Thursday, 2 August 2012
You may be wondering where I have disappeared to this season. It may seem odd that a British Fan Blog is so silent just when British Cylists are dominating the sport.... I have therefore decided to write this little reflection to let you know.
These last 12 months have been quite challenging for me personally. Some of you follow me on facebook and you may be more aware of whats been going on than the rest who follow via twitter or get directed here by google than the like. To elaborate my personal life came crashing down almost as despairingly as Wiggo's crash out of the 2011 Tour de France. My collar bone is fine but my heart was broken. The relationship that had blossomed with a friend from my teens over the spring ended abruptly and unfortunately on the day I completed my first race (running not cycling!) since having my second child in 2008. What should have been a euphoric day ended in the despair that is felt reading a text that ends ones relationship while driving down the A3. Why he chose there and then to do that I still dont know. Our friendship struggled through the summer to maintain its course during the storms that broke out after that day and at Christmas it came to an all too literal crashing end.
Such heartache often leads to reflection, especially as one sees a life milestone cropping up on the horizon: this is not how I wanted to be entering my 30s. Determined to steer my life back on course by the time I hit 30 I knew I had to reassess more than my relationships. In January I more or less quietly stopped writing and tutoring and began training to be a Sports Therapist. Over the course of the Spring I found that I had discovered my true calling in life. It was not where I thought it would be-in the classroom. It was on the side of a pitch. I cannot pin point the exact moment when I realised -which seems odd because my life is full of "moments" where I know where I was and what I was doing when I had an epiphany of sorts. Having discovered ironically that sport-something that I had avoided participation in at all costs all through secondary school- was where I felt happiest I took up Hockey and started volunteering as a physio for the only football team I knew would take me on with no experience in order to gain that experience: the team I had become practically a season ticket holder fan of. They have become my friends and my colleagues and with them I feel at home. This new life has left me with little time to pursue my love: writing about cycling. Its been a sacrifice but it has been worth it. Even though I wasnt finding the time to tweet or write and entertain you all, I was finding the time to watch as much as I could over the season. As my heros headed into France however I was finding even less time to watch. I did my best to write something but didnt feel I was giving it justice.
I watched on the edge of my seat as Mark Cavendish took his 4th back to back Champs Elysees win, his 23rd Tour de France stage victory and Bradley Wiggins "draw the raffle numbers" crying my eyes out elated for the British Men I have always regarded so highly. 6 days later I was at the foot of Old London Road just outside the ticket area for Box Hill, screaming Cavendish's name until my throat was sore. Again I was on the A3 when my heart broke, hearing Vino take the Gold that I wanted to see my idol wear. On the Sunday I watched on the TV as Lizzie Arminstead brought home a silver and dared to dream that Wiggo would do it. On Wednesday I watched as he realised that dream. The last few weeks have been sensational for me as a British fan. I was surprisingly unprepared for the experience on Saturday. Previously I had only been an armchair fan. I became a true tifosi at the foot of that hill, and as they headed up the hill to start the 2nd of 9 laps of the zig zag I realised I was shaking. There is nothing comparable to that experience. I had heard it said that no noise, no smell, no feeling is alike. The roar of the peloton is a sound that is unique. Though we cheered every passerby motorbike or car somehow we knew when "this was it". The thunderous noise will stay with me forever.
Next season I hope to be back. I would like very much for this deeply personal account to not be the last I commit to this page. If you read this, please dont comment. I would prefer to think of these words just out there in the ether somewhere rather than receive feedback.
I leave you with this thought. Team GB are not done. Their story is not over. This may be the pinnacle for one man's career but its not the pinnacle of British Cycling. British Cycling still has so much to give. And so do I.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Slovakian champion and green jersey holder Peter Sagen took his second victory with a win in stage 3 to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) held on for second over Peter Velits of Omega Pharma-QuickStep. A fourth place finish was sufficient to see RadioShack-Nissan's Fabian Cancellara hold on to his overall lead.
The final climb saw a large group going up for the win in a difficult situation. Oscar Freire of Katusha was squeezed as they made the dash for the line by a Vacansoleil rider, sparking a crash. Mostly contained on one side of the road it caused the hold up a number of riders already out of contention for the stage, but all were given the same time as the main bunch. Held up was Denis Menchov (Katusha), Bradley Wiggins and his Sky Procycling teammate Chris Froome who toppled the barriers but remained unhurt.
In a day marred by crashes, Garmin-Sharp suffered the worst luck of the peloton, although Ryder Hesjedal overcame a late-race puncture to regain the front group and ultimately finish the stage in 12th, while the rest of the team's climbers - Dan Martin, Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson, in addition to sprinter Tyler Farrar, were held up by a large crash in the final 20km and never regained the front of the race.
Team Sky lost one important helper in Kanstantsin Siutsou, who abandoned after a crash, as did Movistar's sprinter JJ Rojas.
Stage 4 sees the peloton travel 214.5km from Abbeville to Rouen. One of the longest stages in the Tour, this stage will pay tribute to Jacques Anquetil. The route emphasises the touristic aspect of the Tour by making its way down the Alabaster coast for a long time and enjoying its breathtaking landscapes and light effects.
