Tour de force!

Cadel Evans in the yellow jersey in paris

I know I’m a few days late but I felt the need to give an impression of this years Tour de France, mainly because it has dominated both my TV and my conversations for the best part of a month. I’m doubt many will disagree with me if I say that it was one of the most exciting and entertaining Tour de Frances’ in quite some time with almost every stage providing some edge of the seat style viewing.

Thomas voeckler clearly relieved to reach the finish line

Thomas Voeckler provided much of the entertainment, taking the yellow jersey and fighting unrelentingly to hold on to for as long as he possibly could, which turned out to be much longer than anyone, perhaps even Thomas himself, expected . His perseverance and determination  were admirable and although he wasn’t in yellow when the peleton rolled into Paris, I would have been delighted if he had won, his efforts over the three weeks were worthy of a champion.

I was however extremely happy when Cadel Evans won, he fought tooth and nail in the mountains and rode a scorching time trial, destroying the fifty second gap that lay between him and the yellow jersey of Andy Schleck. There no denying that Evans, at 34 years of age, can’t play this game for much longer, and I think this is part of what drove him to ride the way he did over the three weeks. From winning at Mur de Bretagne to almost taking the TT stage win from an on form Tony Martin, he really showed that he deserved to win and left no one in any doubt that he is still a force to be reckoned with. When Andy Schleck broke away in the ascent of the Galibier he rode hard to minimise his losses, with no help from anyone else in the peleton, all of whom refused to ride at the front forcing him to work for himself. In my eyes he’s a more than worthy winner and I will be interested to see how his career develops now that he has finally snatched the illusive Tour de france victory.

Andy and Frank Schleck battle up the mountains

The big question on everyone’s minds before the tour was can anyone beat the schlecks?The big question after was could the Schlecks have won? For the Schlecks it was a case of too little too late coupled with the fiery determination of Cadel Evans that saw neither brother on the top step of the podium. Frank never seemed to be able to put any serious time between him and the favourites and Andy’s break on the Galibier didn’t Leave him with enough of a cushion going into the time trial. I’m not sure if it was a case of poor tactics or if they were genuinely unable open up any decent time gaps in the mountains, but either way the left themselves in a bad position going into the time trial. It’s no big secret that the brothers weakness is unquestionably in the time trial and when Cadel was within one minute of yellow following stage 19, the tour was all but over. Although I still expect the brothers to win it at least once between them, this year, once again, wasn’t their year.

Contador ''Attacking'' In the tour

Alberto Contador arrived at this tour more tired than he, or anyone else expected. His excellent showing in the Giro D’Italia clearly took its toll and the most notable attack he made in this years tour was on one of the spectators who was dressed as a doctor. The whole doping scandal and the allegations surrounding him have clearly taken there toll, and to be honest I cant blame him for reacting the way he did.

Mark Cavendish Winning in Paris

The exploits of Mark Cavendish were again to the fore in the Tour de France as he once again showed his dominance of the sprints. Taking five stage wins, three wins in a row on the Champs Elysees and the green jersey is impressive by anyone’s standards and the manxman and the HTC train in full flight were definitely a sight to behold. There are many other riders who deserve mention in any post related to this years tour. The Norsemen Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd picked up two very impressive stage wins each. Sanchez rode well in the mountains, picking up a win on Luz ardiden for the Baske riders of Euskatel. Pierre Rolland’s Victory on Alp D’huez was nothing short of epic, and the fact that he rode himself into the best young riders jersey in the process made it all the sweeter.

This years tour was nothing if not entertaining, with all the drama, excitement and emotion of a hollywood blockbuster. Needless to say, Roll on next year!

Posted in Cycling, tour de france | Leave a comment

Le tour des collisions?

Ouch!

Admittedly this is the first year that I have followed the Tour de France religiously, but this year it seems the be plagued with an epidemic of crashes resulting in many big name riders abandoning the race. The crash on the first day that left contador trailing the leaders by two minutes was only the start of what was to be a seemingly endless onslaught of crashes.

Janez Brajkovic

Janez Brajkovic of Slovakia is dazed after a heavy fall during Stage 5 of the 2011 Tour de France from Carhaix to Cap Frehel on Wednesday in Cap Frehel, France

One of the first big names to exit the tour was Janez Brajkovic of team radioshack, who after an unfortunate high speed crash on stage five was simply unable to continue riding due to a concussion among other injuries. But the list was not to end there, and team sky took a major hit with the loss of Bradley Wiggins due to a broken collar bone, a huge blow considering he was tipped as one of the favourite’s to be wearing yellow when the peleton rolled into Paris.

Bradley Wiggins lies on the ground with a broken collar bone following his crash.

However none of this compared to the carnage that was seen on stage nine, with several big name riders involved in spills and having to withdraw.

ALEXANDRE VINOKOUROV AFTER A CRASH ON STAGE NINE OF THE 2011 TOUR DE FRANCE

The Image of Alexandre Vinokourov being carried back to the road after his crash was an indication of his terrible condition, and he was forced to retire with a broken pelvis and leg, and in reality he was lucky to be alive. The list of casualties also included garmin’s Dave Zabriske who broke his wrist and Jurgen Van Der Brock who retired with a spinal injury.

While crashes are, unfortunately, part and parcel of professional cycling, what happened later in the stage was outrageous and frankly disgraceful

The above Video shows a french television car crashing into Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland, catapulting Hoogerland off the road and into a barbed wire fence, the result of which can be seen in the first image above. This incident is intolerable and the driver of the car should be arrested for what was essentially a hit and run!

