Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Picture This: Taylor Phinney Goes Solo In Poland

 
With seven kilometres to go on what should have been a sprint stage, Taylor Phinney took off on his own. With teams limited to six riders for the Tour of Poland it shows that having less riders can make a big impact as the sprint teams struggled to get their trains together and bring the talented American back - in fact Phinney rode the final kilometre, alone, at the same speed as the chasing bunch. That's pretty damn impressive, and well worth the roar of victory as Phinney Crossed the line.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Erik Zabel Comes Clean...Again

 
Erik Zabel has little left to celebrate. In 2007 Erik Zabel stood in front of the press in floods of tears as he spoke about his 9 year old son while confessing to using EPO in the first week of the 1996 Tour de France. In his own words he described how, just on a single occasion he chose to use the performance enhancing drug before stating that thanks to the severity of the side effects, he never used it again. Today Erik Zabel told the world otherwise, having been named in the French Senate report as testing positive in the 1998 Tour...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Tour of Poland: Stage 1 Preview

 
The Tour of Poland starts today and in fact its the 70th edition - quite an unusual stat fro a race outside of France, Belgium and Italy which means there is a certain pedigree here. If we have become use to Poland's use of City Centre crit stages and largely flattish terrain then this years edition starts with a bang because the opening two stages happen to be in the very mountainous north of Italy...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Thursday Shorts: Team Tinkov, 1998, Poland Meets Italy.

 
With the Tour de France over it's easy to slip into those post-Tour blues but fortunately there have been plenty of talking points in the news this week and some more World Tour racing in the form of the Tour of Poland gets us firmly back on the road this weekend. Here's a round-up of goings on and things to come...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Transfer Talk

 
The Tour de France is always a key moment in the world of transfer gossip with riders regularly cutting deals during the race. Come the end of the race and things become even more serious with many of the big names considering the end of the Tour as the end of their competitive year - add to that the fact that many riders out of contract at the end of the year will be fighting hard to put in a performance between now and September and of course the rumour mill gets into full swing. Here's a quick look at the rumours so far...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tour de France: The Final Stage

 
So the GC battle is over and the final podium decided and what a race it's been. If at times the 2012 edition snoozed through the mountains and became a bore in the TT's then this year had a bit of everything. Daring attacks, a close battle for the podium, crosswinds, sprint stages and a yellow jersey winner who won three stages and attacked in the mountains. But it's not over just yet, because tonight stage on the Champs Elysées should be quite a bang for the race to go out on...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Picture This: Dutch Corner

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It was clear yesterday that some of the fans on Alpe d'Huez were getting in the way, Riblon and Van Garderen both ended up throwing punches and it's understandable - Policing on the Alpe seems to lack more each year and with two ascents this time around it was clear some fans were going to have had an extra beer or two (or 10) But if the behaviour wasn't always impecible then the atmosphere would have been pretty crazy - Imagine being Dutch and riding through the orange waves of Dutch corner, that would surely give you an extra boost...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tour de France Stage 18: Double d'Huez

 
The Tour de France makes history tomorrow to mark its 100 edition with a double ascent of Alpe d'Huez. Looking above, this profile is enough to strike fear into any professional bike rider but if many will be looking to take it easy and focus on just getting through the day - this stage could also be the last real opportunity for anybody looking to overhaul Chris Froome.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Mustafa Sayar And The Positive Test



Remember this 'unbelievable' ride by Turkish national Mustafa Sayar to take victory in the 2013 Tour of Turkey? At the time it was hard to watch knowing that a year before, race winner Ivailo Gabrovski went on to test positive for EPO after performing a similar feat. This year Sayar was eventually given the benefit of the doubt, having looked into the eyes of Matt Rendall and told him: I am a clean and credible winner. We all knew deep down this 'probably' wasn't true with even Eurosport commentators making their feelings known as the stage progressed and now Sayar has tested positive for a banned substance during the Tour of Algeria in March. So what effect will this have on a race already tarnished?...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Mont Ventoux

 
Today should prove to be one of the most important stages of the Tour de France so far as the race heads into its final week and the real climbing begins. This blog has become popular for it's take on the climbs and summit finishes and today it's Mont Ventoux - one of the toughest, history bound and mythical climbs of France and indeed the race...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Is Cavendish Showing Signs Of Slowing Down?

