Previous Posts

  • Studied Nonchalance by Wiscot April 25, 2022Teocalli5039

    Picture credit” “Coppi” by Herbie Sykes, Rouleur Books, 2012

     

    The unveiling of a Grand Tour route is always an exciting event. We know what the general format will be: three weeks, two rest days, sprints, mountains, transition stages and (not enough) time trial kilometers. Past winners and contenders for the various classifications anxiously look at the parcours and assess their chances. Of course, it’s not unknown for a GT organizer to tweak the course to suit a particular rider . . .

    One of the more curious things at such events is the sartorial choices of the invited riders. Young men as they are, they often sport a mix of the trendy and downright casual. I’m always somewhat amazed at the insouciance of some: no ties, jeans, t-shirts. Every time I see a route unveiling I think “really? it’s a big formal occasion and you thought that was appropriate?” (Mind you, I’m saying this as someone who still, voluntarily, wears ties to the office and gives as much due care and attention to what I wear off the bike as when I’m on the bike).

    This whole issue has come to mind lately upon reading a biography of Fausto Coppi, one of the all-time greats of professional cycling and the first man to do the Giro-Tour double in the same year (1949 and again in 1952). Blessed with ridiculous cycling talent and silent movie star good looks, he was noted for the elegance of his riding style. On the bike his finest years were spent riding for Bianchi; black shoes, white socks, black shorts with maybe some lettering on the legs and that lovely celeste and white jersey. He was a pioneer in the wearing of sunglasses on – and off – the bike. He also dressed impeccably when not riding; truly a case of “gilding the lily.” Speaking of which, foreign languages often shame English with their ability to convey a lot of meaning in a single word. “Schadenfreude” is a German one that comes to mind. Another is “sprezzatura.” This single Italian word can translate as “studied nonchalance: graceful conduct or performance without apparent effort.” Sounds like it could have been coined with Coppi in mind.

    Had there been big formal announcements of the Giro or Tour routes in Coppi’s day, you can rest assured he would have shown up “dressed to the nines.” The perfectly fitting suit, shirt, tie and shined shoes. The hair brilliantined to perfection. His appearance alone would have been worth a couple of minutes on GC.

    This picture is, to me, the personification of “sprezzatura” – Coppi isn’t wearing a tie, but is casually perfect. The whole scene is enhanced by the expressions on the two policemen – mouth agape at the fact that a superstar has just walked by. They will get home from work to excitedly tell of “guess who I saw today?”  And those hearing the story will have instinctively known that they were in close proximity to “sprezzatura.” Ciao!

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  • Paris Roubaix April 11, 2022Teocalli2951

    Lead Photo – Roubaix Velodrome by Teocalli

    Is it just me or is Paris Roubaix The Classic of The Classics.  Does it have better PR (Public Relations) ie The Hell of The North?  Is it because of the number of times I’ve watched A Sunday in Hell?

    Anyway Paris Roubaix is back to Spring this year after last year’s Autumn running.  At the moment it looks like being dry after the wet of last Autumn.

    This will also be the second Paris Roubaix Femmes once again us a double event for Sunday.  Hopefully the coverage will be as good for the Femmes as we get for the Men.

    Rider entries and race details for the Men can be found here.

    Race details for the Femmes can be found here.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Amstel Gold April 4, 2022Teocalli3023

    Photo – Amstel Gold Experience by Teocalli

    The first of the three Ardennes Classics, Amstel Gold takes place on the 10th April for both Men and Femmes.

    For the Men the rude will run over approximately 240 Km and for the Femmes this will be over approximately 120 Km.   The routes start in Maastricht and end in Valkenburg.

    Bottom of The Cauberg by Teocalli

    The Mens route is over three loops through the South Limburg hills with three ascents of the Cauberg and finishes  with ascents of the Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg, but not the Cauberg.  On the final lap after the climb of the Geulhemmerberg the peloton will descend via the Kuitenbergweg.  Following a route through the Molenweg and the Peutgensweg, over the Rasberg, up the Bemelerberg, towards Terblijt and then via the Rijnsbergerweg on the Sibberweg – and into the last kilometre.

    The Femmes route covers the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg.

    Having ridden the Cauberg 3 times on a vintage steed (Eroica Limburg starts and finishes in Valkenburg) the Cauberg did not seem quite as bad as I expected – though to be fair it is at the start of the Eroica Limburg and I was not going quite as fast as a Pro Peloton!  Though I can vouch for the fact that that part of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are anything but flat.

    Limburg River Crossing by Teocalli

     

     

    I doubt that the Pros will encounter the river crossing encountered in Eroica Limburg but the restaurant at the crossing serves fabulous tartes.

