining quintet, Roche was found ever so slightly wanting in the closing metres.

 

“We really can’t be too disappointed with that,” said Froome. “For everyone’s morale it would’ve been fantastic to have been able to get the stage win today, but more importantly we’ve kept the yellow jersey, we’ve put time into most of our rivals. We’ve got to be happy with that.  “It’s one thing not to lose any time to your rivals, but to actually gain quite substantial amounts on quite a lot of contenders – it’s put us in a fantastic position. Some other rivals – Nibali, Quintana – they’ve both lost quite a substantial amount of time already so the pressure’s definitely on them to attack once we go into the mountains,” said Froome. “It’s for the other guys to get the yellow jersey from me now.”

 

 
 

Picking Up the Pieces: Lizzie Armistead: 

 
Updated  18 June 2015
 

 

From the Telegraph: The Top 50 Road Cyclists in Pictures

 
Updated  14 June 2015

50 Top Road Cyclists

Here's a taster, Cavendish is 4, Nibali is 6, Froome 7 and Valverde 8.

3. Tom Boonen
Belgian pin-up and all-round demi-God, Boonen is, like Cancellara: nails. Four times a winner of Paris-Roubaix, three times the Tour of Flanders, world road race champion, Tour de France green jersey winner. He has twice tested positive for cocaine, though.
 
5. Sir Bradley Wiggins
What's left to say about Britain's knight rider that hasn't already been said? Not a prolific winner on the road but a winner of big races. The first Briton to win the Tour de France and an Olympic and world time trial champion too. Would be higher if his track victories counted.
  
9. Tony Martin
Three times a world time trial champion - a discipline in which he took Olympic silver behind Wiggins in 2012 - Martin goes by the moniker Der Panzerwgen for the way he sweeps all before him.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wiggins 10-mile Time-Trial set-up

 

From Cycling Weekly

Having moved from Sky to his own, eponymous team in mid-April Wiggins is now riding a SRAM groupset and Zipp wheels.

Having switched from electronic Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 to mechanical SRAM Red, Wiggins benefits from the extra few centimetres of reach afforded by the mechanical levers on the aero bars to get further over the bottom bracket. The cockpit set-up, however, remains the same as his previous bikes when riding for Team Sky and Great Britain.

A SRAM chain-catcher stops the chain from slipping when shifting down to the 44-tooth inner chainring, an outcome made more likely due to the big drop down from a 58-tooth big ring. That said, on a flat dual carriageway course like the A63, it’s unlikely that Wiggins shifted out of the big ring at all.

These new aerodynamic Speedplay pedals are one-sided with a golf ball pattern that extends onto the underside of the tplates, looking to take advantage of the boundary layer effect of the dimples to reduce aerodynamic drag.  Wind tunnel tested, the Zero Aero pedals debuted at Eurobike in 2014 and will be available to buy later this year.

Wiggins has swapped his usual Kask Bambino for a brand-new, custom gold UKSI helmet, as worn by athletes in the 2012 Olympics and by Wiggins himself at that year’s Olympic time trial and again at the 2013 World Champs. It is likely he’ll wear the same helmet for his attempt at the Hour record in 10 days’ time.

 
 

Inside the Sprint Finish: Stage 5: Tour de Suisse

Great little 3 minutes bit of footage.

Youtube Footage
 
 
 

Contador disappointment in Giro d' Italia


Cycling legend Alberto Contador's attempt to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double was dealt a severe blow on Thursday after the Spaniard fell heavily towards the end of the sixth stage from Montecatini Terme to Castiglione Della Pescaia. 

Marco Pantani died in 2004 aged just 34 of acute cocaine poisoning after a period of depression when he had been the subject of doping allegations.

After wresting the leader's maglia rosa from Simon Clarke on Wednesday, the Tinkoff-Saxo leader joked that he had not expected to lead to race so early saying that hopefully it was "just a taste of what is to come". However, after crashing in the final straight of Thursday's stage, won by André Greipel, Contador's Giro could now be over before the end of the first week.

Minutes after the crash, Contador's team tweeted that their leader was "involved in the crash in the final sprint" while confirming that he "crossed the finish line maintaining the lead".

Despite retaining his 2 second lead over Fabio Aru in the general classification, Contador was unable to put on his new maglia rosa on the podium suffering with what appeared to be a collarbone injury.

Stefano  Feltrin the Tinkoff-Saxo general manager, later confirmed that the team would be "assessing the nature of Alberto's injuries with the team doctor" while a decision on whether he would continue the three-week race woul be made on Friday morning.

"He is being treated with ice as a precaution. We will need to reassess his condition in the morning," Feltrin added.

 Later in the evening Contador confirmed that he had dislocated his left shoulder in the crash and hope to continue racing on Friday.

  

 

Shocking Crash for Domenico Pozzovivo in Giro d'Italia         

 
Updated 11th May 2015

DP himself has since spoken from hospital saying he remembers nothing about the crash.

The 32-year-old finished fifth overall in last year's race.

"In a stage like this, anything can happen around any corner, like it did with the crash of Pozzovivo," said Etixx - Quick Step's Rigoberto Uran.

"I saw him crash in front of me. I hope that it is nothing serious, and I wish him all the best."

Pozzovivo, seen as one of the contenders in the general classification, hit the ground head first with about 40km (24.9 miles) left in the 136km (84.5-mile) race between Rapallo and Sestri Levante.

As television cameras zoomed in on Pozzovivo when he lay prone on the ground, Britain's 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome tweeted:  "Is it really necessary to show these images of Pozzovivo at the #Giro2015? Have some respect for the rider and his family!"

 

Updated 10th May 2015
 

The Italian rider Domenico Pozzovivo is “conscious and lucid” after being carried away lying motionless on a stretcher following a crash during a descent during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Pozzovivo who has a degree in economics and wrote a thesis entitled "Southern politics from the unity of Italy up to now" is not very well. His high education has earned him the nickname "Dr. Pozzovivo" in the peloton.

“According to the race doctor, Pozzovivo has been evacuated conscious and lucid,” the French team AG2R-La Mondiale said on their Twitter feed.

 Pozzovivo, one of the contenders for a podium finish, hit the ground head first with about 40km left in the 136km ride between Rapallo and Sestri Levante.

The 32-year-old, fifth overall in last year’s race, was put in an ambulance wearing a neck brace and wrapped in a survival blanket.

In 2008, Pozzovivo finished on the third step of the podium of the Giro De Trentino, which had a race categorization of 2.1.  The first place went to Nibali while Garenzelli took the second place.   He then participated in his third Giro.  While he was not considered a favourite for the overall rankings prior to the race, he managed to finish in ninth position of the general classification.  He notably took the second position on the 15th a mountain affair finishing atop the Category 1 Passo Fedaia, which was featured for the first time in Giro history. He was bested only by his team-mate Sella who eventually tested positive for blood doping and was later disqualified.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Wiggins will fight to attack at Tour de Yorkshire 

 
Updated 2nd May 2015

 

Wiggins is among 144 riders in the three-day race, which starts with Friday's 174km stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.  "I'm not coming here trying to win this," said Wiggins. "But I feel liberated. I can have a go."  He loves Yorkshire.

