Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, the Cycling Shorts team have put our collective heads together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint even the fussiest cyclist in your life.
We’ve split our choices into four perfect price parcels for commuters, kids, pro’s or fans. Click on the images or text links to visit the retailers (we’ve tried to find the cheapest deals for you). If nothing takes your fancy take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.
It would have to be a Handmade Cyclist print or 5. My personal favourite is the Monument Collection, I love the style of them and the little stories behind each print- the dog in Paris- Roubaix, the Chapel in Lombardia. You have to be a bit of a bike geek to really appreciate them! I came across Neil’s work when he provided South West Women’s Race Series with prints as prizes. A great gift at only £25 each or buy the full set of 5 for £100.
If you are thinking about giving racing a go next season, sign up to one of the race training sessions that Cycling Shorts staff writer; Heather Bamforth is coaching – price is £20 per four hour session and is aimed at female riders who are either novices, fourth or third category riders.
Safety on the road is a hot topic at the moment, so I would suggest a OneLife ID Band, these silicone bands come with an etched metal tag with a unique URL and QR code that links to your personal profile where your “in case of emergency” can be stored and if someone enters the pin number on the back of the tag into the website your medical data can be viewed by a paramedic. It’s a highly customisable system, show as much or as little info as you want and it has multiple uses, lost property, ICE or Meditag. You can buy stickers, bands, keyrings and cards. Keeping a loved one easily identifiable in an emergency situation could save a life. If you click here you can see an example of what a profile looks like.
Remember there’s a discount of 15% with xmasgift15 until 11th December!
For the kids two items: the Bell Fraction Helmets and The fun Handlebar Heroes… Giddy Up!
For the Boys: A nice retro wool racing cap, Walz do a great quality cap for a good price, available from Always Riding from £19 to £23. Or maybe some leather trouser straps from Brooks, they have a great new range of bright metallics from £14.66.
howies do some great t-Shirts for men and women but my favourite this year is their mens Labrador T-Shirt.. a bargain at £25
Pegatin provide bike sitckers decals to the cycling stars; a great stocking filler. Choose the country flag and name and you’re ready to go! Starts at £9.99.
Why not treat the track cyclist in your life to a Track Cycling Calendar only £16.99, with photographs by top cycling photographer Guy Swarbrick… or for the track sprinter who likes their caffeine rush why not head over to V-Sprint’s website and order an Espresso Set. V-Sprint have cycling in their blood, owned by European Team Sprint Champion; Jess Varnish’s Dad. If you can’t stretch to a set of V-Sprints custom made wheels go for the coffee hit!
Stitch-Mi-Lane is a brand I’ve only recently come across, I bought one of their gorgeous Bike Twist Snoods recently and it’s getting a lot of wear this winter. I love it, really soft and cosy wool. Coming in under budget though is the Commuter Cowl at £28, or the Snug Spectator Merino Bike Bobble Hat also at £28. Want something for the living room? Why not get a Stitch-Mi-Lane Bike Wheel Cushion… my favourite is the blue and orange colourway, again a snip at £28!
For the lazy cyclist: Brite Ride Mega Bike Wipes £19.99 Or if they are feeling a little more energetic… give it a polish! Get a Purple Harry Bike Wash & Polish Mitt for £5.99, Purple Harry have a great range of cleaning products, check them out!
Hannah Walker Matrix Mug £16
Cool little gift for someone you know who loves cycling, drawn by the amazing Marty McCrossan, this little gift won’t break the bank and it’ll help fund Matrix Fitness RA with part of the proceeds going directly to the team!!
Fancy a read… Rob Hayles: Easy Rider £16.99 – Very funny book which will keep you entertained for hours, and shows you the insights of what it takes to become a Pro bike rider! It’s one of those books you’ll read many a time and have you laughing out loud like I did on a flight to Germany!
It simply has to be the traditional Christmas undies under the tree – a three pack of Look Mum No Hands Podium Pants (£25) will bring a smile to the faces of all; simply perfect for your pedaling partner! Why not accessorise with a pair of Rapha Winter City Riding Socks (£15), in pink, of course.
What Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a book to curl up with as the kids clean and prepare your bike for the traditional Boxing Day ride. This year has seen a cycling book eruption. My particular favourites, of which I will select three (the reviews are coming – I promise you readers… and you too dear editor!) have been, in no particular order…
Long Race to Glory – How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World, by Chris Sidwells. A wonderfully written and entertaining history of the many characters and events that have paved the way for the riders of today.
The Pain and the Glory: Team Sky Giro & Tour Diary, by Team Sky, Sir Brailsford and Chris Froome. Another fine tome, packed full off Scott Mitchell’s beautiful photography and supported by a free interactive Augmented Reality App that allows readers to scan selected pictures and then to sit back gazing in wonder as Scott tells you the story behind the photograph.
One for you Kindle folk: The Winter Cycling Survival Guide: How to Cycle through your first Winter – keep warm, get fit & stay motivated (A Beginner’s Training Guide.) by Rebecca Ramsay.
There’s no finer place to circle the important cycling dates of 2014 than in the Roths 2014 Tourleben – calendar (42-42 cm). Full of great photos that capture many of the legends of cycling. You won’t see many of these in the UK. Classy and inspiring.
Here are some of my favorites. It’s so wet over here so some warm wool cycling socks or rain booties—both of which I’d love right now, just to walk the dogs!
David James: Some top quality bar tape makes a real difference to comfort when riding and with so many colours and styles to choose from it should be easy to find something just right.
The majority of your heat escapes via your head – do yourself a favour and buy a bobble hat – Scruffy Dog Creations are selling like hot cakes at the moment! You can find out more about this brand, which boast handmade knitwear by checking out their Facebook page. If you want to buy one right now, you can purchase them from Victor and Liberty, priced between £26 and £29
It has to be the Defeet Slipstream Hi-Viz Overshoes (Pink) RRP: £13.99
Every cyclist needs to keep their neck warm in the winter and this Merino collar from Rapha goes down a treat for both the men and ladies alike. Available in just about every club colour you’d need, it’s understated by over delivers in warmth.
Winter Collar £25
Secret Santa could get me a set of Speedplay Cleats. I became a SPEEDPLAY disciple earlier in the year. A little odd at first but once you’re used to them they’re brilliant. The best way I’ve found of describing the Speedplay experience is to say that it’s just like having the spindle of the pedal running through the ball of your foot.
Good prices online, but do what all good riders should do… check out your local shop..£28 in mine.
Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro – A bumper year for cycling books in Britain – Wegelius’ tale has to be most enlightening book I’ve ever read on Pro road cycling. Click here for my review.
One23 Coloured Multi-Tool – £11. Perfect for fitting in your pocket or saddle bag. Small, but adds rainbow coloured functionality to an often grey wintery world. Who says multi tools need to be boring.
Santa’s Little Helper
New club kit! Abergavenny RC have great new kit for 2014 and I would be very happy to get some for Christmas.
Adidas Response Womens Tour Rain Jacket £85. Brilliant jacket for training in during those cold winter months or rainy days, it’s great to use as a thermal as its a very warm jacket but also keeps you dry. It isn’t that fluorescent ‘hi-viz’ that everyone hates to wear so they’re seen on the road by trucks and cars, instead it’s still a bright colour just a lot nicer and actually looks cool to wear! It’s unisex however there is a mens version with blue stripes down the sleeves!
Rouleur Centenary Tour de France
Evocative as ever from the lovely folks over at Rouleur. Outlandish quality both in terms of its content and binding. Listen to the most recent Rouleur podcast for a review of the project.
Whilst I must admit I’m not a subscriber to VeloCast’s premium content – with this package on offer its hard not to sign up. If it’s half as good as their work for Eurosport then I’m sure it will be a triumph.
This would be on my Santas list… Limited edition print from Aaron Kuehn. I love this picture, it’s something that I come back to time after time and it’s great for showing folks who are learning which bit is which on a bike. On sale for $99.
Velobici Ella Vest and Shorts Set – £66 for the set. Designed and made in the UK, this set is soft, durable and discrete. Perfect for the leisure rider, commuter & more serious cyclist alike.
Would love to get one of these from Santa – Chapeau Etape Cycling Jersey Black/Red RRP: £70.00
The only thing that every cyclist in the UK should have is gold or silver membership of British Cycling because this gives you up to £10 million in third party liability cover, with gold membership also giving you personal accident insurance. For peace of mind, buy your loved ones membership of British Cycling.
