Tuesday, June 29, 2010

100 years of emotion in the Pyrenees

Noel Amenc walks up the Pyrenean stage to Luchon, 1920.
From: 'Le Tour'



There's four parts to this very enjoyable history of the Pyrenees with the Tour! Narrated by Paul Sherwen.

http://www.steephill.tv/tour-de-france/#pyrenees-history

The videos are under, '100 years of the French Pyrennes: history on video.'

Enjoy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet Canadian Victory for Routley


Fighting on in the domestic cycling trenches could be a daunting challenge often without major results. Show plenty of hard work & motivation & good results will follow. That's what happened to 27 year old Will Routley of the Jelly Belly Cycling Team. On Sunday, Routley became Canadian National road champion on a tough, hilly 182 km course in Edmonton.

The heat like the riders were cranked up rising up to 26 C. Three notable professionals were there too;  Svein Tuft (the newly crowned TT champ), Christian Meier from Garmin-Transitions, & Dominique Rollin from Cervélo TT. Tuft was a pre-race favorite along with track cyclist Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies) but were unlucky to catch Routley and Andrew Randell of SpiderTech.

Entering into Hawrelak Park is a downhill sprint. I know, after seeing Steve Bauer win the 1982 Nationals and the 1983 Universiade Women's road race it's a quick & final 200 meters to the finish. For Will Routley, it was his day winning the sprint ahead of Randell. A huge win for the former mountain biker taking his first Canadian national championship will give him that extra push to go further. He looks a sure bet for October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India and perhaps a medal? Why not? The maple leaf jersey will be highly inspirational.

Routley proudly says, "For the next year, I get to wear the national championship jersey. I can only imagine going for a training run in the pouring rain on a crud day, and just knowing I can put that jersey (in competition) on will be a lot of extra motivation. It means a lot!"





Portland Design Works Stickers



Today, I received my Portland Design Works stickers in the mail. Nice & very cool graphics and free for the asking! I'm a recent and happy owner of their Poco pump and it's the perfect lightweight riding companion. Thanks again to Dan, Erik & Lars!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oh Tuft!


Saturday in Devon Alberta, Svein Tuft repeated as Canadian TT champ. Tuft is back from the Giro and in form as he finished the  40 km course in 48:23.1. He comfortably beat out Zachary Bell (2nd, 1:49.2) & Ryan Roth (3rd, 2:43.9). Confident was the way the Garmin locomotive felt, "It was great to have Zach Bell as my two-minute man because when I started reeling him in at the turnaround I knew I was on good pace. Zach can roll pretty good on this type of course so I knew right then I was having a pretty good day."

Today the Canadian Road Cycling Championships switch to my former home town of Edmonton on the challenging river valley road course first used in the 1978 Commonwealth Games road race. The 180km course runs  through the rolling scenic river valley finishing in Hawrelak Park. I remember a 19 year old by the name of Phil Anderson winning that road race.

The Garmin duo of Tuft and defending Canadian road champ, Christian Meier will do battle. And this Canada day, July 1st, here in Vancouver the Garmin duo are expected to ride in the Yaletown Grand Prix criterium!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hello Yellow Brick Road!


Jorgen Pedersen wore the yellow jersey for five stages in 1986.
He was the second Dane to ever wear it since Kim Andersen in 1983.

Friday, June 25, 2010

1986 Tour: No Re-match!

An unresolve rematch...
Two French heroes ready to duke it out at the 1986 Tour.


Two riders that never got the chance to have a return grudge match since 1984 was the Badger & the Professor.

Their first battle was decisive for the younger Laurent Fignon, as he proved the stronger and with a better team beat Bernard Hinault with five stages and the overall in 1984.

Due to a knee injury, Fignon was out of the 1985 Tour and further injuries forced him out on stage 12 in 1986. A strong badger was hard to beat as he toyed with teammate and rival Greg LeMond supporting and continuingly attacking him. Too bad Fignon wasn't healthy enough to challenge Hinault. Not many could!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another crown for Queen Jeannie



51 year-old Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli rode to her ninth French time trial national championship, today. The ageless legend won the time trial for the third consecutive year. And her could doubt her chances, this weekend, for a gold in the women's road race? Go Jeannie!

