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Spanish Inquisition

11.09.15 | Permalink | 1 Comment Posted by Gary

Vuelta organisers wonder what the hell went wrong now

spanish-inquisitionThe Spanish government is tonight in an emergency session with race owners ASO to discuss the latest crisis facing the Vuelta a España, VCDL has learned.

With 2 stages left of this year’s race, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin leads the race by 6 seconds from Fabio Aru, with national favourite Joachim Rodriguez a further 1 minute 18 back.  This situation has left race organisers scratching their heads in disbelief after concocting a course so dastardly as to sort out the hombres from the niños at the outset.

“Nobody expected this,” complained one insider, who went on to reveal that this year’s parcours was designed to be so brutal that cycling could become Spain’s new national blood sport.

“We’ve tried everything this year.  Amongst the parcours were such diverse elements as sandtraps, kamikaze moto riders, killer fence posts, cobbles, that sort of thing. And that day in Andorra was meant to have the rest of them bleeding from their eyes and Purito or Valverde about an hour ahead on GC. But this… this bloody Dutch guy just keeps hanging in there.”

A Spanish Interior Ministry official revealed that a number of options were being considered to help “turn up the heat” for the 2016 edition . While the race organisers taking control of the Spanish railway network for 3 weeks next August and September appears to be one tried and tested possibility, an aggressive programme of civil rights infringements in the Basque country was also mooted. This being ahead of a rumoured long time trial with multiple ascents (“until they’re begging for a 40T,” sneered the official) of the Alto de Aia, which featured in this year’s Vuelta Pais Vasco.

The official then assured us that despite the ASO taking control of Vuelta parent company Unipublic in 2014, the Spanish race would never be a “comfy chair of a race like Mee-sieur Prudhomme’s Tour has become”, before laughing diabolically, “Dumoulin….. Yes, we’ll show them fucking ‘Dutch Corner’”

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08.09.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

KimboMedia scrum over cycling’s golden couple

A media battle erupted today, following the engagement of Boels Dolmans rider Lizzie Armitstead and Team Sky’s Philip Deignan.  Within hours of Olympic Silver medallist and newly-crowned Women’s World Cup Champion, Armitstead, breaking the happy news on her Twitter feed, media outlets vying for exclusive rights to engagement photos and interviews.

LizzieCelebrity media consultant Amanda Ng told us, “Cyclists are normally ugly or dull as shit, so this is big news in both sporting and celebrity circles.  She’s the gorgeous darling of British cycling now that that other one’s gone off to ride horses and he’s the handsome young Irish lad who crossed the barricades to ride for Team Sky.  It’s a love story for the Lycra generation and it’s simply perfect.”

There was already a 2-way tussle for rights as VCDL went to press with the happy couple said to be considering offers from celebrity gossip titles Hello! and OK!, who reportedly offered deals in excess of 6 figures for exclusive interviews and photoshoots.

Reports also suggested that the couple had received a demand from Paul Kimmage, although the Irish journalist has not confirmed this.  A source, however, said this morning:

“Paul’s delighted for Lizzie and Philip on this happy day in their young lives.  He’s not the monster that people think he is and he realises they’ll be inundated with media right now and that it’s important to give them space.

“But if they don’t give him access you have to ask, ‘just what are they hiding?’”


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Cyclocross Faces Migrant “Crisis”

08.09.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Cyclocross braced for influx of expertise 5878219_origBritish success and mainstream media coverage of road cycling look set to drive many proper fans to feign an interest in cyclocross, it has emerged.

With Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and that “wee blonde thing that rides the track” household names across the country, many fans are finding it increasingly difficult to impress friends and colleagues with exotic names like Le Mont Ventoux, Carrefour de l’Arbre, Via Roma and Ned Boulting.

“The highlight of my summer used to be lording it over people at work during the Tour de France,” Michael Jones, a manager from Edinburgh, tells VCDL.

“Just a couple of years ago, they’d see the Rapha poster above my desk and come and ask things like how come Cav wasn’t leading the race despite winning all those stages or why they didn’t just use mountain bikes in the mountains.

