7 October 2015
A sunday in May, 2013. A beautiful day. There you were, standing on a podium. An emotional man from Sicily. You had just won your very first Giro d’Italia. All your Italian fans were there, shouting your name. “Nibali, Nibali!” You stated in an interview that day that “this victory crowns a life’s dream”. You gave up your life in the south of Italy for that dream. At the age of fifteen, you moved to the north of the country to ride for a team there. There was no other option. In the south of Italy there were no big races, not much knowledge and hardly any money. And there were no mountains there to climb. Or to descent. The hard work you’ve put in from then until 2013, finally paid off. I also remember another Sunday. A Sunday in July, 2014. Marcel Kittel was the fastest in the sprint. And somewhere in the peloton you were raising your arms to the sky. You made Italy proud again after sixteen years without a win in the Tour de France. A clean win. Italy waited for this so long and finally, you made that dream come true. The shy and quiet guy from Sicily. Expectations were high for 2015. You announced that you would skip the Giro, to focus on the Tour de France. Italian fans were disappointed in you, because for the second time in a row you would not start in the Giro. The Tour de France turned out to be a deception, although you did won a stage. And I will not bring up the Vuelta a España. You answered all the critics in one of the last ‘monuments’ of the season. With an attack in the descent of the Civiglio. Never to be seen again by the other riders. Solo over the finish line. Winning the Giro di Lombardia. So can we still call it a lost year? Maybe we should forget about some days. And look back at the good days. Like you said yourself this Monday at the presentation of the route of the Giro d’Italia, 2016: “After every year you start all over again, no matter what you achieved.” It is the truth. Every rider starts with a clean sheet next year. You also said that you are thinking about riding the Giro and skipping the Tour de France. Or ride it in support of Fabio Aru. Just do it. Make the Italian fans proud again. The Giro has a special place in your heart, so just go for it. Follow your heart and make that dream come true. Again. I can already hear the fans cheer for you along the Italian roads. “Nibali, Nibali!”
© Tim de Waele
3 October 2015
You turned 30 this year. Maybe you thought that it was time for a big change. A new team. A new challenge. You have signed for the African team MTN-Qhubeka, which will be known as Team Dimension Data from 2016 onwards.
You said you were “super-excited” to become a part of the team. The team itself says that with signing you, they are making a big step forward and they are hoping to get to the next level. Although the Tour de France will not be a guarantee next year, it is most likely that the team will receive an invitation. With one of the best sprinters of the peloton and the success of this whole year, it would be a strange decision of the organisation to ignore the team.
There is another reason you are going to the African team. The new sponsor will continue to support the Qhubeka charity, having generated over 4,000 bicycles in its BicyclesChangeLives campaign. You want to help to develop cycling in Africa and “to get more bikes in the hands of the people who need them”.
And not to forget, this team is prepared to support you in achieving one of your biggest dreams: competing for Great Britain on the track at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. That golden medal is still in your head, after the deception of 2008 in Beijing. As far as I can judge, you’ve made the right decision to move to the African team. Riding for your dream, riding for the dream of thousands of children. The bicycle changed your life, now it is time to change their lives too.
27 September 2015
The new world champion. He was riding like a boss. He waited for the right moment. Of course he attacked on the cobblestones. No other rider could follow his wheel. Steam came out his ears. It was the right attack. This course was made for Peter Sagan. Oh, and he wants world peace. And he found out that gold is kind of hard to eat. He is happy, Slovakia too. The new world champion.
© Cor Vos
26 September 2015
The UCI Road World Championships are held in Richmond this year. Richmond, North America. Welcome in the land of cars and baseball. Cycling? In the American way of life cycling is for kids, not for grown ups. Besides, every city in America is built around cars, so it is definitely not safe to move around on a bike. Still, it is nice to go someplace outside of Europe. And of course, ‘our’ procyclists are on a course, with fences between them and the Big American cars. Nothing to worry about, they won’t get hurt. Well, that’s a relief.
