I have an update and its thanks to one of my local bike shops that I am not now in the market for something gravelly from Trek or Specialized.
I dropped Terry Wright Cycles an email to explain the bike I had and the riding I did. Just to see if there was any upgrade or tweaks I could make to the current bike. If it was a no, the pain of Facebay or Ebay awaited me. This was a big deal.
I hate selling stuff online and having to deal with people. The selling of the old bike is the worst part of buying a new bike.
We arranged a time for me and my bike to pop by their shop and it was agreed pretty quickly that there was some quick wins here.
I was fortunate enough to had upgraded the Shimano R500 wheelset to Mavic Cosmics which had a narrower profile.
That meant that despite an advertised maximum rear wheel clearance of 23mm tyres, I was able to fit 25mm. The internet had told me that a tyre upgrade wouldn’t fit…
Much as I wanted to believe that a quick investment of less than £50 could save me a fortune on equipment, my mind remained open.,
A quick hour spin didn’t totally convince me. Two weeks on though and I am finding the bike a lot more comfortable. It now feels much more stable and comfortable, a real bonus.
So thanks to my LBS for their help. If you have any questions on your bike fit and feel, you should always consult them before spending a wedge of cash.
After the proximity of the 2021 worlds in Belgium, I have to say that so far this years vintage in Australia has yet to fire for me.
We have seen close finishes and crashes but… well its not Julian Alaphillippe outside the Stella brewery is it?
This is no disrespect to Aussies or their base for the championship. I have a really close friend who lives close to the course, but I would phase this as a development event rather than a championships based in one of the sports heartlands.
Maybe the Qatar event is still affecting my viewpoint and over the weekend I will be engrossed in a Tadej Pogacar vs. Wout van Aert classic…
One thing I would have been confident in writing last week was that a duel between stage-hunter Fred Wright and Primoz Roglicwould not end up deciding the Vuelta’s general classification.
But we saw a bizarre stage 16 end the suspense as to whether or not Remco Evenepoel would win the Tour of Spain 2022.
We left the race in our last review at the final rest day with Remco starting to ship time every time the race went up hill.
Enric Mas but more importantly Roglic were taking time back. 10 seconds here, 25 seconds there and as we headed into the tough final week it looked a matter of time before the Jumbo/Visma man would take back the leaders red jersey.
However. Stage 16 bit back and caused drama in the way that only a Roglic capitulation could see.
The short uphill to the finish wasn’t too much of a gradient. This was shown by Mads Pedersen going on to win the stage.
But Roglic shot out of the pack like a rocket at the exact moment the red jersey was dropping back with a puncture.
It was inside 3km from the finish meaning the race jury would allocate the same time as the main peloton to Remco. But that would still mean a time loss as Rog powered up the finishing straight.
No-one truly knows if Rog had an inkling of the leaders woes when he attacked. But it soon became academic as he crashed into Wright in the final metres. Roglic bolted from one side of the road to the other and the two clashed handle bars before the Slovenian hit the deck.
His Vuelta was over and he has since pointed the finger of blame at Wright. Unfairly for me.
This left Mas the main challenger but over the next mountain stage, won heroically by Rigoberto Uran, he couldn’t get away.
The final true mountain stage ended up being won by Remco who put 2 more seconds into Mas and that was that.
Pedersen, Richard Carapaz and Juan Sebastian Molano won the remaining stages but it was the Belgian who ended his homelands long drought in three week grand tours.
Despite the anticlimactic last few stages it was a really decent race this and sets up next summer’s big races perfectly.
After a week of dominance in the climbs and time trials, the most recent stages of the Vuelta will have left Belgian fans chewing their finger nails as Remco Evenepoel starts to shed time to the chasing pack.
I say pack. I really mean multiple defending champ Primoz Roglic and Spaniard Enric Mas.
The rest are too far back.
However, in the weekends mountain stages (ahead of the rest day today) both have taken time back from the race leader, something that looked unlikely a few days ago.
