Tag Archives: Astana

Bonjour! It Is Le Tour In Photos (3)

Bonjour! It is hard to believe that the last week of the Tour de France is already taking place as we speak. Those weeks fly by in no time. By now, the riders are suffering in the Alps, but luckily for them there are only a couple of days left now. And the second rest day did most of the riders good. It is like they are all fresh and new again.

Every day, the riders are sitting in the bus on their way to the start of another stage. It is up to the riders what they do in the bus to entertain themselves. Luke Rowe (SKY) has no problems with that, it turns out that he is an excellent fidget spinner.

On the second rest day the boys of Astana went for a ride together. But they also need to drink, so during the training they stopped for a cup of coffee.

It seems that the boys of Bora-Hansgrohe could not find a café or restaurant for a cup of coffee, so they stopped alongside the road to take a break during their training.

The riders from UAE Abu Dhabi did find a little café during their ride, but it seems that most riders here are taking a refreshing drink rather than a cup of coffee. Louis Meintjes seems to be the only one drinking coffee.

Now this is what I call sight-seeing! The boys of Cannondale – Drapac do not care about coffee at all on their rest day, they thought it would be nice to explore the small roads around their hotel. And look where it brought them. So pretty!

Still, after another rest day it was time for the last couple of stages. A few big mountains in the Alps were waiting for the riders. It was hard, but the smile on the face of Brice Feillu (FVC) says it all: the mountains are tough, but awesome. 


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

Italy’s New Hope

4 September 2015

Fabio Aru. He was born on the 3rd of July, 1990. He was raised on the island Sardinia and started with cycling in 2005. Aru is one of the riders of ‘the new generation’. He likes to compare himself to Bardet, Pinot and Kwiatkowski, all of the same age. He says that his generation is learning from the mistakes made in the past. According to Aru, he and other riders of his age have a great fighting spirit. The new generation has a strong desire of working and Aru thinks that this will pay off sooner or later. His hero in cycling was and still is Alberto Contador. At the age of 17, Aru saw Contador claiming his first Tour de France victory. Aru was inspired by the motivated and strong ride of Contador. During the season of 2012 he signed a contract at the Astana Proteam. A year later he started in the Giro d’Italia and helped Vincenzo Nibali in the mountains. A year later he started again in the Giro. Scarponi was supposed to be the team leader, but Aru was better than him. He won the mountain stage to the Montecampione, his first professional victory. Quintana was too strong for him in the mountains, but he ended on the third place overall.  Later that year he became fifth in the Vuelta, with two stage wins uphill. He even outsprinted Froome in one of his wins.
With high hopes from the fans in 2015, he started in the Giro d’Italia again. With great confidence he attacked his ‘hero’ Contador in the mountains. In stage 13 Contador was held up. Aru took over the pink jersey. His first pink jersey. For only one day. The next day there was a time trial. Aru lost more than two minutes on Contador. His revenge was two emotional stage wins in the last week of the Giro, but it was not enough to get the pink jersey back. At this moment he is riding his fifth Grand Tour. At the age of 25. A pure climber. People compare him to Bahamontes and Coppi.  A few days ago, in one of the hardest stages of the year, he attacked the red jersey with success. He is on his way to claim his first Grand Tour victory. He is on his way to become Italy’s new hope.

© Bettini  Photo

Volcano Says No

The eruption of a volcano on Iceland has been on the news quite a lot lately. This because it led to a disruption of air traffic in many European countries. The wind was “blowing ash in the wrong direction”: many airports closed because planes were not allowed to take off. This also had its effect on procycling. With races on the schedule such as the Amstel Gold Race in The Netherlands and La Flèche Wallonne in Belgium, many cyclists had a problem: how to get there without the ability of taking a plane? Alejandro Valverde, Luis Leon Sanchez and Carlos Sastre were among the riders who were forced to stay at home. “Can’t get to Amstel this weekend due to Arthur!”  were Bradley Wiggins’ words on Twitter. But there were also creative cyclists, here are some stories about the ones who decided to travel in other ways…

Lots of riders went by car or in buses to Maastricht: Cadel Evans and Oscar Freire from Southern Switzerland and Team Liquigas from Milan, who were also so kind to pick up a few riders from HTC-Columbia on the way to the Netherlands. The most impressive story is that of three riders from Caisse d’Epargne: they travelled all the way from Spain by train and were the only three riders from the Team who made it to the race. These adventurous guys were Imanol Erviti, José Vicente Garcia Acosta and David Lopez Garcia. Normally a team has to have at least five riders at the start, but because of the exceptional circumstances the UCI allowed them to start with only three.

After winning the Vuelta a Castilla y Léon, Alberto Contador wanted to travel to Belgium for La Flèche Wallonne. With air traffic still not being possible in Europe, he decided to take the car. Here is a video of his journey:

Oscar Pereiro, also riding for Team Astana, showed on Twitter what it was like to travel so far by car and train:

You would expect the Dutch riders to have the least problems in getting at the races, but what if you’re abroad training in the Sierra Nevada? Dutch Rabobank cyclist Pieter Weening wanted to ride in La Flèche Wallonne after three weeks of hard work in the Spanish mountains.. but he wasn’t able to get to Belgium in time. The NOS spoke to him about missing this classic in a radio interview and he told later on in a weblog on his website that even though he got to Paris by plane afterwards, he still had to make a long train journey – he joked about it and called it a “city trip” – back home to Lanaken, near Maastricht.

If you think these were already quite the stories… here is the most original one! Team Sky rider Kurt-Asle Arvesen thought it was fun to give a clinic on a North Sea oil rig, but could not expect he would be stuck there for FIVE DAYS because of the volcanic ash cloud! To keep himself in peak condition he ran up the many stairs and used the exercise bikes. The cyclist gave an interview saying that “[he] was able to train almost as well as [he] would have done at home so it could have been worse.” He called it “an enjoyable few days” because he had never been on an oil rig before and therefore he learned a lot of interesting things.

Despite all this, cyclists were still laughing after their long journeys, probably because they were very happy that they arrived at their destination!