Aug 31, 2010

Adieu Laurent Fignon

Last month at the Tour...
Laurent Fignon with Sean Kelly.

Laurent Fignon succumbed to cancer at the age of 50. A sombre reflection as I awoke this morning I looked outside and saw the rain falling. He was one of those riders of my generation that I followed with a certain respect & awe.

In the 1983 Tour, in his second season, he took over the yellow jersey on Alpe d'Huez. Fellow Frenchman, Pascal Simon dismounted & abandoned due to a dislocated shoulder and lost his yellow jersey to a waiting Fignon. The Professor climbed well but never won a mountains stage but was always in the front. But, on the final TT in Dijon he showed his class as Fignon won in style. He became the youngest post war Tour winner, at 22. A strong second in the 1984 Giro was a lead up to the bigger prize. He fired off five Tour stage wins and fought off Bernard Hinault for his second Tour victory.

But, his 1989 season was  pivotal. Winning the 1989 Giro he looked a favorite for the Tour only to lose it by the infamous 8 seconds from Greg LeMond. He went on to win the Tour of the Netherlands & was the world's top-ranked cyclist in 1989. He won 76 victories in his career. Skillful as a cyclist he retired in 1993 with a final victory in the Ruta Mexico.

I heard in 2006, he opened a hotel complex in the Pyrenees, Laurent Fignon Centre, offering guided tours up the Col du Tourmalet. And recently, while receiving cancer treatment he was a special commentator for France Television.

A sad day, the great man will be missed!

Eighties Renault-Elf Gitane hero.

Aug 30, 2010

New Threat

Hutarovich is the new train in da house!

Yauheni Hutarovich, who rides for FDJ came out of nowhere to beat the world's number 1 sprinter, Boy Cavendish in stage 2.

Surprise yes, and not so. Already a stage winner in the Tour of Poland he's made his mark . He prevented the Manx Missile from a first individual Vuelta stage win to equal Robert Millar's three stage wins in all Grand Tours. Of course, it's only a matter of time as there is more sprint stages ahead.

Marc Madiot's refreshing FDJ squad decided not to have the big Belarusian in this years Tour. Only 26 years old. A perfect confidence booster resulting in his first ProTour win. And for the third year pro his wish for Vuelta stage victory is answered in a huge way. As FDJ manager Marc Madiot says, "He's improving constantly. With this win, he enters the circle of the great sprinters."

Unfortunately, for Cavendish & the other sprinters there's now a new threat!

Aug 29, 2010

One, Two in Windham

Soloing to a damn good result...
Catherine Pendrel

Mountain bike racing is thrilling to watch as riders tackle challenging terrain most often bordering superhuman. I don't do it because it's way too technical for me but I admire the riders forte.

Canadian Gold!

Yesterday in Windham, N.Y., Canadian Catherine Pendrel won the difficult World Cup course and became the World Cup Champion. Double exciting. She capture the final World Cup race of the season and looks towards this week's World's Championships in Mont-Saint Anne, Quebec. It was an excellent race for the 2008 World Cup Champ, Marie-Helene Premont finishing a close second just four seconds behind.

Pendrel is originally from Harvey Station, New Brunswick and came into the race leading the World Cup standings and needed to finish in second or better to win the title. Premont led the race early on the first lap then Pendrel took over as both Canadians took control over the rest of the field. On the last descent Pendrel pulled away to win.

A nice one, two for the Canadian's as they are both heavy favorites for the World's in Mont-Saint Anne!

Flyin' ...
Marie-Helene Premont.

Aug 28, 2010

Art Inspired

 Burnaby Mountain.

This morning (8:30 AM) was one of those mornings that felt right. I left for a solo ride to Burnaby Mountain home of Simon Fraser University. I thought I'd tackle it as the weather looked promising. Better than yesterday's 'swim' from the University of BC.

On my way up Burnaby Mtn. Parkway I met an older rider on a carbon Colnago going at steady slow tempo. His name is Art, originally from England, 73 yrs old and looking very fit. I said I just turned 50. Art replied, "I could be your father." I smiled. In fact, he's training for September's Whistler GranFondo the 120 km course starting from downtown Vancouver all the way up to Whistler.

