procycling stats has new cyclo cross site

Fendrien loves procyclingstats. It’s a brilliant website covering both the Womens and Mens pro pelotons with all the races, results, live updates, rankings and the predictor and procycling-game.

It really is the best cycling thing on the internet.

So to see their CX website launch has given me a great deal of joy and a website to check daily in the road off season!

Here is the link to bookmark.

my brush with you know what…

There is only one word to describe Christmas and that is “ugh”.

As I whirred away pre-work on the turbo on the 23rd December what we thought was a head cold for my Wife ended up being a positive covid test and a sprint to a testing centre bundling the kids in the car. I did have time to change out of my bibshorts.

The positive was confirmed and with that our family were told to stay away over the festive period with portions of uncooked Christmas lunch left on the doorstep for each group of them to collect.

That was merely the start however with me starting to cough and splutter through Christmas Eve before the emergence of all of the symptoms I experience during my first vaccination (and you can read all about that day here). Shaking, shivering and sweating I went to bed Christmas night knowing that I also had covid 19. It was just awaiting the confirmation.

A trip to the test centre made it real it before on the 29th Decemeber my eldest daughter tested positive. Her case has also been confirmed with a second test.

As a family we have been super careful throughout the whole pandemic, home schooling, working from the house and not going out and about.

The loss of this Christmas feels a bitter blow to my Wife, my Daughters and I. Its also a tough one for the parents/grandparents to take.

But today. Day 5 of my journey I am starting to feel slightly more human, albeit still completely dependent on Lemsip blackcurrant.

Taking it back to cycling, this has put a massive dent in my plans for 2022 at the time of year when the best foundations for a good season are put in place. I know that’s now gone and there will be no way of chasing those miles to get them back.

The positive is that I have barely eaten and certainly not drunk anything alcoholic.

Ying and Yang.

I am left wondering if I need to change my diary for the upcoming year which had a first 10km running race along with a couple of lengthy sportives replacing the usual diet of club 10s with a rare open.

We shall see. I need to be back in the land of the living fully first and take it from there.

Stay safe.

Namur delivers

The Namur cyclo cross race yesterday delivered as it always does.

Despite there not being a British winner in Tom Pidcock the race was still box office from tape to flag.

Micheal Van Thourenhout was the semi-surprise winner keeping it wheel side down in a race that saw Pidcock and long time race leader Toon Aerts go over.

The course had that perfect mix of cobbled climbs, steep wooded downhills and deep slippy mud.

If this race doesn’t whet the appetite for the busy Christmas cyclo cross period then nothing will.

Riders of the year 2021

Here are my top 3 mens riders of the 2021 season.

3. Julian Alaphillippe

I am trying to avoid using the standard cliches to describe this guy. Swashbuckling for example.

However, its really hard when the two stand out wins of his season were gathered in that typical… umm… swashbuckling style of riding the race off his wheel.

Stage 1 of the Tour de France had been marred by crashes but was set up for Mathieu Van der Poel to win with an uphill finish and the weight of history driving him on. But that moment in the spotlight would have to wait as our Julian rode away from the whole of the race having surfed through the carnage on the road behind him. Carnage that ended the challenge of Primoz Roglic, Chris Froome and others.

He never seemed to get so far away that the peloton didn’t believe he was catchable, but he was never close enough for anyone to bridge. It was timed perfectly.

After waiting what felt like a lifetime for the Tour to be back and to have fans on the road side, this was the start that both France and the race needed. It also took the spotlight off a certain placard waving fan a little…

He then backed this up at the end of the season by retaining the world champions rainbow jersey by using his team 160km out to make the race uncomfortable for the home town Belgian team.

As the race entered a crucial period he was simply too fast for the riders remaining in the peloton and was justifiably a back to back world road race champion.

2. Mathieu Van der Poel

It feels like this guy had his best moments early in the season. He was thoroughly dominant at Strade Bianche with an uphill power packed attack sending him clear of the peloton. It was a truly wonderful display and the best individual piece of riding of 2021. Bar none.

He backed that up with a brilliant performance in Tirreno Adriatico in the filthy weather. He proved that his cyclo cross background didn’t make him solely a 60 minute racer.

VdP left the peloton behind “to keep warm” with over 50 km to go and would have won by miles if Tadej Pogacar hadn’t thought about the overall win and chased him hard.

But that ride did seem to do more damage than good, with him short and Milan-San Remo and then outsprinted at Flanders by Kasper Asgreen.

He did show his champion credentials in his Tour de France debut. Stage 1 was a disappointment for him missing out in a kit designed to mirror that his grandfather wore in the race. The Mur de Bretagne was different. He attacked first time up for the time bonuses before riding clear to win the stage and take the yellow jersey on the second ascent. It was great to see him get the jersey and then honour it to the Alps.

You have to love VdP for the way he rides and the way he makes cycling like it was in the good old days. Long may this level of performance continue.

1. Tadej Pogacar

The first rider in living memory to win the Tour and 2 of the classic monuments in a season. This lad has it all.

Whilst the Tour de France was in his pocket by the end of week 1 making the overall battle redundant, you can’t help but be impressed by his style and power on the bike.

Before we even got there he’d outsprinted the generations best classic riders to take Liege Bastogne Liege.

That was followed up with a dominant performance in Il Lombardia which is rapidly becoming my second favourite single day race of the year, where he took Fausto Masnada of Quickstep to the finish before smashing him out of sight in the race to the flag.

Aside from the results there is a quiet confidence and dominance about this guy where his presence at the head of a race seems to break the others before he even attacks.

The Ventoux stage was the only one where he looked like shipping any time but I still look back at that day and think he was focused on making Richard Carapaz put his nose into the wind rather than his being in genuine trouble.

Is his dominance good for the sport? For now I would say yes. It means the other teams will need to show greater innovation and creativity to isolate and then beat him, although his team has stocked up on domestiques so far this winter.

But what a talent. A poster boy for cycling for the 2020s.

pro launches anti-litter campaign

I am very lucky that where I live, in the main, road side littering by cyclists and the general public isn’t too bad.

(Fly tipping aside)

You do see the odd gel wrapper and banana peel along with MacDonalds drinks holder, but its not massive.

There are also regular picks both along the road side and the river bank near to my home. This is much appreciated and my kids and I plan to join in the a pick from the water in our kayak next summer.

Groupama/FDJ pro Anthony Roux has been a part of the pro peloton for years and has noticed more litter by the road sides of his training rides.

Some may say his attempts to get action on littering are attempts at launching a political career when cycling is over for him.

I prefer to see it as environmentally conscious and would like to share and back his initiative.

Read more about it here.

We all have a part to play in being the solution, not the problem.

Amazon brings brewing belgian beer to our tv screens

Click here to watch.

I will resist taking the easy way out and pound on James Blunt for being on this show. He has taken enough punishment over the years and despite being a little wooden here, holds the fort on ‘Beers Masters’ well enough.

The show is your typical format of having 5 teams competing against each other to brew the best new beer as judged by a panel of experts.

Show 2 was tripel and show 3 abbey style. So there is plenty of interest for us enthusiasts of those types. No-one gets eliminated they just take a beer forward from each episode to the final.

For those of us who are really stuffy about our beers there is probably not enough depth to the show. I, however, learned a lot from the show and understand the types of beer being brewed a lot better now.

Whether it will help my home brewing efforts remains to be seen!