Monday, 2 July 2012
The last Belgian stage of the 2012 tour, between Vise and Tournai, was always going to be a bunch sprint finish. It wasn't until 22 Kilometres into the days racing that the break was formed. The escape bid came from Roux (FDJ) who was then followed by Kern (EUC), who's child was born 2 hours prior to the team presentation in Liege, as well as the polka dot jersey Morkov, who further extended his points tally in the KOM classification by picking up the one and only point of the day.
In the intermediate sprint there was some big points for the sprinters to contend, with Matt Goss yet again taking the maximum for the riders in the peloton.
With around 30km left in the stage, the peloton had caught the bulk of the breakaway, only Anthony Roux staying out in front giving an impressive solo performance (Securing him the combative rider award for the day). With just 14km to go, the peloton reeled in the Frances Des Jeux rider winding up for a bunch sprint.
Each team had riders on the front, including BMC riding for Cadel Evans, trying to keep him out of harms way. Then Lotto Belisol came to the front of the peloton with Andre Greipel in tow. Once Greipel peeled off his leadout man, Greg Henderson, all was to play for. But with the world champion on his wheel it wasn't long before Cavendish had pulled past his former team mate to take the victory.
At the end of the day Cancellara finished safely in the bunch, keeping the yellow jersey. Also, Peter Sagan's 6th place gave him enough points to secure his first green jersey.
Saturday, 30 June 2012
Wiggins (Team Sky), looking to become the first Briton to win the Tour in three weeks' time, demonstrated his supreme form by pushing Cancellara close and taking an advantage of more than nine seconds over Evans, who finished 13th. The 32-year-old Londoner, born in Ghent, Belgium, was denied the chance to become the fifth Briton to don the Mailot Jaune. At the intermediate time check after 3.2km Wiggins, who was the 188th starter in a field of 198 riders, trailed by six seconds in 10th place.
Chavanel placed third, with Evans' team-mate TJ van Garderen fourth to take the best young rider's white jersey. Wiggins' team mate, Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished in 7:29 to place 11th, while Commonwealth Games time-trial champion David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), who had been a doubt for his 11th Tour due to illness earlier this week, clocked 7:31 to place 16th. Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) was a place behind in 17th. World time-trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had to change bikes due to a mechanical problem and finished in 7:36 to place 45th.
Tomorrow's stage of 198.0km from Liège to Seraing is no leg breaker, but it still is bumpy enough to dampen the hopes of pure sprinters and may see Cavendish dropped before reaching Seraing. The course is less demanding than in 1995, when Bruyneel and Indurain blew the race apart on the road to Liège, but it comes very close to the Ardennes and, at 198 km, the stage distance is nothing to sneeze at. This stage is designed to preserve the peloton's energy while setting the tone for the rest of the race.
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
For the first time since 1956 the UCI World Championships are being hosted by Denmark in the city of Copenhagen. Consisting of five time trial events and two road races, the World Championships are considered to be the most prestigious event in the UCI race calendar. With juniors competing with elite riders in the road races for the first time since 2004 the course route favours a bunch sprint finish for the coveted Rainbow Jersey.
The 266km course laps around the city with each lap ending in a slight uphill kick. The fairly flat course will favour a bunch sprint finish but the little kicks could lead to splintering of the pack so with everyone on guard it will take a brave effort to destabilise the pack as the toughest of the sprinters battle home to contest the victory.
Having scouted the course during the Tour of Denmark, Oscar Freire is the big Spanish hope for the men’s road race on Sunday , amongst a team of sprinters that has seen Olympic Champion Samuel Sanchez left at home. Meanwhile Britain’s Mark Cavendish is looking to become only the second British rider to wear the Rainbow Jersey. Fellow HTC-Columbia team mate and key lead out man for the Grand Tours Mark Renshaw has been left off the Australian start-list in a move that has perplexed many. Having notched up 18 wins this season Phillipe Gilbert will be a big name to watch along with Thor Hushovd who showed fine form in the Tour de France.
After some fine performances in Europe, Australia’s Shara Gillow, 23, will be on the look out to take the Rainbow Jersey in the women’s road race. Topping the medal table in the last two World Championships, the Australian contingent are confident of strong another strong performance this year. Meanwhile Britain’s Nicole Cooke, who is no stranger to the World Championship podium having taken gold in 2008, and Emma Pooley, who will be defending her Time Trial jersey, are joined by 22 year old Lizzie Armisted who has sucessfully transferred from the track to road racing.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
With two mountain stages before the time trial and a second week that includes some of the toughest climbs as Folgueriiras of Aigas is climbed ahead of the Puerto de Ancares (stage 13) the day before the riders return to the region of Asturias after a two year absence to climb the La Farrapona right before the Alto de Angliru (stage 15) there are sure to be fireworks in the race for the Red Jersey. But there is no certainty that a leader will emerge in this second week that will safely carry the Jersey into Madrid at the end of the third week. The winding route of stage 17 could lead to a dangerous breakaway into the complicated Sía and Alisa mountain passes and this could shake up the GC. If times are close then the Puerto de Urquiola could prove to be the deciding factor on the penultimate stage.