It's always nice to ride & chat as I discovered with Art. We both climbed steadily, why kill ourselves? We talked about his bike and mine. His carbon Colnago is used from Russia equipped with Dura Ace. The Sun was shining and the temperature was a cool & a perfect 11C. He mentioned his first love for riding at an early age discovering freedom on two wheels. I, too, started young and found the bicycle the perfect vehicle for total freedom. Just ride & go anywhere. I feel that whenever I ride. What a joy. Interestingly, he rode a few of the major mountains in France; Ventoux, Alpe d'Huez, & Tourmalet. I'm impressed.

We passed the SFU athletic field to see the women's soccer team practice. 'Football', says Art. He's a big fan of the sport. We crest the top and say no to coffee and we head back down the mountain. And, we have another thing in common. We talk about Fritz, probably the west coast's prolific bicycle collector. I've wrote about the man and his tantalizing collection here. Our fun ride together is over as Art turns off in the direction towards his next climb, Mt. Seymour. I wish him a good ride.

So, I leave him feeling elated and inspired by his youthful energy on the bike. What an interesting man. Thanks Art for the ride!

Aug 27, 2010

Hung out in the rain, bike messenger style.

It's Summer ... right?

This morning was designated an easy ride after missing two days. Just to de-stress. The weather was cooperating or better maintaining; cloudy and threatening to rain.

So I set out with full kit on, including gilet, arm & leg warmers. The ride was so nice in the cool air and as I started my return for home ....the heavens let go. I got caught and never have I rode in so much rain, I guess, since my days as a Vancouver bicycle courier. Vancouver winters are always dreary and constantly wet. Some of us started wearing neoprene booties (the ones found in surf stores), then rubber boots. Thoughts of cramped overheated feet for nine hours make me wince.

One fun aspect being a bike courier was the fringe benefits especially after a hard fought soggy work week spending quality time at the local bar/courier hangout called the Jolly Taxpayer. Love that name. It's hard not to think back of that time as I felt the water spraying through my Sidi shoes and changing my feet into webbed ones. With each pedal stroke my bum was soaked and my feet ...squishy wet. I'm thinking so that's what those tough riders feel like in Paris-Roubaix.

I finally swim or ride home and I'm drenched. Ringing my socks of all that water was quite the site. Carolle was amazed. Meanwhile it's still coming down in buckets and I take a bath. I just finished reconditioning my buffalo leather saddle with mink oil. You never know on the wet coast... tomorrow could be the same!

Aug 26, 2010

Shark Attack!

Vicenzo 'the shark' Nibali.

The Vuelta, in it's illustrious history, handed out victory to only four Italians. Felice Gimondi (1968), Giovanni Battaglin (1981), Marco Giovannetti (1990). In 1956, Bianchi rider Angelo Conterno was the first Italian to win it.

1956 Vuelta...
Angelo Conterno was the first Italian to win.

Can an Italian win this year? Vincenzo Nibali (nicknamed the Shark) looks capable, in fact just look at his credentials. The 25 year old Sicilian is a favorite. His third place finish in the Giro with the strong stage win on the Monte Grappa, and overall in the Tour of Slovenia this year. And he just won the one-day race, Trofeo Melinda earning him a spot on the Italian national team for the upcoming World Road Race Championships in Australia.

But, the Vuelta is on his radar and he plans to win it. He'll be the co-captain with Roman Kreuziger for the Liquigas team. In fact, Kreuziger switches to Astana at the end of the season while Nibali stays on with Liquigas. The young shark may well receive the permanent captaincy role with the Italian squadra. 

Beware this Shark!

Aug 24, 2010

Paint it Red!

Designer, Custo Daimau shows off his cheetah
print red leader's jersey.

This Saturday evening at 9:00 PM local time, La Vuelta starts with the 16km TTT in Seville. That will be exciting, a first ever nighttime stage. And the leader will celebrate wearing a red jersey to symbolize the 75th anniversary of this Grand Tour. No more gold jersey.

This year, Spain was dominating winning the Tour de France, the French Open, Wimbledon & the World Cup.