Louis Garneau RevoXR3 – I have two pairs of these and I defy anyone to tell me that £200+ worth of Specialized or Sidi are really worth the extra amount of money. Firm on the sole comfortable uppers and the heel retention ratchet system is superb. Currently £79.99 in Evans.
or Tifosi Roubaix Photochromic glasses. Dont fog up, protect your eyes, go from clear to black in a jiffy. every bit as smart as Oakleys every bit as good, but no poncey price tag.
Everyone is carting some bit of tech around these days, why not use a musette in true cycling tradition but with a modern twist. The folks at Stolen Goat have a Harris Tweed design for £48
I LOVE this silver necklace from Oliver Bonas. I never take it off!
Silver Bike Necklace £38
These have been a hit for Ana Nichoola, although you’d be lucky to get your hands on a pair they’ve been so popular. The Star Tights are great for the commuter, the easy-going cyclist and the regular club runner.
Winter Star Tights £55
I don’t want to leave the boys out – Every bike deserves to be treated like a piece of art and what better way than hung on the wall. Bike Shelf £75.41
Why not let the fine folk at Rapha keep you warm and cosy with their distinctive stripy 100% merino wool Cross Scarf, £40.
I have to agree with Loz. The podcast, jersey and eBook bundle from Velocast is a must have for the pro-cycling fan. I’ve been a subscriber since the early days and honestly can’t think of a better team than Scott and John – full of panache and plenty of chapeaux! Their stock & legend is growing fast. An absolute bargain.
Something Under The Tree
I have always struggled with women’s jackets – I am totally in love with all the jackets that Bioracer make because they actually fit and are Italian made but are also well-priced. They also follow the European fashions (the brand is massive in Belgium, Holland and Germany, to name a few!) A good example is the Climate long sleeve jacket.
For readers in the UK, Onimpex are the sole distributors, so you will need to visit their website: www.onimpex.co.uk Retails in the UK for £109.
A perennial favourite, the Garmin Edge 500 is a popular choice amongst cyclists due to its size (small and therefore lightweight).
I love being able to relive the best parts of my season back, and there’s no better way to capture the moment than with a GoPro. The built in WiFi also allows you to connect your camera to the GoPro app on your smartphone. The app allows you to control the camera, play back your recordings and allow share you content.
So your trusty steed has gone to the bicycle graveyard in the sky… you can still have those memories, hang the memories pride of place above the mantelpiece hunting lodge stylee (but with less actual death involved). Bicycle Taxidermy have the answer…. Love it!
This is one for the boys, you can’t beat the quality of Le Col clothing, any man would be happy to receive a stylish Mizuro B5 Winter Jacket, worth the price tag of £249.99.
For the girls… Ana Nichoola hits the list yet again with her fabulous “Hello Yellow” Commuter Cycling Raincoat. Too good just to use for cycling!
For the city cyclist who likes to travel around town with their iPad in understated style. New Yorkshire brand Blanket Row bring you their Finkle Street Bag and iPad sleeve set. This set is hand tooled from quality leather, it sits comfortably across your body, on your shoulder or slide both arms through the adjustable strap and it sits neatly on your back while riding. There’s plenty of room inside for your other accoutrements, it’s a very adaptable bag and currently comes in Red, White and more traditional dark chocolate brown. popular with bot men and women. I’m seeing them pop up everywhere. £165
It has to be – Assos ij. intermediate_s7 Windproof Long Sleeve Jersey – around £179.99
Bont Vaypor+ and Bont Vaypor Shoes £225
The coolest and comfiest shoe around! With the option to ‘heat mold’ the shoe to suit your feet these shoes are the bees knees with regards to the quality for money. They are well made, cool, comfortable and will last you a long time (if you a person who takes care of their belongings). Now with the option to have a ratchet fastener (buckle) or a dual dial retention system the shoe is suited to everyone. If you want to look like the next Bradley Wiggins look no further as he won the 2012 Tour de France in a pair of these!
What about a cheap as chips trip to the World Cyclocross Champs in 2014. The £250 would bring fantastic memories and start lots of conversations off for years to come.
This is on my list. Do a bit of track? Do a bit of testing? Do a bit of Road? Just like being a tart and don’t care what the club bore calls you?