 

Saturday's 174km second stage runs from Selby to York, with Sunday's 167km finale from Wakefield to Leeds.  Wiggins, the reigning is competing for his newly-formed Team Wiggins.  "I'm coming here to do a job for the younger guys in my team who are really up for it," said the former bearded Team Sky rider.

 

The 35-year-old Englishman, winner of the Tour de France and four Olympic and six world track titles, added: "I'm perhaps not the Wiggo of 2012, oh no, I drink, smoke and eat at expensive restaurants,  I'm 10 kilos heavier with a doppy beard."

 

Race organiser Gary Verity said fans should turn out to "salute one of our nation's greatest champions", adding: "You are coming to see a piece of history so bring the kids and grandkids."  The Tour de Yorkshire, from 1-3 May, is likely to be one of his last on the road as he switches focus to trying to break the legendary hour record on 7 June and then qualifying for the British Olympic track team for Rio 2016.

Sixteen teams, made up of eight riders, will compete in the race, which was born out of the success of last year's Tour de France Grand Depart. 









Is Scotland on the road to becoming a 'cycle-friendly' country?

Thousands of people are due to converge on Holyrood for the fourth annual Pedal on Parliament event in Edinburgh this weekend.  Those taking part will be calling for improved facilities and safer roads for both cyclists and pedestrians.

But is Scotland moving forward? Are they on the road to becoming a cycle-friendly country?

"Funding has increased from central and local government, mainly through match funding programmes like the Community Links partnership run by Sustrans.  Some local authorities are committed to 20mph, design of infrastructure is improving and programmes delivering training and awareness of walking and cycling are more sophisticated.

"Cycling is increasingly part of strategic planning and is recognised as a way to improve people's health.  We are meeting ministers and national politicians much more easily than before and they are sympathetic.

"There are lots of positives, but we are only at the beginning of a journey toward a nation where short trips are easily made by foot and bicycle.""Scotland has enormous potential for increasing the number of people walking and cycling, leading to better health and wellbeing for everyone in our country."Cities like Edinburgh have shown that with political leadership and sustained investment you can achieve a significant increase in the number of people choosing to walk and cycle."No parent wants their child to share the road with HGVs, buses and fast moving motorised vehicles. "That's why I'll be at Pedal on Parliament with my family asking our political leaders for the resources and determination needed to change our streets into places that put people first."

"Cycling is becoming an everyday activity for more people of all ages and abilities.  Inverness and Edinburgh regularly have 1 in 10 journeys to work by bike.  38% of primary schools offer Bikeability Scotland on-road cycle training, up from 32% just three years ago thanks to Transport Scotland funding.

"Midlothian provides training in 87% of schools and East Renfrewshire in 100% of schools.

"The figures show it is possible to increase cycling in communities anywhere in Scotland but there is clearly much more to be done."

"As a grassroots campaign group, Pedal on Parliament (Pop) has opened up campaigning beyond "cyclists" to everyone wanting safer roads, a healthier population, and cleaner air.

"We're the first national campaign to call for infrastructure protecting cyclists from motor vehicles, but which doesn't take space away from pedestrians.

"Since Pop started, active travel funding has stopped falling, but is still just 2% of the transport budget.


"To meet the government's goal of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020, we need 5 times that investment, and a long-term commitment to spending it on quality infrastructure." But is Scotland moving forward? 



Tiernan-Locke tells Plymouth Herald of his Bender Mistake in 2012
 
Updated  22nd April 2015



Jonathan Tiernan-Locke says he wants to return to professional racing when his two-year doping ban expires at the end of December.  The former Team Sky rider, who continues to protest his innocence, is confident he can return at the level he was at in 2012 when he won his Tour of Britain title. Tiernan-Locke insists that he won that race “fair and square”.

 

The Devon-born rider, now 30, stripped of his title after an anomalous biological passport reading from September 2012, just before he signed for Sir Dave Brailsford’s team will feel tainted.

 

Tiernan-Locke claimed that the reading was caused by dehydration after a massive bender in Bristol, an explanation rejected by UK Anti-Doping. He decided against appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport saying he could not afford to do so.

 

Last autumn Tiernan-Locke said he was “50-50” about a comeback, but he now says he has set his sights on a return to the domestic scene at least and claims he has had “a bit of interest already”.  He’s been passing time riding horses.

 

"I've no doubt that I can get back to the level I was riding at in 2012,” Tiernan-Locke told the Torquay Herald Express. "I also believe I can make myself a more complete rider than before.

 

"If I can do the top UK, Premier Calendar races and, say, UCI 2.2-level events, and pick up wins, that would be great.

 

"And I'd like to have a proper crack at the National Road Race Championships, where I've never done as well as I've wanted in the past."

 

Tiernan-Locke added that he felt he had “a point to prove”.

 

"I am not an angry person, someone who carries that sort of emotion around with me,” he said. "I did say at one point that I was never going to race again, and I am going back on that.

 

"But they say 'never say never', and the anger I felt has gone now. If I win a race, it's not like I'm going to stick two fingers up in the air at anyone.

 

"I know I won that [2012 Tour of Britain title] fair and square – I've got the photos and I still have the jersey.

 

"I know, and my Endura Racing teammates know, what we put into the race, and into others.

"I am excited about racing again, and I think I can be a better rider than I have ever been before."


Geraint Thomas Big Win

 
Updated  28th March 2015
 

Geraint Thomas soloed to the biggest road win of his professional career on Friday, riding away from a select group in the final 4km of E3 Harelbeke to become the first ever British winner of the Belgian semi-classic and in the process raise hopes that he might challenge at one or both of the forthcoming monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Thomas, the two-time Olympic team pursuit champion, has always threatened to achieve lift-off in his road career without ever quite managing to do so, partly because of injury, partly due to his traditional role as super domestique for the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, and partly because it has never quite been clear whether the Welshman is a better stage racer or classics rider.


Just two weeks ago, the 28-year-old was one of the strongest climbers at Paris-Nice, while he hinted at his grand tour potential following Froome’s untimely exit from last summer’s Tour de France.

There is no doubting Thomas’s strength in the one-day classics. The reigning Commonwealth Games road race champion finished in the top 10 at both Flanders and Roubaix 12 months ago and must be considered a real challenger this time around after riding clear of the peloton on the Oude Kwaremont yesterday and then dropping fellow breakaway companions Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and defending champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) with 4km remaining.

“I can’t quite believe it,” he said afterwards. “That last attack took me back to my track days and I imagined I was trying to hold Ed Clancy’s wheel in the team pursuit. I felt pretty good during the second half of the race and committed at the end.

