Apr 30, 2010

Battlers of Hell.

Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (2nd) & Francesco Moser (3rd) 
battled all the way to the finish line.

Here's a most interesting and enjoyable look at the 1983 Paris-Roubaix outside of the limelight heroics of Dutch  winner Hennie Kuiper.  I enjoy the  behind the scenes account of the also rans or the last riders' bringing up the rear. The unsung heroes without hope just wanting to accomplish their team goals and just trying to finish. The footage is wonderful following a 'noname' rider on his exploits through his own Hell only to end up in relative obscurity in the broomwagon. Well known riders such as diminutive Swiss star, Beat Breu contends with leaving the race in his own team car and remarking, "Difficult!"

Going strong & winning despite two crashes...
Hennie Kuiper!

"The falls on the voyage of Paris-Roubaix..."

"Last of Paris-Roubaix..."

Apr 29, 2010

It's a Hab-it!

Le Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge.

Back from a blistery(better yet, blustery) afternoon ride and I have my lucky shirt on underneath.

Apr 28, 2010

Thinking the Pink!

My new pin says it all!

The Giro is fast approaching and Pinarello bikes made history when Italian Fausto Bertoglio (Jolly Ceramica) won the 1975 edition. Bertoglio rode on a Pinarello and his win made the bike brand famous throughout Italy and the world. 

World famous in 1975.

The young Italian, wearing the pink jersey, was clever on the Stelvio climb riding with Francisco Galdos (Kas). The two men reached the dizzying heights of the Stelvio passing by walls of snow. With each pedal stroke Galdos tried to ride away from Bertoglio and with a kilometer left it seem possible. With the finish line in sight, the Spaniard knows that he's won the stage but needed 41sec to win the race. The Italian arrived meters behind with arms outstretched, yielding the stage to Galdos, and securing Giro victory!

Pink jersey, Bertoglio + Pinarello = Italian style.

Stage 21 Passo del Stelvio...
Galdos wins the stage, Bertoglio wins the Giro!

Apr 26, 2010

A Giro Primer from Steve!

One big happy fan!

Today's my birthday. Ok, technically it's not until July but when I received this morning's mail I could swear it was!

Steve aka 'empidog' has graciously sent me over the moon with a package of memorabilia that is both overwhelming and jaw dropping wonderful. A few weeks ago he dropped me a line asking for my mailing address wanting to send me something. I was intrigue and couldn't wait. Days turned into weeks, I'd almost forgot all about it and this morning I received the package from the UK.

My jaw is still on the floor and I'm about to have it in traction as I pulled out the 'Esta The' barrier banner from the 2005 Giro from Stage 10,  Rossano Veneto finish line circuit! You may remember Robbie McEwen won that stage. I've never had a finish line banner, ever. And this one's so unique it's definitely NOT something you can purchase from any store. And this banner is not complete without the Giro pink cap! Add to this an autographed cycling card by former 1984 Giro Green Jersey holder, Flavio Zappi! And Steve pulled it off very well, this all coincides with the 93rd Giro d'Italia about to start on May 8th in Amsterdam. He mentioned to me that he's going over to see it.

Now, my heart is already palpitating and I have this clown like grin on my face as Steve has included a Lion of Flanders Flag from the Koppenberg in 2006. Very Belgian cool.  I'll have it to wave for next year's cobble classics. Round it off with a nifty little pin and cycling artwork and there you have it ...or I have it (with a smile)!

Again, many thanks, Steve. I'm now ready for the Giro!!!


Apr 25, 2010

The Look!

If looks can kill...

The gaze from superstar Jacques Anquetil's eyes are enough to get my attention for this book. I like this strong black and white image. This intriguing book is called, "Retratos Legendarios del Ciclismo" by Jacques Augendre.

"Chronicling the most in cycling history, this dynamic tribute to the sport is filled with vivid profiles of the best cyclists of all time. Legendary photographs complement the timeless stories of 72 of the world's greatest cyclist." So states the product description and  I'm hooked. If the cover image is this strong I'm very sure the content imagery is even better!

Apr 24, 2010

La Doyenne is calling.

Flemish Man...
Sean Kelly will ride to 11th place in 1981. His career total was nine LBL's 
producing two wins (1984 & 1989).

