New Kit In Town

Preparations. Teams are on training camp right now or are competing in pre-season races. They are preparing themselves for the upcoming season; to test the legs and find out if they have to train more or to take some rest. Then again, the fans have to prepare themselves too. Every year there are quite some changes. For a start, let us focus on the kits of the WorldTour teams. Mainly the colours. Why do some teams have to make changes in the colours of the kit every single year? Every year it’s the same: you’re ready for a new season and ‘boom!’, there is that helicopter view and  you are in complete confusion. So many different colours! New colours, old colours, the same colours… Grrrr!


See what I mean… who is who?

In order to know who is who, I present you with the team kits of 2016. It is important to start the season with information about the teams and their kits. It will make it easier to watch the race, because you are already in possession of what I like to call ‘colour information’. It is very important in order to follow a race. Eight of the eighteen teams have not (or almost not) changed their outfits. Lucky for us. Although some of you might think that it is boring, to me it is perfect. It also means that there is no new sponsor, so no need to change the kit. Below you can see the kits of those teams. Don’t they look familiar to you?


Astana Pro Team, Orica GreenEDGE, Movistar Team, Lotto-Soudal, FDJ,
Team Giant-Alpecin, Lampre-Merida and the BMC Racing Team.

Other teams decided to make some small changes. Sometimes these decisions have to be made because of a new sponsor. Other teams did not get a new sponsor, but felt that the design of the kit needed to brighten up or the team wanted to be more asymmetric (this is not made up by myself, but by someone who thought that one shoulder should be brown and the other blue). Four teams made a few changes and below you can see if you can find the new additions.


Team LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sky, AG2R La Mondiale and Trek-Segafredo.

Now we move on to the real changes. We all need sunglasses to cope with the kit of Tinkoff this season (maybe Sagan had a say in this?). The new Dimension Data team thinks that they can show off in white. So does IAM Cycling. What is it with white? It is hard to wash, you can see through it and it collects dirt like no other colour. Keep your eyes open, because a lot of teams have white in their shirt.


 Tinkoff, Team Dimension Data and IAM Cycling.

Then some freshness. The Cannondale Pro Cycling team. Their new kit is green like grass. It has already been mentioned by some cycling fans as the most beautiful kit of this season. Still, Etixx – Quick Step got rid of the ‘blue sky’ colour and are riding in a more mature, dark blue. You could say that they’re all grown up now. Last but not least, Team Katusha. A powerful red shirt with a big ‘K’ on the shirt. Katusha starts with a K, ok?

More Big Changes Kits

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, Etixx – Quick Step and Team Katusha.

Choose your favorite, or just enjoy all the old and new and fresh colours in the peloton this year. And if you see a yellow thing with a red shirt on, nevermind him, that is Adam ‘Minion’ Hansen. The newest ‘kit’ in town.

Adam Hansen team kit
© Adam Hansen

One Tough Hill

22 January 2016

It is not comparable to the Galibier in France or the Angliru in Spain. The top is never covered in white clouds, neither will there ever be snow. You cannot even call it a mountain. It is more of a hill. It is 2,7 kilometres long. With an average of 7,4%. The road to the top starts in the village Willunga, in the southeast of Australia. The old Willunga Hill Road. The name already says it. Willunga Hill.

Willunga Hill has been one of the highlights of the Tour Down Under for several years now. Battles between riders have taken place here. Fights for the first position. Willunga Hill determines who will win the Tour Down Under.

Willunga Hill is one of the reasons that a sprinter cannot win the Tour Down Under anymore. The legs of a sprinter were not made for this hill. One time maybe. But most years, the hill has to be climbed twice. It goes up steady, but with already four hours on the bike, the hot sun, the need for more water, Willunga Hill is one tough hill to beat.

Hundreds of Aussies will be along the road, holding up a plastic kangaroo or waving with the Australian flag. Cheering for every Aussie that comes by on a bike. Maybe some people will camp out there the whole day. Tomorrow is the big day. The queen stage. Stage five will end on the old Willunga Hill.


© Stefano Sirotti

Quokka


The Tour Down Under. It is that time of the year again. At the other side of the world, in the land of kangaroos,  there is a real cycling race going on right now.
It is also during this time that professional cyclists are seen in photos with a baby kangaroo (please search for ‘tour down under baby kangaroo’). Cute. Yeah. Still, am I the only one that thinks every year: “not again?!!”. I need another animal. And not a snake! For instance, the quokka is a much more fotogenetic animal. It seems to be the happiest animal on the whole planet and it lives in Australia. The only rider I have found on a photo with a quokka is Simon Clarke from the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team. A quokka is in his helmet and gives him a kiss.

Simon ClarkeSimon Clarke (CPT) with a quokka / © Steve Tanner

 Why wasn’t the quokka used in the Tour Down Under thus far? For a start, most tourists take a selfie with the quokka. The riders in the TDU are holding a kangaroo. That is not allowed with quokkas, because it is illegal. After all, they are wild animals. The next reason is that most quokkas live on Rottnest Island. This is an island off the coast of West Australia. The Tour Down Under takes place in the southeast of Australia.

So I have an idea. Why not start on Rottnest Island next year? Riders can take selfies with quokkas and the Tour Down Under would start on an island for the first time. I am all in. Still, I am not so sure if the organisation of the Tour Down Under is up for it. Until this happens, we have to keep ourselves happy with a photo of a quokka and a bike. Keep the faith, people.

quokka tour down under katy clemmans A quokka with a bike in the background / © Katy Clemmans

Coffee Ride

12 January 2016

It’s January and the internet is full of photos of cyclists. Some of the riders are already in Australia to prepare themselves for their first race of the season, the Tour Down Under. The weather over there seems to be changing every day, according to some of the riders. One day it is sunny and warm, the other day it is raining and cold. The Astana Pro Team and Team Lampre-Merida are two teams that are already training in Adelaide.

