Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spanish Sunshine

The King.



Philippe Gilbert is the king of the one-day races.

His 14th victory of the season and first San Sebastian classic was forthright and devastating. With 15km left, he was in the important 10-man group led by his teammate Jelle Vanendert. With 4km remaining he pulled a patented signature power move and soloed home to victory. Twelve seconds later, Carlos Barredo and Greg Van Avermaet followed in after the master of the one-day races had time to wave to the crowds.

Already with a hat-trick of wins in the Ardennes Classics (Amstel, Fleche and Liege), the Belgium star is setting his eyes for bigger prizes; the World Championship road race in Copenhagen and the three-peat in the Tour of Lombardy.

Long live the King!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Greg & I in Port Moody



This is the long weekend here in the province of British Colombia and it's a day off this Monday. The weather is improving and under sunny skies (24C) I reconnected with an old friend, Greg.

We decided to put in a good ride out to Port Moody to one of my favorite coffee stops. I haven't seen Greg in two years and we have our birthdays on the same day. So, a double celebration as we had an excellent ride powering on Barnet Highway past the Burnaby Velodrome and into Port Moody. I bought him a birthday coffee and it was so good to chat with him.

I've known Greg since my days in Edmonton so we have a lot in common. Now, it's a matter of working around our busy schedules and we plan more rides in a few weeks... and thankfully not in another two years!

With Greg,
coffee in the tank & about to leave for Vancouver.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Heroes of the Tour

Hoogerland on the Izoard pass, stage 18.
(Laurent Cipriani)



Here's my short list of the heroes of this great 2011 Tour de France...

Laurens Ten Dam: What a nasty face plant on the descent of the Col d'Agnes! His fall put his Tour in jeopardy and looked like becoming another crash victim destined to abandon. He got back up finished the stage went to hospital and the next morning with grotesque wounds wasn't going to stop him from continuing the race. On a  memorable ride up Alpe d'Huez, the Dutch climber saluted the Dutch crowds. His new goal was to finish, pure and simple... he rode to Paris finishing 58th overall!




Johnny Hoogerland: Getting the tar beat out of him when Hoogerland was sent flying into a barbed-wire fence on stage 9, after a French television car hit Juan Antonio Flecha. Miraculously, he finished the stage and kept the Polka Dot Jersey. He was in tears, on the podium, accepting the KOMs jersey... a poignant reminder of his courage. The next morning, he appeared at the starting line with 33 stitches and looked part mummy with gauze covering both legs. His new goal was to survive and he soldiered on to finish the race in 74th overall.

Thor Hushovd: The God of Thunder's descending skills were unmatched, clocked at 118 km/h his 80 kg body dropping like a huge stone, he was able to make up time and caught teammate Ryder Hesjedal with nine kilometres left. The world champion won the final sprint from Boasson Hagen & Hesjedal to capture his second stage victory.

Thor tearing down towards Gap.



Thomas Voeckler: The talented and gritty Frenchman was stupendous. On stage 9, he was almost involved in the ugly accident with Johnny Hoogerland & Juan Antonio Flecha, crossed the line in second and won the yellow jersey. He kept it teasingly away from the GC contenders until the end of stage 19. His fourth place finish on GC proudly gave the French fans plenty to look forward to!


Voeckler climbs on Plateau de Beille, stage 14.
(Laurent Cipriani)


And, lastly to the Heroine...

La Belle France: She is the star. The French countryside provides the picturesque setting for the world's biggest stage race. This year it was in Pinerolo, Italy for two stages and celebrating the 100th anniversary in the Alps with two stages on the Col du Galibier. I believe it was one of the most exciting editions ever!


On the Col du Galibier, stage 18.
(Veeral Patel)

The moonscape of the Izoard Pass.
(Christophe Ena)


Vive le Tour!
Champs Elysees, July 24th.
(Veeral Patel)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy 1000th!

Clink!




It's a happy day for two reasons: this is my 1000th post and my birthday!

A double celebration that I'll christen this magical day with a ride up to Simon Fraser University (without the wine, of course). What a milestone as I sit, with a glass of Malbec, pondering what I've achieved!

I started this cyclingart blog back in September, 2007. Of course, I had no idea it would morph into what it has become. I'm running short of superlatives, however, I'm somewhat still amazed and marvel that I could keep my blog going this long and still have something to say. It's always a bit tricky to write enough content, create art, have the daunting task of running a small business, and including other things in life without going crazy...and keep it all going. I'm more than happy that folks out there (you know who you are) follow this blog regularly.

