Cycling

Sky and the rise to the top

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Team Sky’s best Grand Tour finishers
2010 Giro d’Italia: Dario David Cioni (17th)
2010 Tour de France: Thomas Lokvist (13th)
2010 Vuelta a Espana: Team withdrew death of team soigneur Txema Gonzalez
2011 Giro d’Italia: Thomas Lokvist (21st)
2011 Tour de France: Rigoberto Uran (24th)
2011 Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome (2nd)
2012 Giro d’Italia: Rigoberto Uran (7th)
2012 Tour de France: Bradley Wiggins (1st)
2012 Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome (4th)
2013 Giro d’Italia: Rigoberto Uran (2nd)
2013 Tour de France: Chris Froome (1st)

From the list above it is clear that @TeamSky are a real force in the WorldPro Tour and especially in the grand tours. Since last year and Wiggo winning the tour Sky have only struggled to get a top 4 finish in the Giro. Froome could have won the Vuelta last year if he hadn’t spend so much energy helping Wiggo win. However it’s a team sport and Froome was the support role in 2011 and the main man in 2012.

So as the 2012 Vuelta stated this week Sky will be lead by Haino with support from Uran. They have a strong squad and will be up there to challenge Astana, headed by Nibali and Movistar with Valverde. It’s another grand tour which will be eventful I’m sure.

This is an impressive record from Sky considering their short existence in the peloton. They arrived with the goal to win the Tour de France within five years. Goal achieved and then defended. The question is now can they break into the other two grand tours and win those. Surely a challenge fir David Brailsford would be to hold all three grand tours and possibly at the same time. This would ensure sky are the best pro team out there. The great thing about this is that Britain would then rule the world on the road as well as the track. The best was to dominate a sport in all its formats, although I’m sure the competition in the peloton and other nations on the track would beg to differ. Isn’t sport great! Especially cycling!

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G is for Gaterskins and FB isn’t Facebook

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As you may know from a previous entry due to a puncture I needed a new tyre on the rear wheel of my bike. In supporting the local bike shop I purchased a Continental Gatorskin. I have read many good reviews about these tyres and after one ride I can see why.

I would say to start with they are not the lightest tyre in the world but are one of the strongest. Ideal for the everyday rider which I am. Never before have I had so much confidence in the rear of the bike before. Yes my handling skills are getting better but this has been helped with the Gatorskin. I will replace the front tyre so there is a matching pair. A job for the bank holiday weekend!

This morning was a test and was a short ride of just 24km. In the rain too so the pace was not as quick as it is in the dry. Saying this on the final small climb of the ride I was feeling good and thought I would attack the climb. I stayed in the highest possible gear I could, forgot the world and pedalled for all I was worth. It worked! I was 3 seconds faster than the quickest time going up a 5% climb. I can only assume I should be able to go faster in the dry. Let’s see. For now I am happy with my achievement so far. At this point can I add this is the fastest time on the MapMyRide course. The real test comes if I can quicken my time by another 20 seconds to take the number one spot on Strava. That will take a while but the only way to improve I’d to keep beating your own times on courses and segments and eventually you will climb the leader boards.

So back to the title. G is for Garorskin and from the reviews I have read and the test I have completed myself the FB is for fucking brilliant. I love these tyres for the cycling I do. The only drawback mentioned in some of the reviews is they are a little tight to but on the wheel. However with a tyre leaver they fit very well on mine and the performance today was very impressive. I’ll try a longer ride in the morning in hopefully dryer conditions, however if it rains it rains. You only get wet once and once your wet you’re wet. Rule 9 is there for a reason!

Cycling books

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I’ve never been a big reader but maybe as I get older its something this summer I have indulged in . I have read two books on cycling, both autobiographies and both cover the aspect of doping during the nineties and 2000’s.

