Desire 2 Ride - Racing Bike Hire

Desire 2 Ride - Road Bike Hire 

'from cyclists to cyclists - racing bike hire for events, triathlons, training, holidays, rides and leisure'

 

Updated  8 September 2016
 


27/06/2016

Team Sky for the Training Camp

The Telegraph reports it was at Team Sky’s winter training camp in Alcúdia, Majorca, that Chris Froome first hinted at his desire to do something that no rider in the history of cycling had ever done before.

“When I rode Rio and looked at the Olympic time trial course [in November 2015], I just thought, ‘This is fantastic, I’d love the chance to get stuck into this TT’,” Froome told a gaggle of increasingly wide-eyed journalists. “I went and rode the road course the next day and just felt, ‘If there’s a one-day course I could win, it would look something like this’.”

Coming just minutes after Froome had outlined his plans to claim a third Tour de France title this summer, and a second in succession, his softly-spoken words amounted to an extraordinary mission statement; the desire to author a blockbuster trilogy that would make him not only the Tour’s first back-to-back champion since Miguel Indurain (discounting Lance Armstrong), but also the first rider in the history of the Games to win both road and time trial titles: road cycling’s Lord of the Olympic Rings.

Can he do it? We are about to find out. The first instalment of the trilogy begins next Saturday, when the 103rd Tour de France sets off in Normandy with a 188km stage from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach.

For the following three weeks, the peloton will wend its way south to the Pyrenees, crossing briefly into Spain and Andorra, buzz over to Provence for what is sure to be a quiet little Bastille Day fete atop Mont Ventoux and then, finally, on to the Alps, where the Tour will be decided with four successive days in the mountains, including a 17km individual time trial from Sallanches to Megève on July 18.

It is the inclusion of that time trial, plus an earlier, flatter one on July 15 in the Rhône-Alpes, which makes you think that the fates might just be aligning for Froome, who is already the most successful British grand tour rider in history but would join the all-time greats with another maillot jaune this year. Like the hilly routes in Rio, this year’s Tour course appears tailor-made for the Kenyan-born Briton, as he admitted when it was announced last autumn.

Froome has the strongest team on paper, with Sky this week unveiling a crack squad of riders to support their leader: Geraint Thomas, Sergio Henao, Mikel Landa, Vasil Kiryienka, Mikel Nieve, Wout Poels, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard. A look at the names they have left at home – Michal Kwiatkowski, Nicolas Roche, Leopold Konig, Pete Kennaugh – makes you realise their strength in depth.

And he will begin as the favourite. The 31-year-old is in his prime, he is in form, as his recent win at the Critérium du Dauphiné showed, and both he and Team Sky know how to win this race by now.

It will not, however, be straightforward. Far from it. Everyone knows Sky are the team to beat and the other teams may well gang up on them. Indeed, they probably ought to do so.

From Movistar, whose leader Nairo Quintana managed to get himself to within a minute of a tiring Froome last year after attacking him on Alpe d’Huez and who has Alejandro Valverde there for him this time around as a pure super domestique; to Tinkoff-Saxo, with seven-time grand tour champion Alberto Contador; to Astana, with Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali; to BMC Racing, with Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen, there may be alliances formed and attacks from the very beginning. They will be trying to soften up Sky, disrupt their rhythm, nobble Froome’s lieutenants. Froome may well be left isolated in that final week. He says he has trained specifically to peak towards the back end of the race this year, having tired in the final stages of his previous two wins.

It promises to be a fascinating race – and that is before you consider the sub-plots. Can Mark Cavendish wear yellow for the first time, with the first stage being one for the sprinters? Will Peter Sagan be rewarded for animating countless stages with an actual stage victory this year? How high can Thomas finish, with Sky intending to give him protected rider status? Will the ‘pseudo-scientists’ and sceptics come out if Froome opens up a handy lead? Will the crowd behave themselves after last year’s ugly scenes, when the Briton was spat at and had urine thrown at him?

One thing is certain: if Froome comes out on top and goes on to complete the hat-trick – bear in mind he has never even won a one-day race before – it would have to rank as one of the finest achievements by any British sportsman or woman; a trilogy of epic proportions.


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.

Summary
It’s cheap but it’s not always easy to watch a race. The bigger the race, the more you need to pick your spot as the start and finish can see the best places reserved for VIPs and out on the route the roads can be closed early.

§  If you’re in town and the Tour is riding by it can be easy to catch

§  But if you want to see the full show in the mountains then you need plan before and maybe get up early on the day

§  You will have time to spare so come prepared with food or something to read

§  Waiting is part of the experience,  the building anticipation of one of the world’s greatest sporting events

§  Leave the photography to the pros, take some snaps of the surroundings but when the race comes, enjoy the moment

§  Get it right and the experience of watching a mountain stage in a big race can provide memories for a lifetime

 

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 No1-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.

 

 

Pink Jersey: I'm Amazed - Rigoberto Uran

 
Updated 22nd May
2014
 

 

  

Columbian rider Rigoberto Urán won the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia and took the overall lead on Thursday.

He was 57 seconds behind Cadel Evans going into the stage, then won the 26-mile individual time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo in under an hour, and Evans finished one minute, 34 seconds behind in third.

“It’s incredible, I’m really surprised. I didn’t think that I would win it. I cannot believe I won the stage and took the pink jersey,” Urán said. “I worked a lot on my time trial, spending time in the wind tunnel over the winter, but today surpassed my expectations.

“It’s too early to say the race is over. We still have not raced the hardest mountains yet. The most difficult part of the Giro is still to come.”

Urán took the pink jersey off Evans to lead the Australian by 37 seconds.

“I saw Urán coming into form,” Evans said, “but I honestly did not expect him to have such an amazing time trial. Of course, I had hoped to have done better myself. The time trial course suited me well, but as I said yesterday, the verdict is on the road.

“My position is good tactically. It is going to be interesting.”

Diego Ulissi led for most of the day and looked on course for a third stage victory in the race but had to settle for second after Urán beat the Italian cyclist’s time by 1:17. Overall, Rafal Majka was third, 1:52 behind Urán.

Thomas de Gendt was one of the early leaders and was in front for a long time as he was one of the last cyclists to complete the stage on dry roads.

Later cyclists struggled in the rain, and there was even thunder and lightning at the finish.

There was a scare when Tobias Ludvigsson misjudged a corner on the technical descent and went flying over a barrier, landing hard after a short drop. He lay prone for several minutes but was later seen sitting up before being taken to hospital.

The weather abated and the roads were beginning to dry out again when Ulissi came flying out of the starting gates.

He crossed the line 50 seconds ahead of De Gendt, who eventually finished eighth.

Friday’s 13th stage is a mainly flat, 98-mile leg from Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese.

 
 
 

Can Wiggo's Win Help to Restore Faith and Interest in US Pro-Cycling?

 
Updated 20th May
2014
 
 
 

Born in Kilburn, resident in Wigan and a man of the people, he may have traded sideburns for beard but Sir Wiggo usually goes out of his way to show he has not lost touch with his cycling roots

It was the reward for a six-month campaign well planned and executed; a taste of Americana.  “I just love it here, the whole culture, the vibe, the music, the landmarks,” Wiggins says, en route to a PR engagement on Venice Beach. “And I think I earned it. This project, the amount of time I had given over to it... It’s only five months out of your life but it felt longer.

“Just little things like the way I spent my 34th birthday at the end of April. I did 7½ hours on the bike that day in Majorca. I had no breakfast, and didn’t eat anything on the bike all day because I was on a bit of a severe weight-loss thing post-Paris-Roubaix. I was away training, sleeping in a [oxygen] tent in Majorca on my son’s birthday.

“But it’s all worthwhile when you do something like this, the satisfaction that the hard work has paid off. And then you can sit in the most idyllic spot in Beverly Hills and have a gin and tonic and soak it all up.”

Wiggins’s targeting of California – he arrived early to do a round of media engagements and stays until on Thursday when he departs for another training camp in Majorca in an attempt to gain selection for Team Sky’ Tour squad – was carefully conceived. Not only is the States a key market for Team Sky and their sponsors, in particular 21st Century Fox, but on a personal level, too, Wiggins has been quite open about his American dream.

The 2012 Tour de France winner, who signed up to Simon Fuller’s XIX stable last year, joining other British stars with one foot in the States such as David Beckham, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton, has made no secret of his desire to tap into a cycling culture which he believes has been left with a “void” to fill following the tales of woe of Armstrong.

Wiggins said earlier this year that he believed the American public had been “robbed” by the seven-time Tour de France champion’s actions, adding that he felt it incumbent upon him, as “one of only a handful of clean Tour winners”, to do what he could to restore the credibility of cycling in the States.

Does he stand by those comments? The Telegraph reports;

“Definitely,” Wiggins said. “There’s kind of no one here. Well, they’ve got these incredible young riders, future Tour winners in guys like Tejay van Garderen and Joe Dombrowksi, super talented guys like Taylor Phinney... but they are relatively unknown to the wider public. You mention cycling to anyone here and the first thing they think of is Armstrong.

“So there is a gap and if I can leave a bit of a mark post-cycling in terms of helping to instill the faith a little bit more – because there are not many of us, Tour winners with no history whatsoever, no mumblings, no rumblings...I mean you get all this garbage on Twitter but actual factual...there is none of that with me and never has been because of the way I have conducted my whole career.”

Almost an ambassadorial role then? Anything Beckham can do and all that?

“I wouldn’t say that exactly. But I said at the start of the year that I’d really embraced my position now as a past winner of the Tour. I’m much more proud now to have won the Tour de France than I was maybe 15 months ago. And I think it’s kind of inevitable that I will fall into that position, as one of the elder statesmen of the peloton now.

“It’s about respecting the sport. I’m trying to do that with the things I target, whether it’s Paris-Roubaix or this race. I’m quite comfortable with all of that now. The way you conduct yourself and the things that you say during the presentation each day, to the public. It was quite a new role for me here but I really enjoyed it to be honest.”

Wiggins, who endured a strained 2013 when, by his own admission, he struggled to cope with his exploits of the previous year and the emergence of Chris Froome as team leader, even said that he could envisage living part-time in Los Angeles post-retirement, although he conceded the locals might struggle with his deadpan brand of humour. Asked on one breakfast show a couple of weeks ago how they should address a knight of the realm, he answered without smiling: “Sir is fine.” That was what they proceeded to call him for the rest of the interview.

“I’m not sure they get the sarcasm,” he said. “But yeah, I could imagine living out here. Very much so. Home will always be home. I don’t think I could live full time here but I could certainly spend long periods of time here, as I do in Majorca. I love it here.”

 

 

In the Land of Hot Valleys Wiggo is King

 
Updated 18th May
2014
  

Wiggo came home in the front group at the end of the 121.7km eighth stage to finish the race 30 seconds ahead of the Garmin-Sharp rider Rohan Dennis and secure his first win of the 2014 season. 

Wiggins took the general classification lead in the second stage, a time trial last Monday, and was never seriously challenged. "It's right up there," he told the NBC Sports Network, when asked how highly he rated his victory. "It's always an honour to win the yellow jersey. I set my stall out to win the Tour of California and I've done that now. At 34 it's nice to still be winning."

