A look back to when I ranted about attacking down hill… it’s relevant at the moment as well.

When the podcast was weekly, back in 2017, I took one of the episodes as an opportunity to rant about rider safety and the merits of how safe it is to attack a bike race downhill.

With recent injury to Remco Evenepoel and rider protests about safety at the Tour of Wallonie this afternoon, its a good time to revisit the audio as a lot of what I said that day is still relevant today.

Click here.

More questions than answers from smaller tours

As we hurtle full gas towards the Tour de France there have been a number of shorter one week races going on to hone the skills of the multi day rider.

We have seen Primoz Roglic in the Tour de L’Ain and Dauphine (ahead of the final stage!) and Remco Evenepoel in the Tour of Poland. But some if not all of that good work could have been undone by crashes leaving us no further on in terms of indicators of form.

Roglic was great in the northern half of France and but for a spill had seen off Ineos in the Dauhpine. So much so that Chris Froome was sitting up on the climbs, Geraint Thomas was complaining about his weight and Egan Bernal had a back injury that saw him fail to start the last stage.

It could well have been Jumbo’s race with Roglic but he was struggling after a crash and also failed to complete the Dauhpine.

This left the door open for Thibault Pinot to win the race with him leading into the last stage and having a ‘combine’ of the major French contenders trying to keep him at the head of the GC.

However, he couldn’t watch the whole peloton and Dani Martinez of EF Education First/Cannondale snuck off up the road with Tadej Pogacar and held on to win the race. He might have made a few pundits top 10, but I don’t remember anyone tipping Martinez to win the race so this was a real upset.

As well as losing Roglic, Jumbo saw Steven Kruijswijk hit the deck and abandon. So far from seeing off Ineos ahead of the Tour de France and stamping their authority, there are now questions about the teams fitness.

There will also be questions over mentality after the bad crash in the Tour of Poland which was caused by Dylan Groenewegen and left Fabio Jakobsen with every bone in his face broken and in an induced coma.

Whilst the team have been present in most races since, there could be a reaction coming.

The accident in Poland highlighted the danger in the sport and it was in the Il Lombardia classic at the weekend that the Remco Evenepoel run of wins came to an end after he overshot a corner before vanishing over a bridge.

He is young enough to come back physically but will this accident have an effect on his mental ability to push downhill and in sprints?

Only time will tell.

Stay tuned to the blog for more ahead of the Tour de France.

Will Sivakov be the man to end the home nations Tour de France drought?

I had barely started riding and following racing when a Frenchman last won the Tour de France. The world was a different place full of cold war and space shuttles.

A-ha were the pop band of choice and Bernard Hinaut was the yellow jersey.

At that point it would have been madness to suggest that we’d be heading to a quarter of the way into the next century before they won the big one again. It’s at this point I have to mention Andy Murray at WImbledon. Not because I have any great interest in tennis, it’s just the done thing.

Now depsite a number of false dawns through Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot and erm…. Christophe Moreau and Ronan Pensec it could be time for France.

But will it be David Gaudu or Pierre LaTour who gets the hero status and free Pelforth in every bar for life?

Well actually I think not. My view is that it will be the Russian rider on Ineos, Pavel Sivakov who is the man most likely.

Let me explain. Sir Dave Brailsford has long been quoted as saying that once he won the Tour with British riders that getting a French winner over the line was his next ambition.

The team has been linked with a number of French riders in the past including Pinot but Sivakov is clearly an amazing prospect who despite riding for Russia also has a French passport and could well be riding Le Tour for the Tricolore in coming years. He rides for Brailsfords team.

Would he be a genuine winner of the race for the home nation shoud the 2021 or 2022 yellow jersey come home with him? My feeling would be that the French will be so pleased to see their flag raised above the finishing podium that his origins will be forgiven.

I cant wait to see how it plays out and whether he can do it.