“It was hard out there. The three of us worked well together and I wasn’t sure if they were bluffing a bit near the end – panting and pulling faces – but fortunately they weren’t, and it was great for me.

“This six-week period we’re in from Paris-Nice to Paris-Roubaix is my big focus of the season. The way Paris-Nice finished was disappointing, but I felt good again at Milan-San Remo [where he led the field over the last climb], and to get the win now is really special.”

On a remarkable afternoon for Team Sky, Ben Swift also claimed victory on stage two at Settimana Coppi e Bartali to move into the race lead, and Richie Porte, the UCI’s No?1-ranked WorldTour rider, seized the overall lead at the Volta a Catalunya.

With Ian Stannard claiming last month’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Luke Rowe in fine fettle, and Wiggins targeting Paris-Roubaix in his final race for Team Sky, the British squad are enjoying easily the best classics season of their short history and appear to have plenty of options. Next up is Gent-Wevelgem tomorrow, and then Flanders (April 5) and Roubaix (April 12).

Nor will they have to worry about one-day specialist Fabian Cancellara (Trek) whose classics season is over. The Swiss suffered two fractured vertebrae in a crash during Friday’s E3 Harelbeke.

 

Tour of Britain 2015: Brutal Route

Tour of Britain organisers are hopeful that Wiggins will ride in the race this September with his new road team WIGGINS, despite the 34-year-old switching his attention as of this summer from road to track, with the aim of ending his career with team pursuit gold at Rio 2016.

 

A “brutish” 2015 route, which begins on Sept 6 on Anglesey and finishes in London on Sept 13, was officially unveiled on Tuesday night at Wembley Stadium.

 

Race director Mick Bennett said that he had noted feedback from the Tour last year, which riders described as the “hardest ever”, by coming up with an even tougher proposition. At just over 900 miles, it will be the longest contemporary edition of the race.

 

“It did not escape people’s notice that the most successful riders at last year’s world road race championships in Ponferrada – Michal Kwiatkowski in the road race, Brad Wiggins in the time trial – competed at the Tour of Britain rather than the Vuelta a Espana,” Bennett said. “The kickback publicity from that has been excellent and we are hopeful of having another high-class turnout this year.”

 

Asked whether he expected Wiggins to return, Bennett, who won team pursuit bronze at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and again in Montreal in 1976, said he saw no reason why not. “Stage racing is excellent preparation for endurance riders,” he argued.

 

Twenty teams of six riders – one of which is likely to be the England cricketer Matt Prior’s new outfit ONE Pro Cycling – will tackle this year’s route, which should feature “two or three” sprint stages to entice the likes of Mark Cavendish.

 

“The second stage from Clitheroe to Colne is like a mini-Ardennes classic,” Bennett said. “The summit finish to stage five on Hartside Fell is a brute, while for me the hardest stage will be stage six from Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham, taking in the Peak District. That will be leg-sapping.

“It’s perfect race preparation for this year’s world road race championships [in Richmond, Virginia]. “It’s just the right distance, with a week’s break in between, to prepare.”

 

The final stage, involving 15 laps of a 3.8-mile circuit around central London, will start and finish on Regent Street, taking in Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the Strand and Whitehall.

Tour of Britain route details:

Stage One: Sunday, September 6
Beaumaris, Anglesey to Wrexham (177-kilometres)

The race starts on an island for the first time with a first Welsh Grand Depart which goes through all six North Wales regions. The route includes the climb of Pen-y-Pass but is likely to finish in a sprint.

Stage Two: Monday, September 7
Clitheroe to Colne (162km)

The first Lancashire stage since 2010 will be enjoyable for spectators – it will be feasible for one roadside fan to watch the peloton go by in around four different locations on the day – but challenging for the riders, with the Nick O’Pendle climb a highlight.

Stage Three: Tuesday, September 8
Cockermouth to Floors Castle, Kelso (216km)

Skirting the Lake District and the Solway Firth, the peloton will ride through Dumfries and Galloway and finish at the home of the Duke of Roxburghe, the largest inhabited castle in the UK. The sprinters are expected to be vying for victory.

Stage Four: Wednesday, September 9
Edinburgh to Blyth (218km)

The modern tour, reborn in 2004, will visit Edinburgh for the first time with a start at Holyrood Palace. The route will travel south along the coast into Northumberland, where winds could make the finale interesting and create costly time splits.

Stage Five: Thursday, September 10
Prudhoe to Hartside Fell (171km)

Hadrian's Wall is followed for much of the stage before the brutal concluding climb of Hartside Fell. At 1,904 feet (575 metres), the 8km climb, which averages five per cent with sections at over 10 per cent, is almost 100-metres higher than the 2014 summit finish on the Tumble in South Wales.

Stage Six: Friday, September 11
Stoke-on-Trent to Nottingham (189km)

Tour race director Mick Bennett believes the Peak District stage is the race's hardest and “completely leg sapping”. The stage finishes on the Recreation Ground in Nottingham, a venue with cycling history.

Stage Seven: Saturday, September 12
Fakenham to Ipswich (225km)

There is no respite. Wind could wreak havoc on proceedings on the penultimate day, with whoever is in possession of the race lead needing to be on high alert for the longest stage of the race.

Stage Eight: Saturday, September 13
London (93km as 15 laps of a 6.2km route)


Wiggins to Time Trial History



Updated 26th September 2014
 
T
he world time trial title has been one of Bradley Wiggins’ targets since 2005, well before he began to contemplate victory in the Tour de France and became a knight of the realm. There has been frustration along the way, but in his last tilt at the title in Ponferrada, north-west Spain, he at last wrestled the monkey from his back, in decisive style, winning by 26 seconds from the favourite and defending champion, Tony Martin of Germany. If this is indeed his final appearance on the road at a major championship – he will not defend the title or ride the time trial in Rio – it was a fitting swansong.
 
This was the only remaining blank in Wiggins’ personal hit-list, and it sits neatly alongside his Olympic gold medal in the discipline, six world track titles in the pursuit and Madison, three Olympic track golds and the Tour. His rainbow jersey came 20 years after Chris Boardman won the inaugural title in Sicily, and David Millar’s disqualification from the title in 2003 makes him only the second Briton to achieve the honour. It also raises – in the background – fresh questions about Sir Dave Brailsford’s controversial decision to leave him out of the Tour de France this year due to the possibility of conflict with Chris Froome.
 
That question remains moot because of the numbers: Wiggins said after pulling on the rainbow jersey that he had hit his Tour form in order to win in Spain, and he was managing power outputs that resemble those he managed during the 2012 Tour win. On the other hand, he pointed out that his exclusion from the Tour probably helped him win this title, as he ended the season fresh in mind and body after just 36 days of racing, and the work he did on the track before the Commonwealth Games als played its part.