So, I would like to warmly thank all my readers who have been with me over the almost four years. And, to the new readers a hardy welcome. Today, I will highly likely enjoy another glass of Malbec and carry on writing more posts and smile because ... the 2000th post is just down the road!

Richard

Monday, July 25, 2011

Riding with Aplomb

Congratulations Cadel!


An historical victory for Cadel Evans!

He becomes the fourth Anglophone rider (first Australian) to win the Tour de France and joins a select group: Stephen Roche, Greg LeMond & Lance Armstrong. And he did so with a combination of a strong team, careful preparation, mental strength, maturity & luck.




While other contenders faltered, Cadel Evans rode with aplomb. Maintaining enough sanity between the crashes and attacks to go all the way. He was fortunate not to crash. His red BMC army worked solely for him. And, throw in huge amounts of tenacity, too. In 2009, his career took off big time, becoming the first Australian to win the men's world road race championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. His switched to the American team, BMC, in 2010, the perfect team envrionment for him.

Fast forward today, Evans' win is symbolic of his careful preparation that he says is from 20 years of hard work. Compatriot and former world champion, Michael Rogers said in the past Evans might not have known how to react when Andy Schleck opened a four-minute lead on the 2nd stage in the Alps. Evans never panic and worked hard and clawed his way back, cutting the deficit  to 2:15 by the end of the day.





Rogers said, "He has a very good team behind him and I think that gave him the mental strength to not panic."

Australian, Stuart O'Grady (Leopard Trek) said, "I have huge respect for Cadel. He's already our first world champion, and  you know he's just breaking down barrier after barrier after barrier. To win a Tour de France. That's epic."

Next year, Cadel Evans will be 35 years old... definitely not too old for another Tour victory!





Saturday, July 23, 2011

Crikey Cadel!



Cadel Evans nailed the door shut on his duel with Andy Schleck to take an amazing one minute and 34 second advantage and the yellow jersey.

He produced a sensational time trial around Grenoble finishing second, seven seconds behind Tony Martin.


Golden moment.
(sirotti)


Evans stands to take the biggest win of his career and thrown Australia into happy pandemonium. So important his win, Prime minister Julia Gillard will grant a national holiday.

The victory makes the 34-year old the oldest winner of the Tour. And, it goes to show that it's better late than never to win. It was 88 years since Henri Pelissier won the Tour in 1923. He was also 34 years old.

It was so good to see him up on the podium, red-eyed with tears then hurling the bouquet into the crowd.

The two-time runner up is as good as gold to win this most exciting Tour. Tomorrow's ceremonial finish awaits for the sprinters along the Champs-Elysees. I'll be excited to see him sip champagne to Paris and I will be ...yelling for Cadel!


Sensational!
(AP)


Phil Anderson was the first Aussie to
wear the yellow jersey in 1981!

Friday, July 22, 2011

On top of Alpe-d'Huez





Alpe-d'Huez immortalized another hero today.

Exciting it was as Thomas Voecklers' tight hold on the yellow jersey ended thus releasing Pierre Rolland from domestique duties. Midway through the stage, the young French climber bounded up the crazy 21 hairpins to a surprise victory over Sanchez & Contador.


Huge victory!
(Bernard Papon)


As expected the yellow jersey would change hands today. Andy Schleck took over the yellow jersey. Europcar continued their success big time with Rolland winning alone in splendor. An interesting side note; Rolland was born in 1986, the same year Bernard Hinault as the last Frenchman to win on top of Alpe-d'Huez. And, for French cycling Rolland becomes the first Frenchman to win a stage in this Tour and he wears the white jersey of new young rider. His star is shining very bright.

Now, the attention turns to the final duel between Andy Schleck & Cadel Evans. A classic way to decide this classy Tour, the most exciting in years, for bragging rights. Go Cadel!


Cadel clawing back.


Danielson (11th) & Hesjedal (10th),
their fine performance secures the team classification.


Evans leading Rolland



Rolland!



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Game Face On!

Hesjedal driving up to 10th.
(Michael Steele)



What a day today as Andy Schleck put on his game face (attacking on the Col du Izoard) and rode away to win and to nestle himself in second overall.

Thomas Voeckler, with his trusty lieutenant Pierre Rolland, did the unthinkable and rode his A game to stay in Yellow by only 15 seconds from Schleck. Cadel Evans moved down a notch to fourth place overall. Another day of reckoning in the beautiful and torturous Alps is promised for Friday. The riders will ride up the Galibier and finish on L'Alpe d'Huez.


More to come...


For Evans, who's in solid form, will have to pull out all stops and battle a rested Frank Schleck who I believe, will launch his attack. Evans' stinging and constant attacking with 10kms left was a fantastic effort. He was left to attack and no one wanted to play with him. He lost time from the Schlecks but he did drop Voeckler, Contador, Basso and Sanchez.

