Build up to the Northern Classics wins me over

Le Samyn – Matteo Trentin

Nokere Koerse – Tim Merlier

GP Denain – Max Walscheid

Koksijde Classic – Pascal Ackermann

We will cover Milan San Remo when the dust about seat post droppers subsides a little, but as we head into the Flemish classic season proper the above preparation races have been superb this spring.

Every year I watch Le Samyn and as they pass that village green before the worst set of cobbles (underwater again this year) I promise myself I will make it to that beautiful old looking bar for a Bornem or similar one year.

Dour is the name of the finishing town and the weather generally reflects that. But the race is always excellent. Trentin was a worthy winner.

The Nokereberg is a set piece finish with those heavy cobbles offset with lovely restaurant frontage and ornate street lighting.

This one didn’t quite hit the heights of previous years but Tim Merlier, a growing force in Flanders racing, got to throw his hands in the air.

Although its in France, Denain had a spectacular finish. The field was strong as a result of the cobbles used being used in the Tour de France this July.

We saw Primoz Roglic and the Ineos team really take the race on and they were only caught in the last 3km after an epic chase. The Cofidis revival, as alluded to on this website (!) continued with Walscheid winning the sprint.

Koksijde finished this batch of racing at the end of last week with a sprint finish after an attacking run in.

You truly know the spring races have arrived when watching the peloton heading to the coast past the sand dunes with a right turn taking them alongside the tram route.

It generates emotion that the weather will be on the turn soon (hopefully!) and that the season proper is here. I associate this with fewer layers when going training and daffodils in the garden. Its engrained in the calendar.

2022 is shaping up to be a superb season of racing. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Back to work

Its been nice to have a bit of a change over the winter.

The running was great and to get to a 55 minute 10 km (I am no Tom Pidcock or Dumoulin!) was a goal ticked off.

I had never dedicated time to running before and it was nice to do something different.

Covid over Christmas and a sore knee from running in shorts when it was too cold to has left me re-thinking my options and the Rutland/Burghley 10km next weekend is now off my planner.

A regional touch rugby tournament last weekend is now in my rear view mirror so it full focus on the bike.

Well, once the puncture wounds in my foot from stud marks have healed. But that’s rugby for you.

The idea of doing a bit less cycling was to refresh my motivation, try something else and get back to riding because I loved it, not because I felt I had to.

I snook out for a quick hour Saturday and trying to keep a straight line on the deserted windswept country roads suddenly felt like something I was meant to do, as opposed to something I did habitually.

Usually the idea of zone 2 riding in freezing cold temperatures would have me running for the coffee machine.

I think my fitness is a way down on 2021 and especially 2020 at the same point, so its going to be a slow build for me, but one I am relishing.

Fenland Clarion Velogames league

Not sure if there is much interest in fantasy cycling games but I just joined the Velogames classics one. Really easy to join but hard to pick a pick within budget.

I am hoping this line up will get me from Strade to Liege without having to make transfers.

I have started a FCCC league so feel free to join in..

https://www.velogames.com/ < to register

League code to join is 140233727

Going round again…

2022 sees my 31st season as a cyclist commencing.

I would love to say I am going into it with confidence and clear objectives in mind but after Christmas Covid and a February knee injury I am not.

Throw in the country opening up and the chance to ride out to local events after work being impinged by commuting in the car and it feels like 2022 will be a ‘grab it whilst you can‘ type season for me.

One thing that is certain is my signing up with Fenland Clarion CC once again.

My time with the club has seen me a rider, committee member, social secretary, website editor and the clubs stash of stock kit is currently in the base of my wardrobe.

Despite some dalliances with other clubs and teams (Peterborough CC/I-Team-Wheel2Wheel/St Ives CC-Plastribution) over the years, mainly based on geography, I have been either 1st or 2nd claim with Clarion since 2004, and before that a spell in both the early and late 1990s.

It’s not a case of “why change a winning formula“, as I don’t really ever win.

