Andy Wood of Weaver Valley Cycling Club has achieved many things in his first year as organiser of arguably the biggest and most hotly contested women’s race on the domestic calendar – the Cheshire Classic. Not only did he source amazing sponsors in Epic Cycles, Delamere Dairy, De Vere Hotels and Roberts Bakery, as well as support from the Breeze Network and Halfords, but he also managed to persuade British Cycling to get their act together with the Accredited Marshals Scheme that has been promised for so long.
Closed roads for a road race are pretty much unheard of – for a start it costs too much, and when, as an organiser, you are often pushed to the limit financially to put your event on, then road closures are the last thing on your list. It also depends on where your course goes too – and the Cheshire Classic goes up and down a bypass, so the local council are never going to go for that. However, with Accredited Marshals comes a new concept – stopping the traffic with lollipop signs but instead of them saying “Stop! Children!” the say “Stop! Cyclists!”
The first thing that I noticed on the way to the headquarters, was the large number of “Caution! Cycle Event!” signs on your approach to the bypass. This meant that drivers had warning from an early stage that there was an event on – not a small side hiding in a grass verge – but a sign on every lamp post in the couple of hundred metres leading up to the area where the accredited marshals were going to be in place, so drivers had no excuse. The next tell tale sign was “Traffic Control Ahead” which is probably what the drivers didn’t want to see!
How did it affect the race? Well there were two main sticking points on the course – firstly the entry on to the bypass – this is a single carriageway bypass, with no central reservation and cars will speed down that section of road so it is very dangerous. The presence of the accredited marshals meant that the bunch was able to enter the main road from the sweeping left-hand bend without worrying about oncoming traffic. The second tricky place was the main climb, where the finish is, “The Cliff” on Acton Lane, where the gradient gets steeper towards the top. Again, the presence of the accredited marshals meant that cars had to stop at the top of the climb whilst the riders came through, which also meant that all of the road was used (until you came around the bend to find the stopped car!)
It was a classic Cheshire Classic, with Karla Boddy of MG Maxifuel taking the win in a tight sprint finish with Emma Grant of Matrix Fitness. A superb ride by Karla, who was understandably emotional at the finish! But, in my humble opinion, there was another star in the making – it was Andy Wood’s first solo attempt at organising a bike race, which was one of the most well-organised events I have been able to attend. I only hope that the riders appreciate all the hard work and effort he put into the event to make it such a great success.
Arguably the most spectacular and visually stimulating of the three Grand Tours the 96th edition of the Giro d’Italia has been described as a hybrid route which transcends the boundaries between a wholly climbers race and a TT specialist’s. Last year’s Giro was perhaps the most stimulating of all Grand Tours with a surprise but worthy winner in Ryder Hesjedal and this year’s looks to emulate that with a dramatic race from Naples to Brescia over 3405 kilometres.
The stellar cast of riders including last year’s Maglia Rosa, Tour winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, recent Giro Del Trentino victor Vincenzo Nibali and a host of other contenders for the General Classification including Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso(!), Michele Scarponi, Samuel Sanchez and Robert Gesink certainly whets the appetite for a fine race to Brescia on the 27th of May. This coupled with sprinters Mark Cavendish, Nacer Bouhanni, Matthew Goss, Sacha Modolo and Roberto Ferrari ensures that this will be a delight of a race from start to finish.
The ebb and flow of a stage race is perhaps no more in evidence than at the Giro. This coupled with the fantastic landscape theatre in which it is played out in, ensures that it is a delight to view. The stage profiles suggest the route builds through the first two weeks (as any good Grand Tour should) to the final few outrageous mountain stages over the Passo Gavia, the Stelvio and the Passo Giau. Stages 4, 7 and 9 are the ones to definitely tune in for early on the race with a nice mix of terrain to suit both puncheurs and overall contenders keen to steal an early march on their opponents. Stage 7 to Pescara and its important port and marina is sure to excite typical breakaway specialists but the terrain could promote a sprint at a push and is likely to stir John Degenkolb’s Argos Shimano and Nacer Bouhanni’s FDJ team into action.
