GCN 2020 racing review

It’s been epic…

Whilst I am really into the current cyclo cross season, there is still time to reflect on the stop start road season.

GCN have thankfully saved us all the trouble of trawling through loads of highlights by putting it all together in one video which you can enjoy here…

You can also go back an enjoy our end of season top 3 riders podcast here.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the new year.

My first race on Rouvy

As you know I have been trialling Rouvy as an alternative to Tacx after some software issues.

It’s ok, Garmin karma got its own back on me when I whalloped my Forerunner on the kitchen door and the screen exploded. Sucks to be me.

How Rouvy looks in AR

We might come back and do a review on Amazons repair service at some point but that would need them to send the watch back… anyway consumer issues aside, I have been having some fun on Rouvy. The riding is fast and despite one or two people putting out over 10 watts per kilo and zooming past from 3km behind, it seems a decent community. So I am happy.

So much so that mid-week last week I entered a race on the Caves route course.

I downloaded the footage and despite only being on a mobile phone joined the race in augmented reality (AR).

I’d done some reading and knew that the racing on here was intense. I still wasn’t prepared for just how much despite a nice 10 minute warm up with a couple of hard sprints.

The timer on screen counted down and the 220 of us intrepid racers flew out of the car park at the start and on to the route. For the first 5 minutes or so I was totally unaware of what was happening as riders flew forward and back past me with the drafting indicator firing on and off repeatedly.

There were some graphical issues but these were soo resolved as the race settled down.

I say settled down but these guys start fast and then don’t let up.

It was super hard and I was drifting outside of the top 100 riders despite putting down nearly 3 watts per kilo and over 200 watts total on the big climb of the race.

At the first split I was already over 5 minutes down on the leader but I was more focused on how the graphics neatly let you know where you were and did the time checks. I could see a group wasn’t too far ahead and set about staying close on the downhill before pulling as hard as I could in the valley road to get back on.

I did and it was nice to do some turns and have a little rest as well in the wheels.

By split 2 the leaders had increased their lead to 8 minute and it was clear that the climbs were proving too much for me to hang on.

My group was still working well together and we set about the flat roads and little lumps on the run in as hard as we could.

Every up hill metre was earned and hurt. This was despite my standard turbo and sensor set up as opposed to direct drive. I was tweaking the resistance up hill to make it more authentic even though it was costing me.

The flat was where I could really make a difference.

The last 2km were downhill having turned off a main road. I was sprinting as hard as I could but I was cooked. In the end I was 86th place at 11 minutes.

I was happy with the place and my ride, but gutted with the time gaps.

But the bug has bitten. When my Fenland Clarion CC racing season ended I never imagined I’d get my shorts and jersey on the race for my team again in 2020… I might squeeze one more in… any flat routes out there? ! 🙂

Cav to ride on in 2021

Britains most winningest ever pro cyclist Mark Cavendish will be riding on in 2021.

Cav has rejoined his old Deceuninck / Quickstep team after 5 years away from them. It was with that team he suffered Tour de France heartbreak in Harrogate, smashing down on the deck outside Betty’s tea room. But aside from that he had so many good days on this squad.

You can read the teams press release by clicking here.

It’s great to hear that he is going to carry on next season, so let’s hope that our last memories of him as a pro cyclist are successful ones rather than the tears he shed in the Flemish Classics (which prompted us to write this piece about his impending retirement!).

Is it too much to hope for one last big win?

Lockdown and Tier 3 woes

I am desperate to keep this post relevant to non UK and Fenland readers. I also don’t want politics to play a part on my website.

So let’s just say that its not great that my particular part of the country is going to be classed as high risk and Tier 3 in the latest government rules.

For me it feels like an appropriate time to have another month or so on the turbo rather than out on the roads. Even though exercise is permitted, I want to set an example to my kids and exercise at home.

It’s really annoying and was mentally taxing to spend a month on Tacx before, but let’s just get on with it and get through this the best way that we can.

Stay safe.

If this is to be the end – Cav a tribute

Where to start on this guy eh?

I won’t be writing about all the obvious stuff, the wins and the worlds and the record breaking feats.

I won’t be writing about the tantrums and the crashes, the road outside Betty’s in Harrogate and the heartbreaking interview with Sporza from the weekend.

Instead I am picking examples of ‘Cavtastic’ moments that won’t have registered with him but have made a massive contribution to my love of cycling.

If it is the end for the great man, what a career it has been.

I meet my hero in Brakel at the Primus Classic 2017

2007 – London – Tour de France prologue – Buckingham Palace

Our club hired a coach to take in this once in a lifetime experience and we were dropped off in The Mall with a nice view of the Palace and the straight away from the Queens home.

Most of us were there to cheer David Millar as his rehabilitation into the sport continued but there was a fresh faced youngster from the British track programme who was getting a debut with T-Mobile at this race.

At the time it was great for us Brits to have another rider to cheer on home roads. With hindsight we were privileged to have been on the roadside on the opening day on the Tour de France for our nations most successful ever rider at the event.

He showed plenty of the sparkiness and commitment on the 2nd day of that Tour around Kent and we wouldn’t have to wait long before he got his hands in the air on the worlds biggest race.

2008 – Tour de France Stage 5 – Chateauroux

My experience of Cavs first Tour de France stage win wasn’t in central France. My then girlfriend (now Wife) and I were headed to the Lincolnshire coast for a bag of chips and a walk on the beach.

Whilst travelling up the A16 and through Boston she wanted to listen to songs on the radio but I wouldn’t move the dial from BBC 5 Live and the updates from France.