“Now they’re confidently talking about breakaways, drafting and time bonuses, sometimes as late as the second week of the Vuelta.”

Graphics designer Samantha Jones from Basingstoke complained, “It used to be all ‘how come the World Cup’s on every other fortnight instead of every 4 years like on the football?’  Now my girlfriends are discussing Boels Dolmans tactics or whether Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is the new Marianne Vos, for christ’s sakes”.

Dr Steve Macdonald, from the Institute of Cycling Media Studies told us

“This perceived swarm of newcomers is a serious threat to the very existence of the Cycling Expert, many of whom are now looking to diversify their supreme knowledge just to stay alive.  Cyclocross looks like the most obvious target as almost nobody knows how or where to watch it, and it clashes with the heart of the football season.”

Dr Macdonald added, “Cross bikes also look almost exactly like road bikes so Cycling Experts will be able to point out the differences in frame geometry and tyres to cycling newcomers.

“Perhaps more crucially, though, nothing will appeal more to the Cycling Expert than holding court on a miserable Monday morning, telling the whole office how he had to ‘find a dodgy internet feed’ to watch a BPost Bank Trofee race or a Superprestige.”

VCDL asked some Proper Fans about what makes cyclocross so special.

“Cyclocross has everything”, Kyle Smith from Aberdeenshire assured us.  “From iconic landmarks like Hoogerheide, Zolder and that big muddy carpark in Rome to legends of the sport like Sven Nys and that Zde – Zedy – Zyd- Bart Wellens.

“It’s also so accessible to all genders and that shows real progress for such a male-dominated sport.  I mean, just look at that Dutch bird who used to win everything.”

When asked if it wasn’t just a little like mountain biking, Kyle told us, “fuck right off”.

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No Rest, No Rust

26.05.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Looking ahead to the 2015 Scottish Road Race Championships and the final edition of a famous race

“If I rest, I rust”
David ET Bell, 1909-1965

SNRRC Poster 2015This weekend sees the Scottish Road Race Championships, in itself an auspicious occasion in the national calendar. But the event is incorporated in what will be the 50th and final edition of the David Bell Memorial Road Race, held each year in the heart of Rabbie Burns country to the south of Ayr.

First held in 1966, the year after the Ayrshire cyclist and writer’s death, the Davie Bell features in the palmares of an impressive list of Scottish cyclists over its previous 49 editions. The “wall of fame” reads like a Who’s Who of Scottish cycling with the likes of Billy Bilsland, Robert Millar, Roddy Riddle, Jason MacIntyre, Evan Oliphant and (friend of the Pod) James McCallum having taken top honours over the years. The Cycling Podcast’s Richard Moore also got in on the act in 1997.

In previous years, the course has taken in some of the more celebrated (infamous?) climbs of the Ayrshire Alps. Until 2011, the course routinely tackled the Nic o Balloch, passing the memorial erected in Bell’s memory. Averaging 7.6% over 3.5km, this climb is perhaps understatedly described as “difficult”. In 2012, the route controversially eschewed the Nic, instead opting to take in a 6-mile forest road section completely devoid of tarmac. Given Bell’s love of the byway and “rough-stuff” cycling, you can only imagine he might himself have approved.

NRR2015 Route

With a start list including defending 2014 National Champions Evan Oliphant (Raleigh GAC) and Jane Barr (Velocity 44 Stirling) as well as U23 Champion Ashleigh Fraser (Deeside Thistle CC) the battle for top honours is likely to be fierce. Last year’s winner of the Memorial race, Gary Hand (SportGrub KUOTA) will also be looking for a repeat showing that would see him not only bag the Davie Bell Memorial Trophy but also regain the National Championships jersey he won in 2013.

This year, the race takes in 5 laps (3 for the women’s race) of a 25km loop, heading firstly north out Alloway in sight of Burns’ birthplace before heading out towards the Ayrshire coast and then turning south on its merry way.  While maybe lacking some of the fear factor of previous editions, it’s nevertheless a rolling course that should ensure gaps later in the race as tired legs and brains get caught out by the changes in terrain or the wind off the Firth of Clyde.