The grande dame of the Classics, the 96th Liège-Bastogne-Liège will grace herself  Sunday. She's the oldest and most prestigious single day race. A rollercoaster ride of 10 hilly climbs that will attract only the type of rider with endurance and importantly climbing punch.

The markings are on the climbs for ... 

Can hometown hero Philippe Gilbert be the Belgian rider to finally win since Frank Vandenbroucke in 1999? Former winners Michele Bartoli (1997-98) and Eddy Merckx (1969, '71-'73, '75) are supporting him to win. And his fans seem to know already painted "PHIL"on the climb to La Redoute.

Every classic rider dreams of winning La Doyenne and these are some of my favorites. Ireland's Nicolas Roche wants to improve from his 33rd in Amstel Gold and 30th in Fleche Wallonne. He's already had an excellent 5th overall at the Tour of Catalonia and I believe to see him in the top twenty.

American Chris Horner, winner of the Tour of the Basque Country and 7th at Fleche Wallonne looks impressive of late. One man that can win is Canada's Ryder Hesjedal. Having an excellent early season and showing consistent form in the Tour of Catalonia (6th), Amstel (2nd), Fleche (10th) puts him as another favorite. Fleche winner, Cadel Evans is the other heavy favorite. Can he do the Ardennes Double?

Flying Canuck...
Ryder Hesjedal looks to step up in LBL!

It's a long eleven years to wait for Belgian fans. And one classic specialist that will not be riding, in fact, not riding at all due to injury is Belgian Niko Eeckhout. His An-Post Sean Kelly team is not on the LBL list but I sentimentally feel that he deserves to be there. One of a handful of veteran riders, at 39, is well known as a tough classic man. His nickname deservedly is "Rambo" able to dish pain out and ride with it.  He rode a month on a broken vertebra after crashing in April's,  GP Pino Cerami. Then he rode the Brabantse Pijl & GP Denain only to withdraw due to agonizing pain. He never found out the extent of his injury until a week later.

I''m looking forward to an exciting Liège-Bastogne-Liège!

Taking a well deserved rest...
Niko Eeckhout.

Apr 22, 2010

Love those Time Trial Bikes

1984 Giro...
The master of the Chronometro: Francesco Moser's SLX steel frame, 
downtube shifter's and toe clips. He'll go on to win all 3 ITT's & the overall.

Love these two time trial bikes. Cervelo Carbon and Francesco Moser Columbus SLX steel.  Whichever one, there one of a kind marvels and very beautiful.  But in the end it's not always the machine ...it's the rider.

2005 Tour...
Kurt Asle Arvesen flying on his Cervelo!

Apr 21, 2010

The Worthy Stripes.

A very confident Cadel Evans attacked decisively on top of the Mur de Huy to win the Fleche Wallonne. A big win for him since winning the World's in Mendrisio  attacking with kilometres left on a hilly course. Sounds familiar? I'll be honest, I didn't pick him to win. I was thinking of the curse of the Rainbow Jersey but no more.

Move over ...Rainbow jersey coming through!

Back in 1971,  Eddy Merckx won the rainbow stripes at The World Road Race Championships in Mendrisio. So, in 1972,  he honoured the stripes by winning La Fleche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Tour of Lombardy, Tour de France and the Giro.

World Champion, Merckx catches the 1972 Wallonne Arrow.

Evans becomes the fifth rider to win the Fleche Wallonne having worn the rainbow jersey. Can LBL be next? It would be a perfect Ardennes double. And his sights are set for Grand Tour goals; Giro pink and Tour yellow. Evans said, "It's a special honour to ride with the rainbow jersey on my shoulders and the goal this season is to honour the rainbow jersey." If that's what I think he's saying, look out for more major wins for the fearless Aussie this season.

Just like a certain Eddy Merckx did in 1972!

The Cannibal & his stripes on his way to winning
the 1972 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Apr 20, 2010

The Walloon Arrow has a point.

The Muy de Huy is also called "The Path of the Chapels" 
with 7 mini chapels. I doubt the riders' will have the
time to pray! 

The anticipated La Flèche Wallonne is tomorrow and some of the riders that missed Amstel will be on board ready for a  fright or fight of a climb.