The first was The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and the second was David Millar’s book The fall and Rise of David Millar. Both books are very good and well with a read. I felt with Hamilton’s book you got an insight of what it was like in a team which was controlled by Lance Armstrong and whilst Millar was also a teammate of Armstrong before his cancer diagnosis, his books gave you a different perspective.
Cycling’s murky past is disappointing from the sports point of view but there is something about it which it interesting to find out what went on. Anyway my love for cycling books is getting the same as wanting to get out on the bike. So to solve this problem I have purchased my own copy of the Rules, which from this blog is a must, as well as the Eddy Merck’s book by William Fortheringham. If there was ever a great bike racer then Merck’s is up there in the top spot.

So whilst reading these beauties I will try and fit in more cycling, oh and return to work which will all add time pressures. I’ll blog too. There just might not be enough hours in the day!

B is for b*****ks & G is for Gatorskins

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Today was going to be the “ride as far as possible for two hours” ride and see what happens. Well that was cut short after finding a new claims to try. The climb was fine but on the decent I was created with a very shiny road surface. On this small country road a delivery or building lorry has shed hundreds of nails and screws over the road. I managed to get through most of the carnage but then as I passed through a lovely village pub by back end was out of control. The ride of the bike was not its normal smooth self and I knew something was up.

Yes a puncture in the rear wheel was the cause if this. Something cyclists get all the time. A pain as I was only 6k into the ride. The tyre has been ripped to shreds and that was the end of the ride. Spare tubes I had, but a trip to the local cycle shop was required. The tube was also in a shocking state with three large holes. The bin for that particular tube. Recycled of course.

So bring on the Gatorskins. I must get one for the front. They really are a great tyre. Now I get the opportunity to see how they perform. If you get some make sure you read the tyre and put it on the right way.

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The only funny thing is about the event is I’ve managed to make the letter b on my Strava and MapMyRide maps. This was the warm up before setting off on a much longer ride. Hence the title “b is for bollocks” and G is for Gatorskin for this blog entry.

Well by the time I had got back from the cycle shop and fitted the new tyre and tube it was time for fish and chips from the van which comes every Wednesday. Not a patch on the ones from the Norfolk coast last week but still nice all the same.

Oh well Friday will be the next ride day and a chance to test the Gatorskins. I’ll write a review if them and post.

London to Brighton 2 weeks to go!

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The 14th July is just under two weeks away (at the time of writing) and its the time I will attempt to cycle from London to Brighton (#l2b) in sub four hours raising money for The British Heart Foundation. There is still time to get in a few more training rides this week, a big one at the weekend and then taper it off next week before the big day (or night). There is still time to show your support by visiting my fundraising page and push me over my target. I know you’ve been busy, but go on do it now! Every little helps.

 

As well as the training for the event I have had to look again at my equipment, train with it on so we know how it feels and how it and I perform with it all in place. Earlier posts refer to the bike, shoes, mits, pedals and jacket which will be the main part of my equipment for this challenge. Within the last two weeks my ride pack has arrived containing my number, map and other useful information. I also need to have alternative footwear for the time in Brighton before the travel service back to London, and therefore a small back pack to wear on the ride. Lessons from last year are this needs to be small as last year my rucksack was too big and didn’t help. I had thought of not having a bag and just use the pockets on jackets and saddle bag, but no space for footwear.

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A solution has been found. I have managed to pick up this bright, reflective and very light backpack which is big enough to contain my jacket, flip flops (very stylish I know), wallet, keys and the mobile. This will leave the pockets in the jersey for the gels and food. The bag is also waterproof, especially as it has now been sprayed with some very good waterproofing spray from Millets before they disappeared from our high streets.

 

 

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I have ordered my nutrition for the event from Wiggle who had a good deal to get the water bottle free. £3.19 for 5 energy bars is i thought a good deal so ordered two. This means ill have two bottles as well so ideal for the ride.

 

Also on order are some arm warmers as I will be wearing a short sleeved shirt and these will be easy to roll down when the weather gets warmer as we reach Brighton. I have checked the long range forecast and the Sunday afternoon could have sunny weather and 25 degrees C! Image If that is the case there will be a need for me to use the other lenses which will arrive with my new cycling glasses. The clear lenses will be ideal for the dark, or I could use the lo light ones, before changing them again for the sunny weather we could get come Sunday afternoon. Again these were available on Wiggle with an offer. The fact these have been recommended by Cycling Plus and you get the interchangeable lenses included, what a bargain (£32).