Geraint Thomas to Stay with Sky

 
Updated  28th July 
2014
 

Geraint Thomas has signed a new two-year deal with Team Sky that will run until the end of 2016.

The versatile Welshman has become an important part of the team since joining in 2010 and produced some impressive rides in this year’s Tour de France as he eventually placed 22nd.

Last year he helped Chris Froome clinch Team Sky’s second consecutive yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

Thomas, one of eight British riders at the team, said: “I’m really happy to be staying with Team Sky for another two years. I’ve been here since the start and I firmly believe it is the best place for me to fulfil my potential as a bike rider.

“I feel very supported here and I’m excited about what the future holds. I’ll look forward to challenging myself both on and off the bike and striving to become the very best at what I do.”

Thomas, a two-time Olympic track cycling gold medallist in the team pursuit, has committed himself to the road in the last couple of years and the Team Sky principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, is delighted he is to stay.   Brailsford said: “We’re delighted that Geraint has re-signed for another two years. He’s been with Team Sky from the start and has been essential to the success that we’ve had.  “Team Sky has always been built around a strong British core, developing and nurturing home-grown talent to be the best they can be – and Geraint has been at the heart of that.


“On and off the bike Geraint is an influential member of Team Sky. Not only is he a strong character but he’s one of a handful of world-class riders that can do it all, whether that’s on the climbs, flat, cobbles or time trials, which proves what a valuable member of the team he is.

“Over the last three weeks of the Tour de France Geraint has again underlined his qualities and has shown that he’s an exceptional rider with an exciting future.

“He’s a great guy, a good leader and we’re delighted that he’ll be a key part of the team going forward.”

 


 

French Riders Poised to Podium  

 
Updated 21st July 
2014
 

If the front page of L’Équipe is any reflection of the mood of the French sporting public, it is fair to say the locals are getting a little bit excité.

For five days now, the famous sports daily has splashed on the exploits of a trio of Frenchmen of whom you are unlikely to have heard: Thibaut Pinot, Jean-Christophe Péraud and Romain Bardet. On their shoulders rest the hopes of a nation.

It has been 29 long years since Bernard Hinault won his fifth and final maillot jaune in 1985, and 17 years since Richard Virenque became the last French rider even to make the podium of the biggest bike race on earth.

The TdF is to France what Wimbledon is to the British; an institution, a national treasure, the envy of the world.

French failure in the last quarter of a century has been a source of national despair, one that Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Sky’s principal, controversially offered to help rid them of a couple of weeks ago. All the signs are, following a fascinating 16th stage on Tuesday from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees, that that dismal record is going to change come Paris on Sunday.

Pinot (FDJ) and Péraud (AG2R) finished in the yellow jersey group, 8min??32sec behind stage winner Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) but crucially nearly four minutes ahead of American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) who was dropped early on the final hors catégorie Port de Balès.

Bardet (AG2R) also gained nearly two minutes on Van Garderen, although he dropped behind both of his compatriots in the general classification. No matter, Pinot, Péraud and Bardet now lie third, fourth and fifth respectively on GC, the last of them with a cushion of almost three minutes over Van Garderen in sixth place. That is significant as the American – as his initials “TVG” almost suggest – is useful against the clock, and will likely win back time in the long, 50km (31-mile), penultimate-stage time trial on Saturday. 



Yorkshire 2014 Le Grand Depart Minus SirBW 

 
Updated 19th June 
2014
 

The talk building up to grand départ in Yorkshire has revolved around a man who will not even be riding.  Rightly or wrongly, the fortunes of Wiggo have been intertwined with our nation’s new obsession with cycling. The Olympic titles were one thing. Plenty of British riders have tasted success on the boards. It was the transfer of that success from track to road, culminating in ‘SBW’ becoming the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012 that created a star. His return to these shores in a blaze of glory at the height of Games fever, to win the Olympic time trial title a few days later, before sitting on that fake throne with his mod sideburns and his surly attitude, created an icon.

So Wiggins has proved himself moody and difficult since then. So what? He is box office gold and, what is more, he still has a huge engine. Hardly surprising, then, that his exclusion from Team Sky’s nine-man line-up provoked such a response from the public.

Hardcore cycling fans tend to get upset about such controversies, complaining that their sport has been hijacked by arrivistes, but the British public surely deserve a voice when the opening three stages of the race take place on UK soil and an estimated six million people are expected to watch it live, with millions more on television.

Let’s face it, Wiggins was a major factor behind the organisers ASO’s decision to award the Grand Départ to Yorkshire in Dec 2012 in the first place.

Whether Sir Dave Brailsford and the rest of Team Sky’s selection committee were right or wrong to exclude him, it hardly matters any more. As Brailsford pointed out on Friday when unveiling his squad, it is not his job to placate fans or organisers. His job is to win races and he feels he has picked the best team for the job. Incidentally, it was also part of Team Sky’s mission statement to promote British talent but it is probably overly harsh to castigate them on those grounds given what they have done for Wiggins’ career (Pete Kennaugh’s absence is worse in that respect, although his season has been affected by injury).

Wiggins’ role now is as Banquo’s ghost, hanging over Team Sky. As Bernard Hinault surmised this week, Brailsford’s reputation rather hangs in the balance on this one. “Sky were scared to have two leaders,” the five-time champion said. “This is a team problem, and only they can determine their strategy. If Sky is sure that Froome will win the Tour, I am in agreement with the decision. But if he finishes second, it would have been a bad strategy by them.”

All the talk of Wiggins is rather tough on Froome, the Kenyan-born, South African-educated rider who won last year’s centennial Tour in such fine style but who has struggled for popularity in this country, partly owing to the fallout with Wiggins, partly his reserved manner, partly perhaps the Kevin Pietersen syndrome; he is not seen as a real Brit.

In person, Froome is polite and charming and clearly possessed of an inner steel. How far he pushed to have Wiggins excluded is a moot point but his recent autobiography revealed that he was not afraid to back himself.

Froome’s major fears are likely to revolve around stage five, which takes in part of the cobbled Paris-Roubaix route. The Tour’s trips over the cobbles have tended to eliminate one of the general classification contenders. Frank Schleck crashed out in 2010, Iban Mayo crashed on them in 2004 and while Bernard Hinault rode over them to victory in Lille in 1980, he exacerbated an underlying knee issue and later abandoned.

If Froome survives that, however, and gets into the mountains in decent shape, we could be served up a battle royale with Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador. Watching them size each other up at the Critérium du Dauphiné made for compelling viewing, Froome edging the early part of the week without ever dominating his rival, the Spaniard coming on strong at the end but only after Froome had crashed.

If Froome can stay with Contador in the mountains, and reach the penultimat-day time trial in the same vicinity, he will already be tasting that champagne on the road into Paris. With no Nairo Quintana this year, it is difficult to imagine Vincenzo Nibali or an Andrew Talansky challenging for the general classification.

Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how Geraint Thomas goes after he rode the whole of last year’s Tour with a fractured pelvis. We may know better by the end of next month whether he really is the future champion Team Sky believe him to be.

But it is not all about the general classification. Mark Cavendish’s battle with Marcel Kittel and André Greipel is in many respects even more mouth-watering than that between Froome and Contador. This is a battle to hang onto Cavendish’s status as the fastest man in the world. The winner of 25 Tour stages, there was a sense last year that Cavendish’s days were numbered with Kittel the rising force. The two have hardly raced each other this year, save for Dubai where Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team were still working on a new sprint train.

Can Cavendish reassert himself? He has said virtually nothing in the build-up, which has only added to the suspense, but he has been open about the fact that he has based his entire season around winning stage one next Saturday, which ends in his mother’s home town of Harrogate. What a victory that would be, putting Cavendish in yellow for the first time in his career on a bruising second stage from York to Sheffield, ahead of stage three from Cambridge to London. It is sometimes easy to forget that the Tour actually comes to the capital.  

 


Paris, France : Self-Service Rental Bikes for Kids

 
Updated 19th June 
2014
 

France notched up another cycling landmark, the world's first self-service city rental bike for kids.  City authorities in Paris have decided that their widely imitated Velib rental bike program is so popular it should be extended to children as young as two.

 

On Wednesday, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo launched P'tit Velib, which offers four sizes of cycle in five leafy off-road locations across the city.  "Because good habits begin early, the mayor of Paris wishes to familiarize children with using more environmentally friendly modes of transport, and from a young age," the P'tit Velib website says.

 

Nadhera Beletreche, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office, said the plan was the first of its kind anywhere.

 

Velib was launched in July 2007 and now claims to have more than 20,000 of its chunky gray bikes available from 1,800 docking stations around Paris.  The service, which offers half an hour of free riding followed by incremental charges, was reportedly used to make 130 million trips in its first five years.

 

Although Velib followed numerous earlier bike-sharing and rental plans, it grew to become one of the world's most successful.  The model of using corporate sponsorship and computerized docking stations has been imitated by other cities such as London.

 

The new children's bikes designed with the same gray stylings as their adult counterparts are available to rent in the Bois de Boulogne near the Porte La Muette and the Rond-Point du Jardin d'Acclimitation, the Ourcq Canal, the Bois de Vincennes and the banks of the Seine, between the Pont des Invalides and the Pont De l'Alma.

 

Rental rates start at €4 ($5.40).  Further locations are expected to open later in the year.



Tour of Switzerland - Time, Cheese, Chocolate and Francs

 
Updated 17th June 
2014

British cyclist Wiggins finished more than two minutes down on the leaders in the third stage of the Tour of Switzerland on Monday, prompting suggestions that his training programme in recent weeks may have hurt his form and cost him any small chance he had of making Team Sky’s Tour de France team.

Wiggins was initially picked to lead Team Sky in Switzerland, with Sir Dave Brailsford, the team principal, adamant that the 34-year-old was still in with a chance of making his nine-man squad for the Tour next month.

However, an average time trial on Saturday, by Wiggins’s standards, suggested the 2012 Tour champion was not at his best. And Monday’s stage effectively ended Wiggins’s general classification aspirations. He will now "focus on the time trial on Friday whilst helping the other guys as much as possible", according to Team Sky sports director Dan Frost.

Wiggins caused an outcry two weeks ago by revealing that he had spoken with Brailsford and had been left with the impression that he would not be going to the Tour de France unless Chris Froome got injured. He added that he had been given the "option" of focusing on the Commonwealth Games later this summer instead.

Wiggins told the Dutch newspaper Brabants Dagblad before the start of Monday’s stage that he would have been better prepared had he not been training on the track in recent weeks.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said on Monday that it was "satisfied" that cycling’s governing body the UCI followed the correct protocol when granting Froome a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the oral use of glucocorticosteroids prior to the Tour of Romandy in April.

However, Wada has appealed for stronger sentences against three of Lance Armstrong’s accomplices in cases which will now be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The American Arbitration Association in April banned Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s long-time team director, for 10 years and gave eight-year bans to doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose 'Pepe' Marti for their roles in helping the American to cheat his way to seven Tour de France title

 
 

Sky's Big Question: Who Supports Froome

 
Updated 4th June
2014
 

When ruffled haired moody Sir Bradley Wiggins pulled out of the Giro d’Italia last year with a knee injury, whatever the short?term disappointment for Wiggins and Sky, it solved an issue: should the 2012 Tour de France winner ride alongside Chris Froome at the Tour de France and if so, on what basis?

The question was only postponed for 12 months or so, however, and it has become the big one for Sir Dave Brailsford as the 2014 Tour draws near. Brailsford is bound to have a solid idea of most of the eight support riders who will back Froome at the Tour: the chances are they are the seven who will race the Criterium du Dauphine. For the past three years, Sky have used the Dauphiné as the main dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, and there is no reason to change a winning formula.

 

Wiggins is not at the Dauphiné, which can be interpreted in two ways. One is that Brailsford doesn’t want to risk riding him alongside Froome. The other is that his putting Wiggins in the Tour of Switzerland makes sense, because it is a race he can win without sideburns, and its slightly later date gives him more time to recover from body-clock disruption after the Tour of California.

There are several others in the mix: Wiggins for one, Peter Kennaugh perhaps, or Bernhard Eisel, one of the better domestiques when it comes to positioning a leader at the front, who can be expected to show strongly on the tricky cobbled stage into Roubaix. Sky may even gamble on Sergio Henao if he is cleared to race after an investigation into anomalous blood test results.

Brailsford knows that it would be madness to announce Sky’s Tour squad early, merely to damp down debate. With the Dauphiné, Tour of Switzerland and Route du Sud still to come, crashes or illness can still force changes to the squad. He leaves selections late, which has the added bonus of keeping his athletes hungry.

This is not new territory for Brailsford – Jason Kenny ahead of Chris Hoy for the London Olympic match sprint being the most celebrated call he has made to date – and he selects in a certain way. On past form, emotion will not come into it; the decision will be made on performance grounds. He has also experienced a Tour with two leaders before – 2012, when the world champion Mark Cavendish rode – and it was not a happy experience.

The argument that you should include a past Tour winner out of respect for him and for the institution can be discounted: those are emotional reasons. Having Wiggins would be good PR, admittedly, but losing the Tour because of internal discord would undo that. You don’t select someone simply to keep them happy, or because you have a long and fruitful working relationship with them, as Brailsford has with Wiggins.

The questions going around the Sky head’s mind could include these: putting aside Wiggins’s obvious box-office appeal in a Tour that starts on British soil – emotion again – what will he bring to a team centred on Froome that Bernhard Eisel or Vasil Kiriyenka will not? Given the troubles between him and Froome in the past, is there the slightest risk that Wiggins’s presence in the team will be disruptive, no matter how honourable his intentions and how many times he says he is there to work for Froome?

