Tour de of Britain, Stage 6. Newmarket to Aldeburgh.

brian-cookson

Brian Cookson finding it hard to contain his excitement after a visit to the Keswick Pencil Museum. He would later say of the trip; “I had the time of my life”.

Today’s stage started in Newmarket which is more known for its horse racing than cycling, though Tony Gallopin or Laura Trott would feel at home there! Also, this is a sprint stage so there will be no horse category climbs!

Seriously though, it has been lovely talking to so many new riders this year. At my last Tour de of Britain I spent most of the time listening to Bradley Wiggins-Sir moaning about some rascal called Mr Chris Froomes so a variety of banter has been wizard. I would have to say the best bunch of chaps come from the Team Dimension Data team. They help a charity called Qhubeka and its marvelous hearing from them how bikes are helping people in Africa. When I rode at TEAM wiggins one of the managers there, a certain Mr Simon Cope, seemed keen on helping charities such as Qhubeka and World Bike Relief. I heard that he once flew all the way to Swaziland with a bag of pedals.

As I alluded to earlier during my equine based japes today’s stage was rather flat. Being a fellow who enjoys climbing I find these days rather boring. Competing in a sprints stage is about as dull as the time, two years ago, when I accompanied Brian Cookson-Obe around the pencil museum in Keswick.

Crikey! Caleb Ewan won again but LarsBoom holds onto the Green Malliot Jaune. 

 

Tour de Past, Stage 14. 2015, Qhubeka Get Their First Tour Stage.

Over the 25 years or so of being a cycling fan I have had many favourite riders who I have willed on during many different races. I have shouted with excitement when they’ve won and felt their pain in defeat. I have never been an avid follower of any cycling teams though. I liked ONCE and T-Mobile back in the day because they had a few of my types of riders but I have never been like the avid Belgium fans of either Quick-Step or Lotto or the Team Sky diehards.

When MTN-Qhubeka came onto my radar though I instantly thought that they were a team I could really get behind. That was in 2013 when they took a step up to Pro-Continental level and made an immediate impact when Gerald Ciolek won the snow effected Milan-San Remo that spring. What most impressed me about them was that they chose to have the name of a charity on their jersey’s, promoting the work of Qhubeka instead of receiving money from some corporate entity. Here is some information on how providing bikes for schoolchildren can help improve their lives as well as the education of third world countries.

In 2014 the team gained its first entry to a Grand Tour after getting a Wild Card for that years Vuelta. They put in a solid performance with all their riders finishing and Sergio Pardilla their top rider in 17th place to show they belonged in the biggest races on the calendar. At the end of the season their new General Manager Brian Smith announced some big name signings for 2015 such as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Matt Goss and that along with their showing in the Vuelta convinced ASO to give them a wildcard berth for the 2015 Tour de France.

Brian Smith introduced another aspect to the team for 2015 with made them more supportable for me, the distinctive black and white jerseys. I had hoped that fellow Paisley Buddie had got inspiration for the design from our local football team St Mirren but he admitted in an interview that he was thinking more along the lines of Juventus.

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