 

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It would get cold without the jersey. It was a present from my last workplace and I now have an opportunity to wear it other than on a normal ride. It is tight, but then again cycling clothing is supposed to be, but this is the most snug I have ever felt in a cycle jersey. It isn’t too small (at L) and i have some idea of what the pro riders feel like when their wear their skin suits on time trials. I say some idea as this jersey is certainly not a second skin, but very close to it.

 

I think I am ready. Well I know i am ready. Just a few emails to chase by return coach and truck ticket, but I am sure this is in hand, and with a few more rides then it show time. Watch out people no. 2091 will be on his way in an attempt to complete 60 miles in sub four hours, in the process raising more then £250 for The British Heart Foundation. Please if you have read this and not get sponsored me please visit my fundraising page and help me make a different to people we don’t even know. Heart failure can affect anyone of us at any time, and I sure want a cure, so in the future, I am diagnosed with heart failure I might have a chance of living a different life to those present sufferers from the disease.

 

Thank you for supporting this great charity and fantastic cause. Also thank you to all the people who have wished me luck with my own personal challenge.

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A request (yesterdays stage of La Tour)

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I have never been asked to write an entry on a blog before, to meet a specific purpose, but last night I was requested to do so. A friend of mine was not able to catch the highlights of stage 3 of the Tour De France and I hope this entry goes some way to summarising the stage from the highlights I watched.

Stage 3 145.5-kilometer –  Ajaccio to Corsica

This was the last stage on the island of Corsica which has been a very picturesque place with many lovely views and route along the coast. It is a great place for deep sea diving Carlton Kirby described, yesterday and its not too bad for cycling either.

The stage came down to a photo finish with Australian Simon Gerrans getting the wheel of his bike over the line just before that of green jersey chasing Peter Sagan, It was close, butImage it was the first stage win for Orica GreenEDGE in only their second season at pro tour level and the first for Gerrans since 2008. It also give the team something positive to think about after it was their bus which got stuck on the line on the first stage, which lead to a complete mess as the organisers moved the finish to the 3km mark and then back again.

The stage was billed as a stage hunters stage where anyone who could get over the small amount of lumps and bumps on the course of Cat 2, Cat 3, Cat 2 ans then a Cat 4 climb. At one point there was another Australian Steve Clarke (Orica GreenEDGE) who had made a bold attempt to take the polka dot jersey from Pierrie Rolland (Europcar) and was on course to achieve this. Unfortunately Rolland was able to chase him down with the help of Chavenal (OPQS) and retain the spots, and Clarke finished in the bunch. At one stage Chavenal was looking good for the stage victory but with 7km to go the escapees couldn’t hold on. On a personal note this would have been good for my fantasy cycling team but it was not to be. Maybe I don’t actually know anything about cycling with just 4 points from the first three stages. Once the escapees had been chased down it was only a matter of time before the sprinters fancied their changes of the stage win. Saying that the climbs had knocked out people like Cavendish (OPQS) and Griepal (Lotto) so it was a battle for the likes of Gerrans and Sagan with Gerrans taking the honours by the width of a tyre or so. The yellow jersey is still in the position of Jan Bakelants (Radioshack Leopard Trek)who holds a 1 second lead after his win on stage 2. Today could be his last day in yellow as there are more specialised team time trial squads out there.

The stage, as previously mentioned, was the last on the island and the first time the tour has come here in 100 years. Who knows if it will return, but it was certainly a good way to start the tour. On a personal note I feel the 2014 grand depart will mean alot more to us Brits as we start in Yorkshire and have three stages on UK soil. I can’t wait!

So last night the teams got onto their plans to fly into Nice for the 25km Team Time Trial later today. Lets hope Gerrant Thomas is slowly getting better after the fall on the first stage which has meant he has spend most of the time at the back of the peloton, nursing a small fracture in his pelvis. Gerrant you have certainly proved you are as hard as nails, but please don’t kill yourself.

Lets hope Team Sky have a good team time trial today and don’t lose any time over their rivals. Enjoy the highlights later or if you’re lucky enough the live action.