We left the race in the last post with a time trial in Alicante. It was dominated by Remco.
The following day was won by Kaden Groves in a sprint before we started to climb again.
Way down on time after a tough first few stages, Richard Caparaz was given free reign to leave the peloton in a breakaway and he took that chance winning in Estepona. The favourites came home together over seven minutes back.
Mads Pedersen had been in a number of breaks trying to build his lead in the points competition and won stage 13 in an uphill reduced bunch sprint.
It was the sort of finish we know the Dane has, but don’t see it often enough in the classics and stage races. This will have done wonders for him though although it was a shame to hear post stage that he wouldn’t be taking this form down to Australian for the upcoming world championships. I would have made him favourite.
Carapaz won again at La Pandera on Saturday with Evenepoel finally showing weakness and being dropped by Roglic and Mas.
The feat was repeated yesterday on a stage won by Thymen Arensman at Sierra Nevada.
The time gap between the leader and Roglic now down to 1m34s.
Its been tough for Remco, losing Julian Alaphillippe to another crash and shoulder injury. The reigning world champ would have been crucial to keeping the red jersey holder in touch on the last mountain stages.
It’s going to be an interesting last few days. I see Roglic as the likely winner though now I have to say. There are three uphill or summit finishes left for him to make the real breakthrough.
Remco looks tired and on the back foot without his team to defend him. It’s painful to watch.
Either way its going to be an exciting last few days of the final big stage race of the 2022 season.
Not quite yet Remco. But week two of this years race sees the Belgian boy wonder on the edge of greatness having built a commanding lead during stages 4-10.
We left the race travelling from Breda in the Netherlands to Northern Spain on an early rest day with Jumbo passing the race leaders jersey around their riders, seemingly for fun.
Stage 4 with its medium mountains and reduced bunch sprint saw Primoz Roglic take both stage and jersey and that, we all assumed, was that.
The next day Jumbo let a break take a fair chunk of time and gifted the leaders role to Groupama-FDJ rider Rudy Mollard. He benefited from some selfless team work from Brit Jake Stewart on the road into Bilbao.
The stage was won by fiery Catalan Marc Soler. When he is on it he is unbeatable. When he isn’t he is slower than me*
Stage 6 was the first proper mountain summit finish and Jay Vine, as Aussie, was too strong for his breakaway companions emerging from the fog to take a memorable win.
Behind Remco Evenepoel accelerated away from the favourites group and gained enough time to depose Roglic.
Only Enric Mas of Spain was able to stay in contact and they became the riders to watch in this Vuelta.
In a race of breakaways there was an emotion home win for Cofidis rouleur Jesus Herrada into Cistierna the following day. A tearful interview for the home tv channels showing how much this one meant.
Vine then won again on the second mountain top finish keeping up a 100% win rate on summits in this years race! He was benefitting from being far enough behind in the overall classification that none of the big teams were too bothered to chase him. But he was clearly on their radar now and would not be gifted the chance to ride in a breakaway again by the looks of things.
Sunday’s showpiece stage to Nava was one for the ages. Up front big Belgian Jimmy Janssens was toiling up the final climb which was Flemish in its steepness, yet almost alpine in its length.
Louis Meintjes, a much more suitable tiny climber, was reeling him in, and did with just enough space to then drop him on the 24% gradients into the finish.
Behind them the GC battle detonated. Remco sensed weakness in Roglic and dropped him compressively on a corner so steep that the tv motorbikes were stalling.
Mas was next to suffer, dropping off the back wheel of the race leader centimetre by centimetre.
Remco was 3/4 of a minute clear of his rivals by the line despite a late charge by Primoz.
We went into the second rest day on Monday which would have usually been the natural break point in my race review.
However I couldn’t post until today so I am including the time trial of yesterday.
Not much to add on that other than Remco dominated again and added to his lead going into this hilly second phase of the race.
What happens next? I think we will see the likes of Roglic and Mas have to try longer range attacks to get time back. Mas doesn’t have a great reputation as an attacker, more a follower so it will be Jumbo that have to instigate.