He paid tribute to his Sky team-mates. "You can't do it on your own and, strong as my performance was individually in the time trial, my team have taken the strain all week," he said. "Those young Americans in my team – Joe [Dombrowski], Ian [Boswell] and Danny [Pate] – have done a fantastic job. Even today they didn't give up the chase and came back after they'd been distanced on the climbs. This is a fantastic way to finish."

Wiggins said that, if he rode in the Tour de France in July, it would be in support of his Sky team-mate Chris Froome. "Chris wants to win a second tour and I think everyone's behind that, including myself, and he's defending champion and he's earned the right to do that. [If] I am fortunate enough to be at the tour it will be in support of Chris. I continue to stand by that."

On the final stage in California, seven riders managed to edge clear of the pack after a frantic opening, with Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Jack Bobridge (Belkin) breaking away from that group on the second climb. But the pair were hauled in on the next ascent and the Team Sky riders were able to respond to further attacks to keep Wiggins well-placed.

Cavendish lost contact with the group late in the race but his Omega Pharma team-mates worked hard to bring him back with around 10km to go and then give him the platform to launch his sprint finish. The Manxman stayed on the wheel of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) before bursting through to take his second stage win of the race. "I'm in the form of my life," he said.

 
 

  

Vos The Boss

 
Updated 11th 
May 2014
 
 
Marianne Vos’s dominant win in the inaugural Women’s Tour was, in the end, entirely predictable. An otherwise gentle soul who takes her cat with her to races, Vos is transformed into a terror on two wheels. She outsprinted her rivals yet again in the fifth and final stage into Bury St Edmunds yesterday to secure the yellow jersey by 30 seconds from Sweden’s Emma Johansson. It was her third stage win in a row.

Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), who arrived last week in the form of her career and with high hopes of exacting revenge on the woman who denied her gold in London 2012, was forced to withdraw from the race before the stage departed from Harwich on Sunday.

It was just not her week. Armitstead was never able to get into a decisive break on the relatively short, flat stages. And when it got to the final, inevitable bunch sprint finishes, Vos was just too strong. Either that, or Armitstead sprung a puncture at an inopportune moment.

So Vos won convincingly in the end. What was less predictable was that the Women’s Tour should have been such a rampant success in its first year. Only a few weeks ago the organisers SweetSpot were still scrabbling around for a title sponsor. Friends Life will be delighted that it took a gamble. Bury St Edmunds was packed for the finale with cycling aficionados decked out in Lycra rubbing shoulders with families and children waving flags. There was an Olympic torch tour feel to proceedings, replicating scenes from Northampton to Bedford to Welwyn Garden City.

While there are certainly areas for improvement – live television coverage, for instance, or at least live race commentary so that spectators to follow what is going on while they idle away the hours waiting for the riders to arrive – it was difficult to escape the impression that this has been a breakthrough week for women’s cycling.

It will be interesting now to see whether the momentum generated by this race can be harnessed; whether the crowds return next year, whether the Women’s Tour model can be replicated in other countries, whether sponsors and broadcasters come a’flocking in the wake of the media exposure garnered, whether that media interest continues.

La Course by Le Tour, the women’s race taking place on the Champs Elysees on July 27, just hours before the men roll into Paris at the end of the Tour de France, will be another huge moment for the women’s side of the sport, an opportunity to win friends and influence people.

Vos was certainly enthused, describing the Women’s Tour as the new benchmark for women’s stage racing. “It is getting more and more professional and with the attention it gets now, the worldwide public sees how nice it is, how beautiful women’s cycling is. We’ve had a perfect stage to prove women’s cycling.”

Vos posited that the reason the British public in particular might be more receptive to women’s cycling was the fact that the men’s and women’s sport developed side-by-side here whereas in the more traditional cycling countries – Holland, France, Spain, Italy – the men’s side developed earlier.

And it is true that with Armitstead, Vicky Pendleton, Nicole Cooke, Emma Pooley, Laura Trott (who completed the race despite laryngitis and then a crash on Friday), Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and the rest, we have, or have had, as many household names on the women’s side as the men’s.

Other, promising riders are coming through; Lucy Garner, for instance, the 19-year-old who took seventh place overall for the British national team entry, just ahead of the 21-year-old Hannah Barnes (UnitedHealthcare).

“After the London Olympics where Britain smashed it on the track – and, of course, with Lizzie Armitstead on the road – I get the feeling that Britain is one of the leading cycling countries now,” Vos said. “And it’s getting bigger – Wiggins, Cavendish, they paved the roads and now it’s good that organisations [such as the Women’s Tour] pick it up. The British public have cycling in their hearts.”

The small army of volunteers acting as meet and greet staff or Tour Makers during the cycling event admitted they were surprised to be told to mind their language.

An online training tutorial prepared for the Tour Makers informs them that they should avoid calling visitors ‘love’.

And it’s not just that traditional Tyke term of endearment that’s off limits; they are also told to steer clear of addressing people as ‘mate’ and ‘darling’.

The tutorial says: “Be confident and naturally friendly.”

“Avoid using words such as ‘mate’, ‘love’ or ‘darling’ – they may sound friendly to you, but they could offend some people.”

“It’s what make us people in Yorkshire special. We are known throughout the world for that expression because it shows how friendly we are.

“It could never be mistaken for an insult. I have never had any problem with it and I have used it all over the globe.”

One volunteer, who asked not to be named, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I must admit I was a bit surprised when I read the advice.

“I can see why it makes sense but it’s going to need a lot of concentration for every single one of us to stop calling people ‘love’.”

Asked about the advice, a spokesman for the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism agency said: “Yorkshire is quite rightly well known for its famous warm welcome and that won’t change.

“However, we don’t want volunteers to use language that may cause confusion for our overseas visitors!”

Almost 12,000 Tour Makers will be on hand to assist fans during the opening three stages of the high-profile race.

The Tour Makers will be responsible for giving advice and directions to spectators as well as manning transport hubs and road crossings, in similar fashion to the Games Makers who played an important part in the huge success of the London 2012 Olympics.

Proud Yorkshireman and Labour politician Lord Hattersley, still fiercely loyal to his native Sheffield, said: “The old steelworkers always called each other ‘luv’ and it did not seem to be a problem.  “It is all part of our heritage, a part of our culture.

“I still call people ‘luv’ when I am back in Sheffield and watching Wednesday play another certain victory.

“I will be discussing the finer points of the match and say ‘What do you think of that, luv?’ The expression is Yorkshire through and though.

“It is who we are. The only thing the French need to know about the word ‘luv’ is how to spell it.”

The people of Yorkshire also voiced their annoyance at the ruling.

Roy Stockdill, said: “What a load of old toffee and twaddle! Is there nowhere these days that the tyranny of lunatic political correctness doesn't raise its ugly head?

"Good job the Tour de France isn't going through Newcastle because I believe Geordies call everybody "pet".  I imagine that the Tour goes through many towns and regions in France where they have their own colourful local phraseology, probably not all of them terms of endearment. I wonder if they are banned from using them when Le Tour is passing through.  Honestly, what is the world coming to?”

Brian Forbes said: “To ask volunteers to be "naturally friendly" and then advise them to not use terms which reflect natural friendliness seems like a contradiction.

"I thought embracing the local culture was part of the tour experience and one which foreign visitors would expect. Certainly the (professional) PR for the Tour reflects this. To attempt to sanitize communication between locals and visitors smacks of the organisers paying for professional advice and the advisers looking for something to say! The negative effect on natural friendliness outweighs the risk of any perceived offence and this silly instruction should be ignored."

 
 

Tour of Turkey and Tour of Romandie: Cavendish’s run of wins ended and Froome Moves Up

 
Updated 2nd May
2014
 

Elia Viviani ended Mark Cavendish’s domination of the sprint stages at the Tour of Turkey yesterday as he pipped the Manxman to the line in the fifth stage in Turgutreis.

Cavendish had racked up three wins in the first four days and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team appeared to have him in position for another, but Cannondale’s Viviani timed his run perfectly as the Italian raced away to beat Cavendish by two bike lengths.

 

In the Tour of Romandie, Chris Froome moved up to eighth, 19 seconds behind the new leader Michael Albasini of Switzerland in a rain-hit second stage from Sion to Montreux.

Albasini edged out Tony Hurel of France and third-placed Italian Giacomo Nizzolo in a sprint finish to follow up victory in the first stage and leads Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski by five seconds in the overall standings after picking a 10-second time bonus.

“Winning two stages in a row is just fantastic. It’s been a really good day for us,” Albasini said.

Froome won the Tour last year, his success acting as a springboard for victory in the Tour de France later in the summer. His preparations this time have been hit by illness and injury but the 28-year-old Team Sky rider will expect to challenge during today’s mountain stage, a 180km (112 miles) ride from Le Bouveret to Aigle.

  

 

 

 

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.

 

 
 

Prognosis for Yorkshire Grand Depart is Good­: Tour de France: Yorkshire prepares for Invasion 

 
Updated 24th
 April 2014


The Guardian reports that with only two months to go until the world's greatest cycle race starts in the Dales, there is a growing sense that the event could prove to be a 'game changer' for the county.

 

It has to be among the most unlikely things for a Parisian to say. “Yorkshire” according to Christian Prudhomme, "is very sexy. It's cool." Tell that to Geoffrey Boycott. But according to Gary Verity, the man who persuaded the director of the Tour to bring it to God's own county (isn’t that Northamptonshire!!), that was Prudhomme's parting shot when the two men shook hands at the end of his decision-making visit.

 

London had the Olympics, Glasgow will have the Commonwealth Games, but Yorkshire has the grand départ of the 2014 Tour. With a little over two months to go, the county is already turning yellow in honour of the colour of the race leader's jersey.

 

The Royal Horticultural Society is encouraging gardeners along the route to start planting their gardens with yellow-flowering plants in time for a mass display during the race. Some 20,000 people applied to be "tour makers" – volunteers with a role similar to the "games makers" at the London Olympics. Around 12,000 are being trained.

 

It the three-week endurance race's first visit to England since 2007. The size of the tour and its caravan of riders, support staff, sponsors, media and drivers means that more than 4,000 people will descend on Yorkshire for 5-6 July when the first part of the Tour, stages one and two, starts in Leeds and ends in Sheffield via Harrogate. Stage three starts in Cambridge, passes through Essex and finishes in London on the Mall.

 

Local artists are dabbing at canvas and carving wood with cycling themes and farmers are deciding where they will keep their sheep when they turn their fields into campsites for the expected hordes of spectators.

 

From Ilkley's moors to Harrogate's elegant crescents and Sheffield's modern high rises, millions of TV viewers across the world will see the scenery of Yorkshire as backdrop to the race and much of the county is determined to make the most of it. There is even an official anthem, The Road, featuring Alistair Griffin, Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, to be released in June.

 

Verity is beside himself with anticipation. "This is a huge confidence boost to Yorkshire and we needed a game changer. You can't put a price on what this will do for Yorkshire, not just the glamour of the race and the exposure of our great cities and countryside, but the events around it and the effect they will have in bringing communities together."