Le Tour of Difficulty: Pave & Mountains

Le Tourmalet


I can't wait for July 3rd, for the start of Le Tour is in Rotterdam with the 8km TT. Organizers revealed an increasingly degree of difficulty thus turning up a huge notch on the excitement meter. But as the Dutch door closes the Belgium door opens with three stages with the most demanding on stage 3. A Franco-Belgian pave tandem of seven beautiful cobble sectors totaling 13.2 km with three sectors in Belgium and four in France. A little of Paris-Roubaix will be borrowed as one of the toughest sectors will test the riders bikes & bodies passing through Haveluy. Very important as some riders can lose time here that translates into difficulty later in the race especially in the mountains.



Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (left) & Bernard Bouffeau rightly celebrating...
1974 Tour.



With the innovative inclusion of the pave the riders will have to look up to three mountain top finishes; Avoriaz, Ax 3 Domaines, and the Tourmalet. The Tourmalet, the highest mountain pass (2115m) in the Pyrenees and first climbed 100 years ago by Octave Lapize in the 1910 Tour. It will be 'honored' or rather climbed twice on stages 16 & 17.

Stage 16 the riders must contend with the mythical four cols in this order before the finish in Pau: Peyresourde, d'Aspin, Tourmalet, & d'Aubisque. Then, a welcome rest day for the riders. Because the riders wits will be tested as they battle on stage 17 to the finish on top of the Tourmalet.

The only other time it finished on top of the Tourmalet was in 1974 where Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Danguillaume soloed to win.

It promises to be exciting and very difficult... bring it on!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Pumped!

More to love from Portland...
my Oregon sticker & new Poco pump


As most of you faithful readers know I still had to resolve my damage pump issue. I just returned from the bike shop and I did it... and bought myself the most excellent Poco Pump from Portland Design Works.


Compact it is...



Maybe it's the inherent cheap side in me, at the shop I gravitated towards the nine buck, plastic toy like pump trying it out hoping to buy it. Then, I looked over at the sleek Poco pump and it rested very nicely in my hands. After careful consideration, I didn't want to make the first mistake of paying for something cheaply made and with my luck eventually break down.  I bit the bullet and took home the Poco paying three times more than I expected. At home I tried the incredibly compact Poco, measuring just 6.8"(172mm) & feather light at 3.2 oz (90 g). And you know? It works very well effortlessly inflating my presta valve spare tube. It's probably my artist sense in me that I notice the superior construction of the cnc-machined head, bamboo handle, & the alloy lock lever. Form follows function. Simply beautiful.

I'm a fan. And now I'm very glad to have the Poco pump with me on my next biking adventures. And no one is paying me to say this!


...extends to only 10.5 inches!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

High for Burnaby Mountain.




Yesterday was my first time riding up Burnaby mountain. Guy and I traversed it going up to 370m or 1200 feet. It was steep as I doggedly found a steady tempo on my 42 X 24 old school gear. From my heavy breathing & equally heavy legs, I was ready to change gears. I turned to Guy and laughed and kept pushing thinking of the coffee reward at the top. Soon I'll be changing over to a suitable drivetrain but what kept me going was two things; having Guy beside & talking about old grimpeurs of the eighties. Notably, Frenchman mountain goat Robert Alban who won two mountain stages in the Tour. That was the time of the 42 T chainring, downtube shifters and plenty of uphill punishment. I can tell you I survived it. Once we got up there the view is amazing with Simon Fraser University nestled beside the condo/commercial development called UniverCity. Cooler up there with the change of altitude but it sure was nice to stop for the double expresso. What goes up must come down, and my favorite part is descending and that was such a rush. Great day!















Images are a mix from Guy & myself.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pump it up?... Not!

Some days it just works...
Jean Robic after replacing his rear tyre, 1948 TdF.


This morning I ventured out for a nice 2 hour ride and as I approached the UBC hill, a rider was on the side fixing a flat. As I passed him, he yelled if I had a pump. Of course, I always have mine stuffed in the back of my jersey. I stopped and handed him my mini pump happy to help another cyclist. Only, he tried and tried the pump and it didn't work. He said he tried his CO2 inflator but it wasn't working so a hand pump was the next solution. Two other cyclists rode by and he ask them as well. They only had CO2 inflators.

Well, I was surprised having the pump with me all this time and thinking it would help me in a state of need. The rider was just as surprise and he said it was a good thing to find out now rather than later. I can't remember the last time I used it. As I bid him good luck he was just reaching for his cell. Now, I think it's a good idea to go over all equipment before a spin. Especially to see if my pump is in working order!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy 65th to the Cannibal!

