- Posted by Simon Richardson
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The men's national championship road race goes over one of South Wales' most feared climbs - the Iron Mountain. Or, as it's better known in the cycling world, the Tumble.
Cycling Weekly came down to South Wales today for the weekend of racing and decided to take a quick look at what's in store for the men's championships. (The women's and junior races use a different circuit that doesn't feature the Tumble.) The climb starts in the town of Llanfoist and climbs to over 400 metres above sea level in just over three miles.
The very bottom is gentle enough, but it doesn't take long before it ramps up and around the first hairpin. After that it's a long straight under the trees that becomes quite a drag. Round the second hairpin and there's another long straight that looks as if it gets steeper in the distance.
At the end of that straight it's over a cattle grid and in to classic Welsh mountain scenery - with sheep and mist thrown in for good measure.
It's this top section that really starts to bite as it winds it's way around, hugging the side of the mountain.
Unfortunately for us the top of the climb was shrouded in mist, so we didn't know we were at the top until we arrived there - and then there was no view to enjoy. Instead it was on with the rain capes and gilets and off down the other side towards Blaenavon.
The Tumble is unlikely to trouble any of the continental pros returning this weekend, but it's tough enough to split the 191 rider field that will tackle it. Any splits that do open up are likely to stick as the approximately 20 mile circuit has a sting in the tail.
Just before the riders hit the centre of Blaenavon they're sent right and back up and over a smaller climb. It doesn't compare to the Tumble, but the undulating road will catch some riders out, especially if there's a wind blowing.
The riders that do get over this section in front are likely to be the ones battling it out on the shorter finishing circuit around Abergavenny as the descent towards Brynmawr is followed by a fast section of main road all the way back.
My tip for the podium? I'm going to say Millar, Hunt and Russell Downing. Most of the British pros are exhausted after the Tour Series and Cavendish wont be able to move without 20 riders jumping after him.
National Championships 2009: The big preview
- Posted by Michael Hutchinson
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Time trialling is in the headlines. And for the best, traditional time trialling reasons – someone somewhere is getting disqualified for a rule no one understands. It’s like the best bits of the 1960s come back to life.
The someone is Bradley Wiggins, who won the Kent Valley CC 10 last weekend in the second (or third – depends how you count) fastest time ever, and now faces having his victory snatched away.
The problem is that he used a front wheel that contravenes regulation 14(g): ‘Deep section rims, tri-spoke and wheels of a similar design may be used. The front wheel must have 45% of the surface area open.’
(I don’t wish to invite mockery, but I didn’t have to look that up.)
Essentially, his wheel had too deep a rim. It’s a safety reg – first and foremost it bans front discs, which are all but uncontrollable in crosswinds. I’ve never ridden a front disc outside, but nevertheless managed to crash while doing nothing more dangerous than wheeling my pursuit bike across the car park outside Manchester Velodrome. The wind caught the front disc, the bike swerved into my legs, and I fell over.
So I have every sympathy with that aspect of it, and indeed, with the idea that a tiny hole in the middle of a disc isn’t going to make much difference.
But the problem with the reg as it stands is that it’s almost unenforceable – it’s often not possible to calculate accurately the open area of a three or four-spoke wheel without the manufacturer’s CAD data, and there is no reason on earth for them to willingly hand over the means of having their product declared unusable for a potential market.
At the moment Cycling Time Trials is several months into trying to decide if one particular wheel is legal or not. Months. So exactly how you’re supposed to figure it out in the real world – in a shop, or at the start line, or even in a subsequent hearing – is beyond me. As it is, most riders including, I assume, Bradley don’t even know the reg exists, never mind how to deal with it.
All the same, I would imagine he’ll get over the heartbreak of having his win taken away, and will already have moved on to worrying about things like, oh I don’t know, the Tour prologue. Where he can use pretty much any front wheel he likes.
- Posted by Rob Hicks
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Rob Hicks, Cycling Weekly’s Health and Fitness writer and What’s On man has been invited by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to visit their island, try their local delicacies and ride their most picturesque routes for a week…
Hello there, I am writing to you from the Hotel Éclat in the Eastern district of Taiwan, on the fifth floor, with the tennis on the TV, and some odd but calming violin music being played out of the stereo.
We (myself and four other journalists, plus our escort Susie) left London Heathrow on Tuesday at 9.45pm. We have just arrived (it’s now 11pm Wednesday!), but oddly, I don’t feel too tired, so have decided to write my first instalment.
I’m not going to bore you with the flight and the airports. Once you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seem them all. One thing I did notice though was the amount of people with facemasks on. I know Swine flu is a bit more serious out here, but I think all these masks may be overdoing it a bit. And I can never quite understand why they have them on. Are they accusing us of having the flu and don’t want to catch it? Or do they themselves have it, protecting us from them? Either way, it’s all a load of nonsense as I’m told the masks do diddly squat in prevention and protection anyway.
Once we got through arrivals, we met our guide for the week called Tracy. She gave us all a goody bag, along with a bowl of local fresh fruit that was quite lovely, and a cup of not so lovely cold, bitter tea. Imagine chewing on a piece of bark, and then you’ll sort of understand how it tasted. However, the others around me seemed to love it, so not to look bad or let the team down, I managed to force it down my throat followed by a shiver and a slight gag.
Whilst the gagging was going on, Tracy talked us through our trip for the week and then gave us our Chinese names.
My name is (I can’t actually remember, but will let you know when I do) what I do know is that it translates to meaning gifted and bright with strength like thunder. A pretty true reflection I think!
