Videos released highlighting Grand Tour struggles…

The three grand tours this summer/autumn/winter were very different in a host of ways.

The timing was one thing, the readiness and sharpness of the riders was another. Lots of pundits and experts were even confused by the shadows and lighting with the usual bright yellow sun and fields of sunflower for the Tour de France long since having gone over ahead of the changing colours of the leaves.

Some of the worlds biggest teams have been taking to YouTube to diarise what their experiences were and in the name of research (and to avoid watching Strictly Come Dancing at the weekend) I have studied most of them and come up with a shortlist of one film per race.

First up is the Tour de France through the eyes of the Deceuninck QuickStep team.

This was an interesting film as it covered the fast start of Julian Alaphillippe before moving on to cover the stage and green jersey winning powers of Sam Bennett.

It’s well shot and tells the story in stages, although it does miss out bits and pieces from when Alaphillippe lost a lot of time in the GC battle.

The EF gone racing series by the popular hipsters team in association with kit sponsor Rapha is seen as the benchmark of this type of fly on the wall documentary and this one is no different.

The best one they ever made was Lachlan Morton riding the GB duro gravel race and this isn’t as good. But it is still a decent watch.

The final big race of the year was the Vuelta and it featured a nervous sense that the race might not make Madrid along with some terrible weather.

Like the Tour and the Giro it featured a brilliant battle to see who would win with Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz going to the final kilometer of the final climb the day before the finish before we knew for sure.

After his final weekend loss of the Tour de France, the Jumbo/Visma team car is the best place to watch that GC competition play out. It’s safe to say they are nervous, all of which adds to the quality of the film.

All three are a great waste of an evening so make sure you have a watch and enjoy.

Relief as NTT pro cycling saved

After a late reprieve the team will be rebranded as Qhubeka/Assos.

Having watched the documentary highlighting how Doug Ryder had built the team I felt invested in the team and worried for its future.

A number of their key riders have left for other teams but there is still enough quality on the roster to be successful. There are also plenty of available riders out there to sign and bolster the team. Cavendish and Aru anyone?

So in a nightmare year for sponsors and businesses and sport, this is a good news tale.

Well done Doug!

La Vuelta 2020 review

This was the grand tour that looked the least likely to run its 2020 course after a surge in COVID cases in Europe and refusals from the French authorities to let the opening weekend stages go ahead across the border.

But run its course it did and in keeping with the Tour and the Giro it was a cracker.

Primoz Roglic won riding for Jumbo/Visma after a ding dong battle with Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers with the red jersey changing hands a number of times during the race.

In the end it was time bonuses rather than physical gaps on stages that retained the race for the Slovenian ace although one particualar split that Carapaz missed was highlighted as race defining (despite the gap being only 3 seconds).

The truncated opening and full closing weeks featured terrible weather and it was an early race crash that saw Mike Woods of EF Procycling drop out of the reckoning.

That left leadership in the hands of lanky Lancastrian Hugh Carthy and he didn’t disappoint.

He won the queen stage and was still trying to get the race lead on the final Saturday of the race with an all or nothing attack in the mountains above Madrid. Carthy went on to take the final podium spot in third place.

Let’s hope its a sign of more to come!

Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann were the sprinters of choice in the race, dividing the scarce flat stages amongst themselves. Aside from Carthy there were memorable stage wins for Woods, who had more freedom after losing time and a brace for David Gaudu of Groupama/FDJ.

It was a fitting and excellent end to a season we will review in due course but which did so well to happen in any form.

2021 is looking to have gaps with the Tour Down Under and Tour de Yorkshire gone already. But let’s deal with next year in time.

Vive la Vuelta!