Special mention also goes to Ryder Hesjedal. He's looking comfortable in the mountains and produced another great ride with a tenth place in the hardest stage of the race. This is the second top 10 placing in three days after finishing third Tuesday. Hesjedal did well shepherding Tom Danielson to ninth place.

Tomorrow will bring more fireworks and with three days to go ...this Tour ain't over yet!


Schleck wins...

Voeckler ...fights on!
(Images: Casey Gibson)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mountain of Pain

Torture up the Galibier...
Federico Ezquerra, 1936.



Here it comes. The Tour celebrates its 100th anniversary in the Alps. Tomorrow is the massive 200km stage consisting of the Col du Galibier, the highest finish topping at 2645m. First introduced in 1911, the Col du Galibier will be ascended twice, stage 18 & 19. On Friday, the Galibier will be just a taste in the riders' legs as they will have to contend with the famous Alpe d'Huez. Andy Schleck already predicted that the winner will emerged from stage 18.

It will be full of fireworks... let the battle begin!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Double Trouble

The Garmin-Cervelo Sandwich with Rainbow Stripes!



Double Trouble... That's what I call it for Eddy Boasson Hagen in the final run up to Gap.

The Team Sky rider found himself against the odds riding beside the Garmin-Cervelo duo of Ryder Hesjedal and Thor Hushovd. Hesjedal did a sterling effort bridging up to lone leader Mikhail Ignatyev and flying passed him. I was on the edge of my seat as I thought this maybe Hesjedal's moment of reckoning. He's come so close to the big win and this could finally be the big one.

Boasson Hagen attacked and The God of Thunder had to follow. The Norwegian pair reached Hesjedal and in the last few metres a stronger Hushovd took the sprint in convincing fashion. His second stage win of the race. Boasson Hagen finished second in a Garmin-Cervelo sandwich and Ryder Hesjedal triumphantly in third, a yeoman's work well done.

The next three stages are in the Alps and firing on all cylinders is Cadel Evans. He's put time in on Andy Schleck and Thomas Voeckler and looks determined to make history.

Today, Ryder Hesjedal had a shot at Tour glory and tomorrow may bring ...another sterling opportunity.


Ryder passing Ignatyev.
Photo: Casey Gibson


Celebrating!
Photo: Sirotti

Monday, July 18, 2011

Unseen Force

Pedaling to improve.
Photo: B. Gibson



Ryder Hesjedal almost seems invisible in the two weeks of le Tour.

He started the race ready to improve upon after last year's amazing seventh-place overall placing. Then disaster happened with two opening-week crashes ruined his chance for a top ten finish. He turns his pedals to the fundamental but important role of domestique. He's part of a highly successful Garmin-Cervelo team, helping to provide the much needed horsepower in supporting Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd.

He's in 32nd place, 25:18 behind Thomas Voeckler and rode fairly well in the Pyrenees. With four grueling mountain top finishes ahead the grimpeur can come out from his domestique duties, get back on his high horse, and I believe, go for a stage victory.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ironmen

Voeckler getting measured for Ironman status.



In between watching this excellent Tour and selling our Galstudio products at the Vancouver Folkfest I'm finding it difficult to blog. I would try and after watching yesterdays amazing stage to Plateau de Beille deserves mention via the Dutchman, Lauren ten Dam.


Ten Dam grisly hero


I saw his fall crashing down at high speed and landing on his face. Amazing. He tweeted... no fractures.

He will start todays stage to Montpellier... utterly an Ironman performance.

And high praise has to go to two men riding brilliantly: Thomas Voeckler and Jelle Vanendert.

Vanendert is turning out to become a feisty grimpeur winning on top of the Plateau de Beille. And, Voeckler for his feisty riding and staying in contention... now for podium.



Vanendert on his way for his first Tour stage win.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thor Power!

 Pure Class!
Photo: Peter Dejong/AP



The God of Thunder put the hammer down to Lourdes winning solo ... magnificently!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cycling Caps Meet Music



Carolle and I will be at the Vancouver Folk Festival (this Friday - Sunday) selling our fine handmade Galstudio products.

I will be working 12 hour days and will find it difficult to write any posts. If I can, I'll try to squeeze in one.

It will our first Folk Festival and we're excited. I understand up to 35,000 music fans will pass through the turnstiles. We will be among the 160 vendors in the Bazaar situated just outside the gates. It will be a busy three days as many people simply crowd around and relax listening to the free music and ...shop.

For the show, we will introduce two new cycling cap models (can't divulge it). So, if you're around, I invite you to come over and say hi!