Organisers have changed the route so the riders will answer to the giant killer Mur de Huy (The wall of Huy or Pain) with 30km from the finish. Add the climb up to the  Côte d'Ereffe with 11km left at the top of the Mur to make it more dramatic. There's plenty of riders to go for the win namely the Schleck brothers who will work and take turns attacking for Andy to go for it. A certain Alberto Contador surely cannot be dismissed either. Coming off a win from the Vuelta a Castilla y Lyon, he looks prime to fire a shot for a classic victory. And Canadian Ryder Hesjedal is ready & hungry since his fine second place performance in Amstel Gold and looking for a Walloon Gold before the day's done.

Apr 19, 2010

A Post-Amstel Toast.

Here's a few interesting images from yesterday's Amstel Gold Race. The trophy is beautiful but the facial expressions are equally memorable!



Gilbert's cool trophy.

Oil's Well That Ends Well!

Many riders were 'sol' to make it on time for the Amstel race. That was due to the air traffic restrictions after the Eyjafjallajokul volcano belch. There's a good write up from cyclingnews about Team Sky rider, Kurt Asle Arvesen and his (mis)adventure on the North Sea oil rig. You're probably asking what was he doing there? Well, it seems he flew there last Wednesday to give the oil workers a spinning demonstration & lecture. Then he wasn't allowed to fly out due to the close airspace. He couldn't even leave by boat. Talk about sol. He did watch the race and kept in shape climbing up and down to the bottom of the rig. That's about 155 metres below sea level. That's thousands of stairs. Last Monday the Norwegian was 'rescued' and helicoptered out and back to Norway.

Kurt's ok...
he's just keeping his stripes in line at the 2009 Tour.

This has nothing to do with the Amstel Race but it deserves a mention. After watching my white cork handlebar tape turn dirtier I saw this simple solution off the internet. I can't remember where I saw this but huge thanks to whoever posted it. I bought Vim w/bleach and scrubbed away rinsing it with a damp cloth. It looks brand new again!

A simple toast to Vim!

Apr 18, 2010

High Hopes for Hesjedal!

Ryder Hesjedal making Canada proud!

Ryder Hesjedal proved that he's a big leaguer. As a protected rider for Garmin, he looks a contender for Fleche Wallonne (Wednesday) & Leige-Bastogn-Liege (Sunday). With his superb second place at the Amstel Gold Race he was two seconds from hitting a home run. Philippe Gilbert was too much and powered his way to an important victory for his Omega Lotto team. Eight months since the team's last victory was finally fruitful.

My afternoon's ride...
sporting the red maple leaf(s)!

The  Cauberg was the last hill and predictions were right as it was the decisive moment for the riders' to put in an attack. Gilbert's timely move was devastating rocketing his way toward the line. And in form Hesjedal chased beating Enrico Gasparotto to the line. When I saw that move by Hesjedal I was cheering him on ...just like another Canadian.

At the 1989 Amstel Gold Race, Steve Bauer was in a chasing group behind leader Eric Van Lancker. With 17kms left Claude Criquielion attacked and Bauer & Nico Verhoeven followed never having enough time to catch the winner Van Lancker. Nineteen seconds after Van Lancker crossed the finish line a classic duel between Bauer & Criquielion erupted. Bauer stomped on his pedals as his nose was nearly hitting his front tyre powerfully sprinting beside the Belgium. Criquielion took second just barely from Bauer. The Canadian was the first to podium at Amstel and now Ryder Hesjedal becomes the second Canadian to podium in the Dutch race.

Next year, I'm sure Ryder Hesjedal will hit that home run!

Well done, Ryder!

2010 Amstel Gold Race

1st. Philippe Gilbert
2nd.  Ryder Hesjedal
3rd. Enrico Gasparotto

Apr 17, 2010


...It's a sort of achievement!

Just back from a grueling .280km ride! I planned on meeting Guy at the usual spot and it rained and still raining, I mean pouring! We cancel the ride and this maybe my shortest ride ...ever. Time out for a second cup of coffee!

Apr 16, 2010

What's in the fridge: Going Postal!

Riding the Postal Bus with a Brooklyn Lager!
American lager with a nice bite.
Image by the author.

Last week I finished Michael Barry's, "Inside the Postal Bus." And I thought it was very informative book bringing the reader in & behind the scenes on the bus of the 2004 U.S. Postal Cycling Team's final season. I definitely was intrigued how Barry fit in with the high profile team. He worked for Armstrong and seemed even back then to be a loyal domestique.