 

Steve Jarmuz of Ilkley Cycles, which is stocked with carbon-framed bikes with secondhand car-style price tags, can feel the enthusiasm on the roads. " Cycling is definitely having a moment, even before the tour was announced," he said. "The fact that it's coming here seems impossible, just the sheer scale of it. It's a growing sport round here, must be something in the water."

 

Adam Evans, co-owner of the shop and its attached cafe, says he signed the lease on the property two days before it was revealed that the route would go past the front door. "Lucky? Yes, not bad is it? I'm just thinking of how we can get a viewing stand outside.

 

"We've a lot of top riders from Yorkshire. Team Sky's Josh Edmondson stopped and came in this morning on a training run."

 

The county has often produced world class cyclists – the first Briton to complete the Tour de France was Yorkshireman Brian Robinson, Barry Hoban won eight stages of the Tour de France between 1967 and 1975, a record only beaten by Mark Cavendish, and the 2012 Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead is from Otley, not far from Ilkley.

 

Ilkley is a bike town. The local cycling club, ICC, is one of the biggest in the country, with 1,200 members, and it seems appropriate that it will have the tour barrelling through it. The lampposts are already decorated with flags advertising the fact.

 

At Ilkley's Pack Horse Bridge, 60 or 70 bikes are arriving for the weekly meeting of the cycling club. Dan Hill, a ride leader, says they will be inviting other clubs to stay in Ilkley for the tour. "It's amazing that after watching the tour for 25 years on telly, it's coming here."

 

"It's the scenery," said Laura Hargreaves, 39, a new addition to the ICC whose six-year-old daughter is the group's youngest member. "It's very inclusive too, not at all snooty, and there's no pressure."

 

The club's women's officer is Liz Barrett, 58, who is pleased not to be travelling to France this year. "We go to watch the Tour every year and it's such a pleasure that this year it's right on our doorstep. It's going to be party central!"

Barrett is proud the club boasts 40% women. "We're hardcore," she laughs. "This is not a sport where we're left out; we're not women who make the sandwiches, we're women who race.

 

"We get women coming along, they've never cycled, they're on their son's mountain bike and you have to show them how to work the gears, and before you know it they're buying themselves bikes."

 

Is it just as popular in winter? "We still get 40 or 50 on Thursday nights. It can be a bit grim," admits Mike Cooper, 60.

 

After the club members have split into their different routes and headed off in three packs, there is a taste of what the Tour may look like in these sedate streets as another fast-moving swarm of cyclists suddenly appears on the road and there is just time to recognise 2012 Olympic triathlon bronze medallist Jonny Brownlee flit past before they vanish in a flash of Lycra and super-thin tyres.

 

Ahead of a summer like no other, the streets of Yorkshire are being reclaimed by the bike.


 

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.

 



Tour of the Basque Country 2014, Stage 2: Tony Martin Powers to Victory as Alberto Contador Retains Lead 

 
Updated 9th April 2014


Tony Martin produced a textbook ride on Tuesday at the Tour of the Basque Country as he time trialled his way to victory in the 155.8 km second stage from Ordizia to Dantxarinea.  The OPQS rider made the decisive move with around 12km to go when the four-time world time trial champion rode team-mate Jan Bakelants and Movistar's Gorka Izagirre off his wheel after the trio had, 5km earlier, dropped four other riders in the breakaway group.

Martin completed the stage in three hours 46 minutes 17 seconds, with Team Sky's Ben Swift winning the bunch sprint ahead of Michał Kwiatkowski (OPQS) to take second place 30sec behind the powerful German.  The stage win was for Martin's first victory of the season.  Following a disappointing early season, Martin said afterwards that his win will provide a much-needed boost for the season ahead.

"Finally the first victory," Martin said. "To win such a hard stage in the Tour of the Basque Country has given me a much-needed morale boost."

Alberto Contador, who won Monday's opening stage, retained his overall lead and will wear the leader's jersey for a second day when the six-day race resumes on Wednesday with the 194.5km third stage from Urdazubi to Gasteiz. 


 

Tour of Britain Climbs in Abergavenny (Misses Out On Scotland)                   

 
Updated 6th April 2014


Former professional cyclist Julian Winn has welcomed Tour of Britain organisers' decision to include a climb of The Tumble above Abergavenny in the 2014 race.

Riders will face the daunting six-kilometre climb at the end of stage three on Tuesday, 9 September.

Abergavenny resident Winn was King of the Mountain in the 2005 Tour and said cyclists will know what to expect.

"It's pretty well-known in cycling and it's pretty brutal," Winn said.

"In the race I guess it's going to be taking 12-15 minutes and you've got to be ready for it."

The Tumble rises 432 metres over its six kilometre distance and will mark the end of the race's in Wales, with stage two ending on the seafront at Llandudno the day before.

"We've got two stages in Wales which is great for us," added Winn.

"I think [the organisers] just vary the terrain really and it's great that they're including the Tumble - it's a classic climb in Wales.

"It's well used by our high-profile riders like Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe - it's an iconic climb which is firmly on the map."

And Winn believes Team Sky rider Thomas - a double Olympic track gold medallist - has the ability to become the first Welsh rider to win the event, if it fits in with the team's schedule.

"His career appears to be developing in the right direction at the right speed," added Winn.

"He's got the makings to win it, for sure."

The Tour of Britain 2014

Stage One: Sunday 7 September, Liverpool

Stage Two: Monday 8 September, Knowsley to Llandudno

Stage Three: Tuesday 9 September, Newtown to the Tumble

Stage Four: Wednesday 10 September, Worcester to Bristol

Stage Five: Thursday 11 September, Exmouth to Exeter

Stage Six: Friday 12 September, Bath to Hemel Hempstead

Stage Seven: Saturday 13 September, Camberley to Brighton

Stage Eight a: Sunday 14 September, London individual time trial

Stage Eight b: Sunday 14 September, London circuit race 


Guide To The One Day Spring Classics - The Toughest One Day Races           

 
Updated 5th April 2014

 

Yorkshire Gets Chuffin' for Tour de Chuffin' Yorkshire From 2015

 
Updated 4th April 2014


Yorkshire will stage a three-day race from 2015.

The Tour's organisers - ASO, Welcome to Yorkshire and British Cycling - will jointly stage the international race in May for at least the next three years.

Gary Verity, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "I am so chuffin' pleased, this new race will rank as a major new addition to the global cycling calendar.

"It will be three days of cycling right the way across the county."

The race is expected to include a stage through the North York Moors to Scarborough, and will start with a split stage - a time trial and short road stage.

There is no plan to stage a women's version of the race in the initial three-year deal, but it is hoped it can be added later, along with an event for amateurs.

British Cycling director of cycle sport Jonny Clay said: "This is chuffin' good news for cycling fans across the country but particularly in Yorkshire, where interest in the sport has rocketed thanks to the Grand Depart.

(Picture was not taken in Yorkshire)

"Principal among our criteria for approval is the long-term viability of an event - we want races which will return to inspire people year after year - and how effective it will be in getting more people and investment into grassroots cycling. Ee By-ek"

The race was announced as Yorkshire marked 100 days to go before the start of the Tour de France.

Leeds hosts the Grand Depart on 5 July, with the first stage finishing in Harrogate. Stage two of the 101st Tour starts in York and ends in Sheffield.

The third stage starts in Cambridge and takes in a complete a circuit of the Olympic Park in London before finishing on the Mall in the capital.

The race last visited the UK in 2007, when London and Kent hosted the prologue and opening stage.



Tour of Flanders: Sir Bradley steps in for Ian Stannard 

Former Tour de France winner to return to Tour of Flanders for first time since 2005 after Ian Stannard is forced out with Broken Back 

 
Updated 4th April 2014


Wiggins has been called up to the Team Sky squad for this weekend's Tour of Flanders, the second monument of the cycling season.

 

After a good start to their classics season Team Sky were dealt a blow last Sunday when Ian Stannard crashed into a ditch during the Ghent-Wevelgem semi-classic in Belgium.

 

Classics specialist Stannard got his season in northern Europe off to a great start last month when he won Omloop Het Nieuswblad, however the rider now misses the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, two races in which he will have hoped to make an impression, after it was confirmed he had fractured a vertebra in the fall.  (Picture is not of Ian Stannard)

 

The addition of Wiggins to the Tour of Flanders team will come as a surprise for many – despite saying that Paris-Roubaix was one of his targets for the season – due to the increased risk of injury in the countdown to the Tour de France.

However, with Chris Sutton also suffering a nasty fall at Ghent-Wevelgem Team Sky have called upon Wiggins to support Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen, their designated riders in the cobbled classic.

 


The eight-man team will be completed by Bernhard Eisel, Christian Knees, Gabriel Rasch, Salvatore Puccio and Luke Rowe.

 

Sacha Modolo won stage two of the Three Days of De Panne on Wednesday after the Lampre-Merida won an exciting sprint finish at the end of the 206-kilometre run from Zotegem to Koksijde. Arnaud Démare of FDJ finished second with Katusha's Alexander Kristoff rolling acroos the line in third spot.

 

Peter Sagan, who led the four-stage race overnight, withdrew midway through the stage thus alllowing Omega Pharma-Quick-Step's Gert Steegmans to take the lead in the general classification. Sagan, who won the first stage, will now turn his focus to Flanders where the Cannondale rider will be one of the favourites.

 

The four-stage race concludes on Thursday afternoon with a 14.3km individual time trial following a short, 109.7km, road stage in the morning.

 

Meanwhile, Vuelta a España organisers announced their wildcard invites for this year's race. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Cofidis, Solutions Crédits, and IAM Cycling will all make the start line in Jerez de la Frontera on August 23 alongside grand tour debutants MTN-Qhubeka.


 

10 Laps Of Liverpool To Start Off TofB 

 
Updated 31st March 2014


Liverpool will host the opening stage of the Tour of Britain this September, organisers have announced ahead of Monday night's official launch of the 2014 race route.

It will be the first time that Liverpool has hosted the opening stage of the race, although the city has featured on the route before, holding stage finishes in 2006 and 2008, and a mid-race stage start in 2007.

The 130km stage will consist of 10 laps of a 13-kilometre circuit, beginning and ending on The Strand.


This year's race is of particular significance as it will be the first since the eight-day event gained hors catégorie status in the UCI's event ranking system, the highest category behind the three grand tours - the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

Organisers SweetSpot, who also run the Women's Tour which takes place in May, will reveal the rest of the route on Monday evening.

Liverpool's Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for sport, Councillor Wendy Simon, said in a statement: "This is a huge coup for the city. It's wonderful news that this world famous sporting event will begin in Liverpool.


"This race attracts some of the best riders from across the globe with previous races featuring elite cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome.

"There's a real momentum building for cycling in this city. The latest figures show more people than ever are using bikes here and there's a real appetite for it at the moment. And with the launch of our cycle hire scheme - the biggest in the UK outside of London - there has never been a better time for Liverpool to host this high profile event."

