Tour de Past, Stage 11. 2010, Renshaw loses his head.

  One of the most dangerous parts of pro cycling are the mass sprints. To be successful in these tightly packed, high speed situations the riders need plenty of bottle. Skill and aggression are also necessary and in 2010s stage 11 these two attributes were used by HTC-Columbia to win the stage. The teams biggest rival were Garmin-Transitions and the friction between the two was … Continue reading Tour de Past, Stage 11. 2010, Renshaw loses his head.

Giro 100. The Giro Start in Sardinia.

Later on today the 100th running of the Giro d’Italia will start in Alghero on the island of Sardinia. As this is the centenary edition the race director Mauro Vegni wanted as many regions of Italy to be visited as possible. Sardinian cycling fans must be delighted as it will be only the 4th time that the race has come to the island. The first visit in 1961, which was the year the Giro was celebrating 100 years of Italian unification, saw a short short stage beginning and ending in Cagliari. It was another 30 years however till the riders returned. At least this time the islanders saw four stages (over three days) when Olbia staged the start of the race and there wasn’t as long a wait till the next sighting of the Maglia Rosa in 2007.

The fact that the Giro has only visited one of it’s regions four times seems odd, especially when you consider that the race has started in the Netherlands three time. This reason for this is mainly down to the North-South economic divide in Italy which shows increasing poverty levels as you head from the top of the boot, down towards the toe and over to the islands.

The Giro d’Italia was set up and run by the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper which was located in Milan which meant many of the early editions started and ended in Milan. And as the race was created to publicise and increase sales of the newspaper much of the racing was at the top of the country. There has always been more money in the industrial North so the population would be more likely to buy newspapers.

Continue reading “Giro 100. The Giro Start in Sardinia.”

Ripwell Reports. Roseburn to Leith Walk Cycle Route.

Over the last few months I have been following the final stages of Edinburgh City Councils planning process to build a new cycle route from the west of the city, near Murrayfield stadium, through the centre of the capital to the east in Leith. The bold scheme which includes plenty of segregated cycle lanes will provide a safe and direct route for those wanting to … Continue reading Ripwell Reports. Roseburn to Leith Walk Cycle Route.

Tour de Past, Stage 1. 2006, Thor Hushovd gets a paper cut.

  First published July 2016. Today the Tour de France starts with what can only be described as a sprint stage. The route from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach is similar to many first days of the race. But as well as sprint stages kicking off the Tour in recent years there have also been time trials and short hilly finishes meaning the first yellow jersey … Continue reading Tour de Past, Stage 1. 2006, Thor Hushovd gets a paper cut.

Frank Ross “All cyclists are….” Bingo.

Anyone for a game of ‘Frank Ross “All Cyclists Are….” Bingo’? The confrontational businessman, Frank Ross, who is the leader of the SNP in the Edinburgh City Council doesn’t like ‘cyclists’. He does like witnessing and cataloging unacceptable behaviour by some people on bikes and seems to enjoy blaming all people who ride bikes for those individuals actions. These narrow minded views are usually reserved … Continue reading Frank Ross “All cyclists are….” Bingo.

Txurrukas Txorica Txadventure and other odd rider transfers

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Photo from Xabiaz on Flickr

As I was skimming down the start list of the Tour of Catalunya today I had to do a double take about a third the way down. Wearing number 78 for Orica Green-Edge would be the Basque climber Amets Txurruka. I’m positive that I was already aware that the 33 year old had joined the Australian team, as I like to keep up with the transfers in the off season, but seeing things written down in the context of an actual race was still a shock and I’m sure I’ll still be rubbing my eyes in a comical fashion when I see Txurruka in his Green-Edge colours.

Yeah sure, riders move from team to team all the time but there are some examples of a certain type of rider pitching up at a certain type of team that feels so odd that something jolts inside you when you find out and you feel that the universe just won’t be the same place anymore.

Witnessing the start of Txurruka’s Txorica Txadventure (sorry) was exactly one of those occasions of weirdness. After spending his first season as a professional at Barloword, the last ten years have been spent at the Spanish regional teams Euskatel-Euskadi and Caja Rural. So a Basque, who is well into his twilight years, moving to an Australian team with a strong identity of having riders from the colonies will always strike me as bizarre every time I see him now.

But with cycling at a stage where old stalwarts are getting ready to retire and the new generation are trying to better themselves, there have been plenty of other strange moves which are curious for different reasons.

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My First Cyclocross Experience.

Cyclocross World Championships review, by a road racing fan.

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On Sunday the final event of the cyclocross season was held in Oostmalle, Belgium.

This occurrence always gets me excited as it means that the the road racing season, proper, would be about to start. Sure there have been some silly little races in the Middle East and other places that aren’t Europe but with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris-Nice on the horizon things are starting to get serious.

This year is different however.  I finally got round to watching my first weekend of cyclocross recently. It was the World Championships in Zolder and as it was only three weeks ago and the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed things means that this February the end of the cyclocross season has come to soon.

Before I sat down to watch my first race, the Womens Elite Final, I thought I’d have enough knowledge of ‘cross’, as they call it, to understand what was going to happen. While I had never watched a full race, never mind a weekend of racing, I had seen plenty of clips of the sport on the internet, though mostly of racers bunny hopping over obstacles, to show me what went on. I was also aware of some of the riders, past and present, from listening to podcasts and from them popping up on various social media time lines. I was familiar with recent World Champions Lars Boom and Zdeneck Stybar. Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand-Prevout were the two huge names on the womens side of the sport and like Lars and Zdeneck  had changed disciplines and were now riding on the road.

So I was expecting some form of road racing on mud with things playing out the same way as in a one day classic. The terrain would certainly be different but the riders and the equipment were essentially the same. I thought I would be watching a condensed version of Roubaix or Flanders where the strongest team would gradually grind down the opposition allowing their team leader to claim victory. Right from the start though I became aware that I didn’t have a clue. So here is my guide to cyclocross, for a roadie.

Continue reading “My First Cyclocross Experience.”

Katushas unfortunate kit design.

Before the start of the season when all the teams were unveiling there new kits it was pointed out that there was a flaw in Katushas design. If three members of the team were standing next to each other your eyes were drawn to three massive red K’s. But yesterday another problem with the Russian teams gear emerged as Alexander Kristoff sprinted, head down, to … Continue reading Katushas unfortunate kit design.

Giles Ripwell from the final stage.

Stage 8. London to London. My recap of the final stage of the Tour de of Britain comes a day late. TEAM wiggins had cause to celebrate after the end as our rider, a certain Mr Owen Doull finished third overall and ended up on, what they call in cycling competitions, ‘The Podium’. And by by jingos! Mr Wiggins-Sir can party! He introduced me to … Continue reading Giles Ripwell from the final stage.