The Vuelta is here!

Column
18 August 2016

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that Christopher Froome won the Tour de France? In reality, it is already four weeks ago. Don’t we all agree that it was a boring Tour – again. The first week was still exciting, but after that bizarre descent from Froome and all the running on that mountain, it was all done and dusted. Froome showed for the third time that he was the strongest rider of the field. Almost all the other classification riders could not or did not attack. Scared of their own position. The ‘all or nothing’ attitude seems to be missing in the last editions of the Tour de France. Boohoo!

Well, it is time to sit up straight again, because the Vuelta a España is about to start. The Olympics were also very entertaining, but cycling fans want to watch cycling again after a while. And this race is the most relaxed grand Tour of the three grand Tours. Slow days are allowed, there are spectacular sprints, mountains are covered in clouds, there are sheep and many cows everywhere. And there are attacks! Over and over again. It is the most romantic race of all and… Blow out the candles and get rid of the romantic stuff now. It is time for the facts. Because who do we need to follow in these three weeks in Spain? Do not miss out on these ten guys right here:

1. Tejay van Garderen. He messed up the Tour de France again. So he wants revenge. Winning the Vuelta might be hard, but he wants to go for a top-five or stage win.

2. Nairo Quintana. With a place in the top-five last year (fourth) and the disappointment of this year’s Tour de France, Quintana’s goal is to make it to the podium. Maybe he is thinking of winning his first Vuelta, but then he has to be in a better shape than a few weeks ago.

3. Louis Meintjes. He was there, in the Tour de France. A top-ten classification. But he is not going to the Vuelta for a top-ten, he is here to claim some stage victories. Better watch him in the mountains.

4. Esteban Chaves. Watch this little fellow. With two stage wins last year he is back to claim more than that. Podium? Why not? Claim his first win of a grand Tour? It is possible, especially after his second place in the Giro this year.

5. Steven Kruijswijk. He was so close in this year’s Giro d’Italia. But he took too much risk in one of the descents. And gone was the pink jersey. He has learned his lesson. And now he is back. Pink is his favorite colour, but red might suit him just as well.

6. Christopher Froome. The winner of the Tour de France starts in the Vuelta. And he is there with only one goal and that is the red jersey. After two second places, in 2011 and 2014, Froome thinks it is about time to show the world that he is not only a ‘Tour de France guy’.

7. Alberto Contador. What a shame that he did not finish the Tour de France due to two crashes. But he is pain-free, he races again and he is ready for the Vuelta. We can expect some early attacks from him in the mountains.

8. Philippe Gilbert. He is always strong in the Vuelta, so I bet he will go for a stage win this year. There aren’t many sprinters in this edition of the Vuelta, so that means that the chances to win a sprint stage increase for Gilbert.

9. Simon Gerrans. We all remember his crash in the Tour de France. That was a nasty one. But he has recovered and the Vuelta starts with a team time trial. His team is good in that kind of stuff. He wore pink and yellow already, so why not red for a change?

10. Omar Fraile. Does this name ring a bell? He is the winner of the mountain classification of last year. I don’t know if he is able to do it again this year, with so many good climbers participating, but you never know what he is capable of, so keep a close eye on him too.

e405acea4cf20eb5d1269121a607838b

Copacabana

Column

4 August 2016

rio-2016-banner

The Olympic Games will be hosted in Brasil this year. Most events will take place in and around Rio de Janeiro. After years of preparation Brasil is ready to host the Olympic Games for the first time. Actually, it is the first time that the Summer Games take place on the continent of South America.

There will be 206 nations in Brasil competing in 28 different sports. Road cycling is one of those sports. The Games will begin tomorrow with an official opening ceremony. On Saturday the road race for men is on the programme. On Sunday the women will compete in the road race. Next week, on the 10th of August, the individual time trials will be held. All the races are in and around the Flamengo Park. It is the largest recreation area known in Rio de Janeiro and it is open for all public. Many sports events have been held in this park.

The road races consist of laps of 30 km and each lap consists of three uphill sections. The biggest climb is after about 7 kilometres near the Corcovado with an elevation of 400 m, another one is after about 15 km with an elevation of 200 metres and the last one is after 18 kilometers with an elevation of about 75 metres. After the hilly sections the lap will go alongside the beautiful Copacabana beach back to the finish line. The time trials consist of laps of 20 km. The course is flat with two elevations of 3 metres and has two U-turns. The profile and map of the road races are available here.