The icon back in the days!


I'm very much a fan of Eddy Merckx. Although I was first bitten by the Tour bug in 1983 I was certainly aware of him. That's when I started to follow the great sport. I often look back on the great riders and he was always there. He had retired in 1978 after a career that can never be duplicated. An amazing rider during his day and due to his enormous status, admired today.

A living icon ...happy birthday Cannibal!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Putting the 'Art' back into Cyclingart.

'Attack!' Original Linoleum Print.



Well, I'm happy it's finally done. My newest creation ...of the linocut kind. It's call "Attack!"now for sale on my Etsy site. The image size measures 5 7/8" X 7 3/4" on 10" X 12 1/2" archival watercolor paper. It was fun creating it and the trick now is to produce more artwork regularly. But time is in limited supply. So, I'm telling myself to create more cycling artwork... I'm already thinking of another one!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Super Brajkovic!

Brajkovic, in yellow, gets ready to celebrate his victory.
Van Garderen sprints past Contador (green jersey) for 5th on stage 7.


Superb ride for the young Slovenian Janez Brajkovic on winning the action packed Dauphiné. Heavy favorite, Alberto Contador won two stages and placed second overall. He stated his goal was to place well and work toward fitness for the Tour.  I almost thought he was playing a little cat & mouse with the media/ fans. It kept me and I'm sure many of us guessing.

It was marvellous to watch as the race whittle down to these two as they attacked each other up the legendary L'Alpe d'Huez. Contador fired the shot to win the stage but Brajkovic secured his overall victory. What impressed me was this rider was fearless right after he took the leader's jersey & stage win on stage 3's TT. Contador loss 1:46 and that deficit would haunt him. Brajkovic defended his yellow jersey right into the mountains taking care of everything Contador could throw at him. I found it refreshing that someone else could provide the rivalry against the Spanish superstar.

Now, with his fantastic Dauphiné win, Brajkovic has to stay on the sidelines and wait until after the Tour de Suisse to know if he get's the nod to pursue a Tour dream. I hope he does get that chance.

Equally impressive was the performance by 22 year old, American neo-pro Tejay Van Garderen to claim third overall. His gallant charge started with a fine 4th in the TT and kept his super form into the mountains. He's not going to the Tour but the HTC Columbia squad has him in the Vuelta a Espana. And looking so much like the champion, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen took off for a return back to winning ways. Stage 7 and final stage was his, winning alone on the same course as the Badger did in the 1980 world championship road race. Now, with his injury behind, the 23 year old looks to his first Tour in July.

Champ to champ...
The Badger shows Boasson-Hagen the way.
Images: steephill.tv/sirotti 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stage 3: Bikes, Books, & Beers Podcast

I'm happy to announce our fourth podcast the special extended version...

Guy and I have loaded it up with...

... A book review on 'Inside the Postal Bus' by Sky rider/ writer Michael Barry. The 2010 Dauphiné stage race along with some history and cool memorabilia. The 2010 Tour de Suisse & Le Tour. I reveal Galstudio's new Polka Dots Cycling Cap. And, of course, our version of liquid calorie replacement.

Enjoy!



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mano-a-Mano at the Dauphiné

Contador & Brajkovic leaving Szmyd and
going about it mano-a-mano!



Explosive! That's what the racing up the famous L'Alpe d'Huez was today. A hard working Alberto Contador with the help from his controlling Astana team made it his second stage victory of the Dauphiné.

Contador could not, as much as he tried, get rid of the amazing Janez Brajkovic. See sawing back and forth from attacks up the face of L'Alpe d'Huez was pure fun to watch.  El Pistolero kept firing as he decimated the peloton one rider at a time. He could win by taking time out of Brajkovic. But only if he could shake him off. Give credit to Sylvester Szmyd & Jerome Coppel for refusing to lie down and at times made it a fight of four. With 2 kms left Contador and Brajkovic turned out to be the final battle royale slugging it out as they neared the finish line. It was evident Contador looked the weary one of the two as Brajkovic remained close & collected. But the Spaniard had that extra jump to take a hard fought battle and the queen stage of the Dauphiné was his.

El Pistorlero fired a great many shot's for a worthy stage win but surely Janez Brajkovic moved very close in securing the overall victory!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vive la France!

Allez Vogondy!


