The latest edition of the world’s best professional cycling magazine is a British special edition, and is out now, featuring an exclusive interview and photo shoot with Mark Cavendish, our behind the scenes diary of the Tour of Britain, an interview with the Grand Tour revelation of the moment, Chris Froome and much more.
Words by Cycle Sport staff
Wednesday September 26 2012
Was 2012 a success or failure for this month’s cover star Mark Cavendish? If stats told the whole story, you’d have to say it was the latter. After all, the Brit won fewer stages at the Tour de France than any year since his debut in the race in 2007. He misfired at Milan-San Remo, and was marked out of the Olympic road race.
But cycling is far more complex than that. It didn’t help that illness interrupted Cavendish’s training for Milan-San Remo, but when he got distanced on the Manie climb with 100 kilometres to go, his rivals each put a full complement of domestiques on the front of the peloton, to ensure he never got back on. Getting dropped on a hill with 100 kilometres to go is no disaster, except when you’re the most successful sprinter in the history of the sport, and are wearing the world champion’s jersey. The UCI might have done better to paint the rainbow stripes in the shape of a target.
And at the Tour, Cavendish might ‘only’ have won three stages. But he did so while his team was fully committed to Bradley Wiggins’ yellow jersey challenge, and more or less without a lead-out. The three stages he won, in Tournai, Brive and Paris, were right up there with his finest ever wins. His achievement in winning three this year was the equal of his winning six stages in 2009, when he had a full team at his disposal.
Sophie Smith interviewed Cavendish about his perceptions of 2012, and found that his confidence has in no way been knocked by the experience of riding for Sky in the year that they put everything into winning the Tour de France. He is critical of the conservative tactics of the team, insisting that if they’d been bolder, he could have won two more stages, as could Chris Froome. “With my mentality, how could we be happy with six stage wins, if we could easily have won 10?”
The chances of Cavendish being a Sky rider next year look slim, with rumours linking him to Omega Pharma-Quick Step. If 2012 could be construed as a bad year, heaven help his rivals if he has a good year in 2013.
Our interview features portraits of Mark Cavendish by Richard Baybutt.
ALSO IN THE MAGAZINE…
When Tyler Hamilton published his book The Secret Race (co-authored with Dan Coyle), he didn’t just open a can of worms, he poured it over the collective heads of anybody who still believes Lance Armstrong won his seven Tours without recourse to banned performance-enhancing drugs and methods. We look at the allegations Hamilton has made, and outline their impact on the sport. With the United States Anti-Doping Agency preparing to release their evidence against Armstrong and his co-defendants, we could finally approaching closure on this long-running scandal.
This year’s Tour of Britain was the best since the race was resurrected in 2004. Not only was it a chance for Team Sky to enjoy a lap of honour for the fans, new and old, who willed them to victory at the Tour de France, but there was finally a British winner. And it wasn’t from the team we expected. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke of Endura took the yellow jersey with aggressive riding in the hilly stages of the second half of the race. But the biggest story was the size of the crowds and the reception of the race. Richard Moore followed the Tour of Britain from start to finish, getting the inside story of the race, sitting in team cars, getting elbowed in the ribs by fans and autograph hunters, and witnessing a week-long celebration of British cycling. The sport has truly arrived in this country.
Cycle Sport’s anonymous professional cyclist explains the role of team managers in his monthly feature Our Man in the Bunch. The only thing managers seem to have in common is that they have nothing in common, but in the modern era, they have to be knowledgable individuals who are capable of getting involved in coaching, attracting sponsors, pastoral care and logistics. Some are the riders’ best mates. Some rule with an iron rod. And, as our writer reveals, some have a good grasp of tactics, while others seem to be less so. “The manager came in to see me and my room-mate, saying that we needed to think outside the box. Opening his laptop, he showed us a clip of the French Open match where Michael Chang served underarm.”