It’s fitting, then, that the 50th and final edition of a race with a reputation for a tough course won by tough riders should bow out by crowning Scotland’s National Road Race Champions.


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29.04.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

A new film telling the story of how the bicycle struggles to survive in a world dominated by the car opens in UK cinemas

Friend of the Pod, and co-producer of the David Millar Project, Sonja Henrici gave us a shout this week to let us know about a new film hitting the UK in May.

Design: Rebeca Méndez (Source: WG Film)

In 2012, there were one billion cars in the world. By 2020, there will be two billion. BIKES vs CARS, the new documentary from award-winning Swedish director Fredrik Gertten, follows cyclists and groups of activists in traffic-clogged cities across the world and looks at the bicycle as a powerful tool for social change and asks will political and corporate power allow it?

Ghost bike memorial ride, São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Flora Dias (Source: WG Film)

In Sao Paolo, where a cyclist is killed every week, we meet Aline and her friends stage protest rides and erect memorials by stealth on the freeways. In pollution and gridlock-choked Los Angeles, Dan traces the overgrown and barricaded cycle routes left from before the cars took over. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford spends $300,000 removing bike lanes, deciding it’s time to “end the war against cars”. In Berlin, Cristina educates the public about the effects lobbying by large car and oil manufacturers has on political decision-making. In Bogotá, Lilian fosters a love of cycling in the next generation. And in Copenhagen, where 40% of the population cycle to work, taxi-driver Ivan finds his job increasingly stressful…

Telling a potentially revolutionary story with poignancy and humour, BIKES vs CARS examines both the struggle for cyclists in a society dominated by cars, and the huge changes for the planet and for individual people that could take place if more cities moved away from car-centric models.

Bike aktivists protesting against the removal of the Jarvis bikelane, Toronto, Canada. Photo: Martin Reis (Source: WG Film)

Taking time out from editing the forthcoming David Millar Project, Sonja – Director of the Scottish Documentary Institute who are supporting BIKES vs CARS – told us:

“Cycling is becoming very popular in the UK, both for commuters and those who love the sport. This film addresses a hugely important issue on how we could create better cities using the bike as a tool. Rather than alienating those who love cars and bikes, it creates a much needed outlet for debate.” 

BIKES vs CARS opens in the UK on 3 May.  Here’s a sneak preview…

BIKES vs CARS TRAILER from WG Film on Vimeo.

You can catch BIKES vs CARS somewhere near you during MAY.  Here’s a list of confirmed showings:

– Rio Cinema
Belfast – Queen’s Film Theatre
Birmingham – Mac
Bristol – Watershed
Cardiff – Chapter
Inverness – Eden Court
Leeds – Hyde Park Picturehouse
Nottingham – Broadway
Oban – Phoenix
Saffron Waldon – Saffron Screen
Welwyn Garden City – Garden City Cinema

– Vue
Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre
Edinburgh – Omni Centre

Aline Cavalcante, São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Janice D´Avila (Source: WG Film)

Hexham – The Forum Cinema
Nottingham – Broadway

Cambridge – Vue
Goole – Junction
London – Vue Islington
Welwyn Garden City – Garden City Cinema

Falmouth – The Poly

Dundee – Dundee Contemporary Arts
Oxford – Ultimate Picture Palace
Leeds – Hyde Park Picturehouse
Leicester – Phoenix

Further information on the film can be found at

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The VCDL Guide to the Classics: Part Three – The Ardennes

21.04.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Our tedious guide mercifully (and belatedly) reaches its conclusion in the Ardennes…


An anomaly in cycling: something that started in 1966 being considered one of the three Ardennes Classics. And it’s sponsor is a brewery, not some newspaper.

amstelSo you scoff at the idea of a bike race in Holland, but the proliferation of the suffix “berg” in the route shows that this race takes in all the hills in Holland. Sometimes on multiple occasions.