French fans had a reason to scream for joy as former national champion, Nicolas Vogondy won the Dauphiné's first mountain stage to Risoul. A spectacular attack by the Frenchman with 2 kms from the finish line left the favorites staring at each other. A moment of hesitation was all Vogondy needed to strike like a lightning bolt.

And this popular Bbox rider smiled like a cheshire cat soloing to the finish line. Why? His career almost ended in December when doctors found he had cardiac arrhythmia. He was tested for possible risk of a heart attack and the doctors and the French cycling federation had to stop him from riding. Two months later, happily relieved, he was allowed to race again.

Vogondy is 32 years old, 14 years as a Professional and in a way resurrected his career that looked on the verge of ending. Now, with his great comeback win he looks forward to the Tour beating his health problems becoming a French hero!

French hopeful...
U23 world champion, Romain Sicard followed in second!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Rise & Fall at the Dauphiné

Rise for Janez Brajkovic...


Janez Brajkovic had the ride of his career by beating everyone at today's TT at the Dauphiné. The young & talented Slovenian now holds the leaders yellow jersey, 36 seconds from David Millar. A tantalizing position for the 26 year old to be in for a fine Dauphiné performance. Now, the real test is the upcoming mountain stages. Alberto Contador lost valuable time finishing in sixth 1min 46secs off the pace. A hard day for sure for the Astana leader. But, Italian Dario Cataldo proved instant hero status by surviving an earlier fall to finish with torn shorts and obvious road rash.



... the fall of Dario Cataldo!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Polka Dot Fever!

Galstudio's new polka dot cycling cap.


I can't believe the Tour is fast approaching & will once again grace our presense. Like Johnny Cash said, 'I hear the train a comin' it's rollin' 'round the bend.' La Grand Boucle is that train and everyone will catch it this July 3rd with the prologue in Rotterdam.

I'm seeing polka dots, literally. Galstudio recently, produced a new Polka Dot Cycling Cap. We're proud of it, accentuated with big 1 1/2" dark red dots. Inspired by the King of the Mountains Jersey (maillot à pois rouges), the mountains prize began in 1933 but the familiar polka dot jersey appeared in 1975. Belgian Lucien Van Impe was the first grimpeur to win it. And the next year won his first Tour becoming the last Belgian rider to achieve it. Van Impe won the mountains classification six times (1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, and 1983) tying his hero Federico Bahamontes the Eagle of Toledo (1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, and 1964). Bahamontes loved the mountains and 1959 was his year becoming the first Spanish rider to win the Tour.

I love the new cap ... bring on the Tour!



Lucien Van Impe (first KOM jersey wearer) vs Bernard Thevenet
1975 TdF.


The Eagle of Toledo...
Yellow Jersey and KOM, 1959 Tour.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Julio Perez: Mountain Man

Put a fork into him he's done! 
With a sense of humour, Perez & the Devil pokes at
Piepoli on the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo climb, 
2007 Giro.


Julio Perez is an exceptional mountain climber from Mexico. He's made steady and successful progress riding for mainly Italian teams. Like his fellow countryman before him, Raul Alcala, he has carried his country's hopes and aspirations in the Grand Tours. Perez loves the Giro having won a stage up the Passo Pordoi (2001) & two stages to San Giacomo, Corvara Badia (2002). He was so consistent in the 2002 Giro winning the green mountain jersey and finishing 19th overall.

In the 2007 Giro, climbing high on the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo (Three Peaks) Perez looked set to win that exhausting stage. He climbed steadily and took off on the steep slopes with a group of fellow grimpeurs including the infamous duo Ricco, Piepoli, and Colombian Ivan Parra. With 1 km left Ivan Parra attacked and the twins could only follow. Chaos as the screams from the Tifosi drove them onwards to the summit. Ivan Parra could only hang on as the evil twins did a one two sandwich on the Colombian. It was a vicious climb as the riders rode their lowest gear appearing as if standing still. Instantly, I remember the deathly drumbeat soundtrack from the 1974 Giro film, 'The Greatest Show on Earth.' Julio Perez fought bravely too and came in fourth.




Perez won the green jersey + two stages, 
2002 Giro.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Le Dauphiné: going high




Tomorrow starts the Critérium du Dauphiné and is the big race before the Tour. A favorite race for the climbers with an added challenge, stage 6 to the finish on the Alpe d'Huez. This stage will be a fan's favourite and most likely be a thorn in the riders' side. Looking like a row of shark's teeth, the profile is daunting. After climbing three mountains, the 21 dizzying hairpins await the riders. I can't wait!






