Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thundering!

A Norse Classic.
The God of Thunder explodes with a fine win at todays Omloop Het Nieuwsblad!
Belgian Kevin Ista(2nd) & Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha(3rd) chasing in vain!

Canadian Dominique Rollin on the Canadian base Cervelo Test Team
had a good first foray in todays Classic!
Both from: www.velonews.com

1 for 1...

Cervelo Test Team scored a huge opening classic season victory with Norway's Thor (God of Thunder) Hushovd taking a hammer blow to the line. I must say, I predicted him to win and I got this one. Young Canadian, Dominque Rollin battled on in support to finish in 137th. Good to see Juan Antonio Flecha close by. Can he be finally closer to a classic victory? Tomorrows Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne is the next semi-classic and I believe the Spaniard will win!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Classics.

Introducing the Classics...

Four of my favorite Belgian cyclists who help carve out the pave and made the classics so enduring. Between them, their palmares are incredible and deserved to be listed. Perhaps in another post. The captivating images are from Stephan Van Fleteren's, 'Flandrian'.

Roger De Vlaeminck


Rik Van Steenbergen

Eddy Merckx

Freddy Maertens

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Renewal.

Classic style with hairnet.
Tchmil during his last season at Het Volk, 2002.
His swan song finishing a strong seventh.


This Saturday marks the exciting start to the Classic season, with the 64th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (I like the old name, Het Volk).

With Spring not too far off, there's something positive about a new season. New teams form providing a refreshing change for new riders. Optimistic veterans mark it as a renewal toward a new season. One thing that never changes, thankfully, are the infamous pave sections and the unbearable weather conditions that provide the right adversary for the riders. What's a Classic without it?

This Belgian semi-classic first started in 1945 and cancelled due to snow (in 1986 & 2004). Snow did fall on the evening of the 1955, 1974 & 1988 editions but it was given the go ahead. The tough Belgian riders have dominated winning this great race 53 times.

Russian turned Belgian,
The old school pave pounder...

One of my favorite all time classic riders is Andrei Tchmil; Russian by birth but Belgian by passion and citizenship. Back in 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the talented rider turned pro with the Italian Alfa Lum squad. He soon moved to Belgium and developed into a famous classic specialist. A tenacious rider, he flourished in the Classics with monumental wins in Milan Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix & the Tour of Flanders. Coming close to winning Het Volk, he finished on the podium in third place (1995 & 1998).

His signature winning look: a powerful riding style finely honed for the pave and wearing his distinctive old style 'hairnet'.

Monsieur Pave.
Andrei Tchmil, at the front and going for it.
Het Volk, 2002.

All from: www.cyclingnews.com

My pick: Cervelo Test Teams' Thor Husovd looks prime, with the help from teammate Dominique Rollin, for victory!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Criterium Des As

From 1950's France.
 
Everything I like in a board game: the retro look, simple colorful graphics and very smart and detailed riders.

I'll be back next Sunday with another game favorite!





www.cyclingboardgames.net

Friday, February 20, 2009

Inspiration.





Inspiration comes in many forms. Cervelo's Test Team serves up a fine example in Portugal!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's your ride.




Well done short film of rider in relationship to the urban environment...

Ride On!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My big old tub of love.

My wonderful familiar old grease!
A staple in my tool box.

There's nothing like a shiny and clean bike.  After buying a new bottle of chain lube, I finally got down to it. I took off my chainrings and re-grease the 5 bolts. One of my trusty items that I could not do without is my old tub of love... Campagnolo special grease!

As I applied some on the bolts, I thought to myself, I've had this wonderful grease approaching... twenty-five years. It's just under half full and it still smells and looks the same since I first bought it. I purchased this along with various Campagnolo tools: cone wrenches, bottom bracket tools, pedal dust cap wrench, crank extractor, headset tool, crank bolt wrench, all at a small Edmonton bicycle shop that was going out of business. I can't remember the price but it cost very little to almost clear him out. It was certainly a great opportunity to take advantage of. As the days passed, I returned over the last few days to buy up as many items I could get my hands on. I love using these fine Italian made tools and I still marvel at how functional and well made they are. 