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime
11 ROGLIČ PrimožTeam Jumbo-Visma85040072:46:12
22 CARAPAZ RichardINEOS Grenadiers6802900:24
33 CARTHY HughEF Pro Cycling5752401:15
44 MARTIN DanIsrael Start-Up Nation4602202:43
55 MAS EnricMovistar Team3802003:36
66 POELS WoutBahrain – McLaren3201907:16
77 DE LA CRUZ DavidUAE-Team Emirates2601807:35
88 GAUDU DavidGroupama – FDJ2201707:45
99 GROSSSCHARTNE FelixBORA – hansgrohe1801608:15
1010 VALVERDE AlejandroMovistar Team1401509:34
2020 Vuelta final GC

British Cycling announces 2021 racing plan

HSBC UK | National Road Series (Men)

Round 1: Klondike Grand Prix, Guisborough (18 April)
Round 2: Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix, Lincoln (9 May)
Round 3: Tour of the Reservoir, Edmundbyers (5 – 6 June)
Round 4: Beaumont Trophy, Stamfordham (4 July)
Round 5: Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix, Stockton (18 July)
Round 6: Lancaster Grand Prix, Lancaster (15 August)
Round 7: The Ryedale Grasscrete Grand Prix, Ampleforth (22 August)
Round 8: South of England (TBC)

HSBC UK | National Road Series (Women)

Round 1: Klondike Grand Prix, Guisborough (18 April)
Round 2: Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix, Lincoln (9 May)
Round 3: The Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir, Edmundbyers (5 – 6 June)
Round 4: 5th Women’s CiCLE Classic, Rutland (27 June)
Round 5: Curlew Cup, Stamfordham (4 July)
Round 6: Stockton Cycling Festival Grand Prix, Stockton (18 July)
Round 7: The Ryedale Women’s Grasscrete Grand Prix, Ampleforth (22 August)
Round 8: South of England (TBC)

HSBC UK | National Circuit Series (Men)

Round 1: Property Development Men’s Otley Grand Prix, Otley (30 June)
Round 2: Barnsley Town Centre, Barnsley (9 July)
Round 3: Sheffield Grand Prix, Sheffield (14 July)
Round 4: Fort Vale Colne Grand Prix, Colne (20 July)
Round 5: Midlands, TBC (30 July)

HSBC UK | National Circuit Series (Women)

Round 1: Pincent Masons Women’s Otley Grand Prix, Otley (30 June)
Round 2: Barnsley Town Centre, Barnsley (9 July)
Round 3: Midlands, TBC (30 July)

Read the press release by clicking here.

2020 Giro review

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime
12▲1 GEOGHEGAN HART TaoINEOS Grenadiers85040085:40:21
21▼1 HINDLEY JaiTeam Sunweb6802900:39
33 KELDERMAN WilcoTeam Sunweb5752401:29
45▲1 ALMEIDA JoãoDeceuninck – Quick Step4602202:57
54▼1 BILBAO PelloBahrain – McLaren3802003:09
66 FUGLSANG JakobAstana Pro Team3201907:02
77 NIBALI VincenzoTrek – Segafredo2601808:15
88 KONRAD PatrickBORA – hansgrohe2201708:42
99 MASNADA FaustoDeceuninck – Quick Step1801609:57
1010 PERNSTEINER HermannBahrain – McLaren14015011:05

The last day drama of the 2020 Giro D’Italia was only a part of the race long narrative that saw excitement and attacking racing.

There was also confirmation of the changing of the guard at the top of stage racing with Vicenzo Nibali joining the ranks of also ran along side the other cast offs of the season.

It looked for so long like the British challenge was over before the race made the mainland with Geraint Thomas crashing on a bidon a losing time before quitting.

Ineos Grenadiers changed tack at this point smashing riders into all breakaways and proving that the Michal Kwiatkowski/Richard Carapaz tandem from the Tour de France was no fluke.

Fillipo Ganna was a revelation of the race, unbeatable in time trials and showing that his ability to finish off moves in bad weather marks him out as a possible classics rider of the future.

Rohan Dennis proved his can be famous for more than an Instagram post showing him breaking lockdown in Girona by guiding Tao Geoghagan-Hart back into contention after he’d lost time nursing Thomas.