There are voices claiming that the road race is one of the hardest one-day races in cycling today. It is a mix of everything. There are sectors of cobbles, but also some serious uphill sectors. It is Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège combined in one race. Except there is no French old mine in the background or the nice smell of some Belgian waffles. Instead the riders have an incredible view all over the Copacabana coastline.

flamengo park Flamengo Park with in the background the Copacobana coastline

Tour Life (4)


The Tour de France is done and dusted. Chris Froome is the winner of the Tour de France. That is just one story. There were 197 other stories in the Tour de France. We can’t hear them all, but through social media we see a little bit of the life of the riders in the Tour de France. So here is one more update.

4 Swimming pool

John Degenkolb and Roy Curvers from Team Giant-Alpecin had plenty of time on the day of the second time trial.  They had an early start and spent the rest of the afternoon in the swimming pool. That is one way to recover.

4 Bryan Coquard last mountain

Bryan Coquard and Adrien Petit (DEN) were happy, because there was only one mountain stage to go. And after that there was the last day to Paris. But, lucky for them, there are no mountains in Paris.

4 Davide Cimolai three weeks doing this

Davide Cimolai from Lampre-Merida putting his numbers on his shirt for the last mountain stage. One of the rituals in the team bus every morning.

4 Michael Schar Damiano Caruso warm up

There are two different ways to do a warming up before a mountain stage. You can either climb on your bike like Michael Schär did, or you can just sit down and relax. That is exactly what Damiano Caruso did and I don’t blame him.

4 Ramunas Navardauskas barber

Yes, you can get your hair done in the Tour de France. There is a real barbershop where the riders can go before every stage. Ramunas Navardauskas (CPT) thought that it was a great idea to go there. Because you have to look good in the mountains.

Nelson Oliviera Movistar barbershop stage 6

See, no joke! Even Nelson Oliveira from Movistar went there. And doesn’t he look nice? With all the beards and long hair in the peloton these days, it was not a bad idea to open up a barbershop for the riders.

4 chris froome little guy

Still, there is no place like home. After three weeks of cycling around France most of the riders want to go home to their families and friends (vacation is number three on the list). This little fellow can’t wait to see his dad again. His dad? That guy on the podium wearing the yellow jersey. Indeed, Chris Froome.

4 Armindo Fonseca

Finally, a real teamselfie! These guys started the Tour de France with nine riders and they end it with nine riders. That is quite impressive. Team Fortuneo – Vital Concept goes home with no victory, but they sure had a good time.

The Tour In Ten Songs


The Tour the France of 2016 in ten songs? It is a challenge, but these ten songs are in some kind of way related to the Tour of this year.

Remember the first stage? Three weeks before today, the race was on. Or in other words: “the boys were back in town”. [By: Thin Lizzy]

Cycling - The Tour de France cycling race - Stage 1 from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont

Let the sprinting begin. “Hey ho, let’s go!”, Mark Cavendish must have thought. He took four sprint stages in this year’s Tour de France. [By: The Ramones]

07-07-2016 Tour De France; Tappa 06 Arpajon Sur Cere - Montauban; 2016, Dimension Data; 2016, Fortuneo - Vital Concept; 2016, Etixx - Quick Step; Cavendish, Mark; Mc Lay, Daniel; Kittel, Marcel; Montauban;

And then we went off to the mountains. Finally, some mountains! Really, we could not wait? It almost drove us crazy… [By: Britney Spears]

Pyrenees TDWsport

The first attack in the mountains came from Froome. Because he felt good. And if you are feeling good, well, you just have to attack. So good… [By: James Brown]

Froomey

Rain? There was quite some rain in this Tour de France. Are you kidding me? There was more rain than ever. Some riders did not seem to be bothered though. Riders like Tom Dumoulin, for example. Let the rain just fall down. [By: Kane]

10-07-2016 Tour De France; Tappa 09 Vielha - Andorra Arcalis; 2016, Giant-alpecin; Dumoulin, Tom;

And suddenly there was a crash. Froome without a bike! Running to the finish. There’s only one song that fits that scene. [By: Kate Bush]

Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - Stage 12 from Montpellier to Chalet-Reynard

There are no words for what happened in Nice. There was a minute of silence for all people involved. A minute of complete silence. [By: Simon & Garfunkel]

Tour de France together

And the boy became a man! Three stage wins and the green jersey for Tarzan, I mean, Peter Sagan. What a legend. [By: Phil Collins]

18-07-2016 Tour De France; Tappa 16 Moirans En Montagne - Bern; 2016, Tinkoff; Sagan, Peter; Bern;