 
Things haven't gone well for the Manx sprinter so far in the Tour de France this year but much of that is to do with positioning, an inexperienced lead-out train and an early injury. Today though his lead-out train hit their rhythm and he headed to the finish line in a straight up sprint against Marcel Kittel - and lost. So, Is Mark Cavendish slowing down?...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Picture This: Mont-Saint-Michel And Almost The Fastest Ever TT...

 
What better accompaniment to the frankly stunning scenery of Mont-Saint-Michel than Tony Martins winning TT performance that almost put him into the record books: 
Chris Froom put well over two minutes into Contador, Valverde and Cadel all but ending any contest for the GC barring something massive but more remarkably (even Tony Martin himself expressed surprise) after two thirds of the course Froome was two seconds quicker than Tony Martin before dropping 14 seconds in the final 10km as a headwind set in leaving him 12 seconds off Martins Pace. Lower down the pecking order many suffered badly, most notably Pierre Rolland who lost over 4 minutes to Froome. It's been an interesting day with some interesting rides but the end result could make for a dull remainder of the race but we will have to wait and see. As for the scenery? There was nothing dull about that...

Monday, 8 July 2013

Book Review: The Breakaway - Cycling the Mountains of the Tour de France by Rolf Rae-Hansen


The Alps are looming just around the corner and without getting out on a bike and actually riding the climbs of the Tour, the closest most of us come to the mythical French mountains is watching the pro's ride them on TV and of course they make it look far easier than it actually is. The Breakaway - Cycling the Mountains of the Tour de France by Rolf Rae-Hansen looks not only at the climbs and their history but at just what it takes to ride them both physically and emotionally, their effects upon the soul, on body and mind in a Journal that truly bares all on the mountainside...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Tour de France Stage 9: Mission Impossible?

 
Yesterdays stage saw a perfect display from team Sky as Chris Froome romped away in the Pyrenees after a carefully controlled stage leaving all of his riders for dead by well over a minute and a half. We knew todays tough stage could provide a few fireworks but right from the word go we saw a collaboration of sorts between the big names in an attempt to blow Sky out of the water and dislodge Froome - it made for one of the most entertaining Tour stages in recent years but with Froome clinging on right to the very end was this a case of mission impossible? Or even mission failure?...

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tour de France Stage 8 - Ax 3 Domaines Summit Finish

 
The race so far has seen some hilly terrain in Corsica but stage 8 represents the first summit finish as the riders make a fleeting visit to the Pyrenees this weekend. The first 130km of Saturdays stage look relatively un-testing before the race suddenly heads skywards on the Hors category climb of the Col du Pailheres - a 15km brute that averages around an 8% gradient - before plummeting down a 16 kilometre long descent to the foot of the final climb of the day up to Ax 3 Domains...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Picture This: Polka Dots

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Here is Pierre Rolland in his Polka Dot 'King of the Moutains' Tour de France kit - it's true that for some the colour is a little hard to take but none the less this often undervalued jersey is a sure sign of a very talented and enduring rider, in fact I have as deep a respect for the 'mountains' jersey as I do for the the Yellow - whoever is in Polka Dots come the end of the Tour has undoubtedly been one of the strongest riders in the race, sure they might finish a mile back on the GC in the end but the power, energy and determination it takes to consistently ride to the top of the mountains first, each mountain, every day is something to behold and marks an incredible achievement - besides I quite like the spotty kit though Pierre could do with the matching gloves and socks here (each to their own) but if you don't like the colour blame Chocolat Poulain who became the first sponsor of the Mountains Classification in 1975 thus creating the now iconic jersey which just so happened to be the colour of the Chocolat Poulain bar wrappers. Nice.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tour de France Team Time Trial - The First GC Test?

 
So far the main aim for the general classification riders has been to ensure that they stay out of trouble In the unusually hilly start to the 100th edition of the Tour in Corsica but now the race hits the French mainland and things start to get a little more serious...