It’s fair to say that Chris Froome is now one of the best four or five Grand Tour riders in the entire peloton. With a fourth place in last month’s Vuelta to add to his second places in last year’s event and this year’s Tour, he’s done all but win one. Fatigue eventually caught up with Froome at the Vuelta, where he faded in the face of Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde’s climbing, but the Brit has to be a favourite for the Tour next year. Froome tells Andy McGrath what he learned about Contador at the Vuelta, and how he hopes to beat him in France. If rumours that Bradley Wiggins may target the Giro d’Italia next year are true, Froome will be free to target the yellow jersey.
British cycling’s success hasn’t just been in the big results achieved by prominent riders like Wiggins and Cavendish. There is also strength in depth, as illustrated by Steve Cummings’ stage win at the Vuelta, Ben Swift’s sprinting and British champion Ian Stannard’s increasing reputation as one of the strongest bunch engines in cycling. Andy McGrath caught up with Stannard, Swift and Cummings at the Vuelta for a joint interview. The three traded mock insults and shared stories of their lives in cycling, while explaining the close bond that they have built up.
After one of the most unusual and varied careers in the peloton Jeremy Hunt has finally hung up his wheels, retiring after his 17th season as a professional. In his first season, Hunt rode as a domestique for Tour champion Miguel Indurain. In his final one, he rode as a domestique for Tour champion Bradley Wiggins. He tells Kenny Pryde about the highlights and lowlights of all the years in between, from the disastrous decision to sign for Oktos MBK, to winning the GP Plouay. Hunt is well-known for his laconic approach to life. When asked to sum up his career, and the last 15 years, he paused for a long time, then answered, “I met the missus, Nerelle.”
Hunt was one of the last generation of Britsih riders to make it as a professional in Europe independently. Since the 2000s, there has been a lot more support for the riders, allowing them to develop on an equal footing with their foreign rivals. Kenny Pryde has tracked down some of the riders who blazed a trail into the European cycling scene between the 1960s and now, and asked ”What was it like being a British professional in their day? Vin Denson, in the 1960s, Barry Hoban in the 1970s, Sean Yates and Malcolm Elliott in the 1980s, Chris Boardman in the 1990s and Alex Dowsett in the 2000s are our eyewitnesses. These ex and current professionals give a fascinating insight into how British riders have been perceived in the peloton over the last 50 years.
We’ve celebrated the third Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana with a picture special showcasing the visual splendour of the race. The Vuelta used to be known for interminable flat stages across interminable desert landscapes, but since ASO got involved in the organisation a few years ago, the race has sought the more scenic corners of the country, along with the steepest climbs. Our pictures tell the story of the race that the results don’t cover.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge was the stage race of the year. Thanks to the daring tactics of the Garmin team, whose riders blew the race apart with early attacks throughout the race, we were treated to a feast of unpredictable tactics, daring riding, long-range bravery, and finally a deserved win for Christian Vande Velde. Stage racing is often conservative and negative, by necessity, but if this is the future of the sport, we want more, please. Matt Walsh was at the Colorado race to see the action first hand, and he explains how Garmin planned and executed their ambush.
Matt Walsh blogs at www.atwistedspoke.com
Plus…All our regular features – Graham Watson shares his best pictures of the Vuelta; Shop Window features the latest cycling bling; Broomwagon has an exclusive interview with Jens Voigt’s legs (“Shut up, Jens!) ; Q&A with Luke Durbridge (“In the team bus, we give a heads-up when we see a hot chick”); Armstrong; Twitter fail of the month; Colombia on the up; Team of the month; Top 10 riders over 40; Geraint tells us all about Chris Froome; Post-race banter, featuring stats, chat, wacky graphics and the famous Cycle Sport chalkboard; great writing, excellent photography and much more.
That’s 10 major features, along with all the extras, for the flagrantly reasonable price of just £4.35.
Cycle Sport November, featuring the very best writing and photography of professional cycling, is available now in the UK, and will be on sale in the USA shortly. It is also available electronically through Zinio.