Sure, Lance and company is all there from George Hincapie and what I found strange the now depose fallen star, Floyd Landis. Showing a less dramatic side relaxing kicking back from racing classics, Tours and just plain racing mayhem. Barry let's us in just enough to show that it's an all boys club but an exclusive one in the bus except when Sheryl Crow comes a knockin' singing her songs to entertain the troops. She even goes out for training rides with them. I'm sure a photo op is here, but were not privy to that. But, Hollywood stars know a good PR event with entertainment from Arnold Schwarzenegger & Robin Williams visiting Lance and the boys.

Interestingly there's plenty of detailed cycling capturing the Spring classics thru the torrid heat of Spain. It's a long season. And, it seems that the expresso machine works just as hard  as the unfaltering hero to the riders. That's where the book goes well too. The back areas are not visited by the public. He shows the staff with as much diversity as the riders being the silent stars to a cycling team. Providing the needed support before, during and after a race. Without these valued domestiques, like Barry, a team wouldn't survive.

I'm already looking forward to his next book, appropriately called,  Le Metier!

Apr 15, 2010

Dog almost bites ...me!

It was a good spot to stop but just for a moment.
The quadruped was behind me!
Image by the author.

Just when you thought it looked like a tranquil setting. This is a rather nice bicycle sculpture at Queen Elizabeth Park today in Vancouver...

After I snapped this a F@*_^#ing! large dog tried to take a bite out of me. Of course, being a little on the dazed & confused side I did hear a grrrrrr and then the lunge at my hand. Luckily, this monster (a huge Doberman) was held at bay by a leash & his owner. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs and look forward to having one but it was too close for comfort.

I looked at my still attached hand, grinned and got back on my bike and enjoyed a most pleasant ride!


Today's the 50th birthday of the great Spanish rider, Pedro Delgado. I remember him riding his first Tour in 1983, where he revealed his climbing abilities in the Pyrenees. At the time trial up the Puy-de-Dome, Reynolds leader Angel Arroyo and Delgado shook the race by placing lst and 2nd respectively. I  recall seeing him on television taking amazing chances darting down a col in an aero tuck defying danger. I called him one of my early cycling heroes. When I traveled to Cicli Pinarello in Treviso I happily purchased a Reynolds team jersey. Whenever I'm riding  downhill I think of Perico defying danger!

Apr 14, 2010

Juan Mauricio Soler: A Grimpeur Returns!

Improvements to 2010 Caisse d'Epargne...
(l to r): Marzio Bruseghin, Juan Mauricio Soler, Ruben Plaza, Christophe Moreau, Jose Joaquin Rojas.

I almost forgot that talented climber, Juan Mauricio Soler is riding today's Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage race. This is his first season for Caisse d'Epargne and hopefully a fruitful one. 

Soler burst onto the cycling scene back in the 2007 Tour de France. Where he showed his skills with amazing attacks in the mountains winning stage 9 along with the polka dot jersey. His talent reminded me of his fellow countryman, Lucho Herrera. Importantly, Herrera was the first Columbian rider to win the coveted mountains classification in the 1985 Tour and again in 1987. But fans lust for another dominating pure climber. Soler seems to fit the bill. 

Every since his 2007 breakthrough year, he's had bad luck with injuries and subsequently disappeared from the cycling radar. He abandoned the 2008 Giro after stage 11 due to respiratory problems. He broke his wrist on stage 1 and had to quit the 2008 Tour. And this past January, in Ramiriqui Colombia, the grimpeur escaped a near serious road accident. He was hit head-on by a car while training and took time to recover.  

Now, he's back with a new team and I hope his problems are finally behind him. I definitely believe he can capture past glory once again!

The Devil & Soler, 2007 Tour...
I'm cheering with Didi Seft that Soler can win the polka dots again!

Apr 13, 2010

Servais Knaven: A Record in Hell!

Knaven in 2001.

Classic specialist, Servais Knaven lined up at this year's Paris-Roubaix a record sixteenth time. Tying Belgium cobblestone-man Raymond Impanis. Dutchman Knaven, at 39, turned an incredible seventeen year's as a pro. What better way than to do service in the Queen of the Classics.

