Saturday, 30 June 2012

Tour de France Prologue: What We Learnt

In the grand scheme of a Grand Tour you could be excused for thinking that a 6.4km prologue wouldn't matter a great deal. OK, so the time gaps are minimal(ish) but it is an early indicator of form, attitude and skill. The results of today's prologue tell us quite a few things, here they are in 12 easy points...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Film Friday: Tour de France 2012 - The Wait Is Over

One more sleep and it is here. Enough said. Enjoy...

Edit: And here, better late than never, is the Official Teaser hot off the press:

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Pre-Tour Titbits: Doping, Dark Horses And Ditching The Green

Who new watching a Team Presentation could provoke such feelings of excitement but with two days to go until the Tour kicks off in Liege its hard not to start feeling the buzz. There has been plenty of goings on of late as well with teams rushing to finalise their rosters, team leaders playing down or talking up their chances and the press digging around for anything to add to the 'Silly Season' that the Tour brings with it. Here's a brief round-up of the latest surround the 2012 Tour de France...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tour de France 2012: Essential Links, Guides and Follows

OK, so usually in the run up to a big race I write up an in depth preview of the Stages, Teams and Contenders. The Tour de France though is different. I would be covering ground that many others far more enthused and enlightened than me have already covered in depth. So rather than write yet another guide I thought a more useful tool would be a single post linking to everybody else's! Use the following links to navigate your way through a Mountain of information relating to this years Tour de France. Everything you need, all in one place. I will of course be covering the Tour as it happens as usual. The site is suffering with some technical difficulties at the minute but I'm hoping things will be back to normal within the next couple of days...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Omega Pharma-QuickStep: World Champions

Omega Pharma-QuickStep had a phenomenal start to the season in the early spring classics with Tom Boonen winning pretty much everything thanks to solid team support in the form of Sylvain Chavanel and Niki Terpstra. The Omega team now extend their lead over Sky in the team rankings by 7 points thanks to an extraordinary display in the various National Championships over the last couple of weeks. Forget the nationals, If there was a World Championships that recognised the team as the victor, then Omega Pharma-QuickStep would be it...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Film Friday: A Mellow 2012 Tour de France

OK, so its not the official Tour de France promo, but here's ITV4's mellow promotional vid. Its short but its a nice little teaser ahead of this years Tour which starts a week tomorrow! As most of my regular readers are well aware, I'm a little disappointed with this years route and indeed this years contenders. Yes I know, I will be supporting Wiggins and the prospect of a Brit winning the tour is an exciting one but I can't help feel a little underwhelmed at the lack of Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and mountainous terrain. Even with their inclusion though I would be backing Bradley Wiggins for the win, the man is on fire and of course the route suits him favourably - I just hope if (or when!) he pulls it off that he doesn't become known merely as the man who won the Tour when Schleck and Contador were missing! Anyway, this spirited little promo has lifted my gloom and with a week to go I'm starting to look forward to the Tour once again, helped by the exquisite backing music by one of my current favourite bands 'Daughter'......Enjoy.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Italian 'Jab': Staring Michele Scarponi...Again.

Two days after Filippo Pozzato was brought before the Italian Olympic Committee to answer questions regarding any contact he may have had with Dr Michele Ferrari, three other Italian riders have been asked to do the same next Wednesday: Michele Scarponi and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Lampre) along with Givanni Visconti (Movistar) will face questions regarding doping doctor Ferrari as part of the ongoing Padova Investigation...

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Face To The Name: Dr Michele Ferrari

Those new to professional cycling may be looking at the latest Armstrong debacle with a little confusion. Is this our sport? A secretive world of dodgy deals, 'training plans' and needles? A host of shady characters who's names read like a roll call of Poirot villains bound together by a Mafia like 'Omerta'? As unrealistic as it sounds, its not quite as far from the truth as the current crop of top brass at the UCI would like you to believe. With each new doping scandal come a few common connections, none more prominent than the shady character that is: Dr Michele Ferrari. His name crops up everywhere, but just who is Dr Ferrari?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Route du Sud: Quintana Prevails In The Pyrenees

I was keeping a close eye on today's Stage 3 of the Route du Sud as the race moved into the Pyrenees, tackling the infamous Col du Tourmalet before heading to an uphill climax which was sure to see the race decided ahead of tomorrows final stage...

Friday, 15 June 2012

Film Friday: Lance Armstrong V Paul Kimmage

This is the now infamous exchange between ex-pro turned cycling journalist Paul Kimmage and Lance Armstrong prior to the 2009 Tour of California. It's heated to say the least and it would be - Kimmage has long been an out-spoken anti-doping representative with a particular penchant for taking on Armstrong. Much of his journalism is dedicated to tackling a subject that others far to often shy away from. Whatever you think about Kimmage, at least we know his stance is clear. Remember this interview is in America, Lance Armstrong was always going to at least look like he came out on top in this exchange thanks to a much biased American Press and of course make of the interview what you will, Lance divides opinion well beyond the crux of Marmite. The first time I saw this I was almost convinced of Lance Armstrongs innocence, almost. This clip now takes on greater significance as it was recorded early 2009, a year in which the USADA now accuses Armstrong of renewed doping along with 2010 in fresh allegations, post come-back. Oh, and keep an eye on Ivan Basso (not long back from a doping suspension prior to this clip) when Lance uses him as an example - The scorned look from Ivan is priceless.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Rivalry Reignited - A Word On Armstrong