If Wiggins offers no more as a team?mate than one of the others, the main argument for including him is that in the Tour, anything can happen, and a crash or an ill-timed puncture – like the one that did for Alejandro Valverde last year – is as likely to happen to Froome as anyone else. Having a No2 of Wiggins’s experience, who can step in if required, could be sensible insurance, particularly when that No2 is a former Tour winner who will divert some of the media attention.

Taking that Froome has said he feels Richie Porte can fill the role, the tide seems to be running against Wiggins.



26 Years of Hurt Over: Youthful Talent Wins Giro for Colombia

 
Updated 1st June
2014
 

Colombia can, after a 26-year wait, celebrate a grand tour victory once again after Nairo Quintana became the country's first winner of the Giro on Sunday, three weeks after the riders set out from Belfast.

With defending champion Vincenzo Nibali missing from this year's race, Quintana started the 97th edition of the Giro as the bookmakers' favourite and while his victory will have surprised few, Colombia's domination of the race may have.

Colombian riders' three jerseys – the overall, mountains and young rider – and four individual stages may have stirred memories of the Café de Colombia team of the 1980s, but many have argued that the current crop of Colombians are "the strongest generation yet".

Unlike Café de Colombia, whose Luis Herrera made history in 1987 when he became the first, and until Sunday, only Colombian to win a grand tour after triumphing in that year's Vuelta a España, the new generation are not only based in Europe but also ride in European teams.

Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) have all been knocking on the door for the past few seasons, but it was Quintana at last year's Tour de France who made people prick up their ears before, in the last week, the 59kg climbing specialist kicked the door wide open.

With the Giro heading towards the hills, the first general classification shake-up saw Michael Matthews's grip on the maglia rosa loosen as Australian compatriot Cadel Evans climbed to the top of the standings where he spent four days in pink.

A strong individual time trial from Urán during stage 12, though, saw the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider take the maglia rosa off Evans before losing it in controversial circumstances four days later.

After starting the day with a 2min 40sec advantage over Quintana who, after suffering with a cold had climbed to fifth in general classification, Urán conceded his maglia rosa to the Movistar rider. Quintana had gained around two minutes between the summit of the Passo dell Stelvio which had been, briefly, neutralised by race organisers, and the foot of the Val Martello.

Quintana went on to win the stage on the final climb of the day, the Val Martello, while increasing his lead over Urán to 1min 41sec and taking his first maglia rosa.

The controversy that followed saw Urán's general manager Patrick Lefevere call for Mauro Vegni, the technical manager at RCS Sport, the company that organises the Giro, to resign. Many argued that Quintana should not have benefited from the confusion and, indeed, some teams wanted to see him docked some time, a situation that threatened to overshadow the entire race.

However, if there was any debate about who was the strongest rider at this year's Giro it was ended by Quintana during the 26.8km individual time trial from Bassano del Grappa to Cima Grappa during stage 19.

On his favoured terrain – uphill and steep – Quintana put a further 1min 26sec into Urán. After finishing the penultimate stage on the summit finish of the Monte Zoncolan alongside Urán to retain his 3min 7sec advantage Quintana all but sealed a famous win for Colombia cycling.

"It's very difficult to explain how much happiness is inside of me," Quintana said following the 171-kilometre final stage from Gemona to Trieste that was won by Slovenian sprinter Luka Mezgec. "This is one of the happiest days of my life. Thank you to my family, thank you to my team and to all the Colombians."

After winning his maiden Giro, Quintana added that he now hopes to win the Tour de France, though he is expected to miss this year's race with Spain's Alejandro Valverde pencilled in to lead Movistar.

"My next goal will be to win the Tour de France one day," said Quintana who he finished second to Chris Froome on his debut in 2013.

Meanwhile, in Germany Geraint Thomas won the Bayern Rundfahrt for a second time after defending the yellow jersey on the final stage into Nuremberg.

The 28-year-old Team Sky rider finished in 31st spot, but crossed the line with the peloton in a massed sprint finish as Ireland's Sam Bennett who won the 159.6km stage for NetApp-Endura in three hours 31 minutes 40 seconds.



Live Long: Endurance Cycling 

 
Updated 29th May
2014
 
Brian Robinson, aged 83, is a bona fide British cycling legend: the first Briton to finish the Tour de France in 1956 and the first to win a Tour stage in 1958. 

He still lives in the village of Mirfield in West Yorkshire, where he was brought up, and still cycles twice a week.  He is still a real man for the ladies.  "I do have a healthy lifestyle," he says. "I can recommend cycling and sex. They say it gives you an extra 10 years of life - another decade would do me fine!"

You can get a sense of just how good Robinson was from his victory in the 20th Stage of the 1959 Tour de France, from Annecy to Chalon-sur-Saone.  He finished the 126-mile (203km) etape a full 20 minutes ahead of the next rider - one of the biggest winning margins in the history of the Tour.

There is some glorious black-and-white footage of the race highlights showing Brian raising his arms aloft as he crossed the line.  There was plenty of time for him to pose for photos, kiss the local beauty queen, and perhaps have a spot of lunch before the rest of the riders showed up.

Jack is understandably delighted by the prospect of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire.  Bikes and hot chicks from across Europe.

The promotional body Welcome to Yorkshire, beat off competition from Scotland, Florence and Amsterdam to secure the first two stages of the 2014 Tour.

Le Grand Depart will be in Leeds on 5 July, taking a 191-mile route to Harrogate.

The second stage is 123 miles from York to Sheffield and will feature many of the hills that Brian Robinson trained on over the decades.

The third stage is a 99-mile sprint from Cambridge to London.

When the riders reach the Champs Elysees on 27 July, they will have ridden 2,272 miles in 21 days of cycling - making the Tour the most gruelling of all major sporting challenges.

The elite riders are among the fittest individuals on the planet.

But for every Chris Froome, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, there are thousands of amateur cyclists who dream of emulating their heroes. 

Many of these are what have become known as Mamils - middle-aged men in Lycra, riding bikes Brian Robinson could only have dreamed off when he was a professional.  None of them ever average over 20mph.

The problem with most of the research is that they are observational studies, which can be confounded by other factors and so can show only an association between endurance cycling and longevity.

One study compared 834 cyclists who rode the Tour de France from the 1930s-1960s and found that they lived, on average, eight years longer than the general population.

Another study examined all 786 French competitors in the Tour from 1947-2012 and found they lived on average six years longer.

Dr Xavier Jouven, of the European Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris, who led the analysis, said: "We should encourage people to exert themselves. If there was a real danger in doing high-level exercise, then we should have observed it in this study."

That study did find that the Tour riders were at higher risk of fatal traumatic injuries, no doubt as a result of cycling accidents.