You need The Casco Speed Airo helmet. First all round helmet for TT,Track and road. Comes with a visor too. Should knock out at around £240 so still under budget, but currently available at Amazon for £199.99.
A long weekend of vintage steel, cobbled climbs and fantastic Flandrian festivities – the Retro Ronde van Vlaanderen is calling you! One of the most magical events there is. Beer and racing Friday, several cobbled Crit’s on Saturday and the Ronde on Sunday. Be quick, as registration is open and numbers are limited to one thousand.
Book your pedaling pal a full cycle fit at, er, www.cyclefit.co.uk. Two hours spent one-to-one with a fully qualified technician should see them riding in blissful comfort. It changed my cycling experience completely.
I think a good gift is always some fresh cycling clothing as a great mid priced gift. A new Castelli jacket or a fantastic lined pair of ladies (or men’s bibs) something you’d love to have but really “don’t need”
Woodguards – £150 per set. These super stylish mudguards are handmade in Edinburgh from re-claimed timber and brightly coloured formica. A piece of lovingly crafted art
Dream Gift… The sky’s the limit!
Similar to last year – I would love to give some bikes to those children who miss out over Christmas. Can you imagine their faces if they received a new Isla Bike or one of the new Frog children’s bikes. To see that would be a memory to last for ever. I borrowed a Brompton from my work this year as they have a couple for staff to use, but if they weren’t available, if I was having something myself I would be very happy with one of those.
I would buy/own a Scottish women’s UCI registered cycle team. The team would race road, track, mtb & cyclocross.
Cippolini RB1K Full Super Record Group other than pedals Which would of course be Speedplay… plus, if you get something like this, give Chris Froome one of your old bikes to help him get African riders racing, or donate to www.re-cycle.org.
Unless you’re millionaire, I can’t imagine there are many cyclists with the Vis Vires Factor Bike on their list… wonder if it comes in my size. Although, for that price, you’d hope it was made to fit!
Canyon’s stock continues to rise as it now supplies two teams at World Tour level and with bikes that look like this you can see why.
I’ve just taken my nephew on a Balance Bike Building Course and we have great fun, but I’d love a full on Frame Building Course From The Bicycle Academy £360+ depending on which course.
Dreams may come true… Nico and his team at www.go4cycling.com offer a sublime and unrivaled week in Flanders during which you will be waited on hand and foot, ride with legends like Johann Museeuw and Team BMC, participate – with your own support and feed stations – at the Amateur Tour of Flanders, wander the service course and meet the teams as they set up, play Belgium hopscotch as a VIP as you track the pro’s during not just the Ronde but also the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix (unless Specialized have forced the town to change its name!) it doesn’t end there. Check out their website and then check you bank account. They do offer an amazing weekend too, along with almost every major event you can think of.
My personal ‘best bike’ as test ridden at Eurobike 2013 was the Airstreeem Race Air (Triple E) with Di2. It was fast, very fast, and agile, balanced, smooth and fun. In fact any Airstreeem bike would make me grin.
Here’s my final suggestion: the new Kinetic Rock & Roll indoor trainer – A fantastic bit of kit. I would recommend mashing it up with a few of the excellent, often hilarious, but always leg crushing, training vids from www.thesufferfest.com, a Garmin ANT stick and speed/cadence sensor, and a subscription to www.trainerroad.com. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of this set up soon. A revolution in indoor training is born!
I went to an event that was at the local art gallery. Bike Art at the Dairy Center in Boulder Some great and inspiring bike art as well as some fantastic gift ideas for the high end.
Carnival by Brian Echerer – Glass and recycled bike gears $700 available at his Etsy shop.
Illustration by a friend of mine Kathleen King – Zommin’ Thru $1800
You may have seen we’ve covered the development of the Hovding Invisible Cycling Helmet on Cycling Shorts and it’s finally hit the market, it’s still pricey at this stage but what a great invention! Yours for €399 Euros.