The key aspect of the majority of the mountain stages, back loaded into the second and third weekend, is their relatively short length. Take for example Stage 15, Sunday 19th May where the race heads over the Mont Ceris and then the Telegraphe before the final, tougher ascent to the Col Du Galibier the opposite side to Andy Schleck’s 60km solo escape to win Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France; a stage which is only 149km long and will undoubtedly be raced rapidly from the off. By the start of stage 20 we may well already know whether Bradley Wiggins has coped with the steeper Italian ascents in comparison to the long steady climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees, and perhaps more importantly whether Team Sky’s mass on the front riding has worked to the extent that it has done in the past. So, as the road rises to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo a final nail may have been hammered into Wiggins’ coffin by messers Nibali, Betancur, Pozzovivo and Sanchez.
To finish; some (ill-informed and widely speculative) predictions. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mauro Santambrogio going well in the GC, if only for a top 5 or top 10. Moving to Vini Fantini from BMC at the end of 2012 has reaped its rewards for the 28 year old Italian, with 7th at Tirreno Adriatico and 2nd at the Giro Del Trentino . Certainly his team isn’t as strong as the other overall favourites, his Grand Tour form isn’t spectacular, and I’m not convinced by his time trailing capabilities (76th and 54th in his two ITT’s this year), but the Giro more often than not throws up a surprise contender.
The changing of the GC guard is evident in the fact that old powers like Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans and Michele Scarponi aren’t getting any younger and in the early to mid stage of the decent of their careers. The nearly man Robert Gesink could go close if on top form and he avoids crashes and if not him or Santambrogio then certainly Benat Intxausti looks well placed for a Top 10 finish. Finishing 10th last year at the incredibly difficult Vuelta, perhaps marked a breakthrough for the 27th year old. Whether he will ride for JJ Cobo, the Vuelta winner of 2011 remains to be seen but certainly his form has been building nicely since an 8th in the overall at the Tour of the Basque Country and 4th at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta. He can time trial too, which could help limit his losses in the mountains.
Meanwhile, Wiggins’ form, although not as spectacular as last season, certainly looks solid with an ill-timed mechanical arguably the only difference between himself and Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro Del Trentino. He also looked comfortable on the steeper climbs that epitomize Trentino and his time trialing will have undoubtedly remained flawless. Ryder Hesjedal looked mean and lean in Liege Bastogne Liege although his prevalence as an overall contender opposed to last year could be his undoing.
As ever there will be Italians who emerge into the spotlight of the wild Tifosi as Matteo Rabottini did last year so spectacularly. Stefano Pirazzi is sure to be one to watch for attacking in the mountains along with the ever excitable Vacansoleil, the wonderfully entitled Vini Fantini and the other Pro Continental outfits of Team Colombia, Androni-Venezuela and Bardini Vavole – CSF Inox, who are sure to animate things from the off.
My Giro d’Italia Top 5:-
- Vincenzo Nibali
- Bradley Wiggins
- Ryder Hesjedal
- Robert Gesink
- Mauro Santambrogio
Stage Win – Stefano Pirazzi
White Jersey – Wilco Kelderman
Fingers crossed for a passionate, exciting and unpredictable Giro!
When you’re growing up, everyone wants to be the hero –PM, astronaut, fighter pilot, racing driver – but nothing achieved in any of those roles ever happens without a vast latticework of support. Cycling is not immune; indeed, when Wiggo thrust cycling into the faces of an otherwise unknowing public last July, the nuances of the support network around him must have been hard to spot for the casual viewer. Sir Bradley had his nine-man squad on the road, of course, and everything that Team Sky could think of in the way of shiny kit and qualified personnel. And on the road, out of the spotlight but orchestrating every aspect of every race in their beautiful black and blue Jaguars were the Sports Directors.