When Alberto Contador received a suspension for doping, putting him out of action until August after the Tour de France, it was clear that the greatest rivalry in cycling right now would take a year off in 2012. I am 100% anti-doping but I am willing to admit that I was disappointed - it was this rivalry that maintained my interest in the sport - and a Contadorless Tour in 2012 quickly became a less exciting prospect to me, though Bradley Wiggins has since done much to alleviate this. So when I heard yesterday that Andy Schleck would not be riding this years Tour de France due to a fractured pelvis sustained in his Dauphine crash, I had mixed emotions. This years Tour without Andy Schleck, no matter what you think of him, his attitude and methods, will be worse for it. He was the only real contender who would have been guaranteed to light up the race with big attacks in the mountains. Now it really does look like a two horse race between Wiggins and Cadel Evans. Every cloud though, has a silver lining and it is this which has reignited a fire within me and fuelled that great rivalry once again...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Route du Sud 2012 - A Preview

The above photo is of the view from the summit of the infamous Col du Tourmalet, but this is not the Tour de France - that's still two and a half weeks away - this is the 2.1 rated 4 day stage race, the 'Route du Sud' which takes place in the Pyrénées between Thursday 14th June and Sunday the 17th, this week.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Bradley Wiggins: Dare To Dream?

OK, so as of the last couple of weeks or so, Bradley Wiggins has become a (or even the) serious favourite to win the Tour de France this July. Us English folk though, well we love to worry, 'doubting' is a national hobby so can we really dare to dream?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Film Friday: Peloton - The Movie. Clink...

So, we all love cycling movies right? 'Overcoming', 'The Flying Scotsman' etc. Well you haven't seen anything yet! Check out this very 'real', 'true to life' trailer for American film 'Peloton'. Just think 'Overcoming' with added 'cyclist training in tracksuit bottoms, trainers and hoody', 'hot chicks', 'backward cap wearing' and 'Bud drinking'. Oh yes, its got the professional peloton down to a tee..."We rode out bikes!''. Clink.....

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Rumours Continue Over Future Of Jon Tiernan-Locke

Its getting to that point in the season (usually around the Tour de France) that the rumour mill starts to do its rounds regarding rider transfers. It's true that a lot of business is done at the Tour, if you watch the coverage intently you will see big name riders talking to rival team management in the background, this is all part of the tour and the circus that accompanies it. So far there have been rumours of mergers, a trading places type scenario regarding the Schleck Brothers and Alberto Contador (Contador to go to Radioshack-Nissan and the Schleck's to trade places and take up a position at SaxoBank). But rumours surrounding the future of Endura rider Jon Tiernan-Locke have been doing the rounds since his early season showing in Europe...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wordless Wednesday: No Skinsuit For Wiggins

The above picture is from this years Paris-Nice. 'Streamline' defined by Bradley Wiggins himself. Take a good look though, because Wiggins will not be wearing this in tomorrows 53km Time Trial in the Dauphine much to his own disappointment. Wiggins said after taking the yellow jersey "Now I can’t say I’m disappointed, but I’d like to ride the time trial on Thursday with my Sky skinsuit, so I’d prefer to lose a few seconds by then." It's pretty rare that a rider would try to lose the yellow jersey on purpose, but its no secret that Sky are very focused on 'marginal gains' and Bradley Wiggins clearly buys into this way of thinking, so much so that he would be prepared to ditch yellow for the comfort of his own team issue skinsuit. Why? Because tomorrow is extremely similar to the TT in this years Tour de France and Wiggins is eager to use it as a dry run for the tour and replicate the conditions as closely as possible. Unfortunately for him though he has retained the lead in this years Dauphine and will ride tomorrows stage in the Yellow leaders skinsuit...

Monday, 4 June 2012

Euskaltel Home And Dry?

I'm back from my break and as is usual whenever I go away, I miss some quite interesting developments in the world of pro-cycling, not least the news of a possible merger between Liquigas and SaxoBank minus Vincenzo Nibali who looks to have jumped to the Astana ship for 2013, quite how that will effect his Tour de France I'm unsure. However, as you will know I have been covering the Euskaltel-Euskadi in depth this year and the last couple of days have seen some interesting developments...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Film Friday: What Race?

This weeks film Friday is one for those of us who's interest in professional cycling extends beyond the television and into the saddle. For those of us who actively ride a bicycle, it's hard not to put ourselves in the shoes of our professional hero's from time to time. How many of us have found ourselves on a steep climb in the granny ring and imagined that we are riding the final stage of the Tour de France? How many of us have sprinted to 'that' road sign on our local clubrun and pretended just for that moment as we put the power down that we are in fact battling Mark Cavendish for the finish? OK, so maybe its just me, but the cyclists in the following video got to live those dreams for real in a very bizarre 5 minutes of fame.Warning: This Film could cause hysterical laughter...enjoy.