 © Astana Pro Team

lampre training hard
© Team Lampre-Merida

These teams are used to the weather conditions already, while the guys from Team LottoNL-Jumbo were still on their way to Australia. They seem to enjoy themselves on the plane though. They are travelling together, because of the extremely long travel time by plane to the other end of the world.

Tjallingi endless australia
© Maarten Tjallingi

Most of the other teams are training together in the south of Europe. Majorca and Calpe are favorites this year. The temperature is not too high, the roads are good there and most riders don’t have to travel too far to get there.

alejandro valverde training camp
© Alejandro Valverde

Oh yes, they sure know how to smile. The riders from Team Movistar know how to pose nicely in front of a camera. Meanwhile, the riders from Team Giant-Alpecin act on a whole different level when they see a camera. Nico Waeytens made a selfie with his teammates during a training. He is new in the team, so he will have to get used to photos like the one below. Judge for yourself.

giant alpecin nico waeytens rest day
© Nico Waeytens

The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team is on training camp too. But training camps include rest days as well, so the riders went out for a ‘coffee ride’. I dare to say that more time was spent sitting outside that coffee shop than riding on the road.

Cannondale coffee ride Sebas L
© Sebastian Langeveld

Team Sky is training on Majorca. Most of them wear the blue kit, but Wout Poels has to be the exception again. Michal Kwiatkowski calls him the black sheep of the team and says that there is one ‘in every herd’.

kwiatkowski black sheep
© Michal Kwiatkowski

Okay, after seeing the photo below, we will all know that Calpe is full of riders. Sometimes they bump into each other. Four riders from Zalf Euromobil Fior under 23 Cycling Team met Bernhard Eisel (Team Dimension Data), Valerio Conti and Simone Petilli (Team Lampre-Merida) during a training. Time for a selfie! Training camps. I guess it’s a good thing that they were invented.


From left to right: Pietro Andreoletti (ZEF), Valerio Conti (LAM) , Bernhard Eisel (DDD), Nicola Bagioli (ZEF), Michael Bresciani (ZEF), Simone Petilli (LAM) and Franceso Rosa (ZEF) / © Pietro Andreoletti

Let It Snow

In the year 1965, the 48th edition of the Giro d’Italia took place. At the start in San Marino a total of 100 riders took off. The race was soon dominated by the Italian rider Vittorio Adorni. He won stage six and was leading the general classification. He lost the pink jersey after two stages. Stage thirteen was a individual time trial. Adorni won the trial, also taking over the first place in the general classification again. In the next mountain stages, he built up his lead to more than 11 minutes. This was quite impressive. On the 4th of June, the final mountain stage was on the programme. The famous Passo di Stelvio had to be climbed. This mountain is 2758 metres high and is always a risk to include, because there is still a chance of bad weather on this mountain in May and June. Two days before the stage, the organisation already announced that the finish would be on the Stelvio itself, therefore excluding the descent. It was too dangerous for the riders to go downhill on the slippery road. On the day itself it was snowing and very cold. People on the mountain brought snow shovels with them to shove the snow off the road. Through walls of snow, the riders had to find their way up to the top of the mountain.

Graziano Battistini and Ugo Colombo were leading the race, three minutes ahead of the group with the favorites. At a certain moment, Battistini left Colombo behind. It was snowing heavily and he could not see much. Colombo was just ten seconds behind him, so he knew that he had to keep on moving.

Just three hundred metres before the finish, snow was sliding all over the road and Battistini was pushed forward by people on the road. He tried to ride his bike, but on a certain moment he had to stop. He walked with his bike to the finish and won the heroic stage. He is also the first winner of the Cima Coppi, a prize for the first rider to cross the highest point of the Giro.

The group behind Battistini and Colombo finished – walking – after more than three minutes. Snow was blocking the roads and riders had to climb over them to get to the finish. In this group was also Adorni. He knew that with only two flat stages to go, it was almost impossible to not win this Giro. And so he did. Adorni won the Giro d’Italia in 1965. With the memory of one snowy day on the Passo di Stelvio.

Off To The Start


7 January 2016

Almost three months without cycling. Now it is finally January. A new year, a new cycling season ahead of us. Who will win the Tour de France? Which new riders in the peloton will win our hearts? Some riders will not win at all, others will win a race they never expected to win. There will be tears of joy, but also tears of anger and disappointment. Cycling is just like life, really.

No one knows what is going to happen. That is what makes cycling so exciting. Every race is a new chance for a rider, every day is a new adventure. For better or for worse. All the suffering in trainings, the hours in the gym, all those nights away from home. They may pay off. Or not. That is the risk a rider takes.

In the past three months I have kept on checking the social media. A lot of riders were actually quite active on the internet. They were keeping us informed of the things they were doing. So the off-cycling season wasn’t that bad. Here is what got me through the month November:

© Esteban Chaves

Yes, Esteban Chaves and his brother. A smile gets on my face every time I look at this photo. The next one is even better. It was taken on the 12th of December at the Team Katusha team presentation:

© Jacopo Guarnieri

Yeah, let a few riders take a selfie and you get this. Off-season happiness. Now, the next photo was taken on the 5th of January. Martin and Kittel at a training camp.

© Etixx – Quick-Step

Why am I showing this? Is it important? No. But look at these photos. At those faces. All I can see is fun in their eyes. There is no point in riding a bike without fun. They have lots of fun. I’m sure 2016 is going to be a great cycling year.