Knaven could be proud of his pavé adventure when back in 2001, riding for Domo-Farm Frites, found himself in battle with George Hincapie. Working together with teammates, Johan Museeuw and Wilfried Peeters was a study in numerical advantage. The lone Discovery rider, Hincapie had no chance against the three Domo's. The attacking Knaven was too much for Hincapie as the muddied Dutchman was first to cross the finish line.

Everyone marveled at how Cancellara powered his way to win this year's race. For Servais Knaven, who finished an honorable 43rd, set an equally impressive feat in his final Hell...16 starts with 16 finishes!

Onward to classic victory!

Apr 12, 2010

Fabian Cancellara: Clocking the Competition!

Time is with Fabian Cancellara. With 50 kms to go he showed how classy a classic rider he's become. Like a Swiss watch he efficiently timed his move motoring away from favorite Tom Boonen. His point was made, time trialing to Roubaix's Velodrome leading more than two minutes in the last 20 kilometres. The rest could only follow. He showed a tenacity like his consummate Flanders victory. And now only two shy in achieving five Monument wins,  the Swiss Bear could join a prestigious group. The three King's are Belgium; Rik Van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck, & Eddy Merkcx.

It's Swiss time...

Sean kelly had a go at it and almost made this group but lacked a victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen.  He came very close  finishing second in the Ronde (1984, '86, '87). But Kelly was nonetheless a King of the Classics. Most would agree with Kelly when he says that Cancellara will win Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Lombardia soon enough.

For the 29 year old Cancellara... it's only a matter of time!

1986 Hell of the North...
Kelly going to win his second Roubaix!

Apr 10, 2010

Ballerini & Bauer.

Old school...
Franco Ballerini & Steve Bauer, 2002 Hamilton.
That's a videocamera taped on the handlebars.

One more day before the pavé classic and thinking of two former heroes of Paris-Roubaix. This image is from 2002 in Hamilton a year before the World's Road Race Championship.  Franco Ballerini was the Italian director and out on his Colnago videotaping the course. Steve Bauer had a company that was the official tour operator of Hamilton's 2003 World's. A nice portrait of two tough riders that knew and loved the great race. Ballerini won twice (1995 & 1998). Bauer came ever so close to beating Eddy Planckert in a photo finish in 1990!

Tomorrow's race will include the Pavé Franco Ballerini to honor the highest place Italian rider. Now that Ballan is out could it be time for Manuel Quinziato to shine on the cobbles?

Quinziato could follow in the footsteps
of Ballerini!

Apr 9, 2010

Paris-Roubaix …Hell’s in the forecast.

Monsieur Paris-Roubaix...
his first victory in 1972.

This Sunday is my favorite race, the ‘Hell of the North’.  The forecast is for dry weather. I’m hoping it will be the opposite. Certain riders excel when the weather is perfectly dreadful. But then again, it could be dust bowl like conditions, choking and blinding the riders’ all the way to Roubaix. I think the ugliest it gets the better the race. Whatever the weather conditions, there will be plenty of drama.

The God of Thunder is back for revenge.

There are 27 painful sectors of cobblestones awaiting the riders. One of the toughest and feared is the scary sounding Trench of Arenberg.  The famous Arenberg Forest is opened only once a year, and only for this fable classic race. The cobblestones are old dating back to the days of Napoleon. Historical it is. The Trouée d’Arenberg as it is also called arrives after 163.5 kms and is one of the longest stretches of killer cobbles at over 2 kilometres. It’s narrowest sections will force riders to jockey in single file for positioning. Often resulting in many spills. Whoever comes out of here and finding the vital break will challenge for victory at the Velodrome.

But before the finish, at 239 kms is the very tough pave of Camphin-en-Pévèle. Followed by Carrefour de l’Arbre. Both high on the pavé richter scale of hardness due to the tight corners. Tom Boonen was at the front at the Carrefour when his rival’s  Thor Hushovd & Juan Antonio Flecha fell on these dangerous corners consequently losing any chance for victory.  The Torpedo shot away and to his third win. Which begs the question; can favorite Tom Boonen do it again and tie the great Roger DeVlaeminck for 4 victories?

He can’t afford not to!

Daniel Willems taking a bath in 1981.
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