Starting in Maastricht, the race heads east before essentially becoming 3 separate loops around the town of Valkenburg and the famous Cauberg, which will be tackled 4 times, including the finish.

We call it
Gary Moore/Thin Lizzy (Amstel in Love with You)

De Winningest Rider
Jan Raas (1977-80, 1982)

2014 Winner
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)

2015 Winner
Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step) (Some “preview” this!!)

Things to post on Twitter
If only VCDL had posted their preview before this race today…
Where’s the women’s race? #disgrace

Things not to post on Twitter
But this is supposed to be in Holland.


First run in 1936, La Fleche Wallonne (Walloon Arrow) is traditionally held mid-week between Amstel Gold (which we shamefully ignored in this guide) and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Fleche is the easiest of all the Spring Classics as Italian and Spanish riders have won it 8 times in the last decade.

The Gewiss-Ballan team led home a historic 1-2-3 in the 1994 edition, finishing a minute and 14 seconds ahead of the chase group. This is why any team winning a bike race today and having other riders strongly-placed is the immediate subject of Twitter suspicion. Except of course Team Sky, who just always are.

Starting this year in Waremme, near Liege, and heading in a looping south westerly direction for 92km, before 3 circuits, it’s really all about the legendary Mur de Huy, which will tackled no fewer than 3 times, including the finish. The 1300m climb which peaks at 22% isn’t one for the explosive climbers but perhaps more the diesel engines, as witnessed when Cadel Evans winched his way from the back to win in the Rainbow Jersey in 2010. We liked that. The route to the Mur will also feature in Stage 3 of this year’s Tour de France, which is just plain rotten.

De Winningest Riders
Marcel Kint (1943-45)
Eddy Merckx (1967, 1970, 1972)
Moreno Argentin (1990, 1991, 1994)
Davide Rebellin (2004, 2007, 2009)

2014 Winner
Alejandro Valverde, Movistar

Things to post on Twitter
This is still one of the most iconic races in the calendar – I love the Mur.
[Insert name] looks good on this first ascent of the Mur. One eye on July?

Things not to post on Twitter
That uphill finish won’t suit Mark Cavendish. #fact


The fourth of cycling’s 5 Monuments (along with Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Il Lombardia) La Doyenne was first held in 1892. Notable for being the oldest of the Spring Classics and a race that Andy Schleck has won. Really, in 2009. Look it up.

Arguably the toughest of the Classics, L-B-L is a thick end of 260km, figure of 8 route, taking in famous names like the Cotes de la Redoute, Stockeu (remember Fabs neutralising the Tour peloton on its descent in 2010?) and St Nicolas, which was shoved into the final kms in 1992 just to cheer everyone up.

Archief Diversen moreDe Winningest Rider
Eddy Merckx (1969, 1971-73, 1975)

2014  Winner
Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE)

Things to post on Twitter
The descent off the Stockeu will be key if he’s going to stay away.
Right, that’s the Classics over with. I can remove my arm warmers now.

Things not to post on Twitter
Thank Christ these one day races are over with. When’s the Tour?

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The VCDL Guide to the Classics: Part Two – The Cobbled Classics

25.03.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

21_bigContinuing our lacking-in-depth coverage of the new season, here’s all you didn’t realise that you need to know about the lumpy stuff…


Originally named after the nearby E3 motorway, the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen first took place in 1958. The road is now the A14 but the race name changed to E3 Harelbeke in 2011, gifting us literally minutes of hilarity with our annual references to the E3 Harold Bishop.

The race marks the start of Vlaamse Wielerweek, a week of racing culminating at the Tour of Flanders the following weekend.

All over the place like some mad woman’s shite, wending its way across East Flanders and Wallonia with no fewer than 17 hills, many on cobbles. Look out for familiar names like Eikenberg, Kapelberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont. A new climb was introduced in 2014, the 1500m cobbled Karnemelkbeekstraat, which Peter Sagan used to launch what would be his winning move.