Galstudio's Spanish Lover Cycling Cap

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looking to Bastille Day

Vive la France!
during Stage 9
Photo: Christophe Ena/AP



Tomorrow is Bastille Day, and since 1947, 19 French riders have won a stage of the Tour on the French national holiday.

Thomas Voeckler retained the golden fleece after a very wet stage from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur. Tomorrow's stage, is where the race will really unfold. Turning up the heat on the riders (as if they need it), an appetizer, the climb up the 1538m La Hourquette d'Ancizan, the long dizzying pain up the 2115m Col du Tourmalet and then for dessert the finish up the difficult 1715m Luz Ardiden.

Which begs the question; can a Frenchman win? Voeckler says he expects to lose the yellow jersey tomorrow. And, with one of his valuable grimpeurs out of the race, Christophe Kern, he has reason to suspect his Europcar team will be disadvantaged in the high mountains.

French grimpeur, John Gradet unfortunately abandoned today citing fatigue and could the Giro and Tour double be too much for him? A few french riders show promise at least for Bastille glory. Not a threat for the GC, these riders could pull off a surprise? I'm looking at; Sandy Casar (FDJ) or Anthony Roux (FDJ).

The last time a Frenchman won on Bastille Day was David Moncoutie in 2005, stage 12 Briancon to Digne Les Bains. There are plenty of non French riders favor to win tomorrow's grueling mountain stage but the French fans will be especially cheering for a coureur cycliste francaise to return glory!



Thomas Voeckler during today's rainy stage 11,
he retains the yellow jersey towards Bastille Day!
Photo: Guillaume Horcajuelo


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Polka Dot Champion



Courage Johnny!


The media and fans have already given the courageous Johnny Hoogerland the title ...hero.

Ever since his date with destiny on stage 9, he has to nurse 33 stitches to his wounds. And, he's had only 10 hours of sleep in the past two days as he tries to heal under the pain from his fall into the barbed wire fence. Fierce as the competitor he is, Hoogerland is dismissing the hero label and says that he's only trying to survive.

Encouraged by the roadside fans and boosted by wearing the polka dot jersey, the Dutchman riding for Vancansoleil finished todays stage 10 in 111th place 5'59" behind stage winner Andre Greipel. A fantastic result keeping his KOM classification lead.

The next challenge is for him to survive the Pyrenean stages starting Thursday. A massive challenge ...perhaps. For now, Johnny Hogerland's hero worship is growing!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stuff of Legends

Johnny Hoogerland out during
the rest day...
Thumbs up inded!
photo: twitter


Yesterday was another epic day in the life of the Tour for all the riders.

But one man who has attained special hero status, is Johnny Hoogerland. His tangled affair with the barb wire fence via the French tv car hitting Juan Antonio Flecha and his determination to finish the stage is the stuff of legends.

Now, the Dutchman acquire enough climbing points to vault himself back up to KOM. I watched the video and I was just as emotional as he graced his presence on the podium. He has that mark of distinction of pure bravery under fire where many would've just abandon the stage.

I do hope he is back in the race for tomorrow...

Chapeau to Johnny!



Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old habits don't die

I don't snore, my wife backs me up!



Well, we all know what happened in today's crash marred stage 9 Issoire-Saint-Flour. In a word it was... HORRIBLE!

The ghastly images are forever emblazoned in my memory and with careful introspection I choose not to show in this post. So, without further ado I would like to wish the tired riders a very pleasant rest day tomorrow and may I present the lighter and happier moments of todays stage...



Head games before the start.
Photo: Bettini


New yellow jersey in town...
Thomas Voeckler
Photo: Casey B. Gibson


Luis Leon Sanchez 
victorious at Saint-Flour



I'm not a big fan of the riders wearing baseball caps. This is the Tour.
Here's how cycling caps should be worn old style by classy Danny Pate!



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tejay in Polka Dots

Tejay in is polka dot Garden.




Tejay Van Garderen was part of a nine man break in stage 8 but was dropped up the final climb to Super Besse Sancy. Rui Costa of Movistar held on to win alone.

Van Garderen's aggressive riding and he gathered enough points to take over the polka dot jersey and also winning him the Most Combative Rider.

Chapeau!


The break...


Escaping with Rui Costa & Cyril Gautier.




Friday, July 8, 2011

Stage 6: Week One, Thor de France




Guy and I are back with stage 6 Bikes, Books & Beers Podcast: Week One, Thor de France.

We talk about the highs and lows of the first week, our predictions, Guy has a book review, and we're thirsty so we pay a Norseman a visit...

Enjoy!



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