- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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What would you do if you had time to kill before a flight on a wet Wednesday in Glasgow? If you're Lance Armstrong the answer is a few hours on the bike and if you're one of the world's most prolific Twitterers why not mention it to your 1,750,000 followers?
The Texan superstar only gave his Scottish fans a few hours' notice but that didn't stop 300 riders bringing Paisley High Street to a standstill. Police closed the roads to accommodate the hordes of fans, TV crew, media and bystanders while the seven-times Tour winner prepared his bike and signed autographs.
Cape, gloves, overshoes, full tights, Armstrong was taking no chances with the weather as he led an unwieldy bunch out of the town before upping the pace and parting company with the less fit for a swift two-and-a-half-hour effort.
Then it was off to the airport, first stop London, courtesy of U2 and their private jet, then on to Oslo to ride a charity criterium organised by Thor Hushovd. Late Thursday afternoon our man flew into Dublin ready for the start of the Tour of Ireland. Four countries in 48 hours, there's never a dull moment when you're Lance Armstrong.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine.
- Posted by Emma Silversides
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Emma Silversides is a professional cyclist for the Lotto Belisol team and is based in Belgium. Here she shares her insight into the continental women’s scene.
The post-tour criteriums have run dry here in Belgium and it’s back to business for the men; they will ride the ENECO Tour in Amsterdam.
From now until the end of the season the men have a lot of pro kermis racing also; always a great spectacle and certainly worth seeing if you are in Belgium.
For the women there has been plenty for kermis races to choose from as well as last week’s Route de France and Holland Hills Classic. Vos was the favourite for the latter of these two and did not disappoint displaying her excellent current form leading into the Worlds.
Unfortunately for me it was not a great race, the legs were super but I was caught up in a crash early in the race which left my frame broken, without a reserve bike I was forced to abandon. This was a tough one to take since seeing how the race unfolded I am certain that I could have made a fine result. However, I’m back racing and must consider myself fortunate to have only suffered the usual road rash and muscle soreness.
In the Route de France our team was not really experiencing better luck. Lizzie [Armitstead] crashed in the time trial on day three, Emma [Mackie] was down on day four and DNF. Grace [Verbeke] crashed on the penultimate day! No one has sustained serious injuries so it’s just a matter of a little rest and letting the body repair itself.
There were no less than four kermis races this week for the girls in Belgium. Emma Johansson was making her presence felt at all of these. Her frustration was evident at times though as she was heavily marked; it did not make for positive racing. It’s not always true that the strongest rider wins in a kermis race, Emma did however take a win in De Klinge on Saturday, I was not far behind in fourth place.
Above: Emma Silversides (r) in action
- Posted by Rob Partridge
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Rob Partridge of Halfords Bikehut brings the Tour of Ireland to a close with a wet and windy third stage to Cork.
Well, what a day. Wet and windy all day long, but at least the roads were a bit smoother, which I'm sure the entire peloton appreciated.
Things were pretty hectic early on: lots of big splits, lots of teams missing out and chasing stuff back. So,most of the way to Cork was spent in one long line...nearly ripped my arm off taking the feed bag it was that fast.
The crowd in Cork was very impressive, and true to form St Patricks hill was once again a sea of noise; it made the pain a little more bearable. Myself and Wilks were painfully close to the front group on the final lap, almost within spitting distance, but getting that little extra out proved a bit too much. We still rolled in in the 20ths somewhere.
Top ride once again by Russ. Loved the way he didn't wait to get attacked but attacked everyone else himself; pure grit and determination.
So, we're on the way to Dublin to catch the ferry home. What with a two hour transfer this morning, a five hour stage, three hour drive to Dublin, plus the two hour crossing, it's some day on the road.
That's it for Ireland for one more year; great country, great people, and they certainly know how to put a good bike race together.
- Posted by Ian Cleverly
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Welsh champion Rob Partridge reports from stage two of the Tour of Ireland.
Another long day here in Ireland...best part of 200km again. The route followed some very typically Irish roads today-up, down, left, right, and some very rough sections; a comfy saddle and good chamois are a must out here. Just got off the massage table where Colin (Baldwin) has worked his magic yet again. I'm a firm believer in getting a rub whilst at a stage race, keeping the muscles supple and knot-free; it's a must.
So, back to the days' events. Two guys got a massive lead but things were well controlled from behind. One thing that impressed me today was how Astana ride everywhere as a unit, Cervelo as well. Once you see those boys moving forward together it's time to panic, especially when most of the day was crosswind - although seeing a commissaire almost roll his car into the peloton was pretty scary; he bailed into a wall instead.
Cav showed his class once more by taking the win. Had a brief chat with him earlier, he's still as relaxed and confident as ever. Wilko bagged himself a top ten aswell...top ride.
So, off to Cork and St Patricks hill tomorrow. Hope the crowd is a good as ever...you tend not to notice the 1in4 gradient when a few thousand people are 'shouting' you up the road.
- Posted by Ian Cleverly
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On the way back to the hotel after the first day of the tour of Ireland. I'm sat here in the car with some of the lads, 196km done, time for a Coke, Rego, baguette and exchange of race tales, followed by the usual car journey-induced nap.
Pretty good day out for most of us at the Halfords camp. We had five in the second group on the road, which considering the terrain in the last 40k and the class of riders here, was alright. Saying that, Russ [Downing] proved his class today by taking the stage and the yellow...top ride by a fellow Brit.
Even managed a good conversation with Lance today. I thought I'd ask him if he'd ever been to Wales: turns out he hasn't. So I thought I'd educate him a bit. He now knows all about the national dish, the capital city and favourite pastimes. He seemed quite intrigued. I also found out that one of his favourite races was the Leeds Classic. Well, he spent a while talking about it, so I assume he liked it...
So, another big day tomorrow. We'll be looking for the moves again on the roads to Killarney.
As Mr Armstrong says, 'be safe'.