Evenepoel looks really strong. But we keep hearing he is unproven over three weeks so it will be interesting to see how his team try and manage the race in the coming days to give him an easier ride.
It’s either going to be really exciting or a dull procession to the finish now! I know which I want to see.
The first three stages of the Vuelta have taken place in the Netherlands before a rest day yesterday enabling travel back to Spain.
It has seen the return to the winners circle for one rider and three different holders of the leaders red jersey. Its been a strong start.
Friday evening saw the opening team time trial, a Vuelta staple, with Jumbo avoiding any paddling pool run off (sorry Primoz!) to get the win.
In the final straight they were even lucid and clear thinking enough to push home rider Robert Gesink, in the twilight of the evening as well as his career, into the front.
First rider home from the winning team gets the overall lead and there was barely a dry eye in the house as he took to the podium.
Gesink has years of experience in riding for others and sacrificing his own chances to ensure his team wins. This was a fitting tribute.
Stage 2 was another run off in front of enormous crowds despite being an obvious sprint.
It wasn’t an obvious winner. Irishman Sam Bennett has had a torrid couple of years. My last memory of him is from the 2021 Gent-Wevelgem classic where in the space of 400 metres he went from most likely winner to out of the back being sick at the roadside.
He has had it tough.
A return to Bora-Hansgrohe has taken time to yield results but you could see the relief spread over his face as he realised he had won. Another fitting moment!
The red jersey moved to another Jumbo rider in Mike Teunissen.
The third stage saw the jersey change again. Jumbo continued to dominate with Edoardo Affini getting his day in red.
Bennett showed the previous day was no fluke by flying into Breda to win two in a row.
With todays stage having over 2300 metres of climbing I wouldn’t be better on him making it a hat-trick!
I had to think long and hard over a headline. Implying that the winner Jonas Vingegaard merely “made it” to Paris might be seen as belittling his achievement. But the context I am after is showing the challenges he faced with the climate, with climate protestors and the fact that Tadej Pogacar wasn’t going to hand over the title without a battle.
We left the race in the South of France after one of the hottest days on record for the Tour.
Stage 16 was a medium mountain stage which saw Israel-Premier Tech continue their ascension out of the World Tour relegation places when Hugo Houle rode away to win the stage. He was ably back by team mate Mike Woods for a Canadian one two.
The next day to Peyragaudes saw Pogacar win the stage without creating any distance between himself and the yellow jersey.
Despite being super confident that the Slovenian would have what it took to come back and win the race overall, his lack of ability to drop Vingegaard made me start to doubt his chances of doing so. This was clear evidence that the Dane had his number and that it would take something really special to dislodge him.
The final mountain stage to the disgraced (based on the evidence of former winners) peak of Hautacam saw Pogacar dropped for good.
After dueling on the way up the penultimate climb, the top two on the overall classification both had sketchy moments on the hot tar going down.
The yellow jersey had his foot out to save him from snaking into a ditch before Pogacar went over and crashed.
Vingegaard waited for his rival and when he caught up they shook hands as if to say “no more, this could get silly and dangerous“.
They did battle it out on the final climb before Wout Van Aert (who else?) delivered a monster turn for his leader which saw him win alone.
Christophe LaPorte got reward for all of his efforts in this race and across the season to date with the only French stage win after escaping in Cahors. Jumbo continued to monopolise the stage wins with Van Aert taking the final time trial for the second year in succession before Jasper Philipsen made it two stage wins in Paris.
There are those in the media calling this the best Tour ever. I think that might be a bit steep based on 1989 (and others!). But it was exciting from first to last and raced continually.
The only real off day was stage 15 but with the alps in the riders legs and a 40 degree, baking hot stage between them and the second rest day that can be understood.
I really enjoyed it and the race had a worthy winner in Jonas Vingegaard. Whether he is starting a dynasty or will be a one off winner, only next summer will be able to tell us.
