Notes from the Winter training bunker 2014 | Friday 29 November 2013 by Richard Blayney
The first snowfall serves as a nasty reminder. Not that winter is here, that I need to get the snow tires on the car, or that the winter coat will take pride of place in the closet for the foreseeable future, but that winter training is now, finally, upon me.
I’ve spent the past three months being pathetically lazy, falling into that trap, or should I say catching that bug known as bone-idleness. Following my final mountain bike race of the year which marked possibly the fittest I had been in some years after a solid couple of months worth of riding, I went out just once in September after moving to our new house. Various things got in the way and the time moved fast as it always does now, but mostly it was just that bone-idle bug.
Not the Tour de France | Wednesday 13 November 2013 by Richard Blayney
Last week two cyclists -– one a former drug cheat, the other a current day pro believed to be as clean as they come -– were speaking out for and against the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) process for the sport of cycling. To think about it immediately you would imagine the drug cheat would be the one against it with the clean cut modern day pro desperate for the cheats that came before him to announce themselves so his generation could move on with their careers. But it isn’t so simple. Lance Armstrong is the retired/banned cheat; Mark Cavendish is the current pro.
Not the Tour de France | Wednesday 6 November 2013 by Richard Blayney
It’s been over a week now since the Ryder Hesjedal used performance enhancing drugs bombshell dropped on the cycling community and upon the Canadian sports landscape. At the time I remember being surprised, but hardly shocked. Surprised that it could be this good Canadian boy who we know has rode for the Garmin team this past five years, but not shocked because this is a rider who did, after all, ride in ‘the era’.
Tour de France 2014 | Thursday 24 October 2013 by Richard Blayney
The day of the unveiling of the next years Tour de France route is a double edged sword for me. It’s always exciting to see what the new route is going to be, to see what parts of France they’ll visit, what mountains they’ll climb and from it all decipher what kind of contender it suits best. On the other hand it’s like a kid getting to see his Christmas present in March before it’s put away again for the next nine months.
Not the Tour de France | Monday 30 September 2013 by Richard Blayney
Rui Costa became the first Portuguese rider to win the World Road Championships in a traitorous day in Florence. Costa rode his ride to perfection, hanging tough with the more pure climbers on the final lap and then attacking at the perfect time to claim glory. Costa had two Spaniards fighting against him in the final kilometres, but in one of them — Alejandro Valverde — he had his trade-team mate and as such played them off against one another perfectly with his attack that also took advantage of an exhausted Vincenzo Nibali. Costa outsprinted an impressive Rodriguez with Valverde settling for his fifth World Championship medal … none of which are Gold. And all this without a single British rider in sight.
Not the Tour de France | Sunday 22 September 2013 by Richard Blayney
There’s no better way to watch a bike race than when they’re going round and round. Forget these point-to-point races that are the tradition of bike racing — those are well and good to watch on the television — but when you’re on the side of the road, getting to see the riders time and again, especially on a course with a good climb, is hard to beat. It’s why the World Tour race in Montréal this month is one of the best races to go watch at the elite end of the pro calendar.
Not the Tour de France | Wednesday 18 September 2013 by Richard Blayney
After writing plenty about the Giro and then providing blanket coverage on Le Tour, I had plans to do something similar with the Vuelta, but as time is apt to do, it got in the way and I never really got the chance. Thankfully through I still got the chance to watch the majority of it and thank goodness for that, because what a Vuelta it was.
The Cycle Seen | Sunday 1 September 2013 by Richard Blayney
And there goes the summer. The leaves outside are gradually beginning to change and there has been a very noticeable drop in the temperature in recent weeks. The mornings are much cooler and when I’m waking up it’s dark, and when I’m getting home I’m eking out those final few hours of daylight before dusk sets in. It’s been a busy old summer on many fronts — not least a summer holiday and moving to a new house — and the cycling season has just got swept up in it all.