We call it
Harold Bishop

De Winningest Rider
Tom Boonen (2004-2007, 2012)

2014 Winner
Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Things to post on Twitter
I’m only watching this because I love Our Sport™ so much, not to support the misogynist organisers

Things not to post on Twitter
I didn’t see what the fuss was about that poster
I told my boss I was off sick today, but I’m pissed on the Kapelberg with my brother-in-law LOLS!


Sometimes called “the Spinters Classic”, given the flat finish of the course, first held in 1934. Despite its position in the calendar, still not officially considered to be part of Vlaamse Wielerweek (this is the sport of cycling, remember?).

The women’s edition was introduced in 2012.

The race heads from Leinze (not actually Gent itself) towards the Flanders coast, so expect wind and echelons. The centrepiece of the race, tho’, is arguable the loop that takes in the trio of the Baneberg, Kemmelberg and Monteberg – twice.

We call it
Amazingly enough, Gent-Wevelgem.

De Winningest Riders
Robert Van Eenaeme (1936, 1937, 1945)
Rik Van Looy (1956, 1957, 1962)
Eddy Merckx (1967, 1970, 1973)
Mario Cipollini (1992, 1993, 2002)
Tom Boonen (2004, 2011, 2012)

2014 Winner
Men – John Degenkolb (Team Giant Shimano)
Women – Lauren Hall (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies)

Things to post on Twitter
It’s a fitting tribute to this race that all those great names are tied on 3 wins each

Things not to post on Twitter
If Cippolini won it 3 times, how hard can it really be?


First held in 1913.  This is when it starts to get proper serious and Vlaanderens Mooste will make even the most jaded fan moist.

The women’s edition was introduced in 2008, having been won previously by the likes of Marianne Vos and Nicole Cooke.  A tough race for tough women too.

Asterisk Subject to Change.  The race has seen more than its share of changes over the years but has started in Bruges since 2008.  De Ronde switched to its current finish in Oudenaarde in 2012 and the town has been the focal point of the main exchanges since then, as well as a slightly controversial spectators village with grandstanding and the likes.  We’ve said before, cycling adapts to change slowly…

Of course, it’s all about the cobbles and the fun really begins on the famous Koppenberg, a narrow and mercifully short 10% climb (max 22%!!)  which starts to sort out the hard men from mere men.  With “only” 45km to the finish from there, the Koppenberg is followed by Steenbeekdries (5.3%) and Taaienberg (6.6%) in quick succession.  From there, the riders take on the Kluisberg before a series of loops that combine 3 ascents of the Oude Kwaremont (2.2km at 4%) and 2 of the Paterberg with a maximum gradient of 20%.  If this was the Vuelta we’d be calling it inhuman.  Or something.

Oh, and the women’s race might not be as long as the men’s, but it loops around the Oudenaarde area, consisting of much of the same lumpy stuff.

We call it
De Ronde, to sound exotic and interesting. The Ronde of Flanders, to sound like idiots.

De Winningest Riders
Fiorenzo Magni
(1949, 1950, 1951)
Achiel Buysse (1940, 1941, 1943)
Eric Leman (1970, 1972, 1973)
Johan Museeuw (1993, 1995, 1998)
Tom Boonen (2005, 2006, 2012)
Fabian Cancellara (2010, 2013, 2014)

Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (2005, 2006)
Judith Arndt (2008, 2012)

2014 Winner
Men – Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing)
Women – Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans)

Things to post on Twitter
We’re here, Tweeting live from top of the Paterberg!
Those hospitality tents in Oudenaarde are a symbol of corporate greed that insults the endeavour of the riders

Things not to post on Twitter
Our live Tweets will be delayed as the other half is watching the Eastenders omnibus
These prawn sandwiches are lovely


In France, although the race starts in Paris in the same way that a budget airline may fly there.  Goes near Belgium, so that’s still hard.  La Reine (“Queen of the Classics”) or, more popularly, l’Enfer du Nord (“Hell of the North”) was first raced in 1896.

Bernard Hinault only raced it once, winning in 1981 and describing it as “bullshit”. This is, however, not true – he’d ridden it before in 1980 and would ride it again in 1982. He did call it “bullshit” tho’.