Despite getting deeper and deeper into the race whilst wearing the pink jersey, Joao Almeida started to look flaky in the mid race mountain stages before hitting the buffers for good on the Stelvio.

It was there that perennial grand tour contender Wilco Kelderman seemed to fall into the jersey. However he looked weak in taking the race lead with Geoghagan-Hart and his own team mate Jai Hindley riding away to contest the stage.

Kelderman said all the right things about being in the race lead with 2 days to go but he was clearly beaten.

He fell away totally on the final Saturday of the race leaving Hindley to follow and take the pink jersey. It’s third occupant in three days of racing.

Hindley was on the same time as Tao going into the final days time trial after a trade of stage wins and time bonuses across the previous 48 hours.

It was Roglic-Pogcar and LeMond-Fignon but with no head start for any rider and with only fractions of a second from previous time trials used to decide who was race leader.

The destiny of the 2020 Giro was perfectly balanced, however this one wasn’t quite an exciting as the Tours mentioned above.

Tao was 10 seconds up according to GPS very early in the stage and by the official time check it was a situation where barring accident or misfortune, he would win the race.

And that he did. It was great to see local rider to us Hannah Barnes greet him after the finish as his partner. They are cyclings Posh and Becks!

He is a rider who is still young and fresh faced but whose time has now come. He saw his leader fall out of the race and then took his time to find his feet as leader, chipping back time as and when he could.

With the new Ineos style of attacking racing suiting him more than wattage based mountain trains, this was a case of right rider, right time and right place.

Well done Tao!

Flanders ends the monument season on a high

Oude Kwaremont

I am not sure if I am just so grateful to have bike racing at all, that I am enjoying all it at the moment.

The RVV last Sunday was a case in point with drama and brilliant racing well into the last 50 metres of the event.

But before the big 3 favourites became the big 2 and slugged it out on the overpass running into Oudenaarde there was lots to admire.

The days early break were as strong and committed as you would want for a race of this stature. They went quite deep into the race which meant a full peloton behind them had to be mindful and aware of where they were on the course.

There were plenty of crashes which you don’t like to see, of course, leading to Sep Vanmarcke having to produce one of the rides of the day to get back on before the start of the finishing circuit.

As has been the case far too often over the years for Sep he was producing his best work behind the race rather than using that effort to go off the front and yet again it was a story of what might have been.

When the race winning move did go it was driven by the world champion Julian Alaphillippe who put the hammer down. Wout van Aert and Mathieu Van der Poel were alert to the danger and with Elegant/Quickstep and Jumbo/Visma the two big teams having riders in the move that was day done for the majority of riders.

There was one big twist to come with Alaphillippe riding into the back of a slowing race motorcycle before landing hard on those unforgiving Belgian roads.

We had a big debate in our house about the crash. The bike did slow but Alaphillippe wasn’t looking where he was going. He’d been scrolling through his Garmin a number of times looking for data and information and whilst the bike shouldn’t have been travelling at that speed as the breakaway caught it, you do have a level of responsibility to be looking where you are going.

This left the former ‘cyclo cross dominating duo’ alone together again for the final bergs.

I suffer up the Paterberg

After marking each other out of Gent Wevelgem last weekend they were always going to collaborate to make sure they go to the finish of this one and that they did.

The sprint was neck and neck with Van der Poel just getting the drop of his rival for a win full of emotion and drama.

Let’s hope that we only have to wait until April for the next edition.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 VAN DER POEL MathieuAlpecin-Fenix5002755:43:17
2 VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma400200,,
3 KRISTOFF AlexanderUAE-Team Emirates3251500:08
4 TURGIS AnthonyTeam Total Direct Energie275120,,
5 LAMPAERT YvesDeceuninck – Quick Step225100,,
6 CLAEYS DimitriCofidis, Solutions Crédits17590,,
7 NAESEN OliverAG2R La Mondiale15080,,
8 VAN BAARLE DylanINEOS Grenadiers12570,,
9 DEGENKOLB JohnLotto Soudal10060,,
10 BENOOT TiesjTeam Sunweb8550,,