All cyclists love proper coffee, the stronger the better, get cafe quality coffee with the new Sage Coffee Machine by Heston Blumenthal
Simply a Team Sky bus with all the mod cons, gadgets and extra fittings to make a long transfer as comfy as possible! Imagine rocking up to a womens tour series or national series in one of them or even your local club run (you could have your cafe stop in it at the end of the ride with your club/team mates), instead of it being wrapped in Team Sky change it to Epic-Scott colours! It’d certainly turn some heads and be very cool! Maybe Team Sky will be selling it soon as surely they’ll want a new one in the not so distant future??
First up we have Stages power cranks, for people who want to have a go at power but might not be able to afford the SRM version. From £599 at most bike retailers – there is a Shimano version and SRAM version too – here is the link to the ones that Evans are selling.
At the other end of the spectrum is a Van Hool tailor made coach for your trips to races and events – imagine the envy when you rock up to your local circuit race in one of these bad boys!!!
Incidentally, Lotto Belisol were selling their team bus (admittedly with 817,000 km on the clock), so if you are interested: www.lottobelisol.be
Nothing takes your fancy here? Well take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.
As the 2013 road cycling season ambles its way towards a conclusion and news tidbits start to dry up it feels like a good time to review the season; and what a season it has been both on and off the bike. Whilst the crashing fall of a certain Mr Armstrong has overawed the majority of the season,the racing and politics of the sport continues to provoke excitement and angst in equal measure.
Two new Grand Tour winners, two new classic winners, some biblical weather and a change in the top tier of the sport all point to that fact that it wasn’t a bad year after all!
Grand Tour Deja-Vu?
American bike rider defies all the odds to win one of cycling’s biggest races for the first time. No we haven’t been transported back to the drug riddled late 1990’s; its Christopher Horner (at 41 – the oldest Grand Tour winner ever) triumphing in the Vuelta a Espana. The impossibly gaunt and skinny rider from Oregon scrawled yet another chapter in the sports chaotic relationship with drugs and rumour.
Climbing for impossibly extended moments out of the saddle, the American arguably rode the perfect race to despatch Vincenzo Nibali. Herein lies perhaps the most important motif of that Vuelta – it remains a stiff task to be competitive in more than one grand tour during the year. Ultimately this has to be a positive thing for the sustainability of the sport.
That brings us to a certain Mr Nibbles. Safely despatching his opponents despite some biblical weather and some shortened stages – he certainly has to be classed as one of the top 3 grand tour riders at present. Admittedly a tentative Wiggins, an ageing Evans, an off colour Hesjedal and an improving Uran didn’t provide much of a challenge.
Again the Tour de France was strangled by a Sky armada, albeit in a less comprehensive fashion than 12 months previously. A precession from stage 8 for Mr Froome wouldn’t have been so enjoyable if it wasn’t for the 100th Tour which included a double ascension of Alpe D’Huez, Mount Ventoux and a dusk finish in Paris. Marcel Kittel also emerged as the top sprinter we all knew he would be, throwing down a challenge to Monseiur Cavendish. He’s certainly come a long way in a very short time since finishing third at the 2010 World Time Trial championship! Oh and who can forget the Australian bus incident!
Dan Martin powers away from an unlikely opponent
An Irish Panda
Let’s hope MTN Quebeka’s win at Milan San Remo inspires a generation (to pinch a well-known phrase) of African cyclists. Yet, history may well remember the ice crusted helmets, blue faces, mid stage bus ride and a tottering Sky rider instead.
Whilst Fabian Cancellara doubled up at Roubaix and Flanders and Rodriguez did the double at Il Lombardia, Dan Martin ensured Irish eyes were smiling again when triumphing at thoroughly enjoyable edition of Liege Bastogne Liege with the current fall guy of cycling Hesjedal teeing his Garmin teammate to perfection.
With Messers Boonen and Cancellara nearing the epoch of their careers and the timely proliferation of a number of new classic stars, 2014 may well see a new paradigm in one day races. Certainly, Zdenk Stybar can count himself extremely unlucky this year.
Cookson comes to the fore
Arguably the most important moment of the year came when the defiant Pat McQuaid was finally wrestled from his position of UCI president by Brian Cookson. Only time will tell whether the much publicised change Cookson has promised comes to fruition. With calendar alterations a foot for 2015, next year this maybe the last season we enjoy procycling in its current format.
Below are my rider and race or stage of the year. Who or what is yours?
My rider of the Year – Joaquim Rodriguez
Race of the year – Stage 6 of Tirreno Adriatico
When Henri Desgrange and Geo Lefevre created the first Tour de France back in 1903, they surely can’t have thought that it would evolve into what it has become today. Historian, Jim McGurn noted that the Tour back then was “a magnificently imaginative invention, a form of odyssey in which the lonely heroism of unpaced riders was pitted against relentless competition and elemantal nature.” Whilst the heroism and extent of the competition has waned slightly, as any rider, journalist or fan will tell you, the Tour is still the Tour. Faster, harder, higher, hotter than many other races the 100th edition of the Tour de France lives up to this expectation on paper.
After an undeniably drab 2012 edition in which Team Sky stifled the race to the benefit of Sir Wiggo the 2013 Tour de France must be one of the most eagerly awaited in years. Now, certainly this is in no small part due to the participants this year but the inventive, historic parcours designed by Mr Christian Prudhomme and his colleagues at ASO definitely add to the anticipation.
After a partly successful Giro d’Italia forecast (doping aside) what follows is a quick sprint through the key stages and some more wildly ill informed predictions.
The 2013 Tour de France
The headline of the 100th edition of the Tour de France was the ascension of both Mount Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez (twice) and a twilight finish on the Champs in Paris. Yet, look beyond those undoubtedly key days and you’ll see that this is an aggressively tricky circuit of France full of more saw-toothed stage profiles than you could throw a bidon at.
Aligned more to a rider who can climb and TT rather than the reverse they key stages begin as early as stage 2 as the race climbs from sea level in Bastia, Corsica over the mountains to the West coast and Ajaccio. OK, the last third of the stage is downhill but GC contenders must be on their guard throughout and this stress and toil will accumulate until the race reaches Paris.
The team time trial on the 2nd July will only modify the General Classification but will see a good old fashioned battle between the well drilled teams, Sky, Omega-Pharma Quickstep and Orica-Greenedge. As we edge into the second weekend, the climbing begins with a mouth-watering double header in the Pyrenees. The climb to Ax 3 Domaines will shake out the GC and certainly Stage 9 will hopefully see the combination of a GC battle and a breakaway sojourn over five monstrous climbs. With 30km from the last climb to the finish whoever is over the top first will be difficult to catch. Expect Jens Voigt, Simon Gerrans, Jeremy Roy or Johnny Hoogerland to be involved somewhere along the line.
If the weather isn’t dramatic the time trial on stage 11 shouldn’t change much and as the peloton girds its loins for Mount Ventoux on Sunday 14th July the second week will probably past without interest; save a Mark Cavendish win and honouree French heroes going all out for stage victories. After a teasing day in the Alps and technical time trial the hallowed ascension of Alpe D’Huez looms into view. The shear length of the two main mountain days (172.5 and 204.5km) will take its toll on the peloton and you would expect a GC contender to emerge victorious on one if not both stages. The last smash into Annecy-Semnoz on Saturday 20th July could see one final battle for general classification places.
For all you can mutter about Alberto Contador (Beef jokes included) his presence at this year’s tour adds value to the event. OK his form hasn’t been fantastic this year and Chris Froome has beaten him on every occasion they have raced together this year, but Contador’s GT experience, coupled with a strong team in support should see a ding dong battle with Froome and Team Sky. Despite Cadel Evans’ recent Giro heroics this has to be Tejay Van Garderen’s year. Proving himself at the Tour of California suggests that he will be riding into a leader’s role finally and with Cadel peaking at the Giro the time is nigh.
Daniel Martin has ultimately had is breakthrough year with Garmin Sharp. In a recent interview with Paul Kimmage in the Irish Independent he declared himself a Top 5 or Top 10 favourite. I can certainly see him achieving the later. However, with Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal riding perhaps it’s a case of the strongest rider will emerge for Jonathan Vaughters’ outfit. If Dan Martin is weakened by his Time trialing then J C Peraud is the opposite. 4th in the recent mountain TT at the Tour de Suisse his form looks solid if not unremarkable. 9th in the 2011 Tour and without Nicholas Roche to work for, perhaps this will be the last opportunity for the 36 year old to reach the higher echelons of his home race. If his Ag2r team doesn’t mutiny around him with John Gadret and Hubert Dupont in the mix then maybe a top ten is possible.