Some things are destine to becoming classics... 

Especially, my big old tub of grease that keeps going, going & going!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rollin' along with the Horse from the North.

The smiling Horse winning the wet stage 4, 2008 Tour of California.
www.kwc.org

Great Acquisition...

Le Canadien, Dominique Rollin quietly lines up at this years Tour of California with the new Cervelo Test Team. He's young and crafty, only 26, and already famous for winning last years stage 4 under dreadfully wet conditions. Recently signed with a very powerful Cervelo TT squad as a domestique for Thor Hushovd and Carlos Sastre. Rollin, a very powerful rider from Boucherville Quebec aptly nicknamed, 'Horse from the North', will have a huge chance to practice and learn his skills and tactics in the invaluable European theatre. He looks like a real asset for the new team and capable of providing key support for the top guys.

Classic Response...

Today, on stage 3, Rollin along with his teammates helped ferried Thor Hushovd for a big win. The big Norwegian has praised Rollin for his strength and sees him as an contributing force to aid him in the the Classics, especially Paris-Roubaix. Ninth in 2005 was Hushovd's best Roubaix placing and he's aiming to do much better. The Thor of Thunder has expressed that his two biggest targets are Milan Sanremo & Roubaix. Could Rollin be the key in helping him unlock the door at Roubaix?

I'm thinking Rollin has the right moxy of strength & guts for the Classics... and beyond!

The God of Thunder wins todays Stage 3, 2009 Tour of California.
With a certain horse, he's a good bet for Roubaix!
www.cyclingnews.com

Sunday, February 15, 2009

California Dreamin'!

TUFT moment!
Breaking into the medals with a great silver,
2008 Worlds TT, Varese, Italy.
www.cyclingnews.com

Svein Tuft landed nicely into the prologue of the Tour of California, finishing a fine 9th. I admit having read  the articles on line about him made a fan of me. 

He came from an unusual background taking his various bikes into the deep, rough country of the Bella Coola Valley in British Columbia. Only 18, at the time, the intrepid explorer stayed out in the wilds sharing it with his dog. Alaska was the next adventure for the young bike tourist. Roughing it out was his calling and he love the challenges of the wilderness. It most likely shaped him providing a natural school of learning about himself. The physical realties are a challenge and simply having to survive each day surely gave him his mental toughness.

Fast forward to 2008: Tuft had a chance to ride the World Cycling Championship TT in Varese and finished with an astounding silver medal. A long time coming since Steve Bauer's bronze way back at the 1984 Worlds road race. Canadians can cheer! Seventh at the Beijing Olympics TT and 4 golds at the Pan American Road & Track Championships rounded off an outstanding year.

Tuft's quiet toughness attracted Garmin-Slipstream to sign him. He liked the anti-doping stance of the offshoot American squad and soon said yes. I must say that he's the type of guy that would look comfortable in a lumberjack shirt clearing forests. Garmin knows he can get the job done especially on the pave of Paris-Roubaix & this summer's Tour. As he embarks on a new journey in California with a new team, I'm proudly waving the Maple Leaf and thinking that he could pull off more sensational victories somewhere down that cycling road!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Le Tour des casse-tete.

Great image from the 1971 Tour.
An official Tour sanctioned product consisting of 1500 pieces.


Another fine mountain image, this one is from the 1968 Tour.
250 pieces.
Both from: www.cyclingboardgames.net/

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ciao Maressi!

The very classy Dromarti Sportivo.
One of three distinct cycling shoes, made by Maressi!
www.dromarti.com

I haven’t seen a pair of beautiful cycling shoes in a long time. These shoes are off this very cool website.

It seems that Italian made retro leather cycling shoes are again back. To passionate aficionados this could be a step up to cycling nirvana. For all things beautiful, these wonderful hand made works of art are made by  Italian shoe maker, Maressi. I remember seeing a pair racing shoes when I first started cycling and dreamed of one day of buying a pair. Sure, I had a pair of Adidas Eddy Merckx but it wasn’t Italian. No offense Adidas and Eddy. The Maressi’s were so well made with loving attention to detail that cradled your feet so well it made one want to sing an operetta. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Maressi’s anymore. And, they seem to disappear from the cycling world. Until now…

What's life without passion?