In the never-ending pursuit of the aggregation of marginal gains, for 2013 Team Sky took the opportunity to despatch two of their Sports Directors to the MIRA proving ground at Nuneaton to learn more about handling the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Marcus Ljungqvist and Dan Hunt both have experience from within the car during races, but neither had previously received specific driver training – under the auspices of Nigel, one of MIRA’s exceedingly capable instructors, Team Sky’s DS’s put themselves to the sword in one of their 2013 cars, merrily sliding and spinning their way around MIRA’s watered, variable grip circuits with some chap called Martin Brundle also on hand to offer the occasional word of advice.
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The point was not to train Marcus and Dan how to drive like racing drivers, Martin explained as Nigel sped us around to demonstrate, it’s about teaching them how the car reacts so they know what to do if a situation occurs during a race that pushes the car over the limit. “You might think that, as racing drivers, we throw the car around wildly,” explains the former Le Mans winner and World Sportscar Champion, arguably the best Formula One driver not to win a Grand Prix. “In reality it’s all about being smooth and gentle with the car.” The limiting factor is the tyre –it transmits inputs from acceleration, braking and steering, but if you try and throw too many things at it at once, that’s when things go pear-shaped. Being smooth with the inputs not only allows you to run closer to the ultimate limit, it also means that you’re less likely to go skating wildly over it and the car will be more easily controlled.
For Marcus and Dan, the day was about learning to recognise and respond when that limit is approached, and if Nigel’s teaching is anything like his driving, the roads of ProTour cycle races will be the safer for the improvements in their competence – the Sportbrake proved itself amazingly capable, with eyeball-popping go, stop-on-a-dime brakes and a taut agility that’s just wrong in a car that size. In Nigel’s hands, it happily ran sideways on the low-grip track, then flung us around the capacious rear with gay abandon on the dry handling circuit – if the demonstration was anything to go by, it doesn’t seem likely that Marcus and Dan will often be called upon to push the big cat to the limit!
What’s clear throughout the whole process is that Jaguar and Team Sky have an exceedingly warm and productive relationship. With an engineer on hand with a view to improving the car still further for the peculiar needs of bike racing, it’s obvious that, while the cars look like a standard Sportbrake with livery and a bespoke rack, they have already been modified to suit the job (to cite one example, the rear windows in the Sportbrake didn’t quite go all the way down– now they do), and the process is ongoing with discussions taking place on improved information technology and amended wing mirrors. When it comes to marginal gains, nothing is off limits – Team Sky even went to the lengths of putting a rider on hand to practice the interactions between rider and car, Chris Sutton setting what just might be a record for the number of bidons stowed on a single rider.
So – a useful day? Dan is positive. “It’s great to be able to test the car in a safe environment and being allowed to fail without the risk of consequences.”
“We went on three different surfaces,” adds Marcus. “ Slippery, super slippery, and super-super-slippery! – and we took the car to the limit to learn how it would react. The good thing here is we can do it over and over again, in a really relaxed environment, so we can remember what we did – in a race maybe something happens but you don’t remember actually how you managed to control it.”
“It’s a core component of what we do, we SHOULD be good at it.” says Dan. “At Sky, we always want to be better at everything we do, and driving’s a critical part – getting guys like Martin and Nigel from MIRA, it’s fantastic for us.”
Marcus nods. “A lot of times it’s former bike riders, you’re supposed to be a good sport director but you have no driving experience at all – you think you’re (just) driving thirty K’s an hour behind the peloton but sometimes it’s really crazy back there.”
“Marginal gains doesn’t stop with the riders, every member of staff has a responsibility to do their job better tomorrow than they did today,” says Dan emphatically. “That’s what marginal gains is about, doing things a little bit better, all of the time –for us today it’s about improving our driving skills, tomorrow it might be involve better tactical skills. For the riders it’s about fitness, about improving their race times. Marginal gains isn’t just equipment or an empty philosophy, it’s about getting better at what you do every day, trying to be the best in the world at what we do.”
This day, as with every other day, Team Sky just got that little bit better.
Cycletta Aims to Help Get One Million Ladies on their Bikes by 2020
– Victoria Pendleton CBE hoping to see lots more ladies taking up cycling as a way of staying fit and having fun.