Can Spain paint it red ... again?

Aug 23, 2010

Re-tyre levers

Changed my tyre with my old school metal levers was, shall I say, less than helpful. 

My oldie levers are ... old, I'm thinking 25 years. Metal is not the tool to go jabbing around where the tyre meets the rim. I ended up with scratches on the rim. Not good. And I also discovered that the round edge has turned into a sharpen edge. I easily punctured the tube. Double not good. Well, away they go & I brought out my plastic tyre lever stick. No more hurtin' the rim or assaulting the tube. 

It's now my newbie lever! 

Aug 22, 2010

Aiming High: My Metric Century

Yesterday's ride with Guy was a first. I finished my first metric century. It was more than exhilarating...

Hitting the 100 kilometer (62 miles) mark was a high point not to mention the two daunting mountains; Seymour & Cypress. It all started innocently enough, I was happy that the weather wasn't too warm as we proceeded over the Second Narrows bridge and up the steep Mt. Seymour (1509m, 4950ft). Actually, I felt pretty confident maintaining my granny gear (42X24). Ever upwards we had a chat with a older fellow decked out in the Shack team kit & riding a Colnago. He mentioned to us that he was training for the upcoming Whistler GranFondo & asked us if we were doing it. Both of us have opted out and plan on entering next years race. We passed him and another rider came up to us fully decked in team kit with warmers. He talked about having too many beers the night before & he was out on a training ride. He darted away and it was mesmerizing seeing him disappear. In fact, I felt discouraged. But the weather held nicely cool & sunny with a grand view all the way up to the summit. I believe we killed our old time and did it under 60 minutes.

We had our customary expresso at the foot of Seymour & we stopped over at a bike store where Guy bought me a sports gel. Honestly, I never had one before and I was intrigue by it. I think it was strawberry/banana. Another expresso to make sure and we were off climbing towards Mt. Cypress. By now, I was feeling my ever tightening legs and decided to stop for the gel. I don't know how the pro's can do it. I didn't find it appetizing. This is when I mentioned a burger & fries would hit the spot.

Maybe the gel kicked in as I found my legs and started to climb the not so steep Mt. Cypress (1326m, 4350ft). But, then I cracked and 8kms up we stopped at the first viewpoint. The view was breathtaking and I was just happy to get off my bike and sit still. There must be only 3-4kms left to the summit but I couldn't go further. I came up with a great idea ...of a milkshake. So, we descended into North Vancouver and extremely pleased to find a Dairy Queen for that all important milkshake and good fuel source for the ride back home. Good thing it was getting hot and I was telling my legs to 'shut up'. We're already planning on an exclusive ride to the very top of Cypress, very soon.

I'm calling it a bit of luck. After I reached home and parked my bike the rear tyre flatted. I looked over at my cycling computer for the all important data: 101.50 kms in 4hr 47minutes then glanced over at my flat & smiled... Good timing!

Aug 21, 2010

Jannus Kuum

Jannus Kuum (left) & Steve Tilford
at the Coors Classic.

One of those riders that had an distinguished career as a domestique was Jannus Kuum. He rode for nine seasons (1986-94). Notably as teammate to Bernard Hinault & Greg LeMond for 1986-87  La Vie Clair. Born in Estonia and his nationality was Norwegian. He finished third overall in the Young rider classification in the 1988 Tour. And he died suddenly at only 33 years old in 1998. A life cut short.

Aug 19, 2010

A Canadian in Holland

Tuft hold onto the leaders jersey.

Svein Tuft has held the leaders jersey in this years Eneco Tour for the last three stages. He's the only Canadian rider left since Michael Barry suffered a fracture rib and didn't start stage 2.

A scant three seconds is all that is separating the Canadian from the up and coming & last years winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen. It's precarious for the TT specialist but I applaud him and his Garmin mates for keeping the coveted white jersey.

Tomorrows stage 3 goes cobbles around Ronse, Belgium. That means the riders' will dance on the pave of the Tour of Flanders. That's 16 short, hurtful climbs. It will be exciting as I will follow the stage with support for Tuft & Company. There's the possibility that Tuft will lose his favorite white jersey but then I'm hoping for a Canadian 'take down' in Holland!