We left our week 1 round up in Chatel in the shadows of the high Alps.
It had been a fast and furious first week with Tadej Pogacar and Wout Van Aert carving the race and the stages up between themselves.
After a rest day in Morzine we got going again with the hero of the opening weekend Magnus Cort getting a well deserved stage win in Megeve. A narrow sprint win from a breakaway was such a Cort way of getting EF off the mark for this race after a number of close calls.
The next day we got our first look at the GC contenders at over 2000m of altitude although most pundits (including myself) had already called Pogacar the winner of this tour.
Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo team had other ideas repeatedly attacking the Slovenian in the valley roads around the colossal Col du Galibier. Pogacar was able to react to all attacks at this point but when the Dane attacked on the Col du Granon almost in site of the finish, the leader was dropped.
A deficit of around 30 seconds became over 2 and a quarter minutes of a lead for Vingegaard. It was now on.
The expected attacks the following day on Alp D’Huez didn’t really materialise with the crowds and the breakway situation maybe playing a part.
Tom Pidcock kept up the UKs recent claim on the Dutch mountain with a brilliant stage win forged in his downhill skills and backed up by his speed up hill.
Highlight of the Tour so far for me.
As we headed towards a weekend of 40 degree heat a breakaway was finally allowed its day with Mads Pedersen a deserving stage win after managing his compatriots on the final climb into St Etienne.
Yesterday as the race trundled into Carcassonne we had time to reflect on a brilliant second week packed with mountain views and twists and turns in the race.
Jumbo’s minds were bought back into sharp focus however. Primoz Roglic had left the Tour at the start of the day as a result of his Roubaix tumble. However they hadn’t budgeted on Steven Kruijswijk hitting the deck and breaking a collar bone. Advantage Tadej?
Its all to play for as we head into the key final week of this Tour de France… I am not going to pick it now!
If the opening weekend of the 2022 Tour de France belonged to the Danish crowds and Magnus Cort, then the return to the events homeland belonged to two men.
Wout Van Aert and Tadej Pogacar ensured that two of the races main competitions were over by the end of stage 9 in Chatel.
Van Aert was in the yellow jersey but it was the Maillot Vert that he was at the race for. It didn’t stop him attacking the race on that familiar bit of headland to holiday makers who make for Calais on the ferry.
He rode the whole race off his wheel and soloed to a memorable victory. Amazingly despite its position on the map in the north west of France, this was Calais’ first stage finish. The town put its challenges aside for the day and put on a lovely face. Maybe next time I head off a ferry I won’t just zoom past on my way to other more exotic French locations.
The stage to Arenberg saw the end of a couple of GC challengers hopes. Ben O’Connor and Primoz Roglic lost time. Pogacar was superb (as he is on every stage nowadays) and the expected Ineos onslaught from the cobbled specialists like Dylan Van Baarle and Luke Rowe didn’t provide any advantage.
A Wallonian stage followed to Longwy and despite some Van Aert magic as he went away on his own again, the jersey changed hands when a Pogacar sprint won the stage and yellow.
The Slovenian wonder kid wasn’t done there winning the next stage on the Planches des Belles Filles overtaking long time leader Leonard Kamna in the final 100 metres on the steep gravel extension to the usual finish.
Van Aert hit back on Saturday winning a reduced bunch sprint over the border in Switzerland. But Pog was right up there at the finish.
The stage to Chatel yesterday finally saw a breakaway succeed and it was a pair of comeback kids who made this a stage for the ages and broke up the WoutPogopoloy.
Alone with 60km to go, Bob Jungels rolled back the years with a brilliant display of paced climbing and aggressive descending.
He held on from Thiabut Pinot who was closing fast but couldn’t get across the last 20 seconds before getting caught on the line by a pair of chasers.
Well done Bob.
So whilst there will be plenty of commentary stating how dull this Tour could end up being as a result of Pogacar pretty much having won it already, there is still plenty going on and enough to make this a really strong edition so far.