Kicks off in Compiegne, some 80-odd km north north-east of Paris and wanders over 253km to Roubaix, near the Belgian border.  Oh, and in between there will be  53km over 27 secteurs of infamous cobbled pave.  Nippy.  3 of these secteurs will feature in stage 4 of this year’s Tour de France, giving people like us the opportunity to make lazy punditry like “Cancellara with one eye on July, perhaps?”

The race finishes with a lap of the famous Roubaix Velodrome, which will often see weary track sprint tactics play out after the proverbial Sunday in Hell.

The jury’s out on whether it’s a more iconic race in the dry (= dust) or the rain (= carnage).  This jury contains no-one who has ridden, or will ever ride, the race.

We call it

Coureurs avec les plus de victories
Roger De Vlaeminck
(1972, 1974, 1975, 1977)
Tom Boonen (2005, 2008, 2009, 2012)

2014 Winner
Niki Terpstra
(Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

Things to post on Twitter
[Insert name of rider showing strongly on cobbles] – perhaps an eye on July?
[Team x] need to be well-positioned before the Carrefour de l’Arbre if this is going to come off for them today

Things not to post on Twitter
I’ve ridden at South Queensferry so I can tell you how much they’re suffering here
No wonder Hinault only rode this once.


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The VCDL Guide to the Classics: Part 1.5 – Milan – San Remo

16.03.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

We continue our inessential guide to the early season…


Of course, it’s not all about the gritty war-torn fields on northern Europe.  It just seems that way.  Milan-San Remo is the first ‘proper’ Spring Classic of the season.  They even call it La Primavera, or “springtime”, which is nice, but probably only works in Latin-based languages.  Calling any of the cobbled classics “Voorjaar” wouldn’t have quite the same romance, we fear.

Not in Belgium.   First raced in 1907, Milan-San Remo is the longest one-day race in the pro calendar.  Unlike many other races, it actually starts and finishes in the places its name suggests.

There’s as yet no women’s race.  We are but the messengers.

A generally flat route, this is nevertheless no pleasant Sunday club run from Milan down to the Ligurian coast, crossing the legendary Passo del Turchino and featuring the Cipressa and Poggio climbs inside the last 25km.  This generally allows us to make lazy statements like “if they can get [insert name of sprinter of your choice] to the foot of the Poggio then it could be an interesting finish”.  And when the weather blows, it really sucks, if you see what we mean.  Last year they introduced the Pompeiana climb to increase the race’s appeal to the climbers but then pulled it at the last minute due to landslides.  Shoddy workmanship, if you ask us.

Look out for lots of jostling on the final 2 climbs as the sprinters’ teams try to get their bloke into position and for Italian Pro-Conti teams blagging telly time early in the race.  You’ll likely need shades for the latter.

We call it
(Joe Jordan Football Italia voice) Mee-laaaan – San Raaaay-mo

De Winningest Rider
Eddy Merckx (7) – 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976

 2014 Winner
Alexander Kristoff
(Team Katusha)

Gianni Savio: "Winning a bike race is like making love to a beautiful woman"

Gianni Savio: “Winning a bike race is like making love to a beautiful woman”

Things to post on Twitter
If they can get [insert name of sprinter of your choice] to the foot of the Poggio then it could be an interesting finish
If it rains here, it’ll be carnage off the Turchino

Things not to post on Twitter
Where are the cobbles?
That Nibali can descend.
Is that Swiss Toni in the Androni Giocattoli car?

Part Two of our cut-out-and-forget guide – The Cobbled Classics – coming soon!