     

     

     

     

    For Route and Rider details for Men see here and Route for the Femmes here.

    Cyclist Statue in Valkenburg by Teocalli

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  • Ronde van Vlaanderen March 29, 2022Teocalli2863

    Photo by Teocalli

    Potentially one for Wiscot here – 1977 saw Roger de Vlaeminck win from Freddy Maertens.  Both punctured on the Koppenberg but Maertens received a wheel from a spectator and was then pushed the remainder of the way up the cobbles.  They then caught back up with Merckx before dropping him with 70 Km to go.  De Vlaeminck then sat on Maertens’ wheel for the final 70 Km before riding away from him in the final run in.  De Vlaeminck was booed off the podium though there was a claim he knew Maertens would be DQ for an illegal wheel change.  As it was Maertens and Planckaert were both disqualified after testing for positive for Amphetamines.  Seems that the museum in Oudenaarde still  have a grudge against Roger de Vlaeminck in the two cobbles in the lead photo despite the fact that officially there is no second and third place finisher for the 1977 event.

    This weekend sees The Classics running from Antwerp to Oudenaarde with the Men riding 267 Km taking in many of the famous cobbled climbs culminating with Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg before the final run in to Oudenaarde.  Details of the route and start list can be found here.

    For the Femmes the route is 157 Km also culminating in the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg before their final run in to Oudenaarde.  Details of the route here.

    Chances of a bunch sprint in either are practically zero.

     

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  • Milan San Remo March 7, 2022Teocalli4497

    Saturday sees the 113th edition of Milan-San Remo.  As usual La Primavera the first Monument of the season is the longest Classic and rolls around 299 kilometres. Will we see the Cipressa-Poggio combination determine the final outcome before the downhill into San Remo or will we have a small bunch sprint to the finish?  Your guess is (at least) as good as mine!

    Start List can be found here.

     

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  • Strade Bianche 2022 February 27, 2022Teocalli4447

    This Saturday is the 15th edition of the Strade Bianche.  The route is 184 kilometres and finishes just after a 16% climb into the old town of Siena.  As usual the finish is in the Campo in Siena and I can vouch for the fact that the climb up to the citadel is a brute.  Young to be called a Monument but it is a firm favourite with fans and riders alike.  Much of the route rolls through stunning scenery when dry the dust rolls off the Strade from the riders and team cars and when wet the white mud cakes everything and gets everywhere – and I mean everywhere (having ridden the Sportif in the wet and the dry).

    The start list can be found here.

    For the Femmes the route is 136 kilometres with the same finish.

    Last year’s winner was Annemiek van Vleuten who racked up her second win in succession and is the only women to have won the race twice.  Will she make it three in a row this year?  Last year’s podium was rounded out by Mavi García and Leah Thomas.

    The start list can be found here.

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  • Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2022 January 22, 2022Teocalli4427

    Well, the 2022 Classics are on us and the OTRL will start on 26th Feb with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

    The cobbles will be unchanged from previous years and hopefully we will be back with full spectator presence.  This will be the 77th Omloop incorporating a number of the famous Flanders Cobbles culminating with the Muur van Geraardsbergen & Bosberg.

    With a number of perennial favourites either retired or in the latter part of their careers and others still recovering from injury, will anyone stamp themselves on the 2022 classics.  Time will tell and as usual 20:20 hindsight will be a wonderful thing.

    Mens Start List can be found here.

    Womens Start list TBA.

    As usual picks are open to midnight UK time on 26th Feb.

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  • A Made Man – by Wiscot November 12, 2021Teocalli4865

    Lead Photo by Sirotti

    A Made Man

    It had been a long day for the cycling fans in Como. For hours they had waited in the cooling fall air, listening to their radios and the public address system relaying the action of the seventy-seventh edition of the Tour of Lombardy in 1983. It had been a long day for the riders too, one hundred and fifty-one had started the race and by the time forty-six pairs of sore, tired legs made it to the streets of Como they had been riding for almost six and a half hours.

    The crowd was getting antsy and excited with anticipation as the remnants of the peloton swept under the ultimo chilometro banner. Clearly, there was not going to be a solo winner, there were too many closely matched riders still in contention. With a couple of hundred meters to go the sprint opened up and it was still anyone’s race. Ireland’s Sean Kelly, Dutchmen Adri van der Poel and Hennie Kuiper, American Greg LeMond, Switzerland’s Gilbert Glaus, Australian Phil Anderson and Italians Silvano Contini and Francesco Moser each slammed their right shifters forward and summoned their last morsels of strength and experience. No-one looked at anyone else. It was eyes down and fixed on the white line rushing towards them. A victory salute was unlikely – it was going to be that close. It was 100% all the way. The first eighteen riders would be given the same time.