As every city is every year, the authorities in Richmond are also pleased that their city is chosen to host the world championships. Richmond wants everybody to come and join ‘cycling’s biggest party’. I don’t think that they ever saw footage of the Tour de France? Or a stage to the Alpe d’Huez? Now that’s what I call a party. So no, most of us will not join this party. We will just watch it on the television.
Next question is: why Richmond? There must be something special with the place to go over there and peddle around. Quebec was in the race as well for this year, and that city has a cycling history. Nowadays, a history with cycling isn’t good enough anymore. Maybe it was the history of Richmond itself. You see, the area was discovered by English colonists in 1609, but it wasn’t until 1737 that Richmond, as we know it today, was founded. It was named after the English town ‘Richmond’, because the colonists thought that the James River in Richmond looked exactly the same as the Thames (yes, the one in London).
There’s another option for racing there. It is the food! In 2014, Richmond was called ‘the next great food city’. There are several restaurants in Richmond and it seems that the food in Richmond is good. Three of them are included in the ‘100 best restaurants in the South’ and that means something. It makes sense, because the teams don’t have to bring their own cook. There is already good food to eat. If it’s not for the history or the food, then it must be the Edgar Allan Poe museum.
I’m not kidding. Or maybe I am. Nevertheless, the organisation thinks that the course is challenging and technical. It is held in the city and includes a ‘narrow, twisty, cobbled 200-meter climb up to Libby Hill Park in the historic Church Hill neighborhood’. Wait, historic? It is the history, people. It always is.
View on Richmond as seen from Church Hill
6 HEADERS – Vuelta a España 2015
7 September 2015
Tom Dumoulin. He was born on the 11th of November, 1990. He was raised in Maastricht, a city in the south of the Netherlands. He comes from a non-cycling family, and started with cycling at the age of 15. In 2009, he started with the study health sciences, but he soon realised that he wanted to focus on cycling and he dropped out. In 2010, he was the overall winner of the GP de Portugal and he won the time trial in the ‘Baby Giro’. The next year he moved to the Rabobank Continental Team. The Rabobank Proteam thought that he wasn’t ready to become a professional rider, so he moved to Team Giant-Alpecin (back then Argos-Shimano) in 2012. In this team, they gave him the freedom to fully focus on his time trial skills and to explore his talent. In 2013, the team was handed a wildcard for the Tour de France and Dumoulin made it to the team. It was a good first Tour for the rider. He showed himself in a few breakaways, rode two good individual time trials and discovered that he was a good climber too. Later that year, he became 2nd in the Eneco Tour and stated afterwards that one of his ambitions was to win one of the Grand Tours in the future. He said that this could possibly be one of his goals in 2015. 2014 was another good year for Dumoulin. He became fifth in the Tour du Suisse and third in the Eneco Tour. In the Tour de France, he finished 2nd in the individual time trial, behind Tony Martin. At the World Championships he won the bronze medal in the individual time trial. His main focus in 2015 lay on the prologue of the Tour de France. Dumoulin’s goal was to win the prologue in Utrecht and take the yellow jersey. With two time trial wins in the Tour du Suisse, Dumoulin was full of confidence. But it turned into a huge disappointment. Dumoulin finished fourth in the prologue. He wanted to attack the yellow jersey in the third stage, but he was involved in a massive crash that day and therefore he had to abandon the Tour. He recovered fast from a fracture in his shoulder, and made it back in time to start in the Vuelta. He almost took the second stage, but Esteban Chaves won the sprint in the uphill finish. He took over the red jersey after stage five, but he lost it a day later to Chaves again. His revenge came in the ninth stage, when he won the stage and took back the red jersey again. However, he lost the jersey to Fabio Aru only two days later.
Nevertheless, he showed courage in the mountains and he did not loose much time there. This Wednesday is the time trial. Other riders are scared of Dumoulin, scared that he will ride a hell of a ride. Scared that he will take over the red jersey again. That he will win his first Grand Tour. One of his ambitions. Tom Dumoulin. He is on his way to become Holland’s new hope.