How about Alexandre Geniez for a stage win – he was climbing well in the Dauphine and came second in the young rider classification. He could certainly emulate Thibaut Pinot’s exploits last year if given the freedom.
1. Alberto Contador
2. Chris Froome
3. Tejay Van Garderen
4. Richie Porte
5. Jurgen Van den Broeck
Top 10 – J C Peraud / Daniel Martin
Stage Win – Alexandre Geniez
Here’s to a showpiece 100th Tour de France! Let’ hope we see 100 more!
The Real Life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro
by Charly Wegelius
Reviewed by Lawrence Bywater
Pro road cycling is feted for its heroes, its superhuman efforts, its panache filled endeavours and mainly its winners. Yet perhaps what is most captivating about this sport in terms of its individual personalities are the efforts of a band of self-sacrificing, selfless riders who perform the tasks unseen by the uneducated cycling fan. Domestiques. They serve their glorified leaders day in day out; they perform the often thankless tasks of sheltering lead riders from the wind, becoming their waiters with food and bidons and generally being at the beck and call of others. Ultimately they make cycling the team sport that it is so often not credited for. Charles Wegelius was one such domestique who carved out a (successful) career in this role.
His book Domestique: The Real Life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro, co-written with his partner in ‘crime’ from the 2005 World Championship in Madrid, Tom Southam, is an eye watering expose into the professional peloton in which he inhabited through the 2000’s. The starkest tones of his story show just how much he was willing to sacrifice in order to make it as first an amateur and then a pro. Arguably it was this mentality that made him such a cherished domestique by teams in Europe.
From the first enquiry to his mother to ask whether she could write a letter to his headmaster to allow him to train during sports afternoons at school, to leaving York to join Vendee U in France as an amateur, Wegelius’ passion and drive for the sport jumps from the text on the page and virtually smacks you in the face. His mentality and feelings are laid bare for all to see and arguably what makes this different from the standard Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish story. Ultimately, no other recent cycling autobiography is more revealing. Perhaps only David Millar’s Racing Through The Dark (read our review here) and Tyler Hamilton’s The Secret Race come close to revealing what it is really like inside professional road cycling and both of those almost entirely focus on the doping aspect of the support. His constant unhappiness and lack of contentment despite success is a telling thread which runs throughout the book. Indeed, insecurities are never far from the forefront of Wegelius’ mind.
Before British Cycling’s track success was replicated on the road with the BC Academy/Team Sky etc, Wegelius had to do what all other British road riders had had to do over the previous few decades to be successful – make a go of it in Europe. The classic stories emerge of ramshackle houses provided by teams, the culture shock of European life, but also the young Wegelius showing how passionate he was about success. A classic example: He asked his then manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau to allow him to race (his French racing license was currently in limbo at the time) at an event – he drove to the event in a team camper, set the bike up himself and travelled without a masseur. To his teammates incredulity he duly won the race. Yet again insecurities arise. Wegelius writes that on winning the Under-23 national Road Race and coming second in the European Time Trial Championships as an amateur he felt “victory wasn’t something special that I felt I should sit back and enjoy.” He actually felt that, “a win was simply another box ticked in what was turning out to be an infinite list of boxes I had to tick to be content.”
His meticulous approach to life as an amateur transcended from keeping his bike clean after every ride, washing it with diesel, to competing with another amateur on who could spend the less on everyday essentials. Yet, Wegelius comes to recognise that, “society’s admiration for athletes is based entirely on the achievement of an ideal.” He realises that the sacrifices he has made to become the athlete he so desperately wanted to be, has made him a difficult person to be around.
Throwing all the personal anecdotes aside the book still fantastically illustrates the idiosyncrasies of the pro peloton. Obviously given his career with Italian teams, Mapei, De Nardi and Liquigas the majority of incites have a distinct flavour to them. Old riders tales such as wearing as much clothing whilst training are very enjoyable and occasions such as the 2005 Vuelta, where temperatures were heading into the 40°C Spanish riders were seen warming up on rollers with woollen hats, leggings and arm warmers are a delight to read. The book finishes with a wonderfully poignant tale which is topped by a realisation that Wegelius had found the truth about being inside the professional peloton: “it’s no f***king fairytale.” Overall, a delight from start to finish; perhaps the only thing missing is a further insight into life on the Giro d’Italia in which Wegelius was so well versed.