– 56% of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time
– 96% of participants, who weren’t already regular cyclists, said that they had been inspired to cycle more regularly in the future.
Cycletta, the UK’s leading series of women only bike rides, is showing its support to British Cycling’s plans to get one million women cycling by 2020.
Victoria Pendleton CBE launched the 2013 Cycletta series last week. Following the success of last year’s events which saw thousands of women across the UK take to their bikes, Cycletta 2013 is coming to even more stunning locations, including visits to Scotland and Wales for the first time, as well as a new Surrey location.
During the 2012 series, 56% of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time and an impressive 96% of participants, who weren’t already regular cyclists, said that they had been inspired to cycle more regularly in the future. It is results such as these that show how Cycletta has been effective in partnering British Cycling and the Breeze Network in their initiative to increase participation of female cyclists.
Cycletta 2013 is open to women of all ages and abilities, where distances include the Classic route (40 km) and Challenge (52-82km). With the Olympics inspiring a wave of new cyclists series organisers, Human Race, have added a shorter 20km distance at all venues, continuing to develop the core motivation behind Cycletta and make cycling participation accessible for as many women as possible.
Cycletta ambassador, Victoria Pendleton will be aiming to take part in as many of the events as she can, and encourages women everywhere to give the events a go. She said: “Cycletta has been encouraging women to get on their bikes since 2011. The fact that the series has grown from two events to seven over the last few years proves that more and more ladies are taking up cycling.”
She continued: “Last year just over half of all Cycletta participants were taking part in a cycling event for the first time and with the addition of the new shorter 20km routes this year, we are hoping to see lots more ladies taking up cycling as a way of staying fit and having fun.”
This year, girls aged between 12 and 16 years can also take part when accompanied by an adult, with the organisers hoping Cycletta will inspire the next generation of Victoria Pendletons and offer the opportunity for mums and daughters to take part in events together.
For the younger children, all events (with the exception of Brighton and Cycletta at Wiggle Dragon Ride) will host a Scootathlon taking place on the same day. The Scootathlon is a fun mini triathlon for children between the ages of 4 and 8 where they scoot, bike and run. Girls and boys will race together in various age categories for the title of Scootathlon champion.
Each Cycletta will take place in stunning surroundings, on safe well-managed roads and with loads of fun for all the family. Each event will feature all the unique touches that made the 2012 events so popular. A pop up spa by Unlisted, London’s leading authority in beauty, fitness and wellbeing, will be offering all Cycletta participants post-ride spa treatments to ensure that riders relax, rejuvenate and revive within the Unlisted oasis.
Ian Lulham, Cycling Events Programme Manager for Cycletta’s Official Charity Partner Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We want as many ladies as possible to take to two wheels, get outdoors in the great British countryside and take part in Cycletta for Macmillan in 2013. Not only will you have a great day out, but you’ll be helping us on our way to raising much needed funds to help support people affected by cancer, every step of the way.”
The Cycletta website offers a host of information on training, on-the-day advice and bike maintenance. Also keep an eye on the Cycletta blog, Twitter (@cycletta) and http://www.facebook.com/cycletta to stay up-to-date with the latest news and developments. Cycletta is part of the Human Race Women Only series which includes triathlon, swimming, running and cycling events. To find out more go to: http://www.humanrace.co.uk
See below for all Cycletta events and visit http://www.cycletta.co.uk to book your place.
Cycletta Cheshire: 12th May, Tatton Park
Cycletta at the Wiggle Dragon Ride: 9th June, Margam Park, South Wales
Cycletta Bedfordshire: 30th June, Woburn Abbey
Cycletta Surrey: 7th July, Loseley Park
Cycletta Scotland: 15th September, Scone Palace, Perth
Cycletta Brighton: 29th September, Plumpton Racecourse
Cycletta New Forest: 13th October, Beaulieu
After a good 2012 season, racing mostly criterium in the USA, I dediced to make it bigger and I will continue part time with the same structure captained by Emile Abraham and another one in Japan directed by Sebastien Pilotte; Positivi Peugeot cycling team!