Tour de France 2013 | Friday 26 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
A brief look back at what was before getting on with the summer; also a look at how my poorly picked pre-tour predictions turned out; and the results of that fictional pure-sprinters competition I made up…
So the dust has settled on the 2013 Tour de France and on Monday I found myself coming home from work and for the first time having to look to see what was on TV. I no longer had a recording of the days stage to keep me entertained for the evening. The withdrawal had set. Nothing left to do now but look back at the memories it created.
Not the Tour de France | Wednesday 24 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
That long anticipated list of riders who retroactively failed drug tests from the 1998 Tour de France was published today at the ruling of the French Senate, and from it 18 names have shown up as having had traces of EPO in their system with 16 more being listed as ‘suspicious’. The names contained nobody that will have shocked you — not that anyone being on drugs back then should be taken as shocking — and so has left me wondering why on earth, fifteen years down the road from that ugly Tour, did we need this coming back to haunt the sport?
Tour de France 2013 | Sunday 21 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
It was the usual run in to Paris in so many ways, but then, in so many other ways it was very unique. Sure there was the usual moments of the various jersey winners posing for their picture at the front of the final stages roll-out, sure there was the obligatory glass of champagne for the Yellow jersey on the outskirts of Paris, and sure the stage still finished with its crit up and down the Champs-Elyeese, but then there was all the new stuff: Finishing at dusk, going around the Arc de Triomphe and someone not called Mark Cavendish winning the stage.
Tour de France 2013 | Saturday 20 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
If you weren’t sitting on the edge of your seat screaming and yelling for Jens Voigt to shut his legs up as he so often does himself, hoping upon hope that somehow the pace behind would relent allowing him the kind of buffer he would need going into the final climb to win what would have been an epic solo victory for the 41-year old German, then you’re probably not a cycling fan. It was a big effort as he left everyone else in his breakaway group in his wake on the penultimate climb of this Tour — including King of the Mountains chasing Pierre Rolland and a few other noted climbers — in a bid for a great victory. It wasn’t to be though and when the general classification favorites upped the anti on the climb to Semnoz, everyone in front was swept away and it was Nairo Quintana, a pure climber out of Columbia who had already sealed the Young riders competition and who at 23 was marking himself out as a future winner of the Tour, who broke clear to win his first Tour de France stage and with it seal the King of the Mountains prize.
Tour de France 2013 | Friday 19 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
Where have we seen a finish like this before? I know, it was three days ago in Gap. Same man, same kind of victory and both brilliantly executed. It’s hard to believe that three days after infiltrating a break and then riding away from them near the end his rivals around him let him do it again, but that’s exactly what Rui Costa did for his second stage win in what turned out to be a tough mountain stage with a very tricky descent into Grand Bornand.
Tour de France 2013 | Thursday 18 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
It was the stage that sent a gasp around the media centre when the Tour de France route was unveiled in Paris all them months ago. Two trips up the fabled Alp d’Huez in the one day. It looked iconic, it was sure to be epic, it would be the stage we’d all be looking forward to. And it was. It was everything we could have hoped it was and more. Drama from the beginning, action up and down the mountains, a throw of the dice by Alberto Contador on the descent we were waiting to see, a heroic effort by Tejay Van Garderen that fell just short, the sight of the Yellow jersey of Chris Froome attacking and then … wait for it … blowing, Froome getting a time penalty for taking on food too close to the finish, and the French timing it perfectly — literally and emotionally — in the guise of one Christophe Riblon to win their first stage of this 100th Tour de France.
Tour de France 2013 | Wednesday 17 July 2013 by Richard Blayney
Chis Froome loves his calculated risks and once again he took one on this stage and it paid off. He changed his bike, like quite a few others did, once he crossed the second of the two climbs in today’s time-trial and the time lost in doing so was less than the time he made up in using the slick aerodynamic machine as he powered the final kilometres, overturning a 2 second deficit to Alberto Contador at the 6.5km check (top of the first climb), a 20 second deficit at the 13.5km check at (bottom of the second climb), and an 11 second gap at the 20km check (top of the second climb) to win the time-trial on the line by 9 seconds over the Spaniard. The result was Froome’s third stage victory in this Tour and puts him 4 minutes, 34 seconds ahead of Contador who himself lept up into second overall as they get ready for three brutal day in the Alps.