Sadly this wasn’t the first time something like this happened in this years tour, images of Nikki Sorenson being dragged along the road by the Getty images motorcycle spring to mind. It’s bad enough that the cyclists have to worry about crashing into each other, spectators and course obstacles, but when they have to worry about getting hit by event vehicles, things are bordering on the insane.

Johnny Hoogerland in tears after stage nine as he recieves the KOTM jersey

Im just glad that no one was was killed, and was inspired and impressed by Hoogerland, who managed to finish the stage and claim the Polka dot jersey despite the happenings of the day. He was quoted as saying:

“We can still be happy that we’re alive. It’s horrible. I can blame everyone but I don’t think anyone does this sort of thing on purpose,” he said. “I have three cuts that are about seven centimeters long and quite deep too. I’ll go to the hospital now and I think I’ll need about 30 stitches at least….I landed on the fence and I looked at my legs and thought, ‘Is this what cycling is about?’ I have the polka-dot jersey but I’m going to spend the rest day in a lot of pain.”

I have immense respect for anyone who can do what he did and I hope that there are fitting repercussions for the driver of the french tv car, as behaviour like this is unacceptable.

Note:

The official damage list at the end of stage 9 (Source: www.letour.fr)

207 POELS Wouter (NED) VACANSOLEIL-DCM withdrawls
192 BRUTT Pavel (RUS) KATUSHA TEAM withdrawls
61 VINOKOUROV Alexandre (KAZ) PRO TEAM ASTANA withdrawls
59 ZABRISKIE David (USA) TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO withdrawls
44 GARATE Juan Manuel (ESP) RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM non-starter
39 WILLEMS Frederik (BEL) OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO withdrawls
31 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen (BEL) OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO withdrawls
26 TXURRUKA Amets (ESP) EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI withdrawls
Posted in Cycling, tour de france | 2 Comments

150k madness?

The main goal for me at the outset of the summer was to get fit enough to complete the etape hibernia, a 134km race/sportive taking place in my native county of Clare in Ireland in August. Now initially i saw even the completion of this as a daunting task, but six weeks into my summer holidays and I have already surpassed the milestone of 130km, with an extra 16km to boot. Last weekend it was my cousins 21st, and my father suggested we should cycle to her house, which is in westmeath, 150km away. Needless to say I was apprehensive but in a fit of lunacy I agreed. So we set off and my main goal was to just arrive, period. But dad had other ideas, he wanted to get there in under five hours, quite an ask for a 150km journey, and for someone who has only been training properly for this distance for a few weeks. It was going well an we were averaging 18.7mph but around the halfway mark I got a sudden and extremely painful cramp in both my hamstrings and had to get off and walk for a minute to loosen out. After mounting up again i managed to get the rest of the way without too much drama, save for the cramps returning with three miles to go! But we made it, and in a time of 5hrs and 58 mins, which overall I was quite proud of, although I felt the result of my efforts for about three days after. The main aim was to prove to myself that I could do this, Job done! Etape,I’m coming for you!

http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=270140

This is a map and profile of the route we took,

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1st sportive

well last weekend I completed my first sportive event. My mother, who also recently caught the cycling bug suggested we do it as it  would be a good training run. The event was called the tour de burren and was divided into 160km, 100km, and 60km routes. we decided to to the 60km route which was titled the corkscrew challenge and featured a quad burning 5km cat 2 climb with a 5% gradient in the first ten kilometers. http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=259494 the link shows the profile of the climb, which didnt prove to be as difficult as the profile suggests.

Tour de burren

Start line

Due to a decision to start the 100km ride at the same time as the 60km ride the start was very crowded and everyone was tightly packed until the climb began to split the riders up, allowing the stronger cyclists to push on and gain some ground. Once at the top of the hill we were able to open it up and my mother and I pressed on we were in no mans land for most of the race with the very strong cyclist ahead of us and the weaker ones much further behind us. We got to the finish in around 1hr and 48 mins which was pretty respectable for a 60km race. The event manager later informed us that out of roughly 900 people doing the 60km we managed to place in the top 30. Chuffed to say the least!

Overall the event was well organised and there was a great buzz in the village before and after the race. The scenery along the coast route and in the picturesque village of ballyvaughan was a welcome distraction fro the pain in my quads at the conclusion of the event. My first, but definitely not my last sportive. watch this space!

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment

The joy of cycling!

Well hello there!

I’ve always had the intention to start a blog but didn’t really want to until i actually had something to write about, as I have a tendency to waffle when I lack direction. The general focus of this blog is going to be cycling, a sport which I have recently taken to in an effort to better myself physically, and also because I quite enjoy it. I come from a background of team sports and running, the former was the focus of my attention for the best part of ten years, the latter  mainly due to my fathers obsession with running. Last year however due to an achillies tendon injury my father was forced to go elsewhere for his cardio needs and decided to take up cycling to aid in his rehab, and I agreed to join him. I jumped at the chance to avoid running to stay fit, as the high impact nature doesn’t suit me as much as cycling does. So here we stand a year later and I decided to start this blog to keep myself motivated and to track my progress. So expect posts to contain details of sportives undertaken, training rides and the occasional race, hopefully. Oh and plenty of pining after bikes that I can’t afford ( In case I forgot to mention i’m a student).

Watch this space!

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment