- 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'.
- Posted by Cycling Weekly
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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 weeks following the Tour de France are hectic here in Belgium and indeed in Holland. Natour Criteriums take place most evenings; that is Post-Tour crits.
For the men they usually start around 8pm and are purely for show; the outcome is completely fixed and it's simply a crowd-pleasing display of pros pitched against a few local amateurs. Certainly worth watching once all the same, that I did this week!
However, for the women, there is no 'pre-race' plan, it's a true race! I am pleased to say that the British girls stamped their authority here this week. I was not able to participate in the crits, after the collarbone break I have to be really careful not to overcook it.
Emma Trott, Hannah Mayho and Dani King filled the podium in Diksmuide. Hannah got on to the top step later in the week with Nikki Harris taking second and Dani third. There were indeed many Brits in the top ten of each race.
The strongest women were in Sweden this weekend for the TTT WC followed by the Open Suede Vargarda. Cervelo stamped their authority in the TTT with a 1.22 winning margin over Columbia. While on Sunday it was DSB's Vos who got the better on Cervélo's Kirsten Wild.
The Brits were heavily present in Bochum, Germany for the Sparkassen Giro. This UCI race is preceded by an evening criterium. Lizzie [Armitstead] took the flowers in the criterium for Lotto-Belisol.
On the Sunday it was the turn of Lotto's Gilmore. Lucy Martin came in sixth for the national team, while Scotland's Kate Cullen grabbed 8th for her Moving Ladies team.
I joined 90 other girls in Erondegem on the edge of the Flemish Ardennes for a 107km kermis race. I took a chance on an early break. With my break-away companion (yes, only two of us!) we established a two minute lead.
We were away for 83km, a long day! I suffered with cramp in the final kilometres and simply finished in the peloton. A good day out and some great training.
Next on the calendar for the girls- Holland Hills Classic and Route de France stage race.
Above: team-mates Lizzie Armitstead and Emma Silversides
- Posted by Michael Hutchinson
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Karl Marx had a theory that history repeated itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Like quite a lot of what Karl Marx said, the succinct way he phrased this has tended to blind people to the fact that it’s not really true. (The history of most of the 20th Century was based on a theory of Marx’s that was elegant, but ignored the blindingly obvious fact that most people aren’t very nice.)
However, I’m delighted to mark a near miss for Marx. The dog’s breakfast that the international governing body for swimming, FINA, has been making of things recently was so reminiscent of the UCI in the mid 1990s that I almost laughed. The only reason I didn’t was that it’s not the kind of thing old Karl would have liked.
It’s a near miss, because here history has indeed repeated itself, the first time as farce, and the second time as farce too.
Let us recap. In the mid 1990s, the UCI found itself under siege from all sides by the genius of Graeme Obree. Far be it from me to suggest the UCI panicked, but from a distance, it looked a bit like that. They spent several years frantically shuffling rules – not always, or even often, giving the impression that they were entirely on top of the situation.
The final upshot was the first iteration of the bike rules that have blossomed into their current exquisite flower of incomprehensibility. The UCI rules are now so famously complex that a few weeks ago I found myself on the phone to a journalist from the Mail on Sunday, of all publications, attempting to explain them. I failed.
And the daftest thing of all was the hour record. Not once, but twice they banned riding positions from use after they’d been used to set records. The first time Miguel Indurain (whatever happened to him?) saved the officials by breaking Obree’s ‘tuck’ position record, using a conventional tribar position.
The second time, Chris Boardman used Obree’s ‘superman’ position to set an hour record that was unbelievable. This time, when the UCI banned the position, and for good measure, the aerobike that Boardman used, the collective reaction of the cycling world was that Boardman’s record was now so far out of reach that anyone who tried to get to it using the new, slower, rules was just going to look silly. No one has attempted it since.
What they ought to have done was, of course, rescind the record. I appreciate that this would have been monumentally unpopular. But you can’t really change the rules to make the most prestigious record in cycling effectively unbreakable.
It’s flattering for cycling that FINA, faced with a new generation of plastic swimsuits, followed the UCI’s lead. They banned them. They unbanned them, under pressure from the manufacturers. Then, having seen them used to set a whole slew of records, they’ve banned them again, but not until next year.
And, keen to measure up to the high standards prevailing in this arena, they’ve specified that suits must be ‘textile’ in nature, without offering any definition of what the hell this might mean, except to say that they know what it means, but they’re not telling anyone because it might cause confusion.
And of course, the records stay put.
Truly, UCI, your crown is under threat.
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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This has been Britain's greatest ever Tour de France, with more wins than any other nation thanks to Mark Cavendish and fourth overall courtesy of Bradley Wiggins.
Cav's six stage victories exceeds all expectations, but Wiggo's efforts, particularly his ride on the Ventoux, still defy belief.
Less than a month ago we were pinning our hopes on Wiggins winning the opening time trial as his best shot of taking the yellow jersey. He finished third but instead of fading away as soon as the serious climbing began, he stayed in contention throughout, never falling lower than sixth and right up until the penultimate day he was still only 15 seconds away from a place on the podium.
We were all glued to the screen for Saturday's stage, willing Bradley on as he clung to Lance Armstrong and Frank Schleck on the upper slopes of Ventoux. Twice he was dropped in the final four kilometres, but he fought back both times. With two to go, the relentless pace proved too much and our man was dropped. He didn't panic, he stuck to his task and struggled in with three seconds still in hand over Frank Schleck in the overall standings. What a ride.
And then Cav signed off in such spectacular style on Sunday on the Champs-Élysées. We're getting pretty used to seeing Mark win bunch sprints, but this one really was quite special. There simply wasn't any contest and with his lead-out man Mark Renshaw getting second it was the perfect ending to a fantastic Tour.
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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You never know what's going to upset people. In last week's Cycling Weekly magazine editorial I dared to suggest that Bradley Wiggins could finish on the podium, or even win the Tour de France.
Hardly my most controversial words ever - I was merely noting Wiggo's transformation into a genuine GC contender - but it sure touched a nerve with many readers.
We closed for press on Monday's rest day, 24 hours after our man had climbed to third overall behind Contador and Armstrong with his epic ride to Verbier, where he held his own against the world's best. Surely now he has done enough to silence the doubters?
"Before the Tour I said I was in the best physical shape of my life and that I could finish in the top 15, maybe even be top 10," Wiggins said.
"People laughed - there were all sorts of comments on the internet, but after two weeks I feel good and think I can finish top five.
"I'm not going to stick my neck out and say I can win the Tour in the next four years, but if the bar is set high enough maybe I'll come close."
Only in Britain could you be criticised for having ambition instead of celebrated as possibly the greatest British Tour rider of all time.