Classy Italian rider, 
Roberto Visentini wearing his Maressi's
at the 1984 Giro d'Italia.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Magazine holders turn fun!

My cycling diptych!

The other week, I picked up magazine holders  and I was so glad it was white. I decided to turn something bland into something else! Thats my quick sketch of a 1950's cycling mountain scene with indian ink. My two panel diptych right beside my book collection!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How SWEDE it was!

Magnus Backstedt (formerly of Garmin-Slipstream) retired after 13 years as a pro. His big presence (6' 5", 200 Ibs of it) was felt especially at the Classics. Paris-Roubaix was his favorite race. And who can deny him it, he was built for it. First crack at the Queen of the Classics gave him his confidence to win it one day. In 1998 he finished his first one in 7th. In 2004, he made cycling history by realizing a life long dream. A year after, in 2005, he just missed the podium coming in a strong 4th.

Heres to one of the fine riders of the pave and to his worthy win back in 2004!


Passion for Pave...

"About '92 when Duclos-Lasalle won it for the first time I remember watching that race, I had a big poster of Duclos winning it, and I always said I want to ride that race one day. Then in '98 I got signed to a big enough team to ride it and straight after I finished I said, "I'm going to have that stone before I hang up my bike."

... Magnus Backstedt.


Kings of Pain...


Monday, February 9, 2009

Ride and smell the sunshine.




After work I jumped on my bike and proceeded the short commute home. As I gazed upwards I discovered a rare site... sunshine! Vancouver is well known for its 'liquid sunshine.' February means winter hence the liquid sunshine. Its the norm here in the wet coast. I was so happy to see the sunshine and the pull was irresistible. As soon as I reached  home, I dropped off my messenger bag and zipped on my booties and hit the road for a nice short ride of 45 minutes. For the first time this new year I thought of Spring ... smiling at the sunshine!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

To the Ogre.

Freddy Maertans.
From: Stephan Veanfleteren, 'Flandrian.'

The 'Ogre' looked the favorite at the start of the 1977 Vuelta a Espana. Why? The previous year, he tormented the peloton by  racking up 54 victories including; the World Championship road race and  Tour de France (8 stages, green jersey, & 8th overall). Even Eddy Merckx confessed, "Maertans was the strongest in the peloton!" 

He looked very confident as he started the Vuelta as numero uno, the favorite for the overall. Spanish organisers were pleased to secure the sprinter extraordinaire, although the rest of the riders already knew that the race was for second. His domination was supreme and superb as he rode away taking a record 13 stages including  points classification and overall. He surpassed the old record of Rik Van Looy's eight stage victories from 1965. What do they say, records were made to be broken?  And, the Ogre had helped from his strong Velda-Flandria team and friend, the quirky & talented Michel Pollentier.
 
This Friday, the great Belgian sprinter perhaps the fiercest of all, turns 57... Bon Anniversaire Freddy!

1977 Vuelta a Espana.
Everyone could only follow as Maertans (orange leaders jersey) rides
 to claim a record 13 stages!

1976 World championship road race, Ostuni Italy.
The Ogre devouring Francesco Moser for the ultimate world victory!

1976 Tour.
Maertans (green jersey & 8 stage wins) alongside his long time friend, Michel Pollentier.
All from: 'The Fabulous World of Cycling.'

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bianchi: the early eighties.

1980 Bianchi-Piaggio.

1983 Giro.
The 1983 Giro time trial was won by super team Bianchi-Piaggio. 
Three stars leading the charge: Prim, De Wolf and Contini.
From: 'Tour 83.'

1985 Giro.
White jersey winner; Alberto Volpi (Sammontana-Bianchi) on top of the classic Superleggero. With that extra special Italian touch; the celeste leather wrapped handlebar!
Along with a new jersey design a bold stripe on the cycling shorts appeared.
From: Tour '85.'

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Game on!

Before opening this, I imagine that I would have a lump in 
the back of my throat. Gulp!