Bad luck for Michael Barry...
A fracture rib during the first stage means he's out of the Eneco Tour.

Aug 18, 2010

Captain Canuck

Captain Canuck 1975

We have seen the emerging talent of Ryder Hesjedal's seventh place in this years Tour de France as ...epic. I considered his performance a victory in my books. A Canadian was finally in position to crack the top ten. Only Canada's Steve Bauer held that prominent foothold twice: 1985=10th & 1988=4th. And we Canadians haven't had much face time in the Tour, until now. Hesjedal's teammates and training partners started to called him, 'Weight of the Nation.' (Last seen on Stage 6's Podcast.)  In which we supported and wanted desperately for him to finish in the top ten. We couldn't be more pleased.

Blazes that's...
Captain Canuck 2010.

Another Canuck is doing his part in reshaping Canadian cycling in Europe. Langley BC's Svein Tuft beat out a powerful field to win the 5.2km opening prologue TT of the eight-day Eneco Tour in Steenwijk, The Netherlands.

As a supporter, I'm throwing in a new nickname for him, 'Captain Canuck.' Back in 1975, the comic book superhero 'Captain Canuck' first appeared. I had the first issue. It was pretty stellar to see it. He was a costumed secret agent fighting crime with the maple leaf on emblazoned on his forehead.

Why not? It's a good time for Canadian cycling with budding success. Tuft, made his way on a wet and windy day in six minutes, 18 seconds. He finished 5 seconds in front of Jos Van Emden and wears the leader's jersey.

Looking as powerful as Captain Canuck, Tuft has won his first Protour stage. Finding his form since winning his third consecutive Canadian time trial championship in Edmonton in June, Gastown Grand Prix on July 1st (Canada Day) and the Tour de White Rock's criterium & road race in mid July. He won stage 5's TT in the Tour of Denmark then finishing second overall.

And success breeds success. Tuft is schedule to ride the Canadian ProTour races in Quebec City (Sept. 10th) & Montreal (Sept. 12th). Then he'll tackle the world championships in Australia and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Captain Canuck can do no wrong!

In the very fine leader's jersey!

Aug 17, 2010

La nouveau jersey.

My bella jersey!

My new jersey is from the Gran Fondo Citta' Di Vicenza. No, I wasn't in this one but a nice gift from Guy.
It's perfect and fits comfortably, a little shorter than what I'm used to but do like it!

Just put it through the paces on my morning ride. The jersey is light enough for the heat that we're experiencing in Vancouver. And, it matches my red Giro helmet, too.

Cheers Guy!

Aug 15, 2010

Stage 6: Bikes, Books, & Beers Podcast Spanish Edition

Proudly wearing the Weight of the Nation!

Here's our seventh podcast...

The upcoming Vuelta is the third Grand Tour of the season and we celebrate it with the Spanish Edition. Guy & I cover the night Team Time Trial, the mountain stages, & the Red Jersey. I show off the Weight of the Nation t-shirt & Galstudio's Grupetto Cycling Cap. Guy shows his very cool Brioches La Boulangere cycling cap. And we tackle cycling's Iron men. Guy presents his book review on Viva la Vuelta: The Story of Spain's Great Bike Race. And, of course, after our 12 hour ride... in the 28C heat, we get into a nasty habit!


Far better on Cipo!

Yesterday morning while I was riding, I saw this middle age guy with a moustache with the Aqua Sapone full kit waiting for the light. I couldn't help but stare that he had the crazy looking zebra shorts, too. I parked beside him and really couldn't believe it. I said, "Nice kit!" He muttered, "I took it out from my closet." I couldn't help but laugh.

It looked far better on Cipo!

Aug 14, 2010

1973: Ocana vs Merckx

The two giants at the 1973 Vuelta.

Eddy Merckx lined up at his first attempt of the Vuelta on April 26, 1973.

He dominated winning seven stages, the points, combination & the overall. The Cannibal was second in the climbers classification behind Jose Luis Abilleira. The only two that gave the Belgian some resistance was the great Luis Ocana & Bernard Thevenet, 2nd & 3rd overall respectively.