Simon Brotherton called the Manxman home causing scenes of fist waving and screaming in the traffic jam into Skegness that day.

He went on to win 4 stages in that Tour.

RnkRiderTeamPntTime
1 CAVENDISH MarkTeam Columbia1005:27:52
2 FREIRE Ă“scarRabobank ProTeam70,,
3 ZABEL ErikMilram50,,
4 HUSHOVD ThorCrĂ©dit Agricole40,,
5 COOKE BadenBarloworld32,,
6 HUNTER RobertBarloworld26,,
7 DUQUE Leonardo FabioCofidis, le CrĂ©dit par TĂ©lĂ©phone22,,
8 MCEWEN RobbieSilence – Lotto18,,
9 CHICCHI FrancescoLiquigas14,,
10 DEAN JulianTeam Garmin – Chipotle10,,

2017 – Primus Classic – Brakel Belgium

In the middle of a brilliant weekend of cycling in Flanders with Fendrien we were delighted to see that Cav was down to ride the Primus Classic that weekend.

So we made the very short hop up the hill from Oudenaarde to Brakel and confidently strolled into the start village.

It was great to see the BMC’s and Cervelo’s in the paddock area and we hung around until the riders started to emerge from their buses and gather in the square.

Then it happened, there was a build up of sound and more feet padding around us as Mark Cavendish appeared to sign on.

As he left the podium there were babies thrust in his direction and lots of people shouting for selfies. I remembered that I’d read an interview where he had indicated that polite manners were the only way he’d agree to a picture so after lots of please’s and thank you’s he came over to the friendly English accents and posed for the picture at the top of this post.

He also chatted about his form, not getting picked for the worlds and what he hoped to achieve on that day.

It was a brilliant moment and one i will treasure, even more so if this is to be the end of his career.

As the results show he wasn’t a factor in the finish but we did get to see him on tv that afternoon before his work was done and he dropped out of the front group.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 TRENTIN MatteoQuick-Step Floors2001254:36:03
2 DRUCKER JempyBMC Racing Team150850:08
3 GREIPEL AndrĂ©Lotto Soudal125600:18
4 GAVIRIA FernandoQuick-Step Floors10050,,
5 PASQUALON AndreaWanty – Groupe Gobert8545,,
6 CARDIS RomainDirect Energie7040,,
7 VERMELTFOORT CoenRoompot – Nederlandse Loterij6035,,
8 JANSEN Amund GrøndahlTeam LottoNL-Jumbo5030,,
9 RICKAERT JonasSport Vlaanderen – Baloise4026,,
10 GIRAUD BenjaminDelko Marseille Provence KTM3522,,

Whilst I hope this isn’t the end for Mark, its clear that coming back to the level he previously was is going to be nigh on impossible now and Sunday could have been the realisation of that fact.

Let’s see what happens now and where he goes from here. I wish him the very best of luck and would like to thank him for all the memories that go alongside the ones charted above.

What a weekend!!! Belgium hits the spot with excitement on both days

Without even touching on the Giro D’Italia starting this weekend saw the best racing of 2020 by far.

Saturday

After a stop start race with a missed day and re-route thanks to the new Netherlands Covid protocol, Mads Pedersen looked to be in a good place to win the Binck-Bank Tour.

However with 2 full and 1 partial ascent of the fearsome Muur to go (see my attempt below!) Mathieu Van der Poel took flight.

The Dutch champion was a bit more rapid over the 17% cobbles than I was and soloed away.

A select group of chasers formed behind but still VdP pressed on getting all of the maximum bonus seconds in the golden kilometer, an innovation that this race has stuck with over the years.

Soren Kragh Andersen got himself in prime position to win the race overall but only if Van der Poel was caught.

As the race headed in Geraardsbergen for the final time and a finish just above the market square it was clear that wasn’t going to happen and the boy wonder hung on for the final metres and took the overall race win along with the stage.

It was a really exciting finish and shows that wind, rain and cobbles makes for the best racing. Full Stop.

Sunday

After Marc Hirschi winning Fleche Walloone in the week the man of the summer (c) was part of the key break in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

So much happened though that I had to make notes and here they are showing my disbelief as the race unfolded.

  • Not too far after halfway a crash takes out Greg Van Avermaet, he looks badly injured. Maybe no Flanders? The likes of Sep Vanmarkce and GvA won’t ever win it.
  • La Redoute is the big climb of the race but its fairly neutral with Quick Step setting the pace.
  • Julian Alaphillippe crashes.
  • Alaphillippe attacks on the Roche aux Faucons climb. Only Michal Kwiatkowski, Hircshi, Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar can go with him.
  • Van der Poel is leading the chase behind… he couldn’t get across could he?
  • Kwiatkowski is dropped.
  • Into the last KM and they are playing a few games with each other. Matej Mohoric is flying across from the group behind.
  • Mohoric goes past and opens up the sprint. Alaphillippe and Hirschi collide and the Swiss pulls his foot out ending his chances.
  • Alaphillippe throws his hands in the air but Roglic goes past him to win!!!
  • Van der Poel wins the bunch sprint for 5th.

First up, I am sure some of you will be surprised that there are notes written ahead of blog posts!

Secondly, it was a terrible mistake by Alaphillippe in sight of the line but with him relegated for his wonky sprint into Hirschi it didn’t affect the outcome of the race as Roglic would have won anyway.

Thirdly, after the manner of his defeat in the Tour de France, no-one could begrudge Primoz his win in this race and I have to admit that despite having nothing against Alaphillippe I did punch the air and cheer when it was clear the Slovenian had got the win.

Right Flemish semi classics this coming week… beat that!