The journey from the airport to the hotel wasn’t too long, and before I knew it, I was in the room ready to unwind.
The room itself is amazing and very luxurious but I think maybe too clever for its own good. It took me five minutes to turn the lights on (there all sensor switches), not the easiest thing to find in the dark. The doors are all sensored as well and fly open as if you are on the set of the new Star Trek movie. The bins have, yep you guessed it, sensors on, a gentle brush by the bin will be enough to flip it open at such a speed that blink and you will miss it. Then there is the toilet.
There are, wait for it, 10 different options you can choose from on how you want your toilet to work. Position, pressure, a spray instead of a flush, a light spray, the list is endless – What’s the point?!
One nice option though was the heated seat. However, I foolishly left it on overnight and when I returned to the throne the next morning it felt as if I had sat on hot coals. I think you could hear the screams from the reception!
I’m just about to have a cup of tea to send me off to sleep but instead of relaxing with a bit of milk and two sugars, I am being presented with another bunch of options to choose from.
Tropical Green Tea, Organic African Nectar, Organic Mint Melange, Organic Spring Jasmine, Orchid Oolong and Organic Earl Grey to name a few. What’s wrong with PG tips every now and then, eh? It all seems a bit too poncy for me; however, I’d imagine it would be right up Simon Richardson’s and Ed Pickering’s street!
- Posted by Simon Richardson
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If you read my last blog, you'll have been left hanging, tantalisingly so, wondering how my team got on in the 24 hour criterium in Italy. Or at least you would have known I was riding it.
I was competing for the Castelli Media team and in the end we finished a not-to-shabby 24th out of 93. And that's after losing our two German riders at four in the morning.
Not that that was a problem. It meant I got to do more riding.
The first I heard about this event was when an old racing friend of mine, Justin Hoy, told me about it last year. Justin works for Castelli's British distributor Saddleback, and had ridden for one of the Castelli teams.
Having heard the tales of racing against Miguel Indurain from last year, we promptly put ourselves forward for this year's race. We obviously weren't the only ones as we were bundled in to the Castelli media team for 24 hours of solid fun.
Not to give too much away (feature coming up soon in Cycle Sport), we had an absolute blast.
This was how 24hr bike races should be run. I've done a few off-road 24hr mtb races (I've even been on the podium), but none were as fun, civilised, enjoyable, sociable, fast and exhilarating as this.
It seems contradictory to get all those adjectives in to one sentence, but the Castelli 24hr crit ticks all the boxes. The location was great, the circuit perfect for the event and the racing was downright brilliant. In short this was probably the best cycling event I've ever ridden.
The format was simple: Twelve riders per team, with one rider racing at any one time. The schedule was down to the team to set. Most teams stuck to a similar format; splitting the team in to groups of three who rotated in a three - four hour shifts, typically riding for between 20-30 minutes throughout.
Once the shift was done, it was back to the hotel for a shower, food and some sleep. If we wanted to hang around we just relaxed in the Castelli marquee where free food and drink were available almost throughout the event. See? Very sociable.
The amazing thing was that it was full-on racing every time you got out on to the circuit. With 93 teams in the event (although realistically only around 40-50 were up to consistently racing at the front) there were always some fresh legs on the circuit ready to give it some beans.
With no let up on the 1.8km circuit riders really were subjected to 24 hours of criterium style racing - something that normally goes on for no longer than an hour. In fact, it got faster towards the end as the top teams brought in their ringers (each team was allowed to bring in three pro riders to guest for them. Funnily enough, it was only the good teams who new the pro riders and had the clout to ask) who promptly started to attack each other to try and gain or pull back a lap.
The whole experience left a few of us discussing whether or not this sort of event could be run in the UK. The answer was yes, but only if a willing town could be found to close a suitable circuit for a day-and-a-half.
If you know of any such town, let us know. We know a clothing manufacturer who might be interested in putting on a great event.
RESULT: Castelli 24hr crit
1 STAR TWO 522 laps
2 GRONDAFLOREX 2 522 laps
3 VALBELLUNA - DIMENSIONE LUCE 516 laps
4 TEAM MICTU SANVIDO 513 laps
5 WHITE BIRD 511 laps
6 FANS CLUB MATTEO TOSATTO-IL BARETTO 1 509 laps
7 QUINTETTO+7 509 laps
8 CYCLING TEAM BELLUNESE 511 laps
9 CARTAI TOP TEAM 508 laps
10 STIFELIO FOOD AND DRINK 507 laps
24 CASTELLI MEDIA TEAM 486 laps
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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I'm riding to work this week. It's shocking news that I don't every day; the trouble is it's just too easy to drive in. But such laziness is now a thing of the past, or at least until the end of National Bike Week, after which I won't feel quite so guilty.
Over the years I've done more than my fair share of commuting, including a decade of struggling into cenral London from the Surrey countryside. That really was serious stuff, particularly during the years when home was at the summit of a one-in-six climb. It meant that I was freezing cold at the beginning of every ride and arrived home boiling hot every night.
Now I have the world's easiest journey to work - seven miles, practically all downhill. Commuting to work is no problem, it's getting home that's the issue, a journey I like to complete in the shortest possible time.
But that's enough complaining. The weather forecast is good enough and it doesn't even get dark until about 9.30pm, so I'm all out of excuses.
Add in my usual weekend ride and before you know it I might even start to get fit!
Editor, Cycling Weekly