CyclingShorts Rating: Star Buy! – 90%
Domestique – The Real Life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro
Hardback Price: RRP £16.99
Paperback Price: £8.99
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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 route of the 2013 Giro
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!
Hopefully this will add something to the great article written by Tony here.
Last week was tough for cycling, hitting the national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yet help was at hand with the start of the pro tour season in Australia and Argentina and perhaps even more exciting; 4 days of the London Bike Show to cheer even the most cynical of fans.
Bradleys Wiggins’ Pinarello Dogma in Malliot Jaune Livery
Having never been to an event like this before, the first thing that struck me was the sheer number of people in attendance. OK, tickets included entry to three additional shows within the Excel but the exhibition centre was positively throbbing. As the glitz and glamour of Wiggo mania wanes it was heartening to see continued excitement surrounding cycle sport in general.
Kudos goes to the new Madison Genesis team, managed by ex Garmin-Cervelo rider Roger Hammond, who held their team presentation on the Saturday of the show. Hosted by the delightful Ant McCrossan it was a chance to see some of the team’s extremely youthful looking riders like Alex Peters and Brendan Townshend which have combined with elder more experienced riders like Dean Downing, Ian Bibby and Andy Tennant.
The Madison-Genesis Continental Team being presented on stage
Arguably the most interesting aspect of this team is their promotion of the Steel framed Genesis Volare bike. Equipped with a Shimano Dura Ace and Pro finishing kit, the team bike is a delight aesthetically. Extremely classical, yet with modern touches. The downtube is wider than traditional steel bikes pandering to the modern trend for oversized tubing.Indeed the team is making a big deal out of the specially developed Reynolds tubing made in Birmingham.
The prevelance of Carbon Fibre as the go to material for high end road bikes may yet be challenged and as Genesis themselves argue; they have looked to banish those 80’s misconceptions that Steel frames are heavy flexible steeds. Instead, suggesting that they have combined the durability and comfort that is usually associated with a steel frame, with the race weight and stiffness of modern bikes.
Bibby, Downing, Jack Pullar, Chris Snook and Sebastian Baylis proved the bike was no slouch when they took part in the Elite Men’s Criterium after the presentation. The speed of the peloton around the tight, twisting 500 metre indoor circuit was astonishing to watch. With Bibby coming out on top beating UK circuit regular teams likes IG-Sigma Sport and Hope Factory Racing Team it was the perfect start for the new team. The folding bicycle race was also great to watch as a prelude to the main criterium. The ‘Le Mans’ style start meant that riders had to unfold their bicycles before setting off. Keith Henderson’s huge, race winning attack on the penultimate lap was very impressive. The Animal Bike Tour with Martyn Ashton, Blake Samson, Luke Madigan and Billy Atkins was also a joy to watch. Whilst Ashton was undoubtedly superb, Billy Atkins at the age of 17 pulled off some outrageous tricks on a scooter.
Elsewhere at the show you could not move for visual delights. Cervelo, Pinarello, Willier and Specialized all in attendance. Yet what struck me in
Stealthy looking Wilier
particular was the range of bike brands on offer. Canyon, Team and Time amongst others. Canyon in particular were exhibiting a range of road and MTB frames all at varying price brackets. The Ultimate CF was a particular delight with perfect geometry and presence at a great price, along with Joaquim Rodigruez’s Giro d’Italia customised Aeroad CF lavishly decorated with pink decals to match the Maglia Rosa he spectacularly lost to Ryder Hesjedal in 2012. This spectrum of bikes although dizzyingly confusing can only be a good thing for the continuation of top end cycle sport. And with the news that Pinarello is looking to stock frames at selected Halfords stores, we are now more than ever, spoilt for choice.
Amongst other products on show, Nanoprotech was perhaps the most innovative, like nothing I’ve seen before. Whilst Sportful where exhibiting an extremely lightweight waterproof jacket. Hope continue to produce beautifully engineered bike products, contact points and accessories whilst Schwalbe’s extensive range of tyres was mind boggling. Last word goes to Clif Bar whose Builders Bar was very tasty in a variety of flavours along with their electrolyte shot in Citrus and double espresso was easy on the palette.