The 2014 Tour of Britain runs from September 7-14. Last year's race was won by Sir Bradley Wiggins, although his participation this time around is uncertain with the 2012 Tour de France winner having declared an interest in riding in the Vuelta as preparation for a tilt at the world time trial title. 

ore realistic Plan B, there will be a renovation of the existing track. The Vigorelli will be used not just for cycling but for boxing, and the gridiron footballers of the Milan Rhinos will be invited to stay, having played a part in keeping the place at least partially open. Other sports may eventually join them.

Those who visit this weekend will also see a plaque commemorating the Beatles' concert in the summer of 1965, the first date of the group's final European tour. The open days are sponsored by Italy's equivalent of English Heritage, an acknowledgement of the velodrome's value. They will also feature an exhibition of historic racing bikes, including the one on which Coppi set his record more than 70 years ago.

 




Wiggins Archer Relief

 
Updated 22nd March 2014


With an almost endless parade of sporting greats, celebrities and TV and radio presenters - not to mention thousands of quietly heroic members of the public - doing their bit for Sport Relief this week, it would have seemed a bit strange if the people of Ambridge had just ignored the whole thing and busied themselves with milking goats.

Listeners needn't have feared on this front, however, as the show's producers had lined up a guest appearance by none other than Sir Bradley Wiggins for Friday's show; and dreamt up an obstacle course-style event - the catchily-titled 'Ambridge Sport Relief Rough and Tumble Challenge' - for him to preside over.

Wiggo appeared at the event, as he generally does in real life, on the back of a big cheer from the crowd, leaving a flustered Fallon (Joanna Van Kampen) - who was hosting - to mumble "Welcome to Ambridge, Sir..."

"Bradley'll do," he replied matter-of-factly, setting out his stall as a knight with a lower-case k. This left Fallon a little floundered. Would he like something to eat and drink? Or a folding chair?

"I've been sat in a car for a few hours, honestly, I'm happy having a look around," he said, delivering these immortal lines like every inch the Tour de France and Olympic gold medal winner that he is -- which is to say, very flatly. It was oddly touching to hear Wiggins's lack of acting ability here; giving as it does further proof that he is a man of unostentatious integrity.

This being The Archers, though, it wasn't all standing around and politely refusing chairs. Over on the finishing line of the Rough and Tumble circuit, smooth talking agri-businessman Rob (Timothy Watson) and down-to-earth chef Ian (Stephen Kennedy) were trading insults. They'd been bickering all day, and Ian's last-gasp victory over Rob had brought things to a head. It's worth reprinting the decisive exchange in full:

Rob (panting): I slowed down to take another look at the Lodge: after all, I will be moving in one day.

Ian (angrily): Peggy's leaving that to Helen.

Rob (smugly): Helen and I are one and the same; besides, I always feel a man's the real head of a household.

Ian (more angrily still): Yeah, well how does this feel?

Ian then punched Rob with a satisfyingly audible thwack, there was a momentary scuffle, and a flat voice said "Stand back fella."

It was Sir Bradley Wiggins, with mud on his suit and his Archers credentials fully in tact. 


 


Sergio Henao drops out of race schedule after out-of-competition control tests

 
Updated 19th March 2014


Sergio Henao has been removed from Team Sky’s race schedule for at least eight weeks pending an “altitude research programme” after questions were raised by the team’s internal out-of-competition control tests.  Henao, who is currently training in Europe, will return to Colombia to undergo what Team Sky said would be independently-commissioned research designed to make sense of the readings.

Team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said the team’s understanding was limited by a lack of scientific research into “altitude natives” such as Henao who were born and raised in the mountains.  Team Sky stressed that Henao had not been found guilty of any doping offence, adding that they were being proactive in bringing their internal findings to the attention of the relevant authorities, cycling’s governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation.

Brailsford, said: "We have strong monitoring and compliance processes in this team, with the full cooperation of riders and coaches.   “In our latest monthly review, our experts had questions about Sergio’s out-of-competition control tests at altitude - tests introduced this winter by the anti-doping authorities. We need to understand these readings better. “We contacted the relevant authorities - the UCI and CADF – pointed to these readings and asked whether they could give us any insights. We've also taken Sergio out of our race programme whilst we get a better understanding of these profiles and his physiology.

“We want to do the right thing and we want to be fair. It’s important not to jump to conclusions.”

Henao, 26, whose cousin Sebastian also rides for Team Sky, was born at altitude in Rionegro, Colombia, and lives and trains in the region outside the race season. The team said he returned there in October and had Wada-accredited out-of-competition tests in this period.

“Sergio was raised in the mountains, goes back in winter and lives and trains at different levels,” Brailsford said. “We’ve looked as far as we can at the effects of this, but our own understanding is limited by a lack of scientific research into ‘altitude natives’ such as Sergio.

“We are commissioning independent scientific research to better understand the effects of prolonged periods at altitude after returning from sea level, specifically on altitude natives.

“The independent experts are looking to use Wada-accredited laboratories and Team Sky will make the data and findings available to Wada, the UCI and CADF.

“Sergio will help with this programme and we expect him to be out of the race schedule for at least eight weeks. Once we have completed our assessment, we’ll decide on the right steps and give a full update.” Cavendish took advantage of a crash to easily win the sixth and penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race on Monday, as Contador maintained his overall lead.  When several riders went down with little more than a kilometre to go, the pack split and Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step train was virtually alone in front.




John Degenkolb in Paris-Nice sprints to victory and into the overall leader's yellow jersey

 
Updated 12th March 2014


John Degenkolb of the Giant-Shimano team won a sprint finish at the third stage of Paris-Nice at Magny-Cours on Tuesday and took the overall race lead at the same time.

Degenkolb powered home on the 180km stage from Tourcy ahead of Matthew Goss of Orica-GreenEdge and Movistar's José Joaquín Rojas.

Time bonuses allowed Degenkolb to snare the leader's jersey from FDJ's Nacer Bouhanni, the winner of the opening stage who could finish only seventh on Tuesday.

The Frenchman now trails Degenkolb, who finished second on the opening two stages, by eight seconds with Dutchman Moreno Hofland, the second stage winner, third overall at 12sec.

Three Frenchman made it into the day's breakaway in the 'Race to the Sun' but the peloton never allowed Romain Feillu, Julien Fouchard and Perrig Quemeneur more than three minutes' advantage.

Quemeneur dropped his two companions with 11km left and entered the Magny-Cours Formula One circuit 4.5km from home with a 30-second lead.

But the peloton was not to be denied on the sweeping curves of the racing track and gobbled him up with 2km left, after which it was up to the sprinters.

Paris-Nice details

Stage three; Toucy - Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, 180km: 1. John Degenkolb (Ger - Giant-Shimano) four hours 27 minutes 26 seconds, 2. Matt Goss (Aus - Orica-GreenEdge) at same time, 3. José Joaquín Rojas (Spa - Movistar) s.t., 4. Borut Bozic (Slo - Astana) s.t., 5. Tom Boonen (Bel - Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s.t., 6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor - Katusha) s.t., 7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra - FDJ) s.t., 8. Thor Hushovd (Nor - BMC Racing) s.t., 9. Gert Steegmans (Bel - Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s.t., 10. Moreno Hofland (Hol - Belkin) s.t.

General classification: 1. John Degenkolb (Ger - Giant-Shimano) 13hr 14min 1sec, 2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra - FDJ) 8sec, 3. Moreno Hofland (Hol - Belkin) 12sec, 4. José Joaquín Rojas (Spa - Movistar) 18sec, 5. Geraint Thomas (GB - Team Sky) 21sec, 6. Bryan Coquard (Fra - Europcar) 22sec, 7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor - Katusha) s.t., 8. Nikolay Trusov (Rus - Tinkoff-Saxo) s.t., 9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra - Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t., 10. Marco Marcato (Ita - Cannondale) s.t. 



Chris Froome withdrawn from Tirreno-Adriatico due to joint inflammation in the lower back, prompting a reshuffle in the British team’s plans for this month. 
 
Updated 7th March 2014


Froome, who finished second behind Vincenzo Nibali in the race last year – the only race on his pre-Tour de France programme that he did not win – was due to lead the team while Richie Porte led Sky at Paris-Nice.

However, the Kenyan-born Brit will now be replaced as leader at Tirreno-Adriatico by Porte, supported by Sir Bradley Wiggins, with Geraint Thomas stepping up to lead the team at Paris-Nice in the Australian’s place.

Sky insist Froome’s withdrawal is purely precautionary however, with performance director Rod Ellingworth telling the team website: “This is just a minor setback for Chris and we hope he will get back to full training within a week.

“He’s obviously disappointed to miss Tirreno-Adriatico but we shouldn’t take any chances at this stage of the season.” 

 


Commonwealth Games Routes
 
Updated 11th February 2014


The excitement of the Games will reach audiences in towns and villages around Glasgow as riders battle against the clock during the time-trial event on Thursday 31 July, while Glasgow itself becomes the race track on Sunday 3 August with the fastest riders chasing each other through the city’s streets for the action packed road race.

 

Last year, Glasgow played host to the British Cycling National Road and Time-Trial Championships as Mark Cavendish and Liz Armistead were crowned men’s and women’s road champions respectively.

 

The time-trial will see top Commonwealth cyclists take on a challenging route (40km for men, 30km for women) that will start and finish at Glasgow Green with a single loop course taking in the great countryside of East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire as well as the city’s East End.

 

The road race course, also starting in Glasgow Green, features a 14-kilometre circuit taking riders along Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and St Vincent Street before carrying on to the west end of the city where they will pass through Kelvingrove Park and circuit the west end before heading back towards the city centre and the finish.

 

For the men’s race, competitors will complete 168 kilometres and lap the course 12 times. Female riders will complete seven laps and 98 kilometres.

Spectators won’t require a ticket to watch either of the events as both are free to view.

The courses have been developed in collaboration with a range of sport, city and tourism stakeholders to ensure that the sport technical requirements are achieved while balancing this unique opportunity to showcase the city and its surroundings to the world.

 

It has also received endorsement from the UCI and will receive final certification closer to Games time.

 

David Grevemberg, Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive, said: “Cycling is among the fastest and most thrilling events at Glasgow 2014 with the road race and time-trial offering fans the chance to experience the excitement of the sport up close.


“Road race riders will take in some of the best sites in Glasgow, as well as some challenging climbs, while those undertaking the time-trial will hit the open roads and head out of the city in a challenging race to the finish."




Cyclists to Benefit from Tougher Safety Requirements for HGV's
 
Updated 5th February 2014

 
Lorries without safety equipment to protect cyclists and pedestrians are to be banned from travelling through London, it has been announced.

Transport for London and local authorities have joined forces to agree a new traffic regulation which will come into force by the end of the year. The proposed ban will require every vehicle over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under wheels, as well as mirrors to improve a driver's view of cyclists and pedestrians.

It will be enforced by CCTV cameras and on-street checks.

The mayor, Boris Johnson, said a hefty charge would be levied against those not complying with the new regulation.

London's transport commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, said: "London has long led the way in working with the freight industry to drive up standards, especially in terms of greater road safety, better driver training and reduced vehicle emissions.

"TfL will work with the London boroughs to deliver this proposed Safer Lorry Scheme and further demonstrate our commitment to safer roads for all."