    Sean Kelly’s season had begun back in March with three stage wins and the overall at Paris-Nice, a race he had won the previous year. He’d go on to win the Criterium National and the Tour of Switzerland. As important and prestigious as these wins were, Kelly had not yet won a bona fide classic or Monument despite being in his fifth professional season. The reasons for this are many: his early years were spent learning his trade at teams such as Flandria where he worked for the likes of Marc Demeyer, Freddy Maertens and Michel Pollentier. He wasn’t a “big name” or “made man” – a rider who had won a big race. “Made Men” liked to make sure that other made men won the big ones; getting beaten by lesser riders wasn’t acceptable; if a made man couldn’t win, he’d help another big name win rather than let a lesser light steal the glory; keep the goodies within a small select club was the way of the peloton.

    The tricky thing was how to join the big name club? LeMond was in as a member as the 1983 World Champion. Hennie Kuiper was in as World Champion in 1975 and winner of the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of Lombardy in 1981 as well as Paris-Roubaix in 1983. Moser had been world champion in 1977 and won Paris-Roubaix three times (1978, 79, 80) as well as Lombardy in 1975 and 1978. Phil Anderson had won the 1983 Amstel Gold. Silvano Contini had won the 1982 Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Glaus had won a Tour de France stage and been Swiss Road Champion. Van der Poel had finished second to LeMond in the recent Worlds. The deck was stacked deep and high with prestigious palmares; it was a veritable convention of made men.

    The riders fanned out across the wide road. No-one was leading anyone else out. All were in it to win it. As their front wheels broke the plane of the finish line the order was Kelly, LeMond, van der Poel (Mathieu’s father), Kuiper, Moser, Glaus, Ferreti, Anderson, and Contini. Kelly didn’t raise his head until he’d crossed the line, unsure if he’d won, LeMond and Kuiper were so close to his left, with van der Poel on his right. But he had. He’d won a classic against some of the best riders in the world. He was a made man at last.

    Whether it was the confidence gleaned from this win, or his maturation as a rider or his new status as a made man, 1984 would see Kelly win an astonishing thirty-three races. He would be victorious in two monuments: Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Paris-Nice would be won for the third time, collecting two stages as well as the general, points and mountains classifications. He’d win Vuelta al Pais Vasco, winning three stages, and the general and points classifications. The Volta a Catalunya podium proved a regular haunt, winning four stages, the general, points and mountains classifications. He dominated the Critérium International, winning three stages and he took second places in the Tour of Flanders and the Grand Prix des Nations. By the end of 1984 Kelly had gone from knocking on the clubhouse door for made men to arguably the made man of the peloton for the rest of the decade. From being a farmer’s son from Carrick, Kelly became a global cycling superstar, always perceived as a favorite no matter what the race. And it all started on a cool, fall day in northern Italy when he kept his head down.

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  • #ridewithreggie on Zwift tomorrow (6 Nov @ 1000 EDT) November 5, 2021chuckp4863

    I’m actually giving up doing an outdoor ride tomorrow and instead I’m doing this Zwift ride on Saturday (November 6 1000 EDT) and would like to encourage any of y’all on Zwift to please do the same.

    https://www.zwift.com/eu/events/view/2374952

    It’s organized by former NBA star and now avid cyclist (including racing), Reggie Miller.

    RIDE FOR A REASON
    Ride to make a difference, ride for meaningful change, and Ride with Reggie!
    Come ride with us, encourage a new generation of participation, and celebrate diversity in sport. Ride with NBA All Star Reggie Miller and other special guests while we attempt to set a Zwift World Record for participation and raise funds for the development of cycling programs at Historically Black Colleges or Universities.
    We’ll be tackling 3 loops of the 2015 UCI Richmond Worlds Course and covering just over 30 miles. Is this a race? No! All are welcome. We’ll be holding a conversational pace over this ambitious distance, but like racial justice, it’s not easy.

    #RideWithReggie

    More info about the cause and the ride:
    https://www.castelli-cycling.com/us/ride-with-reggie

    You don’t have to make a donation (I did), but if you feel so inclined:
    https://connect.clickandpledge.com/…/e5c31167-7c19-4e4b…

    And here’s a PezCycling News interview that the PEZ himself aka Richard Pestes did with Reggie Miller about the ride:
    https://pezcyclingnews.com/…/reggie-miller-interview…/

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  • Il Lombardia October 6, 2021Teocalli3577

    Il Lomardia is the traditional European season closer.  After the cancellations in 2020, 2021 has, on balance, been a great season.

    Il Lomabrdia looks to be shaping up for a cracking event with a whole bunch of top riders entered.

    As usual race entrants can be found here.

     

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