Van Aert a class apart as season “commences”

Wout Van Aert has proved to be the main man in one day racing so far in this recommenced 2020 season.

The Dutchman dispatched the remnants of a classy group in Strade Bianche last weekend before playing the perfect game of chicken with Julian Alaphillippe on the way into San Remo to win the seasons first monument.

With all eyes on his major rival Mathieu Van der Poel, the Jumbo man kept his cool on two blisteringly hot Saturday afternoons in Italy and delivered two wins.

In Strade he used his natural cyclo cross skills to out pace his rivals on an down then up sector on the way back into Siena before holding on in the run in despite the chasers getting within 10 seconds of his back wheel at one point.

There was devastation on the white roads with many minutes separating the top 10.

https://www.procyclingstats.com/widgets/result.php?h=90e0446ab8297c077564e27a892708ed133a87bd

Last Saturday though it was all about the ability to keep cool in the final KM when the chasing bunch looked like getting back to Alaphillippe and Van Aert after the French rider stopped collaborating in the last 1.5km.

They gave the reduced bunch behind a real chance of catching them before the man from Deceuninck blinked first and went for the line and the chance of a back to back win.

Van Aert didn’t panic though and held on by just over half a wheel to win.

https://www.procyclingstats.com/widgets/result.php?h=b503f5897eb7707dd02a492270db33b8785a8161

There has been plenty of Jumbo/Visma domination elsewhere in the pre Tour de France stage racing and we will cover than in an upcoming post.

In the meantime enjoy the sun and the return of racing 🙂 .

James

Under the radar and not over the top…

It’s not often I open an article with the headline coming from a lyric created by 1990’s hardcore techno act Scooter, but these are different times.

Cycling is back however with racing over the weekend in Italy with Strade Bianche and today in Lombardy.

Being a fan of Belgian riders, especially those with a cyclo cross slant, you could be forgiven for not getting too far past the performance of Wout Van Aert at the weekend.

He proved once and for all that there is more to converts from the mud and dirt than Mathieu Van der Poel and Zednek Stybar.

His dominant performance in dispatching a group of known grand tour and classics stars was a win for all ages. It was all the better for us having had such a wait to see it.

But down the results list and in the breakaway today is the name of a rider who is going under the radar but is impressing.

The next cab of the rank was likely to be Tim Merlier who was starting his transition to the road and was present in the opening weekend of Flemish classics back in February. But for me Quinten Hermans could be the better bet.

He was up there without being super impressive on the rough stuff in the winter, but has settled in with Wanty/Circus since the restart. He is clearly able to get in a move and hang in until the latter stages of big races.

I will be keeping an eye on him as I think a breakthrough win could be coming soon.

23/7/2020 – Beers of Belgium CC update

There is always lots going on behind the scenes here at Beers of Belgium CC and I am looking forward to getting the jersey on and getting out there promoting this page of the Fendrien website.

This will hopefully coincide with the return of bike racing and we will be able to recreate that moment when a beer is sipped in front of the TV after a strenuous training ride where you have pretended to be Greg Van Avermaet.

So keep an eye out for the kit delivery and our team jersey out there on the roads.

Garmin connect is down..!

We are now entering the 8th hour of Garmin Connect being down and my lunch time recovery ride remains stranded somewhere between handlebar unit, Connect and Strava.

All of this makes me hark back to the days when I used a stopwatch and calculated the distance I’d ridden from an OS map before filling in a log.

I am sure Rapha will still sell them.

Probably covered in Egyptian goose feather and retailing at £79.53.

Anyway I found them recently when my parents moved home and I was in their attic. There was me thinking I was faster in 1991 because I had a wiry moustache and Laurent Fignon pony tail, turns out it was the fact I was riding double the mileage per week…

Anyway, I am sure Garmin will be back soon and the art form of recording miles and checking log books over years and years will be consigned back to the attic as things happen over wifi and bluetooth.

It’s been nice to reminisce for a day though.