Friday, June 4, 2010

The Dauphiné goes Dutch

Eighties flying Dutchman on the Italian squarda Metauromobili/Pinarello (nice jersey)...
Johan Van Der Velde.


This Sunday marks an exciting addition to the 62nd Critérium du Dauphiné. It has 21 hairpins and goes upwards. You guessed it, that's the famed Alpe d'Huez.


All in the family...
Ricardo & Johan.


It's also known as the Dutch Mountain for the eight famous Dutchman to conquer it since 1952 Tour. And a sea of orange is awash over the mountain with screaming Dutch fans. Which makes me wonder how the Dutch riders, coming from a flat country, have an inherent ability to climb so well? They do it masterly. In fact, it's a long time coming since the last orangeman winner Gert-Jan Theunisse did so in 1989.

It's 14kms of climbing and is included in the mountainous Dauphiné stage race, the warm up to the Tour. Many of the top GC riders will be in the hunt and I like these grimpeurs to add their special touch upwards; Colombian Juan Mauricio Soler, South African John-Lee Augustyn, former winner (2007/2001) Frenchman Christophe Moreau & Spaniard Sam Sanchez.

Back in 1980, the last Dutchman to win the race was the great Johan Van Der Velde. He had great Italian success winning the points jersey in the Giro. Again, he's Dutch and climbed very well.  His son Ricardo is on the Garmin Transitions team and he stands to be a promising recruit for next season. Interestingly, Ricardo & teammate Christian Vande Velde may share the same family roots. Both families hailed from Ghent!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Cult of the Badger: Shoes & a Song




That's the Badger grinning for a photo shoot to introduce his new Couvre-Chaussures, Shoe Covers back in 1981. It's not the only other product he pushed. Songwriter, Gerard Courtois introduced an album, Blaireau Reggae. In 1985 as Look adviser, he introduced Look pedals at the Giro. And changed cycling pedals forever. Now, I wonder if he sold very many of those shoe covers?



The Artful Badger...

Blaireau Reggae album.




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Giro Style!

Bassollissimo!



The Giro proved to be one of the most exciting editions that I ever watched.

Ivan Basso has to be the happiest rider, coming back from his 2007 doping scandal and winning a not always to be sure and competitive race.


Forza Coppi!


Onto stage 20 with five high challenging mountain passes including the Passo di Gavia or better known as Cima Coppi. Bad weather threaten, but thankfully the route would be uninterrupted. As, Swiss grimpeur Johan Tschopp escaped with Gilberto Simoni. As they approached the highest point of the race, Cima Coppi, Tschopp took the sprint. The on form Simoni looked set to finish his final Giro with the Cima Coppi prize but it wasn't to be. The clever Swiss escaped alone to win the stage splendidly. But wait!. Cadel Evans gritted his world champion's teeth and kept his amazing pressure alive somehow managing to tear closer to Tschopp. He put in a brave attempt and came in second 16secs behind.

What also emerge are the up in coming stars that performed well and also surprised...  Aussies dominate:  Richie Porte held onto the white jersey winning the best young riders classification finishing consistently in 7th overall . Matthew Lloyd fought hard to win the green mountains jersey. Cadel Evans was a worthy winner of  the red points jersey and finished in a solid 5th overall and winning the Trofeo Bonacossa (top rider voted by journalist). Frenchman, John Gradet (13th, Ag2R) & Dutchman, Bauke Mollema (12th, Rabobank) are both talented climbers and their success in this Giro promises more finer performances soon to come.

As this Giro closed, a last hurrah for former two time Giro champ Gilberto Simoni as he finished in Verona's Piazza Bra adorned in a black jersey/short combination with a black helmet. A classy final look at the popular 38 year old rider looking like a Roman gladiator as he waved a final farewell to the arena crowd.

And what about this years Giro? What made it so fun to watch? The organizers got it right by including the historic mountains of the past and honoring heroes; Coppi, Bartali & Pantani. Also, a refreshing crop of talent emerged, too.

So these simple words sum it up best, from the best young rider Richie Porte: "Thanks to Italy for a great race!"




Strade bianche: a new classic in the making.



Gilberto Simoni ends like a Roman gladiatore!
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