Heavy goods vehicles have been involved in a number of fatal accidents with cyclists in recent years in London. There were 14 cyclist deaths in London last year, nine involving HGVs.

 


Outcome Without the Doping?

Updated 4th February 2014

The former cycling champion Lance Armstrong, disgraced by revelations of doping during his seven consecutive victories, appears in Alex Gibney’s revealing documentary The Armstrong Lie as a man who has spent his life immersed in battles, not all of them righteous.

 

Armstrong fought his way back from testicular cancer to win the Tour for the first time in 1999. While he became both a celebrity and a multi-millionaire, he also helped raise more than $300 million for cancer sufferers through his Livestrong Foundation, and offered an inspiring vision to those grappling with the disease.

 

Gibney began to make the film as testament to his comeback but suspended the project as doping allegations came to a head, and then later revisited it as the anatomy of a scandal.

 

This film explores what made the complicated Armstrong tick, as his resolute determination to win at cycling became intertwined with an equal drive to use any available illicit advantages and not get caught. As time went on, he became ever more ruthlessly ferocious in defence of the lie, intimidating and damaging the careers of any cyclist or journalist who came close to exposing him.

 

Yet Armstrong, too, was partly trapped in a situation not of his making. In the late Nineties, undetected doping was so rife in cycling that it may well have been impossible for anyone to win as he did without using performance enhancers, when pitched against others who were.

 

Finding himself in an unlevel playing field, he became master of it. What might this formidable, flawed character have achieved in a straight contest? It is his tragedy, and ours, that we will never know. 


Study found mortality rate among riders in gruelling bicycle race was 41% lower than average for other French men.



Tour Down Under Done


Updated 29th January 2014

Australia's Cadel Evans said he was aiming for a podium finish at this year’s Giro d’Italia after losing out to Simon Gerrans by one second in the season-opening Tour Down Under.

Evans, 36, is missing the Tour de France for the first time in 10 years to concentrate on the Giro. And the Australian was clearly inspired by his form and the reception he received from the huge crowds, estimated at over 750,000 for the week.

“The racing was fantastic and the fans really make this race,” said the BMC rider who hinted the might retire after next year’s Tour Down Under. “If Adelaide will have me back it would be so cool for this to be my last racing appearance.”

Asked about his prospects at this year’s Giro, Evans added: “I don’t think the podium is too unrealistic.”

The 2011 Tour de France winner will be up against Team Sky’s Richie Porte in the Giro, with the Tasmanian also targeting the three-week race which begins in Belfast on May 9.

Porte had to be content with fourth place in the Tour Down Under but his brilliant victory on Willunga Hill on Saturday gave him encouragement.

“I’m happy with where I am,” Porte said. “I haven’t really started training properly and to come away with fourth position and a stage win is more than I’d have thought possible six weeks ago.”

Orica-GreenEdge rider Gerrans claimed a record third victory in the six-day Tour Down Under, having also won in 2006 and 2012. “This is an Australian team, on Australia Day, in a WorldTour event. What else could I ask for?” he said.

Germany’s André Greipel won Sunday's final stage while Team Sky’s British rider Geraint Thomas finished eighth overall.

Tour Down Under details

Stage six; Adelaide, 85.5km: 1. André Greipel(Ger - Lotto-Belisol) one hour 55 minutes 16 seconds, 2. Mark Renshaw (Aus - Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) at same time, 3.Andy Fenn (GB - Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) s.t., 4.Koen De Kort (Hol - Giant-Shimano) s.t., 5. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus - Drapac) s.t., 6. Matt Goss (Aus - Orica-GreenEdge) s.t.,7. Nathan Haas (Aus - Garmin-Sharp) s.t., 8. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel - Lotto-Belisol) s.t., 9. Michal Kolar (Svk - Tinkoff-Saxo) s.t., 10. Mathew Hayman (Aus - Orica-GreenEdge) s.t.

Selected others: 25. Luke Rowe (GB Team Sky) s.t., 75. Ian Stannard (GB - Team Sky) 10sec.

Final general classification: 1. Simon Gerrans (Aus - Orica-GreenEdge 19hr 57min 35sec, 2. Cadel Evans (Aus - BMC Racing) 1sec, 3. Diego Ulissi (Ita - Lampre-Merida) 5sec, 4. Richie Porte (Aus - Team Sky) 10sec, 5. Nathan Haas (Aus - Garmin-Sharp) 27sec, 6. Robert Gesink (Hol - Belkin) 30sec, 7. Daryl Impey (SA - Orica-GreenEdge) 34sec, 8. Geraint Thomas (GB - Team Sky) 37sec, 9. Adam Hansen (Aus - Lotto-Belisol) s.t., 10. Egor Silin (Rus - Katusha) 47sec.

 

Gerrans Looking Strong For Tour Down Under


Updated 25th January 2014

Orica GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans is on the verge of making Tour Down Under history after beating fellow Australian cycling star Cadel Evans in an exciting duel on Saturday.  Gerrans finished third in the decisive fifth stage at Willunga south of Adelaide to take the lead from Evans by just one second.

Evans (BMC) lost his seven-second overall lead when Gerrans and Italian Diego Ulissi attacked him in the last few hundred metres of the 151km stage.

Gerrans' Orica-GreenEDGE team will now try to cap off a week of outstanding work by protecting his narrow advantage in Sunday's final stage, a street race through the Adelaide CBD.

Gerrans, the 2006 and 2012 champion, will be the first rider in the Tour's 15-year history to win three titles if he can keep his lead.  Richie Porte, the other big Australian rider in this race along with Gerrans and Evans, was masterful on the Old Willunga Hill climb and won the stage.

The Sky rider finished 10 seconds clear of Ulissi and Gerrans, while Evans was sixth at 14 seconds.  Ulissi (Lampre) lies third overall at five seconds and Porte jumped from 11th to fourth at 10 seconds.

"It's not only a huge thrill, it's a huge sigh of relief," Gerrans said.  "My whole team has put in such a huge effort to support me this week.  "I'm so thrilled to have the lead back going into the last stage."  Gerrans led after winning stage one, but lost it when Evans rode brilliantly to win stage three.

 "Not an ideal result today - beaten by better team. Compliments OGE (Orica-GreenEDGE)," Evans said on Twitter. As expected, the stage came down to the last of two 3.5km climbs up Old Willunga Hill Road to the summit finish.

Evans and his BMC team attacked at the foot of the climb, putting Gerrans into difficulty.  But Gerrans, who has a second place and a win at Willunga since the stage became a summit finish, used his local knowledge well.

He also had vital support from teammates Simon Clarke and Daryl Impey as they pegged back Evans' initial break. Porte jumped clear with 2km left and no one could go with him.  "I saw Cadel did a heck of a lot of work on the earlier slopes of the climb and I knew he'd pay for that in the final," Gerrans said.

"When Ulissi and I jumped for the line, we obviously put a pretty good gap into Cadel."  A one-second lead may not look like much, but Gerrans was equal on time with Spaniard Alejandro Valverde after Willunga two years ago when he won his second title.

Orica-GreenEDGE director Matt White is supremely confident they can successfully monitor Evans and Ulissi through the two intermediate sprints in Sunday's stage and then the finish.

The two sprints and the finish all feature crucial time bonuses.

"One second - four minutes. It doesn't matter," White said.



Ouch - Down Under!

Updated 24th January 2014


Chris Froome experienced one of the downsides to Team Sky's famous 'marginal gains' philosophy when he suffered severe sunburn following a training ride in South Africa in his new lightweight mesh skinsuit.

 

Michelle Cound, Froome's fiancee, posted a photo of the Tour de France champion's frazzled back on Wednesday night along with the words: "The danger with wearing mesh jerseys... #OUCH"


Froome raised eyebrows at the start of January when he posted a picture of himself wearing Team Sky's new ultra-revealing 2014 range by manufacturer Rapha. "Trying out my new 2014 @TeamSky @rapharacing kit" Froome wrote underneath a picture that leaves little to the imagination.

 

"This skin suit takes #marginalgains to the next level."  Team Sky declined to comment on Thursday but it is understood that the material on the suit is the same as that worn by Team Sky during last year's Tour de France and the issue was one of failing to apply the correct suncream.

 

Nevertheless, rival team manager Jonathan Vaughters of Garmin-Sharp joked that Team Sky's rivals had discovered Froome's Achilles heel.


"Aha! We've found his weakness," Vaughters tweeted. "Now on to manufacturing motorized ultra violet ray guns for the TdF"


 
 

Cycling London: Five Nightmare Junctions


Updated 20th January 2014

Video footage.

 

 

 
Blood Investigation
Updated 26th September 2013

The head of British Cycling and Team Sky also called for the truth to come out before people rushed to judgment on the future of last year’s Tour of Britain winner.

Tiernan-Locke’s position at the sport’s No1 team is at stake following revelations he was under investigation for a possible infringement.

He has been asked to explain data relating to his biological passport to cycling’s world governing body and failure to justify any irregularity would not only see the 28-year-old facing a lengthy ban but would cost him his job at a team which has a 'zero tolerance' policy to doping, whether past or present.

The International Cycling Union wrote to Tiernan-Locke last week requesting an explanation for blood values in tests conducted around a year ago, shortly before he joined Team Sky.

He was given three weeks to respond, with a three-man panel set to decide whether to refer the matter upwards for disciplinary action.

Tiernan-Locke, who withdrew from the Road World Championships in Florence after receiving the UCI letter, remained silent on Sunday night but support arrived on the same day in the shape of his former and current bosses.

Brailsford said it was "absolutely" possible there was an innocent explanation for any discrepancy, while the general manager of the team Tiernan-Locke rode for when the tests in question were conducted said he would "definitely vouch 100 per cent" for his former charge.

Brailsford told Sky News: "He hasn’t failed anything yet or there’s nothing where you would say absolutely categorically, ‘This is something which needs to be addressed’.

"It appears there’s an anomaly which needs to be looked at and explained. This isn’t the first time that this has occurred. We’ve got to allow them to carry on with the process, get both sides of their appropriate roles done, try to establish the truth – which is the important thing. Once we have the truth, we can all deal with that and go from there."

Brian Smith, who was Endura­Racing’s general manager, told Cyclingnews: "I can put my hand up though and say 100 per cent that I don’t think he was doping at Endura Racing. There was no suspicion, no nothing."

While at Endura, Tiernan-Locke was not part of a formal biological passport system – under which riders’ blood values are tracked over time to flag up any changes which may be the result of doping - with such testing is restricted to higher-ranked teams.

He enjoyed a spectacular season last year, during which he won the Tour of Britain, the Tour of the Mediterranean, the Tour du Haut Var and the Tour Alsace, prompting his move to Team Sky.

Before that, he had a chequered history of ill health, pulling out of the sport for two years due to chronic fatigue syndrome and glandular fever as a result of overtraining.

"I can only think it’s hormonal or a gland problem like he’s had in the past," said Smith, who claimed Tiernan-Locke was actually refused permission to join the UCI’s biological passport programme while at Endura.

"The training at Sky, I think, has pushed him over the edge. His body cannot take the same training as Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. It has run him down and then his hormones have gone into overdrive."