Also, many of the non-cycling people used for comparison in both studies will have had underlying health problems, so that may have skewed the findings.

Some Danish research tried to get round this problem by comparing cyclists. For 18 years they tracked the health of 5,000 men and women who cycled every day in Copenhagen.

They found that those who did intense cycling - enough to be out of breath - lived longer than those who simply pootled along at a pace where they could have a conversation.

For men, the extra life expectancy was five years and for women, four years.

While none of this is conclusive, it adds to the growing body of evidence that high-intensity exercise may yield significant long-term health benefits.

This comes with the caveat that unfit, untrained individuals or those with underlying health problems should proceed with caution.

One of the best measurements of cardiovascular health is the VO2 max test.  This shows the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exercise, so it involves being tested to the point of failure.

As we age, heart muscle tends to stiffen, and so VO2 max will decline.

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Kent compared trained cyclists with untrained but physically active individuals.

They found that the older, trained cyclists were able to preserve much of their VO2 max and so delay the decline in their cardiovascular health.

So while no-one can prevent the process of ageing, they can hold back the years.

James Hopker, the lead author, said several hospitals were using a VO2 max test (called a CPET test) to assess patients' risk level for major surgery.

He said: "The better a patient's VO2 max, the more likely they are to survive major surgery, and the quicker they recover." 


Youthful Talent Takes Stage 16 and the Maglia Rosa

 
Updated 28th May
2014
 

The youthful talent Nairo Quintana took the overall leader's maglia rosa, or pink jersey, off compatriot Rigoberto Urán on Tuesday after the Movistar rider won the 139-kilometre 16th stage from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello. 

On a day that saw riders battle across the Passo di Gavia, Passo dello Stelvio ahead of the summit finish atop the Val Martello it was the 24-year-old Colombian, born high in the Andes, who was left celebrating on what was a miserable day for many.

After starting the day 2min 40sec adrift of Urán, Quintana will start Wednesday's 208km run from Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto with a 1min 41sec advantage over Urán.

With the snow-capped Gavia and Stelvio shrouded in mist race organisers were, understandably, concerned about rider safety though stopped short of bowing to rider pressure to shorten the stage or even cancel it as they did on the corresponding stage 12 months ago.

With the leading riders approaching la Cima Coppi, the highest point at this year's Giro at 2,758m above sea level, Dario Cataldo attacked before cresting the Stelvio first to take 40 points in the mountains clasisfication competition.

As Team Sky's Italian went over the top confusion reigned throughout the peloton as news spread that the descent had been neutralised due to the horrrid conditions. Organisers, though, were forced to later apologise on their official Twitter feed, saying they had sent out "the wrong information".

After failing to win a stage at this year's Giro Team Sky will have been desperate to salvage some pride on Tuesday and Cataldo's ride went some way to doing this. However, after riding out front all alone the Italian was caught by Quintana and Pierre Rolland around 17.5km from the finishing line to end his hopes of a solo victory.

Quintana, who had reportedly been suffering with a cold ahead of Monday's rest day, and Rolland were soon joined by Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 winner, while further back Urán started to lose his grip on themaglia rosa.

With around 7.5km to go and the gradient ramping up to 15 per cent Quintana produced a kick, though the diminuitive Colombian was unable to shake off Rolland and Hesjedal. Rolland soon lost contact with the stage leaders before Quintana, finally, dropped Hesjedal in the final kilometre as he propelled himself into his first maglia rosa.

Giro d'Italia details

Stage 16; Ponte di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal, 139km: 1. Nairo Quintana (Col - Movistar) four hours 42 minutes 35 seconds, 2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can - Garmin-Sharp) 8sec, 3. Pierre Rolland (Fra - Europcar) 1min 13sec, 4. Wilco Kelderman (Hol - Belkin) 3min 32sec,5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita - Ag2r-La Mondiale) 3min 37sec, 6. Fabio Aru (Ita - Astana) 3min 40sec, 7. Rafal Majka (Pol - Tinkoff-Saxo) 4min 8sec, 8. Sebastián Henao (Col - Team Sky) 4min 11sec, 9. Rigoberto Urán (Col - Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) at same time, 10. Cadel Evans(Aus - BMC Racing) 4min 48sec.

 

Kiss and Kittel on the 2014 Podium

 
Updated 30th
 April 2014
 
The sight of a Le Tour winner being congratulated by the race's yellow-clad hostesses is familiar to most sports fans but it will be given a 21st century twist with the addition of "podium boys" – or hosts, as the French term them – when a women's race returns to the Tour de France on the Champs Elysées on 27 July 2014.

"Those who make it on to the podium can look forward to kisses from podium boys!" read a statement from Le Tour de France. In the long term, however, the most important element revealed at Tuesday's launch of La Course is the extent of television coverage the race will enjoy: the two-hour event is expected to be broadcast in 147 countries, with 12 channels across 104 of those countries showing it live.

It is, the organisers believe, the most exposure a women's cycle race will receive apart from at the Olympic Games and it should provide a dramatic calling card for teams in search of sponsorship cash.

"We need a showcase and one has been provided for us," said the world champion, and probable race favourite in July, Marianne Vos, who was named patron of the race at the presentation at Paris's Hotel de Ville. "I'm delighted that Amaury Sport Organisation have understood and provided what we need."

Tcould well be the richest. The race will also include an intermediate sprint on every lap for points counting towards a sprinters' prize.

The Tour has not featured women's racing since the last women's Tour de France was run alongside the men's event in 1989, and the inception of La Course by Le Tour is the fruit of some assiduous campaigning led by the group Le Tour Entier, which last July launched a petition calling for the return of the women's Tour de France.

 The petition drew more than 80,000 signatures and was followed by meetings with the Tour de France organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation, brokered initially by Brian Cookson, who made women’s cycling a key part of his manifesto in his successful campaign to become president of the Union Cycliste Internationale.

By December 2013, it was clear that progress had been made although ASO waited until early February 2014 to announce it.

 

 

 


 

Loss of Young Pro: Deemed A Tragic Accidental Death                            

 
Updated 20th
 April 2014


An elite cyclist suffered fatal injuries when he careered into an oncoming car during a road race, an inquest has heard.

 

Junior Heffernan, 23, a member of the Herbalife-Leisure Lakes team, died in the third lap of the 60-mile Severn Bridge Road Race around Olveston, Gloucestershire in spring last year.

 

Mr Heffernan, a talented cyclist and triathlete, veered on to the wrong side of the road as he raced down a steep hill into the village of Elberton with 50 other riders.

 

With the correct side of the road being packed with cyclists, Mr Heffernan tried to ride to the other side of the vehicle but was hit and thrown on to the windscreen. He died shortly afterwards.

 

One of the riders in the race, Grant Bayton, witnessed the accident on the road.

"Junior was to the right of me, he was on the other side of the road," Mr Bayton said. "What forced Junior over there I'm not sure.