Après une bonne saison 2012, à courir principalement des critériums aux USA, j’ai décidé de faire les choses en grand et ainsi, je vais continuer avec la même structure dirigée par Emile Abraham; Predator Cycling en plus d’une autre au Japon dirigée par le québécois Sébastien Pilotte établi au Japon; Positivi Peugeot cycling team!
I started 2013 with the Vuelta Independencia in Dominican Republic. Its my 4th participation in the event so I knew what to expect from it.
J’ai débuté 2013 avec la Vuelta Independencia en République Dominicaine. Il s’agit de ma quatrième participation, alors je savais à quoi m’en tenir.
I prepared as best as I could on the Computrainer and doing cross country skiing workouts, but it is always hard to replicate road trainning in the winter in Quebec city!
Je me suis préparé aussi bien que je l’ai pu en m’entraînant sur Computrainer et en ski de fond, mais c’est toujours un peu difficile de répliquer l’entraînement spécifique de route en hiver au Québec!
I flew to the Dominican Republic on the 14th, so I could at least do one long road ride before the vuelta began on the 20th. Getting to Dominica was a bit of chaos as most guys on the team booked their flight with Jetblue which doesn’t accept bikes only for Dom Rep! Last minute, I had to bring 2 additional bikes with me. Adding to that, my own last minute arrangments, I did not have time to sleep and so was very tired when I finally arrived where I was greeted by Guillermo Juan of Samana Backpackers where I enjoyed the few days before the Vuelta.
J’ai volé vers Saint-Domingue le 14 février, afin de pouvoir réaliser une longue sortie sur route avec le début de la vuelta le 20. Me rendre en République fut un peu compliqué… La plupart des coureurs de l’équipe avaient réserver avec Jetblue et on apprit à la dernière minute que la compagnie n’acceptait pas les vélos à destination de République Dominicaine. J’ai donc du partir avec 2 vélos supplémentaires. Ajoutons à cela mes propres arrangements de dernière minute et je n’ai pu dormir du tout avant mon vol du matin. Je suis donc arrivé quelques peu fatigué à Samana, où j’ai été accueilli par Guillermo Juan de Samana Backpackers où j’allais passé les quelques jours d’entraînement avant la vuelta.
My preparation for the Vuelta then consisted of a short 2h road ride on the 15th followed by a solid 4h30 the next day and then recovery rides up to the start of the race. I got my team predator bike the day before the race. I was amazed by it! Predator Cycling specialise in carbon repair. So, I will be racing a Kuota Kom with Di2 shifting and FSA components, a bike previously used by Hilton Clarke. Will I be as fast ? After 8 days of racing, all I can say is it’s a fantastic bike!
Ma préparation pour la vuelta a donc consisté en une petite sortie de 2h le 15 suivi d’un solide 4h30 le jour suivant et des sorties de récupérations jusqu’à ce que la vuelta commence. J’ai reçu mon vélo d’équipe le jour précédent la course. J’ai été tout à fait émerveillé. Predator Cycling se spécialise dans la réparation de vélo carbone. Je courerai donc aux USA sur l’ancien vélo d’Hilton Clarke, un Kuota Kom, réparé et remis à neuf, équipé en shimano Di2 et composantes FSA. Une vraie machine !
The Vuelta was a good preparation for the season. 8 days of fast racing, 1000km with flat and mountainous terrain. We raced under Ekoi.ca / 1% for the Planet colours and the team consisted of myself, Cory Wallace, Etienne Samson, Louis-Charles Lacroix, Adam Andersen and Jordan Brochu.
La Vuelta constitue la préparation idéale pour entamer la saison. 8 jour de courses rythmées, 1000km de plat et terrain montagneux. Nous avons couru sous les couleurs d’ Ekoi.ca / 1% for the Planet et l’équipe consistait de moi même, Cory Wallace, Etienne Samson, Louis-Charles Lacroix, Adam Andersen et Jordan Brochu.