Tour de France winner Froome and Geraint Thomas, team-mates of Tiernan-Locke, both said they were "shocked" at Sunday’s revelation.

Brailsford is understood to be angry details of the UCI probe were leaked into the public domain, insisting "confidentiality" was important while any rider was under investigation.

Tiernan-Locke withdrew from Sunday’s road race in Florence last week without any explanation from the British team but the rider himself posted on Twitter: "Was sorry I had to withdraw from the worlds line-up, just don’t have the form to help the lads there."

With Team Sky keen to be seen as whiter than white, it is concerning one of their riders felt the need to give a misleading impression of the reasons behind his absence.

The team, which conducted a cull of former dope cheats following the Lance Armstrong scandal, focused on Sunday on making it clear the matter under investigation took place prior to Tiernan-Locke’s arrival there.

"We have no doubts over his performance, behaviour or tests at Team Sky and understand any anomaly is in readings taken before he joined the team," they said in a statement.

Newly elected UCI president Brian Cookson, who was British Cycling president until Friday, told the BBC: "I am concerned that it’s leaked because I don’t think this information should be in the public domain while someone is being questioned. That’s not the same at all as them being guilty."

 
 
 

Chavanel Revives French Time-Trialing with Victory in Sittard

Updated 15th August 2013

Chavanel, who started the day 24sec behind race leader Lars Boom, powered his way around the short course in 16min 4sec to close the gap on the Belkin rider to just 4sec with two stages of the WorldTour race remaining.

Wiggins had targeted the stage five 'race of truth' as his preparations for the world championships in Florence, Italy, ramped up following a disappointing season for the Team Sky rider.

With many predicting that the 2012 Tour de France winner would prevail in Holland, it came as little surprise when the Briton set an early fastest time of 16min 13sec. However, the Londoner's lead was short-lived after Jesse Sergent, RadioShack Leopard's Kiwi, knocked him off the top spot with faster ride.

Subsequent rides by Sebastian Langeveld, Tom Dumoulin and Chavanel saw the Briton fall to fifth.

Despite the obvious disappointment from Team Sky, Wiggins's directeur sportif Servais Knaven said that he remains on course for a tilt at the Road Race World Championships time trial next month.

“Of course we hoped for more but at the end of the day four guys were faster," said Knaven.

"Brad did a good time trial. The first part was quite technical but I think across the second half of the course he was the fastest of anyone.

“He is on the right path towards the Worlds. Step by step he will get better and there is more to come for sure.”

The Eneco Tour continues on Saturday with the 150km sixth stage from Riemst to La Redoute before concluding in Geraardsbergen on Sunday.

Eneco Tour details

Stage five: Sittard - Geleen; individual time trial, 13.2km: 1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra - Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 16min 4sec, 2. Tom Dumoulin (Hol - Argos-Shimano) 4sec, 3. Jesse Sergent (NZ - RadioShack Leopard) at same time, 4. Sebastian Langeveld (Hol - Orica-GreenEdge) 6sec, 5. Bradley Wiggins (GB - Team Sky) 9sec, 6. Taylor Phinney (US -BMC Racing) 11sec, 7. Vladimir Gusev (Rus - Katusha) 14sec, 8. Lieuwe Westra (Hol - Vacansoleil-DCM) 17sec, 9. Andriy Grivko (Ukr - Astana) 18sec, 10. Lars Boom (Hol - Belkin) 20sec.

General classification: 1. Lars Boom (Hol - Belkin) 16hrs 22min 39sec, 2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra - Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 4sec, 3. Tom Dumoulin (Hol - Argos-Shimano) 8sec, 4. Taylor Phinney (US - BMC Racing) s.t., 5. Sebastian Langeveld (Hol - Orica-GreenEdge) 10sec, 6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing) 18sec, 7. Andriy Grivko (Ukr - Astana) 23sec, 8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze - Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) 24sec, 9. Vladimir Gusev (Rus - Katusha) 25sec, 10. Ian Stannard (GB - Team Sky) 26sec.

 

Laura Trott supporting London Cycling

Updated 1st August 2013

Building on the huge upsurge in cycling in the capital, the Prudential RideLondon festival of cycling is Britain's biggest-ever celebration of life on two wheels, with events for everyone from the Olympic elite to beginners.

The weekend will feature a family FreeCycle, a Classic road race for professionals and the RideLondon-Surrey 100, a sportive-style race featuring thousands of amateur cyclists tackling a course very similar to last summer’s Olympic road race.

The cornerstone of the weekend is the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle on Saturday, August 3, 2013 a unique opportunity to experience the fun and freedom of riding through London on traffic-free streets.

More than 80,000 riders are expected to join a leisurely ride along an eight-mile route that takes in London’s most iconic sights from Tower Bridge to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

Double Olympic cycling champion Laura Trott said she got involved in the event straight after the 2012 Games, when London Mayor Boris Johnson approached her.

"I couldn't say no, could I? For me, it's so important to get as many people riding as possible and this is such a good way of doing it. I mean who wouldn't want to come out and ride around the landmarks of London?"

 
 

French Cycling in Decline?

Updated 22nd July 2013

The 100th edition of the Tour concluding in Paris is not been much of a celebration for the cycling French.  Imagine throwing a lavish party and watching your guests smash up your place before walking off with your birthday cake.  The country does not have a single rider anywhere near the top 10 of the overall standings. Two and half weeks passed before it registered a stage victory. Bernard Hinault is the last winner from 1985.

Still, it has been a relentlessly captivating, unfailingly picturesque race and France has been a gracious host.  For the most part, anyway. There remains an enduring perception – not historically watertight – that French riders are at a disadvantage because they compete free from drugs

The truth is that while cycling in Britain throbs with ideas and energy, the sport in France struggles to reverse a steady decline. Watching the Tour is regarded as the time-sucking preserve of the older generation.  The exuberant fans who line the slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees come from the UK, Holland and Norway, not from down the road. Cycling is belatedly becoming a truly global endeavour: French riders could soon be overtaken not just by Americans and the British but by the champions of China and Africa.

The 28 years since Hinault's victory is almost a half-century less than the British waited for a Wimbledon men's singles winner. Let's hope France unearths a champion before 2063 – no one should have to endure what British tennis fans have experienced.

 

 

 

Froome Holds the Respect of the Main TdF Contenders

Updated 16th July 2013

When the race resumes on Tuesday with maybe just one more calm (if bumpy) stage - the 168km 16th from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap - before the grand storm in the Alps over the following four days, Froome is naturally saying all the right things about the race not being far from over.

 

Yet there is a possibility that he is now so dominant in the mountains that he could actually to go on prevail in all four mountain top finishes, having won the first two in Ax 3 Domaines and Ventoux.

 

When asked about the possibility of a “grand slam” of wins to mark the 100th edition, with the unique double ascent of Alpe d’Huez on Thursday and the final decisive climb in the penultimate stage at Annecy Semnoz on Saturday, Froome sounded as if the attack mode may have been jettisoned.

 

He reckoned winning on Ventoux in yellow felt fantastic, “like a sprinter winning on the Champs Elysees”, but Sky will now be only really interested in trying to protect what they hold, a 4min 14sec lead over the field, a gap which actually could be considerably wider anyway following tomorrow’s time trial.

 

“I’m not going to say I’m going to target those mountain top finishes,” Froome said. “There are a lot of very eager racers in the peloton left with a lot to prove and a lot of winning to do. For us, it’s about ­riding in the best way we can to best defend that jersey. I wouldn’t say we’re on a mission to win every mountain top finish.”

 

His nearest pursuer, Dutchman Bauke Mollema, said: “After Friday’s stage [where Froome lost a minute overall in the crosswinds] I thought I could go for the yellow jersey, but that dream was over after Mont Ventoux,” he said. “Froome is by far the strongest climber and rider.”

 

Alberto Contador simply conceded: “I came to this Tour to win, but Chris Froome is too strong, superior to everyone else in the mountains.”

Last Stages of Tour Nearly Double Climbing Compared to 2012

Updated 12th July 2013

The Guardian assesses whether the final week of the Tour is the toughest ever.  The concentration of mountain stages in the final seven days before the ceremonial run-in to the Champs Elysées makes the mind boggle. The pain begins on Sunday with Mont Ventoux, then continues from Wednesday to Saturday, with a tough, short time trial including two second-category climbs, the double ascent of l'Alpe d'Huez on Thursday, two more super-category climbs on Friday, and finally the brutal, steep ascent of Annecy‑Semnoz.

The spate of mountain stages has been inspired by the spirit of the late Laurent Fignon, a double winner of the race in the 1980s who succumbed to cancer in 2010.  Fignon criticised the Tour organisers back in the 1990s for diluting the mountains, and told the current Tour organiser, Christian Prudhomme, that in his view the key to achieving a "decision" in the final week was to have three mountain stages back to back.  Prudhomme admitted that he had Fignon in mind when putting together the multiple mountain stages that are set to push the riders' bodies and minds to the limit before the end of the 100th Tour.

The American Jim Ochowicz, head of Cadel Evans's BMC team, with 26 Tours behind him, believes this year's final week is "in the top three or four hardest since I've been at the race".

"There are lots of historic mountains," said Ochowicz. "One of them, l'Alpe d'Huez is being raced twice in the same day, plus an uphill time trial." One of the race's oldest riders, the Australian Stuart O'Grady, who is on his 17th Tour, says that the twin climbs of the Alpe fits into a pattern: the Tour is getting more extreme in its demands.

"You tend to block them out like a computer erasing the hard drive, so I don't know if it's the hardest, but it's super-tough," said O'Grady. "The last few Tours have been pushing the limits. It makes for good television, it's going to be action-packed, but it's going to be one of the toughest for the riders. Even the guys going for the overall classification won't be thrilled at doing l'Alpe d'Huez twice. It's more and more about the spectacle – the last few years we've done the Tourmalet and Galibier twice, one day after the other."

Ochowicz believes that all this means there will be absolutely no margin for error in the final seven days. "Any mistake will be multiplied tenfold," he said. "Recovery will be a big factor, and so will the number of team-mates a leader has with him." He has a gleam in his eye when he describes the problems that can hit a leader who is isolated, as Chris Froome was on the second stage in the Pyrenees.

"It could be 100 different things – the wrong break with the right people in it, a group of guys who decide it's all in their interest to ride hard. There's a physical side and a practical side – if you are on your own, what happens if you puncture, or you need someone to give you water if you are alone out there. Sky have some great athletes but the numbers can work against you. You can win with seven riders in a team, but you have to adjust for it."

The double climb of l'Alpe d'Huez is "physically hard but mentally tough as well". Ochowicz believes the descent off the Alpe via the Col de Sarenne could cause as much damage as the twin climbs. "It's treacherous, perhaps the first descent of the race that has real meaning. It's harder than the uphill because it's tricky and fast, you're trying to recover, to close down a break, or to get away." The descent has drawn persistent criticisms from the riders - who sampled it during the recent Dauphine Libere - and the organisers will hope it is negotiated without any mishaps.