This is probably the most beautiful board game I come across. It's called, 'Juego de Salon Vuelta Ciclista a Espana.' Originating from Spain circa 1950's. The detailed finish of the racers and the three dimension mountains are amazingly well crafted. I like the idea that it represents the Pyrenees. Just spin the wheel and move the metal racers on the wooden panel board. I could never get tired looking at it. Talk about cool elegance in design.

I would love to own this one!

Improving with age, successfully!









www.cyclingboardgames.net

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

His last laugh.

Magrini's last laugh.
I admire the underdog. The everyday worker becomes a hero!
Stage 7, 1983 Tour.
(left to right): Leaving these sprinters in the dust; Vanderaerden, Kelly & Glaus.
www.velovintage.ultim-blog.com

Even a domestique can be king for the day as on stage 7 during the 1983 Tour de France. Italian, Ricardo Magrini (Metauromobili Pinarello) worked hard to get into the right position to be part of the massive sprint. He did it, from Nantes - Ile d-Oleron, nipping everyone. Green jersey holder, Eric Vanderaerden, Sean Kelly and Gilbert Glaus were the favorites on this long ardulous 216 km stage.

'Bout en train,' or life of the party was Magrini's day to shine. Already a stage winner at the 1983 Giro, Magrini pulled off yet another celebration. But, before the start of the Pyrennes, he would abandon on stage 10. 

In the end, the peloton got the last laugh!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A final drive to the 1977 Tour.

Merckx grinding it out at the 1977 Tour.

One of my favorite cycling jerseys is Fiat from 1977. I always like that simple blue & white timeless classic.

The 1977 Fiat Team with the Cannibal
at the head of this pack!
Again, with Ugo De Rosa supplying the bikes.
www.cyclingwebsite.net

Molteni-Campagnolo was tres dominate during the seventies and for good reason. A certain Eddy Merckx led & won many races under the Italian sausage maker name. After the 1976 season, Molteni stopped its sponsorship and Merckx was left to search for a new one. The Cannibals reign was coming to an end, but with a fresh new team glory could be his, again.

The Italian car maker, Fiat arrived and provided sponsorship becoming Merckx's fifth professional team. Italian teams had a very good relationship with the Giant. Teaching him the cycling basics: care, preparation and feeding. Wisely, Merckx surrounded himself with his old trusted domestiques: Huysmans, Swerts, De Schoenmaecker, Bruyere. He was reunited with his old friend, the great six day track racer, Patrick Sercu. The Belgian Sercu, known as the 'kaiser of the six' won an astounding record 88 track events out of 223 starts. He was twice world champion in the sprints and won the gold medal for the 1000 m time trial at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He used his searing sprint to win the green points jersey at the 1974 Tour. Merckx teamed up with him to win many winter track events. Now, they were both destined to ride together in the 1977 Tour.

The mountains added to his suffering...

With the advice from his manager, Geminiani, Merckx rode a light 1977 schedule as preparation for the Tour. Fresh from winning the Tour de Mediterranean, he entered the Tour as a non-favorite. His new team, Fiat looked a good adversary on paper. But, were they strong to contend for victory?

Nineteen seventy-six Tour winner, Lucien Van Impe, Bernard Thevenet and Joop Zotemelk were the favorites going into the prologue. Merckx almost won the time trial finishing a feisty 8 seconds back in third place behind winner, neophyte Didi Thurau. Entering into the 4 kms team trial, Fiat flew and won it in front of Peugeot and TI-Raleigh. Patrick Secru didn't disappoint and won three stages before abandoning on stage 17. But, the col de Madeleine was a tremendous hardship for Merckx. Stomach problems forced him to lose a massive 13 minutes during the grind up the Alp d'Huez. Thurau and Thevenet proved too strong for the ailing Merckx and left him behind to struggle. But, Merckx outfoxed all and won his only stage into St. Etienne after the first and second place riders were disqualified after failing anti-doping tests. The irresistible Merckx proved that he can be a great loser.

Fans applauded the Cannibal's last Tour as he bowed out to finish in a glorious sixth place!

The Fiat team time trial off to victory.
Secru(right) & Merckx back together, again!

Off the back of the pack & paced back by his faithful domestique, Jos de Schoenmaecker.
All from: 'Fabulous World of Cycling.'
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