We missed out on stage 1 as the main breakaway went after only 5km into the 146km race. In the end we lost 11min and all GC hopes. Anyway, the first stage was still tough for us as we tried hard to establish a counter attack to limit the time losses. As the vuelta continued, our form was also improving. On stage 5, I got myself in a breakaway before we hit the real mountains. Tough that I did not push myself very hard to follow the leaders when they passed me in fear of bonking later, but maybe I should have, as I completed the whole race alone without getting caught by a single rider.
Nous avons manqué de chance à la première étape alors que LA bonne échappée est partie après seulement 5km de course sur la première étape de 146km. Au final, je perd plus de 11min et toute chance de classement général. Quoi qu’il en soit, cette première étape aura été difficile puisque je n’ai pas ménagé mes efforts afin d’établir un groupe de contre pour limiter les écarts. Nous n’avions aucun splits de temps durant la course… Plus les étapes évoluait, plus je me sentais en jambe. Lors de l’étape 5, je me suis retrouvé dans le premier groupe au pied de l’ascension. Je n’ai pas poussé lorsque les leaders m’ont passés, par peur d’exploser plus tard, mais peut-être aurais-je du puisque j’ai par la suite complété toute l’étape solo sans me faire reprendre par un seul coureur.
The next day, I did a good time trial averaging 47,5km/h on my first lap and fading a little on the second lap to finish 10th, a minute and 11 sec behind the winner Bruno Langlois, not bad for someone who trained inside and skiing in Quebec.
Le lendemain, j’ai fait un bon contre-la-montre complétant le premier tour en 47,5km/h de moyenne. J’ai faiblit lors du deuxième tour pour finalement terminer à 1min11 de Bruno Langlois en 10ème position. Plutôt satisfaisant pour l’entraînement hivernal.
On stage 7, the next day, I was feeling even better and made the early breakaway of 6 after only 10km of racing. We averaged 48km/h in the first hour of racing before the peloton let us increase our gap more signigicantly. By mid race, some GC riders bridged up to us to make it a group of around 10. Meanwhile, some riders from the early break were fading off. A little while later, a crash happened in the group and we got down to 5 riders of which two were strong riders from Inteja; Diego Milan and Augusto Sanchez. In the end, I played my cards right except for the final sprint in which I led into the last corner but first to get passed by the lead out of Augusto Sanchez, to finish just outside the podium in 4th.
Lors de l’étape 7, le jour suivant, je me sentais encore mieux et j’ai décidé de joindre l’échappée du début après seulement 10km de course. Nous éti.ons 6 et le rythme était assez rapide à en témoigner la moyenne de 48km/h pour la première heure. À la mi-course, quelques coureurs nous ont rejoint alors que d’autres ont faiblit et rejoint le peloton. Quelques instants plus tard, une chute réduisit notre groupe à 5 coureurs, emportant Pablo Mudarra virtuel 2ème du général, alors que notre avance était de 3min30. En somme, j’ai bien joué mes cartes tout au long de la course, à l’exception du sprint final, lequel comportait un virage dangereux que j’ai entammé en premier pour me voir dépassé immédiatement par Augusto Sanchez qui lança le sprint pour son coéquipier Diego Milan. Je termine donc au pied du podium.
After the last race in Santo Domingo, I headed to Samana Backpackers again to rest a bit in Samana and explore some of the area. I am now heading to Tucson where I will be racing March with Team Predator before heading to Japan in early April for solid races in Asia. Funny fact, I’ve started learning Japanese with audio courses and it’s easier than I thought!
Après la course, je me suis dirigé vers Samana à nouveau pour me reposer de la course et découvrir un peu les attraits de cette région. Je me dirige maintenant pour Tucson en Arizona, où je rejoindrai mes coéquipied de Team Predator pour le Old Pueblo Grand Prix et d’autres critériums aux USA par la suite. J’irai ensuite au Japon à la fin du mois pour courrir avec Positivi Peugeot cycling team. Petite annectode, j’ai commencé les cours audio de japonais et c’est pas mal plus facile qu’on pourrait le penser!
Thanks for reading ! Sayonara!
Merci de me lire ! Sayonara!