Garmin-Sharp's directeur sportif, Charly Wegelius, who has only recently retired from racing, says that this Tour reminds him of the Giro d'Italia, "because it is so weighted to the last week". Like Ochowicz, he's intrigued by the chinks that have been showing in Sky's carapace compared to last year. "The situation of the race is good for the neutral spectator – there's a good chance that things can get lively. There are hidden surprises like the Annecy stage [on Saturday] – it's intense and short, and if anyone has any energy left there, they could do some damage."

Wegelius says that as a rider, there will be no point holding back at any point in the final phase: "You've got to take that final week day by day, I know that's a football cliché but you can't save any energy. You just have to see what reserves you have on a given day." O'Grady expects the teams who put Froome under pressure in the Pyrenees - Movistar, Garmin-Sharp, Belkin, Saxo Bank – to repeat that in the Alps. "Some teams have to lay it on the line. Froome was isolated in the second Pyrenean stage, but the teams weren't ready for it. They had a tactic, and they weren't able to adapt it on the day. They had an opportunity but weren't prepared for Sky to have a bad day. At some point they've got to go in again."

Wegelius cautions that a hyper-tough route does not necessarily make for a thrilling race. "When it's tough like that, it can cancel itself out because people don't have the courage to lay it on the line. When you look at the penultimate mountain stage, for example, it looks scary because of the Glandon coming at the very start, but maybe nothing will happen."

Both Wegelius and O'Grady feel that the final week is having an effect on the racing this week. "It's all so cramped together next week that you need to save whatever energy you can now, because how the guys do next week will depend on what they have left." O'Grady feels that the final week is so fearsome that the riders are putting less energy than usual into the suicide moves and desperate attempts to win the stage that usually mark the "transitional stages" between the two mountain ranges. "There is less attacking on stages when we know there is going to be a sprint, because the guys are conserving every ounce of energy. Before you might have had attacks for the first hour, but everyone knows there is no point riding in kamikaze breakaways unless they are riding for the publicity. It's definitely different from other years."

As Friday showed, the other teams are constantly looking for openings to attack Froome when he appears to be short of team-mates, and the final week will offer them plenty of opportunities. "Chris is without doubt the top rider on every terrain, but you have the feeling that Sky haven't got a favourable wind like last year," says Wegelius, echoed by Ochowicz: "Sky's leader is strong enough to do it all by himself but shit happens."

 
Dan Martin Victorius for Ireland in TdF Stage Win
Updated 8th July 2013

To an Irishman Dan Martin the spoils of stage nine, to an Englishman the satisfaction of fending off an ambush that robbed him of his team-mates but not the yellow jersey.

Dan Martin celebrated becoming the first Irishman to win a stage since his uncle, Stephen Roche, in 1992,  Chris Froome looked on in blessed relief after finishing with his main rivals just 20 seconds back.  We knew Froome could deliver a punch. Now we know he can take one.

He countered a day of brutal hills with stubborn will and legs that stayed strong while his team-mates' went wobbly.  Froome rode without protection for 130km of the loopy 168.5km route from Saint-Girons to Bagnères de Bigorre, surviving numerous attacks on the way. Afterwards he called it "one of the hardest days I have ever had on the bike".

If Saturday offered delirium for Sky, Sunday was the cycling euivalent of a hangover – with the three riders that had worked hardest to put Froome into yellow suffering most.

The damage began on the day's first climb, the Col de Portet d'Aspet, with Peter Kennaugh tumbling down a verge after being clipped by Garmin-Sharp's Ryder Hesjedal. Luckily a bush broke his fall but he was still left with a bloody elbow.

Shortly afterwards Richie Porte, who had looked so strong at the vanguard up the Ax 3 Domaines, was dropped before coming in 17min 39sec back after sitting up near the end.  And Vasili Kiryienka, who had also put in some big turns on Saturday, finished outside the time limit and is now out of the race.

Kennaugh also suffered from a stiff shoulder and ripped shorts but accepted the crash was part of racing. "When I was down there I thought I've got to get out of here because I could see the cars going past me," he said. "Most of all I was worried because the race was so on that I could see people disappearing up a hill."

With Froome unprotected, the Movistar team of Alejandro Valverde sensed an opportunity. On the final climb of the day they sent Nairo Quintana who ascends for fun on the attack. He tried four times to wriggle free up the La Hourquette d'Ancizan, hoping to wound Froome so that Valverde could apply the kill.  It never came.

"I felt quite within myself on that last climb but they did go for me," said Froome. "It is not easy to follow Quintana. He is a light little Colombian who can fly up hills so to cover his attacks definitely wasn't easy."

Meanwhile, after a sprint that was as much tortoise-and-slug as cat-and-mouse, Martin expressed his delight in beating Jakob Fuglsang of Astana by two bike lengths. "We just wanted to have fun," he said. "We love racing bikes and making racing exciting. If we win, we win; if we don't, we make a good show. I think it was a very exciting stage. Luckily I had the legs to finish the job."null

At the finish Brailsford was asked whether Sky's struggles on Sunday had showed his team were not superhuman after all. He nodded, adding: "That's what we keep trying to tell everybody. People don't want to believe it. Maybe they will after today. The bigger picture may not be such a bad thing."

He was supported by David Millar, who said he understood why Team Sky were secretive about the wattage their riders were producing in training and their methods. "If we had their numbers, we would be copying their training files and we'd know what to do to beat them," he said. "It's better for them to remain slightly enigmatic. If you have a recipe which obviously works, why would give away that recipe?"

"You have to understand that we're a competitive, professional sport where we're all competing against each other. It's one thing satisfying the sceptics but at the same time you have to be professional and wanting to win races. It's very difficult for Sky. It's a tightrope they're walking, of being transparent but also keeping their trade secrets. And their trade secrets are their training."

Millar was also dismissive of suggestions comparing Team Sky with Lance Armstrong's disgraced US Postal team. "Even if we are saying Sky aren't transparent, it's night and day to what Postal was. They know they're clean, they feel they're doing it all right and perhaps rightfully so. They're just very defensive about that. They think they are lumbered with another generation's mistakes."

But it was a day when actions spoke louder than words. On Saturday Sky seemed superhuman. On Sunday they were looking all too mortal.



Le Tour 2013: Jan Bakelants from Belguim wins Stage 2
Updated 30th June 2013

Jan Bakelants of Belgium held off the chasing pack to win an eventful second stage of the 100th Tour de France and take the race leader's yellow jersey.

 Peter Sagan was second and Michal Kwiatkowski third in the 156km stage.

Britain's David Millar moved to second overall, while first-day leader Marcel Kittel of Germany dropped back. Pre-race favourite Chris Froome came home in the peloton after riding clear of the bunch on the final climb of the day, 12km from the finish in Ajaccio.

The British Team Sky rider followed team-mate Richie Porte up the first 700m or so of the one-kilometre climb before leaving his rivals with a sharp burst of speed as he chased down Cyril Gautier who had gone clear on the ascent.

 "I knew the descent was tricky and dangerous," Froome said. "I was on the front with Richie and I thought it might be a good time, just to push on a little bit, get ahead and take the descent at my own pace and stay out of trouble.   "It's always good to keep people on their toes."

"Peter Sagan's Cannondale team put a lot of work in to put him in contention to get the yellow jersey.

"They knew this was their opportunity and they worked really hard to keep the race together and right at the death they lost it.

"It was also a real opportunity for David Millar and his Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters has already mentioned on Twitter that there was a moment's hesitation. As soon as there was a gap I was waiting for Garmin to step on it. Forget the stage finish, the yellow jersey was on offer.

"Froome's little move took people by surprise and that is no bad thing and it was

Spain's Alberto Contador, who has won the race twice and is likely to be Froome's main rival, also finished in the peloton but was feeling the effects of crashing on Saturday.

Stage two's scare came inside the final 5km as a white dog wandered across the road in front of the peloton.

The incident came as six riders were establishing a lead and the platform that would eventually see 27-year-old Bakelants, who is riding in his first Tour de France, win the first stage of his professional career.

The RadioShack Leopard rider went for glory with more than one kilometre remaining and held on for the victory as Sagan, who had been tipped by many to win the stage, led the peloton home one second behind.

"I knew I couldn't win in a sprint so I gambled and gave everything I had," said Bakelants. "I thought of my room mate Jens Voigt and just pedalled. I had to wait five years but what a victory.

"In the end I was thinking, 'Come on! Are we going to ride and be the first six riders or are we just going to wait for the bunch to come back and see another win of Sagan?'

"I think it's going to be a short night tonight; I don't think I'll sleep much."

The race began in Bastia on the north coast of Corsica and weaved its way across the Mediterranean island to the capital Ajaccio in the south west.

Lars Boom, who was involved in a breakaway on stage one, again went clear, with three other riders, early on stage two and won the intermediate sprint.

Andre Greipel led Sagan and Mark Cavendish over the line as the green points jersey contenders in the peloton battled for precious points.

However, the hilly terrain that followed quickly accounted for several of the sprint specialists such as Cavendish and Kittel, who, as race leader, was wearing the yellow jersey - the duo eventually finished in a group more than 17 minutes behind the winner.

Sagan managed to make it over the day's highest climb, which peaked at 1,163m above sea level, with the main bunch to keep alive his hopes of a stage win.

However, attacks on the short-sharp final climb of the day, just 12km from the finish, stretched his Cannondale team-mates and when Sylvain Chavanel went clear with seven kilometres remaining, Sagan's team was unable to respond.

Bakelants could though and he and four other riders worked hard for 5km before the Belgian made his successful solo bid.

 

 
Tour de France Debut Rider Peter Kennaugh is Keen for Froome to Win
Updated 25th June 2013
 
Last week the Isle of Man rider was named in their nine-strong squad tasked with helping Froome to victory.   The 24-year-old told the Triumph Herald that "It's going to be tough but I am completely focussed on helping Chris and the team."

 

Kennaugh who is equally at home on the road or the track will be making his debut at cycling's biggest race.   In 2012 the Manx rider helped Great Britain to World and Olympic titles in the team pursuit. On Sunday, he finished fourth in the National Road Race Championship in Glasgow, won by Mark Cavendish.

 

The 24-year-old told the Triumph Herald that  "The Tour de France is an incredible event. I have watched it every year since I was six.  I almost had to pinch myself when I was told I was going."  Kennaugh was selected last week for the Tour after impressing at the recent Tour du Dauphine.

He is one of four GB riders alongside Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Froome. 

 

Froome who’s actually from South Africa and is aware of Nelson Mandela’s illness.  Australia's Richie Porte, Spain's David Lopez, Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway and Belarusian duo Kanstantsin Siutsou and Vasil Kiryienka make up the epic squad.

 

 

Cycling in London Grows and Grows


Updated 24th June 2013
 

The full extent of how cycling has taken over London has been revealed by the London Evening Standard.  The biggest ever census of bike use in the city reveals one in four road users during the morning rush hour cycle and on key routes such as river crossings and roundabouts bikes even outnumber all other vehicles.

 

The study for City Hall reveals that Theobalds Road, Holborn, is London’s busiest bike street as 64 per cent of vehicles passing along it in the morning peak are bikes, followed by Kennington Park Road, which runs between Kennington and Oval (57 per cent) and Old Street, Shoreditch (49 per cent).