Merckx's first and only time in the Vuelta ended in victory.

Merckx would move onto the Giro and win it completing the first Vuelta-Giro double but decided not to compete in the Tour. Unfortunately for Ocana & cycling fans, his nemesis was not interested in trying to equal Jacques Anquetil's record of winning the Tour five times. Up against angry French fans perhaps changed his mind. In hindsight, it most likely would have been an epic battle. For Luis Ocana in fit and fighting form took over and proceeded to thump the competition by winning six stages & an overwhelming victory!

The 1973 Tour belonged 
to Luis Ocana.

Aug 12, 2010

Speed De-mon

Kubler on the descent....
Col de Vars, Tour 1949.
From: Le Col de Mythiques

I wish I could be many things, cycling that is: a good climber, sprinter and descender. It's an enjoyable rush after having to heave yourself up a mountain then be rewarded with downhill joy. That's what I love especially after climbing Mount Seymour (1400m, 12.2km) of vertical madness. I believe it took around 5-10 minutes to reach the bottom. Actually, I couldn't tell you the exact time as my eyes were tearing all the way down.

Two of my favorite descenders are Ferdi Kubler & Sean Yates. Both knew the word speed.

Kubler nicknamed "the cowboy" for his love for Stetson hats had an aggressive style of riding. In the 1949 Tour in the Cannes-Briancon mountains stage 16 he gave Coppi & Bartali a scare by attacking on top of the Col de Vars 4 minutes in front of favorites Bartali and Coppi. Kubler raced down the other side like a demon looking like the potential new yellow jersey. But, one more mountain to climb was the Izoard and Kubler had two punctures. Thus the famous image of him waving his pump in frustration. He finished 15 minutes behind the winner Bartali.

Sean Yates was another speedster due to the fact that he couldn't climb. So he punched it on the descent letting his big body and gravity do the work. When he rode for 7-11 he was clocked at about 112 kph down the Col du Tourmalet. At the 1990 Dauphine Libere going upwards to L'Alpe du Huez, Yates found he was losing five minutes but on the descent down to Grenoble he closed that five minute gap back to the leaders on a 15km descent. It was pouring rain and he was doing 100 km. He said, "I went by Sean Kelly so fast like they were standing still. That night he actually went to my bike to see if I had something special on it."

One of the top descenders...
Sean Yates aka the animal.

Aug 10, 2010

Ferretti Blue Love

1971: a good Italian year for Gosta Pettersson!

Love is this beautiful Ferretti blue from the Italian team's 1970 De Rosa replica team bike. This is the color I'll try to match for my upcoming Marinoni restoration.

An amazing specimen of a simpler racing bicycle with a setup now refer to as... retro: Columbus steel frame, Campagnolo Nuovo Record gruppo, 3ttt bar/stem, Maillard Dural 6-speed freewheel, Regina Record Chain, Unicanitor saddle, & Mavic Monthlery Route tubular rims.

Ferretti ('69-'73) was a Italian kitchen equipment manufacturer just like it's famous brother's Salvarani and SCIC that also fielded successful cycling teams in the 60s & 70s. The stars of the team were the Swedish famous four for winning three successive team time trial world championship titles; the Pettersson brothers. Erik, Gosta, Sture and Tomas were signed in 1970. Gosta stepped into his familiar dominating style by shocking the experienced pros by winning the final time trial in the Tour de Romandie, moving him from fourth to first. In the Giro, he finished in sixth, nine minutes behind the winner Eddy Merckx. Then came the Tour, and he carried his strong form to finish in third overall behind Zoetemelk and the winner Merckx.

In 1971 he was second in Paris-Nice behind Merckx. And, next was the main target for the team, the Giro  now looking favorable because Merckx wasn't riding. The high mountains was challenging enough as Pettersson found out. His team was inexperienced and he was mostly left alone in the high mountains. He won the leaders jersey from stage 18 onwards to the finish in the Vigorello velodrome in Milan on June 10th 1971. Gosta Pettersson became a professional at the late age of 29 years old but became Sweden's first and only Grand Tour victor!

