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!
It’s the article no-one is asking for, but I am writing it anyway!
If there is one thing that the arrival of GCN+ has given us is wall to wall winter cycling in the form of cyclo cross.
I am old enough to remember some rounds being shown on the BBCs flagship Saturday afternoon show Grandstand. I would then spend the Sunday morning that followed on my Falcon/Banana team issue replica bike on the recreation ground outside my house pretending to be a tough Belgian.
The dismounts and remounts were not so easy. Especially as the 1980s and early 1990s trend was to jam your saddle up as high as possible to show a bit of seat stem.
I also wore a pony tail held in by a rubber band as some sort of low budget Laurent Fignon, or the hipsters version, Soren Lilholt. But that’s straying off the point.
What these last couple of winters has shown us is that ‘cross is very much part of the full cycling experience and will forever be linked to road cycling, the spring classics and the grand tours.
Part of the reason for that is at the moment the best riders on the road also enjoy getting muddy in a Flemish field all winter. They are Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock.
With all of their summer exploits still hurting their legs, the three of them aren’t back on the trails as yet. They are all resting and that has left the door open for Eli Iserbyt to take ownership of the discipline.
He is being chased (literally and metaphorically) by team mates Michael Van Thourenhout, Laurens Sweeck and Trek riders Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar.
Another grand tour rider in Quinten Hermans (who I tipped on this website as being a star of the future) is getting the Wanty team among those riders above.
The great thing about ‘cross is that its raced in laps with sections that need to be run alongside your bike, steep drop ins and a little bit of road. It has the lot.
So here are my three favourite courses of the regulars that are raced during the season. Let me know if you disagree!
This course is best summed up by the video “Cycling in Flanders” shot and you can get that here.
Its full of sand dunes and steep banks which leaves you thinking they are racing through a Eurocamp holiday park. Its utterly bonkers and wonderfully brilliant.
This is another chance for me to drone on about how many times I have ridden the cobbled climb that is scaled on every lap of this race. But I wont.
I will talk about a course that has everything. It has the climb as well as steep, sweeping curves through farmland and some tight muddy turns.
This is fresh in my mind as it was raced yesterday. Check out the footage of Iserbyt winning but stay tuned in for some of the wrecked bodies and minds who slump over the finish before getting a Belgian face pack falling over.
It’s brutal and having ridden up the climb a few times I can tell you first hand how hard it is. But I wont!
This might be a hipsters choice from me here. But I love the racing this course produces.
The route is based around the finish of the autumn classic on the road that finishes up the cobbles at the citadel above the river and the town.
Its beautiful to look at but savage if you are racing with all the climbing and tight turns through the woodland.
The recent events have been dominated by Van der Poel but have been famous for a crash that Toon Aerts suffered which left him finishing the race with broken ribs.
Here are the details of the upcoming 2021 event from the website “Cyclocross 24”. there is a video of how difficult the course is for you to enjoy.
With only the Koppenberg round having been completed so far there is some decent racing to look forward to on most weekends now until the Christmas tree is down and we can start to think about Milano-San Remo.
Don’t miss out and enjoy the action this winter!
Click here to enjoy reliving a super Sunday.
The second best one day bike race (after the Ronde) takes place this weekend for the first time since 2019.
The 2020 Paris Roubaix, or Hell of the North, was cancelled in the April of that year as the Covid pandemic raged. It was provisionally re-scheduled for the end of that year but a surge in cases around the races finish area in Lille saw no race and much sadness for fans.
April 2021 saw more challenges in that area of Northern France and whilst the Flemish classics just over the border in Belgium took place, the Roubaix velodrome was again left silent.
But we do now have an event with a firm date for this Sunday, 3rd October 2021 and what’s more both the men’s and inaugural female events will both be hitting the cobbles.
This feels like a massive moment for cycling and a real sign that things are coming back to some level of normality and we will have a full set of one day monuments to look back on (unless something terrible happens in Italy to affect Il Lombardia).
My favourite memory of Roubaix was the 1994 edition where Andrei Tchmil survived the rain, mud and snowy blizzards the best. He was able to make the velodrome finish and take home the coveted cobble as his prize.
