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!

https://cx.procyclingstats.com/index.php

Here is the link to bookmark.

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!

RGT now part of my arsenal

My clubs Facebook page is not normally buzzing in November, but the announcement this week that the RGT app was changing got lots of traction.

I have been a regular user of Rouvy now for over a year having found the issues of power drop out on the Tacx app too annoying to overcome.

A quick look of the reviews of that product show its still an issue despite Garmin taking over Tacx. Very sad as it is a great looking tool.

Rouvy has been great for me and the fitness I have gained from going up through the skill levels and the competitive racing didn’t leave me in the market for another product.

Fenland Clarion CC have used RGT (short for Road Grand Tours) for their local online winter racing, but I didn’t have the two sources of input to run the software.

Until now.

RGT have revamped their app so its a single product now and I am going to be testing it later on.

Will it be a replacement for Rouvy? and alternative or just used to race my club mates and friends?

I will post again to let you know.

Looking forward to 2022 spring classics event #1

This Wednesday evening at 1800hrs UK time, I am hosting a race on Rouvy to get you looking forwards to the 2022 spring classics season.

The course is the last 30km of Milan-San Remo.

It starts at the base of the Cipressa climb before dropping back down to the coast and heading alongside the ocean until dipping back inland to climb the iconic Poggio.

A Rouvy subscription and the app is needed.

You can enter the virtual race for free here by clicking here.

My top 3 cyclo cross courses

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!

3. Koksijde

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.

2. Koppenbergcross

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!

1. Namur

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!

Paris Roubaix to be wet?

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!

1994 Paris Roubaix

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.