I'm in love...
1970 De Rosa Ferretti

Showing the blue...
Thomas Pettersson.

Aug 9, 2010

Seeing Roja

The 65th edition of the Vuelta de Espana is set to start with a unique evening team time trial in Seville this August 28th at 9 PM local time. It will be exciting and challenging for the later teams riding in relative darkness. Will the street lights be enough to provide enough illumination?

Organizers say that there will be five very technical kilometres (3.1 miles) under the cover of darkness maybe too challenging for Alberto Contador. He says of the night stage, "Could be dangerous. I hope there are no problems."

With that in mind, the new leader's jersey will change from gold to red. Innovative organizers wanted roja or red symbolizing the traditional color of the sporting national teams in Spain.

There will be six mountaintop finishes, certainly a very tough three weeks ahead. Surely tailored for Spanish climber's to win? That's what organizers are wishing!

Aug 8, 2010

Tuft's Excellent Adventure!

Tour of Denmark: final podium...
1st: Jakob Fuglsang, 2nd: Svein Tuft, 3rd: Matt Busche

Yesterday, Canadian time trail champ  Svein Tuft won his first European race. Stage 5 ITT in the Tour of Denmark, proved to be the perfect short course (19.4km) for personal success. The Garmin Transitions rider powered through the course in 23min 20sec.

It wasn't cut n' dry. Aussie Richie Porte was off only 37 hundredths of a second. I'm not certain but this maybe the closest in time trailing history. Dane Jakob Fuslang finished third, 4 secs back thus taking over the leader's jersey.

'Tough' as his name describes his time trialing ability and his monster like way of dominating a short course moved the Canadian to second overall.

Today's stage 6 was the finale won by Kiwi Hayden Roulston. Jakob Fuslang won his third consecutive Tour of Denmark while Svein Tuft scored a fine second only 27 seconds behind!

Kicking it like a red n' white locomotive...
 Svein Tuft powering his way to winning
the ITT and his first European victory!

Aug 7, 2010

Breaking 50

Taking the bull by the horns!

The Cannibal was itching to have the famous hour record amongst his lengthy palmares. And, on October 25, 1972 in the rarify air of Mexico City, Merckx set a record of 49.431km (30.715 mi) which stood for a long 12 years.

In January 1984, Francesco Moser ventured to Mexico City in the hope to better Eddy Merckx's hour record. Moser brought with him a carefully planned training & medical preparation. His 'funny bike' as it was called, was designed in the wind tunnel. The radical looking rear triangle without a seat post was a design change light years from Merckx's 'conventional' bike. Known for drilling major components, Merckx's bike was no different. Holes were drilled in each part of the bike, light tires and a special titanium stem used.

Coached by Dr Francesco Conconi, the 32 year old Moser was ready. Conconi was well known for introducing EPO and he admitted that Moser used blood transfusion for the record attempt. Not illegal at the time. In January 1984, along with disc wheels and a bull horned bar, Moser rode his bike to two consecutive records in four days. He conquered Merckx's existing 12 year old record by 1377 meters to 50.808 km/h, then destroyed his own on January 23rd by another 343 meters to 51.151 km/h. Moser added more than a kilometer to Merckx's record, smashing the 50km barrier for the first time. And, his new revolutionary designed bike would pave the way for new technology in cycling.

Record breaking bikes...

1984 funny...

1972 drilled.

Aug 6, 2010

Ohhhhhh Hesjedal!

The other day, Guy surprised me with a birthday gift... The Weight of the Nation tee from Garmin! It's very cool all about supporting our Canadian in action Ryder Hesjedal. I'll be proud to wear it. His seventh place in the Tour is quite the feat and he may pull off yet another amazing ride. He missed out on the podium at the Clasica San Sebastian but finished well in sixth.

And, I'm glad that Shelly decided on the black, it's a beauty. Big thanks to both!

Aug 4, 2010

The 1978 Tour: Heroes & Anti-Heroes.

Heroic escape by the Jailer...
Christian Seznec goes solo for 200kms...