 

"From what I saw it certainly looked like evasive action. I think it got to a point where it was too late to control. There was the impact, the noise, then the rider was thrown into the air."

 

The inquest heard that the cyclist had reached 46.5mph just before the collision happened. The car was travelling at 15mph. Terence Moore, assistant coroner for Avon, reached a conclusion of accidental death in the hearing in Flax Bourton, Somerset.

 

"On approaching the left-hand bend at the bottom of this decline, the lead riders began to slow slightly," Mr Moore explained.

 

"It is fairly obvious to me that they might slow because of a bend or because there is a BMW approaching.

 

"The effect of these lead riders slowing is a knock-on effect, compressing the peloton. With that compression, Junior and another rider were moved out into the right-hand lane.

 

"Junior's line of sight in approach of that bend would have been obscured by the rider in front of him.

 

"He saw the car at the last moment and, realising he couldn't pull on to the left, he tried to veer to the right quite deliberately to try to avoid a collision.


Roche is now concentrating on the Giro d’Italia                                       

 
Updated 18th April 2014


 

I do see Liège as more prestigious than the Amstel Gold due to the difficulty of the race. The one thing you do get in Amstel is a fantastic atmosphere. The crowds are amazing, they go absolutely crazy which gives a buzz and massive boost when you’re climbing.

 

Had I been in top form the last couple of weeks I would have kept to the original programme. It is a shame. I’ve never had a proper go at Amstel but at this stage I have more chance of going well in Romandy. It’s more important to choose your races where you think you can do well and what will be most beneficial. You shouldn’t go for the sake of going.

 

As a rider you’re never really totally happy with your shape unless you’re winning everything. I feel like at this point of the year I’m gradually coming into the best form I’ve had, and am on schedule to peak at the right time.

 

I’m not quite as strong or fit as I usually am for the Tour de France or the Vuelta [a España], but I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I think it’s really starting to pay off. The team is really happy with the way I’ve been performing.

 

We’ve been in Etna for the past two weeks. There’s about 10 of us. We’ve been doing a fair bit of climbing and riding in altitude to get your body used to it so you’re better equipped to deal with the high climbs.

 

It’s a beautiful place but there’s not much else going on apart from the tourist buses. We’re in a very nice and friendly hotel. The chefs cook anything we want at whatever time in the day, they’ve been really accommodating. It’s great to be in that kind of environment where you really feel at home.

 

We’ve been pretty unlucky with the weather, though. There have been six or seven days of rain and a couple days of snow right on the summit.

 

I’m not a big sleeper in the morning so I’m usually up around 7am, then I head down to breakfast for 7.45. If the weather is decent we start training at 10, but we start earlier if we’re going to be doing something longer than usual.

 

If it’s raining we get taken from the hotel in cars down to the bottom, and we ride down if the weather is good. It’s about three degrees, so there’s no point risking catching a cold and getting sick.

 

We usually ride for between four and five hours, and get back to the hotel for 3.30-4pm for a shower, followed by a light lunch. Next are the massages, there’s two masseurs so each of us gets a massage two days out of three, to make sure everyone gets treated equally.

 

There’s only internet in the lobby so we’ll meet down there for about 7.30 to just relax and chat, before going for dinner about eight. We usually finish with a decaf or camomile tea and then head back up to our rooms for around 9.30 to watch a film or read a book before going to sleep.

 

I really can’t wait to get stuck into the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I said at the beginning of the season I’d love to have a good result in a spring classic, and it would give me a massive confidence boost if I could achieve that.


 

Hostility to New Forest Event                                                                 

 
Updated 15th April 2014


It is billed as a “sublime sportive” for cyclists who want to take in the “breath-taking scenery” while enjoying a relaxed ride along the quiet roads of the New Forest.   But the peaceful progress of some participants came to an abrupt halt last weekend when a mass cycling event was targeted by saboteurs who scattered nails on the road, bursting a number of tyres.

 

The action follows a stream of complaints about the Wiggle New Forest Sportive events from local villagers who claim they ruin the tranquillity of the area and put other road users and animals at risk.  Just days before the most recent two-day sportive residents put up hostile posters warning people to “Be Aware” of a “massive cycle event on New Forest roads” and urging them to raise the alarm if any entrants caused trouble.

 

But the row escalated when tacks were placed across the road in the village of Bransgore ahead of Saturday’s meet, puncturing the tyres of about 15 cyclists who were left trying to fix their bikes on the side of the road.  Police have carried out house-to-house inquiries to try to unmask the saboteurs.

 

Martin Barden, of UK Cycling Events which organises the gathering, said: "It was surprising and disappointing to see a handful of anti-cycling campaigners trying to disrupt the event again this year by throwing tacks on to the road on several occasions.

 

Despite the problems, Mr Barden insisted the event, which sees more than 4000 participants complete 62-mile and 84-mile routes through the picturesque national park, had been a great success and said the majority of local residents were “extremely supportive”.  “The riders really appreciated them clapping and cheering them on as they completed the course,” he added.

 

But others say there is widespread opposition to the event due to the thoughtless and sometimes dangerous behaviour of some of the cyclists.

Residents have expressed concern about the speed at which the cyclist ride along the narrow winding forest roads which are also used by walkers, horse riders, cars and loose cattle and horses.

 

But critics of the Wiggle event were quick to distance themselves from those behind the nail prank.

 

Ann Sevier, a local councillor and New Forest commoners association committee member, said: “It is a national park and we work very hard on safety aspects, bringing the speed limit down from 60mph to 30mph, which means we get lots of people out cycling in the forest, families and tourists.

 

“But when the sportive comes through the cycle as fast as possible along narrow single-track roads and there is a bit of a pack mentality which is a problem as they seem to forget they are sharing the road with animals, horse riders, walkers, you name it.

 

“A bunch of cyclists came through the village of Brockenhurst last weekend and spooked a whole load of cattle which were in the road and they just carried chasing the cattle down the road towards a cattle grid. That could easily have resulted in a lot of broken legs.

 

“People cannot drive around the place because cyclists are cycling four a breast and no one can get around the area,” said Beverley Hutton, who works at Norris Gift Shop in Beaulieu, near the route.  “I think it puts a bit of a dampener on things really."

 

Ms Hutton said the takings for the shop were half what they would normally get on a Sunday because the event keeps tourists away.  She added: “I think everything was tried to change the event but there was just nothing left for us to do.”

 

A Hampshire Police spokesman said they were alerted to reports of tacks in Braggers Lane in Bransgore, on the south-western edge of the New Forest on Saturday morning.

 

Last year the same event was disrupted when drawing pins were placed in the road and motorists drove slowly creating a road block to slow down participants.  There was opposition to another Wiggle event last October when signage was pulled down and mud was sprayed on the road during the night.

 

 
 

 
 

 





 


 



 

 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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