I remember a classic shot from the tv motorbike as Tchmil got away and the back drop was some old mining pulleys and towers with the cloud behind them the likes of which I’d never seen before.
The snow followed soon after and it was clear this would be a race we would talk about for years. I know I still am!
Since 1994 we have only seen one truly wet event, in 2002.
The forecast for this Sunday isn’t great with showers and 24kph winds anticipated on the exposed roads north of Paris.
If that doesn’t whet your appetite for this great event then nothing will.
Enjoy the race.
Despite being, what I would call, a cycling buff, there are many instances where I can’t take in all of a race.
I have even written on this very website how the recent trend of tv coverage from flag to flag sometimes can feel like too much cycling.
The first instance of this trend I can remember was the 2015 Paris Roubaix where the first hour of action waiting for the break to form was much more entertaining that what went after it. So the television execs thought they’d hit on a successful formula and it stuck.
But for every race like that, there has been plenty where ‘sleepy’ would still be too active a description for the action.
Its content like that which gives commentators abuse on the internet. They can only call what they see and if nothing is happening the dead air is filled with less quality. Same goes for the racing.
The 2021 world professional men’s road race yesterday was one occasion where if you invested the time at the start of the race, there were massive rewards at the finish.
The French national team rode the perfect race.
Unlike the Belgians who seemed to back both Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert before leaving home town rider Jasper Stuyven to content the finale, the raiding team from south of the border had a clear strategy.
They backed the defending champion to the hilt and were rewarded by his retention of the precious rainbow jersey.
From 140kms out Benoit Cosnefroy and Anthony Turgis were a total pain in the Belgians backsides with attacks and counter attacks forcing lots of chasing.
Italy were caught out in the first big split, something that might have contributed to a subdued finale from their main hope Sonny Colbrelli.
Mathieu Van der Poel was very subdued and was content to follow all day without having any impact on the race.
Julian Alaphillippe attacked four or five times to get his win with a number of these digs coming in the last lap and a half around Leuven.
He eventually wore them down with his desire to get clear and with Valentin Madouas working hard to help him establish his lead he was gone and gone for good.
The splinter group chasing him down had neither Van Aert, Tom Pidcock nor Van der Poel within it and didn’t have the power left to make the catch.
You can argue that Alaphillippe is all show and no content, but the wins he is racking up now make that point of view weak.
He is so entertaining to watch and his attack so wonderful to behold that you can’t help but be engaged and excited.
Last year he won with style. This year he won with persistence, style, panache and flair.
It truly was a world for the ages.
|2||VAN BAARLE Dylan||Netherlands||475||260||0:32|
|5||POWLESS Neilson||United States||275||130||,,|
|6||PIDCOCK Thomas||Great Britain||225||110||0:49|
|7||ŠTYBAR Zdeněk||Czech Republic||175||100||1:06|
|8||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Netherlands||150||90||1:18|
We have a window of opportunity with our supplier to get an order of Beers of Belgium CC merchandise in.
(Store password – “FENDRIEN”)
We have enough for a jersey run but would need some more cap orders for it to be viable to make them.
Having had a garden bar built during lockdown, the SUB keg beer pump from Beerwulf was a brilliant 2020 Fathers Day gift from my children.
The beer was cold and frothy just how I like it and despite some limited options in terms of replacement kegs to go in the machine, there is now a lot more of a Belgian feel to the SUB keg.
That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed it to date, but Pelforth is a French and not Belgian beer although you could argue the quality of the Brune is comparabale to some brews from north of the border.
The initial reviews of the machine were that the compressor was noisy and unreliable, but (fingers crossed) to date we have had no issues.
As well as Delirium (picture above) we can now get Affligem in Blonde, Brune and now Dubbel orTripel. La Chouffe is not a favourite of mine but that is also now available to order.
Of course the pursits will rightly point out that this is not the same as getting an authentic bottle from a bar, but we can’t go to Belgium right now so this is a great way of keeping the taste of some favourites whilst maybe trying something new if its on the list and you haven’t tried it before.