The French people thought it would never happen, but it did! Romain Bardet won a stage and becomes second in this year’s Tour de France. Here comes the sun after all. [By: The Beatles]

bardet wins le tour

This man is the winner though. It is all yellow for Chris Froome. Again. For three years in a row now. [By: Coldplay]

Tour de France 2016 - 22/07/2016 - Etape 19 - Albertville / Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc (146 km) - FROOME Christopher (TEAM SKY) - Maillot Jaune

Copyright photos: steephill.tv / Sirotti / Reuters /
ASO / Flockton / Tim De Waele

Four Different Stories

Column
24 July 2016

TDF Greg

Three weeks of cycling. Three weeks of hard work, suffering, joy and pain. Three weeks fighting for yellow. Four different riders wearing the yellow jersey. Four smiling boys on the podium. Four different stories.  Only one of them takes the jersey home. It all started with Mark Cavendish (DDD) on Utah Beach. There was no prologue. The Tour de France started with a stage for the sprinters. Cavendish was the fastest of them all and got to wear the yellow jersey. It was an emotional moment for him. He lost the jersey the next day to Peter Sagan (TNK) though. Sagan finally won a stage in the Tour de France again after so many second places. He said that he likes to wear the yellow jersey, but his rainbow jersey looked better on him. After three stages he lost the jersey to Greg van Avermaet (BMC). A heroic solo finish, also enough to take over the yellow jersey. He thought that he was dreaming. A stage win and the yellow jersey. He was overwhelmed and said that it was one of the best days in his career. Of course he would not keep it for a long time. Stage eight was a difficult stage in the mountains and for sure he would lose the jersey there. But to whom? Which of the favorites had the guts to place an early attack? Who could have thought that it was Christopher Froome himself? He went for it and left all the other favorites behind. There was no one that could keep his wheel. He went as fast as he could. It was like the devil was chasing him. He won that stage and took the yellow jersey. He kept it until now. That is class. Wearing the yellow jersey for two weeks is a lot of hard work, not only for himself, but also for the team. They showed, once again, that they were capable of doing that. Froome is the one that takes the yellow jersey home with him tomorrow. For the third time in a row.

Copyright photos: steephill.tv / Sirotti / Reuters

Tour Life (3)

We enter the last couple of days in the Tour de France. It did fly by. We can call Peter Sagan the king of the Tour already, with his three stage wins and his twinkling eyes. And will he or will he not? Will Chris Froome win another Tour de France? Or is that little Colombian guy up to something? Or maybe Mollema? That is future talk, but a lot happened in the lives of the riders in the second week of the Tour de France. Here is an update from all the past events.

Hotel view Meintjes

You wake up, you look out of your window and you see… this? Louis Meintjes saw it when he looked out of his window in his hotel room.

Team Direct Energie breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Take a look at the riders from Team Direct Energie eating their breakfast before the hard stage to the Mont Ventoux. Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel can even smile, although some of the other riders can’t. Probably afraid of the upcoming stage…

Team Cofidis ontbijt muhaha

Then again, you haven’t seen the breakfast table of Team Cofidis. Oh my… if you can eat all that, for sure you can climb up a mountain!

Albert Timmer Barguil curtains what

And after a long day out there on the bike, riders want to sleep. So, what do you do with matresses you don’t need? Albert Timmer and Warren Barguil of Team Giant-Alpecin knew what to do with them. They used them as curtains. I think they slept like a baby that night.

Tony easy ride

Hello, I’m Tony. I have been in the breakaway all day long and look at me. I am not in pain, I feel fine. You know what, shall we do this again? What do you say, Julian? Julian?

Alessandro Tegner Julian haha

Answer of Julian Alaphilippe seems clear to me. That is definitely a ‘no’.

Mathew Hayman oh my

Mathew Hayman decided to shave his hair on the final rest day. Just to look fancy in the last days of the Tour de France. But the man who will do the shaving is Dan Jones (the man behind all the backstage passes). So if we’ll spot Hayman in the next few days without any hair, we know who is responsible for that.

Markus Burghardt what a view

Marcus Burghardt says thanks to the organisation for putting the BMC Racing Team in such a nice hotel with such a nice view. I wouldn’t complain either.

Maciej Bodnar rest day

Coffee stop for the Tinkoff boys on the rest day! Lovely.

There will be one more ‘Tour Life’ update here on the Ride On! blog, because we don’t want to miss out on the life of the riders in the Tour de France.