Twenty-three year old Bernard Hinault had his mojo going. He was already a classics star winning the 1977 Liege-Bastogne-Liege & Ghent Wevelgem. He proved to be a top time triallist by winning the Grand Prix des Nations. The Criterium du Dauphine Libere was a mountainous one where he crashed on a descent and climbed out from the roadside back on his bike for the victory. Tough as nails. Two months before the 1978 Tour he conquered and won the Vuelta a Espana, excellent prep for Le Tour. Then, just before the Tour he duly won the National Championships and with it the tricolour jersey. The Badger could smell a possible Tour win, so could his ever growing fans.

... to cheerful victory in Morzine!

The TT to Sainte-Foy-la-Grande was won by Hinault. And with this catapulted him to fourth place overall as serious contender. Belgium Joseph Bruyere was second and stepped into the coveted role as the yellow jersey. He looked every bit worthy of his new role as race leader, far from his usual role as one of Merckx's trusted lieutenants. Bruyere was a fine classics rider, could he possibly shoulder the golden fleece to glory? He did, wearing the yellow jersey for the next eight stages.

Meanwhile, Hinault took over the race masterly. On the mountainous stage in the Pyrenees to Saint-Lary-Soulan he led the field up the climb losing just five seconds to grimpeur Mariano Martinez. The Badger barred his teeth and he proved that he could climb with the best specialists. Hinault moved to second overall behind Bruyere. On the Tourmalet, double Tour winner, Bernard Thevenet called it a day and retire. The year before, Thevenet tested positive during Paris-Nice and later admitted taking steroids. Sadly, he faded away and never was a force in the Tour.

Frustration of early starts, numerous transfers and lack of respect by the Tour organizers, the riders dismounted before the finish to Valence-d'Agen. Hinault was clearly in charge, leading the peloton as they walked across the finish line in protest. They were booed by the crowds and Hinault was affected when the town's chief councillor said, "You do not deserve to wear the jersey of champion of France." It only made him stronger.

The race turned into farcical disbelief when Michel Pollentier won the yellow jersey at Alpe-d'Huez. At the post stage dope control, he was caught with a plastic bulb under his arm trying to pass someone else's urine. He was immediately thrown out of the Tour. Joop Zoetemelk inherited the yellow jersey.

One of my favorite riders of that Tour was Christian Seznec nicknamed as, "The Jailer," for his morose like appearance in the peloton. On the long stage to Morzine he escaped alone on the Col de Joux Plane to win, 200kms alone and almost 10 minutes in front of second place finisher Paul Wellens.  

On the final TT stage, Hinault beat Zoetemelk by an overwhelming & backbreaking 4 minutes 10 secs taking over as race leader and triumphing in his first Tour. Patron like, Hinault would rule over the wary peloton winning him five Tours!

Joseph Bruyere leading (l to r): Pollentier, Galdos, Kuiper & Hinault 
with the golden fleece for eight stages.
From: The Fabulous World of Cycling.

Aug 1, 2010

Canucks set to roll in.

Michael Barry's on board.

New Delhi will be the city hosting the Commonwealth Games this October. The Canadian road race team is ready and will be there with an experience group of riders.

Two veterans leading the men's team are Michael Barry & Svein Tuft. Barry rode a solid &  first Tour de France (99th overall) & ninth at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. At the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games road race he finished in ninth. Tuft brings high credentials; the 2008 Pan American champion, silver medalist ITT, 2008 Road World Championships, seventh at the Beijing Olympics TT, sixth consecutive Canadian TT title, 20th at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games road race and recent winner of the Tour of White Rock. Both are highly capable for the overall and if it's not their day there's three younger guys very eager.

Tour de France hero, Ryder Hesjedal declined the invitation citing further commitments with Garmin and wanting to focus on the last Pro Tour events of the season.

Joining Barry and Tuft will be Ryan Roth, Will Routley (recent Canadian road race champion), & Zach Bell. Bell is one to watch as he won this year's Tour of Delta road race. He's also riding track with Travis Smith (silver in the 2008 Kierin & bronze in the sprint 2006 Commonwealth Games).

A solid team ready to turn the red & white to gold in India!

Tuft's on!
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