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Flat Earth Society

03.03.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Gary casts his eye over Openingsweekend

On The Cycling Podcast’s first special ‘Friends’ episode, Lionel Birnie decribes cycling as “conservative”. If cycling is “conservative”, then the Belgians are its Tea Party. Witness this weekend’s complaint from Etixx Quick-Step team manager, Patrick Lefevere, that a team leader should not be sitting on wheels for 30km. Said team leader was none other than Sky’s Ian Stannard whose perhaps improbable victory given the odds at Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday left the legendary DS looking for excuses.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
It was all going so well too, with the lead group of 4 containing no fewer than 3 EQS jerseys on the shoulders of Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh. But Stannard’s looming presence at the back of the group caused uncertainty among the trio rather than it simply being a case of who was riding for who in a famous sweep of the podium in Gent. If Stannard wasn’t helping much, a chasing pack that included the likes of Sep Vanmarcke was helping even less.

But with 4.5km to go, Boonen attacked, you’d have been forgiven at that point for saying “well, that’s that then”. But it wasn’t. With a seemingly unflustered Stannard pulling Boonen back to the group, Nikki Terpstra was next to jump. To his surprise, Stannard continued to track him, leaving a tiring Boonen and Vandenbergh out of contention as the two-up sprint started to take shape.

There was almost a sense of déjà vu as Terpstra and Stannard went under the 1km to go kite. An almost identical scenario had played out a year before and a repeat of that result was to follow. Terpstra opened up a gap with 200m to go but as he faded, it was Stannard who prevailed taking his second successive Het Nieuwsblad victory. Cycling’s Village Green Preservation Society were not impressed, seemingly forgetting that 3 v 1 should be more than enough odds to win a race.

On to Sunday then, when proceedings at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne looked for a while to be following a similar pattern. With a break of 19 riders formed and with about 50km to go, another E-QS –v- Team Sky scenario loomed with Ian Stannard once again the fly in the embrocation. While he was ultimately working for Sky new boy Elia Viviani, he looked strong and was causing enough concern for the cameras to show Tom Boonen gesticulating wildly in his direction for the second afternoon on the bounce.

With Katusha massing at the front for Alexander Kristoff as the race approached 2 laps of the finishing circuit, a potentially messy sprint looked on the cards. A late – but predictably doomed – attack from Philippe Gilbert threatened this scenario, but only briefly as the sprinters’ teams started jostling for position.  Stannard’s job done for Sky, it was up to Ben Swift to deliver Viviani into place while Kristoff looked increasingly certain of the win. That was until Mark Cavendish appeared from a fair distance back to snatch it on the line from Kristoff with Viviani rounding out the podium, as anyone who’d seen Nacer Bouhani’s near-miss with the barriers were just catching their breath back.

In the post-race interview, Cavendish would reveal that he felt that DS Wilfried Peeters lacked faith in him to do the job.  Contrast this with Lefevere’s unwillingness to criticise his 3 riders on Saturday and you really do wonder what place “conservatism” still has in the liberal, free-thinking new world.

The one day specialists reconvene in Milan in just under 3 weeks’ time. From conservatives to Il tifosi, but that’s a whole other can of worms…

Image: Poly Peloton



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27.02.15 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

With apologies to Dexy’s Midnight Runners…

Vino! Vino! Vino! Vino! Vino!
Back in Twenty-Seven on the road to Albi
Oh, Vino
With your bandaged knees you still went and smashed the TT
Le Courage de Vino-o!
But that night the vampires came to check out your blood
After a fortnight of crashin’ and chasin’ back up
The fastest legs in the time trial that day
Got you hustled and busted and it all taken away

 Athletic perspiration, you gave some hope
But you were Alexander the cheat
The Kazakh that doped
But now just look at us
As we’re looking down on you
Yes we’re being judgmental
It’s what you chose to do


Now your team’s in the dock and it’s not a surprise
Oh Vino
You said Astana were clean but that was just lies
Oh-oh-oh Vin-o
But the suits they crumbled, and let you all race
But they suspected like we did
Now you’re again in disgrace
And now you’re all over, your story’s so lame, brrrrr
But you’ll probably just scramble for another to blame

Athletic perspiration, Nibali gave us hope
That maybe Astana were clean now
But three of them doped
But now just look at us
We’ve all just had enough
Yes we’re being judgmental
It’s time to piss off

Oh Vino, Woh-oh-oh Vino-o
Oh Vino, Woh-oh-oh Vino-o

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