 

At 29 of the 164 monitoring locations, cyclists made up the majority of vehicles on the road in a further sign that the 21st century bike boom is helping London close the gap on Amsterdam as a leading cycle capital.

 

Separate Transport for London figures already show that cyclists now make 570,000 trips in London every day compared with 290,000 trips in 2001.

 

Blackfriars, Waterloo and London bridges are all now among the top 10 busiest cycle streets in London.  On all of these, cyclists make up 42 per cent of traffic and 15 per cent of people - though they take up just 12 per cent of road space.

Almost 9,300 riders - 11 a minute - cross London Bridge a day. Along Amsterdam’s busiest cycle route through the Rijksmuseum there is a daily frequency of 13,000.

 

Andrew Gilligan, London Mayor Boris Johnson's cycling commissioner, said: “These incredible, near-Dutch results show how enormous cycling already is in London and how urgent the task of catering for it has become. Cyclists may make up 24 per cent of the traffic across central London, but they still get much less than 24 per cent of policy-makers’ attention.

 

These extraordinary figures disprove any claim that cycling is marginal and that investing in it is indulgent.”  Bikes now account for 24 per cent of all road traffic in central London during the morning peak and 16 per cent across the whole day.  Some 70 per cent of journeys are during the morning and evening peaks - more than other forms of transport - with tidal flows south to north in the morning and reversed in the evening.

 

Research was commissioned by Mr Johnson and the findings will help City Hall deliver the Mayor’s £1 billion cycle revolution through a more extensive cycle network.

Although the Mayor has budgeted £913 million for cycling schemes, this sum may be cut if anti-cyclist Chancellor George Osborne makes deep inroads in TfL’s budget in the spending round next week.

 

Danny Williams, author of the Cyclists in the City blog, and a member of the Mayor's Roads Task Force, said: “The census shows it is already mainstream to travel to work by bike. The number of people cycling across London’s bridges has boomed over the last couple of years. The latest vehicle count was a couple of months ago when it was cold and fairly wet so I think we can assume the numbers of people cycling is even higher.

 

"I’m not surprised by the huge numbers of people cycling in on some routes like Theobolds Road - we’ve created an environment where many other routes just aren’t realistic on a bike because they’re either full of stationary motor vehicles or those vehicles are going too fast for most people to feel safe cycling around them.

 

"What is frustrating, though, is that Transport for London only counts a bicycle as equivalent to 20 per cent of a motor car when it designs roads and junctions, so it’s still failing to make these very busy bike routes work properly for people on bikes, even when they’re the dominant form of transport. I don’t think that’s acceptable any longer.”

 

The mayor’s “cycle vision” aims to sustain the cycling boom by increasing cyclist numbers by 400 per cent from 2001 to 2026. He wants to “delycrify” cycling, encouraging wider usage of the bike as a means of getting from A to B.

 

A system of Dutch-style bike lanes will be introduced in outer London from next year and the main east-to-west cycling corridor incorporating the Westway will open in 2016.

 

The cycle census was carried out by TfL during two weeks in April by manual counting at 164 sites in central London.

 

The new survey includes, for the first time, journeys within central London rather than just crossing a cordon.  Under the old measure, masses of the Boris bike trips for instance were not counted because they are wholly within central London.

 

 

National Road Race in Glasgow Taken By Mark Cavendish


Updated 22nd June 2013

A marker for the Tour de France was thrown down with Cavendish taking the 184km men's race in the National Road Race Championship while the Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead won the 113km women's event.  "My form's good," said Cavendish. "I'm motivated at the minute, I've trained well because the Tour is coming up.  It's a bit unexpected that I won here – I was here more as preparation for the Tour and to have one last hit out and I wanted to see the parcours for the Commonwealth Games next year." Cavendish will be representing the Isle of Man.
 

The men's race featured 141 starters, including strong line-ups from the domestic pro teams, but Sky and other World Pro Tour team riders wasted no time in making clear their intentions, taking the race on from the opening mile.
 

Intent on retaining the title its Team Sky riders have held since 2009 but it was not to be, as Cavendish for Omega Pharma eventually outsprinted Ian Stannard (Sky) and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) in front of an excited crowd on Glasgow Green.  Astonishingly the definitive shape of the race was formed inside two laps with the defending champion, Stannard, and young Andy Fenn, the only other Omega Pharma team-mate of Cavendish, breaking clear.
 

They were in turn chased down by an ultra-select quartet comprising Ben Swift and another Manxman, Pete Kennaugh of Team Sky, plus Cavendish and Millar, making six riders at the front. And that was that. Less than 28km into a 180km race, 135 riders might as well have climbed off and taken an early bath.
 

Inside the final three laps the lead group was whittled down to Cavendish, Millar, Stannard and Kennaugh. Two Sky riders versus Cavendish and Millar, who agreed not to chase or attack each other. "We had an agreement not to chase each other down, which is normal when you are outnumbered," explained Millar.
 

Thus Millar, trying to avoid a sprint, attacked on the last lap, dropping Kennaugh, but was chased down by Stannard. At which point, with two kilometres to go, the race came down to a three-way sprint, in which Millar, holding up his end of the deal, led out Cavendish to a comprehensive eight-length win.
 
 

Compared with the men's event the women's race took shape much later with a break of four riders – the Boels Dolman pair of Armitstead and Emma Trott with the Wiggle Honda pair of Dani King and Laura Trott – going clear inside half distance. Emma Trott was dropped with two laps to go, leaving Armitstead outnumbered but not outgunned.

 
 
Clearly the strongest rider and not keen to be worked over by two team-mates, Armitstead attacked and dropped her breakaway companions in the picturesque University Avenue climb. By the right turn at Ladbrokes in Sauchiehall Street, Armitstead was 25 seconds clear of the chasing pair and all bets were off.
 

In the sprint for silver Laura Trott got the better of King, winning the Under-23 title to boot. So the day ended with gold medal wins for Cavendish and Armitstead in front of big city centre crowds. It was like London 2012, but with a happy ending for both.


Jan Ullrich Claims He’s No Better But No Worse Than Lance Armstrong
Updated 21st June 2013

The 39-year-old German, who won the Tour in 1997, was banned for 2 years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for blood doping and he has now admitted his guilt.   Ullrich revealed he was treated by Eufemiano Fuentes the Doctor at the centre of the doping scandal in Spain.Ullrich told a magazine published in German that "Almost everybody back then took performance-enhancing substances,"  "I didn't take anything which the others were not taking."  He went on.
 
Ullrich, who insisting he had "never once cheated as a cyclist", also won gold and silver medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.   He added in the  interview: "For me, betrayal only begins when I gain an advantage, but that was not the case. I just wanted to ensure equal opportunities."

 

Trott Squeezed by Barnes


Updated 16th June 2013
The Telegraph reports of London still high on the dramas of professional cycling post-2012.  Cycling rolled to the capital for the Noctorne a night of elite bike racing with Olympic champions Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King heading the field.
 

Viewers of the highlights, broadcast on Channel 4 yesterday, were treated to the spectacle that was the Elite Women’s Criterium, in which double Olympic champion Trott appeared to take first place.  Certainly on the night many seemed convinced of her victory.  Photographs later revealed that Trott had crossed the line second; the 34-minute race was won by the 20-year-old Hannah Barnes.

 
 

When clear evidence of Barnes crossing the line emerged, organisers first claimed she was relegated for dangerous riding after celebrating her victory – a decision Mark Cavendish described as "disgraceful". Outrage grew in the cycling world, while Barnes remained dignified and composed throughout. The victory was finally awarded to Barnes, and Trott conceded, stating on Twitter: "Having seen the video Hannah won fair and square. Fair play to her! Now I think it’s time to put this one behind us and continue growing women’s cycling."

 
 

It was also the highlight of a thrilling few weeks for domestic women’s cycling which saw Barnes top the table at the just-concluded Tour Series, first to finish in the women’s Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix. Barnes took the individual crown and the top place in the sprinter's table, and her team MG-Maxifuel took the number one slot over the well-respected Team Mule Bar Girl.

 
 
Were Barnes male, it’s hard to see how she wouldn’t already have been snapped up by the likes of Team Sky and groomed for success on the international stage. At age 13 she was spotted by British Cycling and eventually moved on to the Olympic development programme.
 
But in November last year she found herself without a team at all, after a year racing at top level internationally for the Holland-based UCI registered Team Ibis. The team’s sponsors pulled out at the last minute.
 

By this point, Barnes says, all the UCI-registered women’s teams were full. Fortunately a new UK women’s team, MG-Maxifuel, came to the rescue, and Barnes has spent this year tearing up the domestic racing scene.

 
 
It’s the equivalent however, of a Premiership footballer finding themselves playing in The Football League. ‘Racing on the continent is just a different level,’ says Barnes. ‘Racing here, I’m disappointed if I don’t win – over there, I’m just happy if I finish. The difference is insane.’
 

 For male cyclists, there is an amateur under-23 level to help riders bridge the gap between the junior circuit and the big time. For women, no such intermediate level exists, meaning riders go straight from competing with their peers to taking on national, world and Olympic champions.

 
 

But judging by Barnes’ performance at Nocturne it’s the Olympic champions who need to look out. She has fairly and squarely beaten the best the UK had to offer at London 2012. It’s also worth noting that during the race itself Trott had the likes of King and Rowsell along with several other riders as team support, whereas Barnes had no team-mates in the front pack to help her along. Her victory was hers alone.

 
 
And it must herald a new era for Barnes. ‘I do feel my time might be coming,’ she acknowledges. Might Rio beckon? ‘It would be a massive dream come true if I were to be there, but at the moment I’m looking at next year and hoping that I can turn pro and race on the continent.’
 
 

She adds: ‘The last couple of weeks have been a real confidence boost and I finally feel like this is all going somewhere. All I want is to make cycling my career. I don’t want it to be something I do around my job. At the moment, I’m a part-time waitress. I don’t actually get paid to cycle – which is a shame.’

 
 

A shame is one way of putting it. But rather than wallow in self-pity, Barnes has used the opportunity of a year at home to get back to her roots, enjoying time trialling and mountain biking as well as road racing.

 
 

Next year, a pro contract is the goal. In all likelihood this will be with a non-UK registered team, as UCI women’s cycling teams registered in the UK are few and far between. The most high-profile is the newly-unveiled Team Wiggle Honda, which counts Trott, Rowsell, King and Barker among its elite numbers. Run by Australian Commonwealth gold medallist Rochelle Gilmore, Wiggle Honda is widely touted as the female equivalent of Team Sky.  However, given that flagship events such as the Tour de France do not exist for women, even an elite female team packed full of Olympic stars will have an uphill struggle proving that they are an exact match to Team Sky.

 
 
Regardless, the emergence of superstar-packed teams like Wiggle Honda and superstars like Barnes show that women’s cycling is continuing its inexorable ascent. For the 15,000 attendees of Nocturne, an event which began with some 500 spectators in 2007, the Elite Women’s Criterium was the race of the night. 
 
 

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Email  enquiries@d2ride.co.uk  

Phone Mobile  07722542425 

Phone Landline  01785 253570