It’s more feeling comfortable in my surroundings and with my club mates that ups my participating and brings that element of competitiveness to my riding.

picture by Lisa Jan – Ketton October 2021

Our level is always friendly and we have an environment that is always encouraging. I am 47 now so my chances of turning pro are now receding (!) so I think I will be in the yellow, red and black for the duration now.

As for aims and objectives. I am writing this looking at my data from a weekend of tough riding, and I am not close to where I was at this time last year. It might be that my focus changes to a couple of key sportives this summer and I have a go at getting prepared properly to ride them, despite my current high octane lifestyle.

Whatever way I go, I will be posting about it on here during the year.

Have a great season.

Too much racing, can’t compute!

Last week it was 1/2 term for school kids down here in the Midlands of England.

We took the opportunity as the country unlocked to get away for a few days.

However with Ruta del Sol, Algarve, Tour of the Alps Maritime and other races going on I am now finding myself glued to GCN before work, lunch breaks and even on the turbo in the evening.

I have so much race viewing to cram in ahead of opening weekend that I wonder if I will still be in Portugal or watching the end of the cyclo cross season instead of Het Nieuwsblad?

Time will tell. But being a cycling fan since the 1980’s this is a much better way of watching and keeping up with the sport compared to the old format of waiting a month to read about it in “Winning” magazine.

And that is no reflection on that particular publication.

Are Cofidis the real deal?

Etoile de Bessèges is a big race at the start of the French season. Not a Tour or Paris-Nice or Dauphine but significant enough to be a benchmark. In my view.

The race started earlier this week and so far (in typically French style) has been about renaissance.

Stage 1 saw former World Champion Mads Pedersen return to form and look ominous for the upcoming cobbled classics with a win on a climb that looked really impressive.

But it was stage 2 and 3 that got the home crowd wagging their tongues.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 COQUARD BryanCofidis14203:41:46
2 PEDERSEN MadsTrek – Segafredo512,,
3 JOHANNESSEN Tobias HallandUno-X Pro Cycling Team37,,
4 BURGAUDEAU MathieuTotalEnergies5,,
5 BETTIOL AlbertoEF Education-EasyPost40:04
6 THOMAS BenjaminCofidis3,,
7 SWIFT ConnorTeam Arkéa Samsic2,,
8 MENTEN MilanBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB1,,
9 CHAMPOUSSIN ClémentAG2R Citroën Team,,
10 LATOUR PierreTotalEnergies

Forgotten man of French cycling Bryan Coquard has moved across to Cofidis from B&B Hotels during the winter and most pundits saw this as a last big pay cheque and a swansong.

But he climbed (yes climbed) his way to win stage 2 leaving some real quality in his wake.

It was a brilliant return to form for a nearly man who lost his way as a sprinter before trying his luck in breakaways. This win is a really positive sign.

Today proved it was no fluke for the boys in red and white when Benjamin Thomas repeated the feat.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 THOMAS BenjaminCofidis14203:38:31
2 BETTIOL AlbertoEF Education-EasyPost5120:09
3 JOHANNESSEN Tobias HallandUno-X Pro Cycling Team37,,
4 TILLER RasmusUno-X Pro Cycling Team50:15
5 COQUARD BryanCofidis4,,
6 BOASSON HAGEN EdvaldTotalEnergies3,,
7 HOFSTETTER HugoTeam Arkéa Samsic2,,
8 CHAMPOUSSIN ClémentAG2R Citroën Team1,,
9 ULISSI DiegoUAE Team Emirates,,
10 ZIMMERMANN GeorgIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux,,

If you throw in Guillame Martins innovative and almost successful attack in the GP of Marseille at the weekend is this finally the return to form of one of the pelotons longest serving teams?

I hope so… but let’s give it another month and see. Just to be sure.

congratulations tom & zoe

We have not one but two world champions from this weekends cyclo cross action in Arkansas.

Zoe Backstedt won the Junior Women’s with Tom Pidcock taking the mens Elite.

With ‘cross becoming the go to discipline to get people on to road racing nowadays thanks to the likes of Vos and Van der Poel, we can hope for big things from this pair going forward.

(Yes we are aware that TP won a classic last year as well, but we think he will go bigger in 2022!)