A Good Icy Morning

White frost, fragile and flimsy, was shining on the rigid grass when I rode by the river in the rosy light of down this morning. It was finally cold and I could see my breath grown together in lukewarm puffs. Under a perfect sky the river looked slow, swollen by last days' rain, dirty of mud and foliage, numb. A perfect sun was rising. That's the kind of winter day I love and I'm blessed because in such a beautiful morning I can ride my bike on this dirty road, far from the traffic and even stop to watch the golden line of trees by the other side of the river, to listen to my heart beating fast. 
Yesterday I was a little sad but given that there was nothing I could do to change the situation and a bit instead I could try to change my way to react to it, I had put together all my sweetness and all my reason in a simple message to my busy love. When you care about somebody, you want him or her to be happy and that's impossible if he or she can't try to realize his or her dreams, doing what he or she loves and what's important for him or her. Very often that involves to be away, not only physically but mentally, to be engagged in something that doesn't include you. It can be hard, nervertheless I agree that there is more than love in a full lived life. I'm like that me too: love can't stop you, it should make you fly instead. When you feel sad in spite you know you are loved it's maybe because you are not as engagged as you should be.
Hurry up! I'm riding to school, to teach philsophy, that's I like. I even get paied to do that! some cyclocross now: every morning I have to climb some stairs to get on the bridge, then I pass it and quickly leave the main road for a narrow one, typical of the country near Florence, delimited by high stonewalls. There is a short mild climb when it passes by an old convent, then I turn right riding along a plants nursery and till the last week I could glimpse rows of cyclamens into the open greenhouses. This morning they were all closed and covered to avoid the chill burns the plants. I missed their delicately cheerful pink and purple: almost the only colours among many nuances of green. But in the school's garden I get always amazed by the grace of some trees of roses....
This morning I must interview some students about the last lessons' subjects: sophists and democracy in Athens. Not so difficult but you have to reflect on it. Hours went by busy and dense. After that, I had to meet some parents and to update my register. Eventually, while unlocking my bike and freezing in the icy wind, I checked my phone and was delighted to find a 'good morning' message from far away. It takes so few :)

Best Dutch Riders of the Year: Vos, Mollema and van der Poel

De Telegraaf's poll results are out.
Nothing new for Marianne Vos: she took the eighth consecutive award! a very good news for Bauke Mollema after a very good season and an almost obvious fact for Mathieu van der Poel. 
I definitely lost! no van der Haar and no Kelderman. Vos of course. Ok, I'm happy anyway because Mollema is one my favourites.
"The Tour de France will be another major goal again" he said about the next season "It's been a good season and it makes you want more. I have already picked up my training again and will be working on doing better than this year." 
As far as Vos and van der Poel... they can hardly do better than that...


Stop Violence Against Women: a few facts

Today is the international day for the elimination of violence against women. Given that awareness is the best way to change things, reading about some facts is more useful than proclaming values.

Cyclocross - Gieten: van der Haar said...

“Niels ran like a mad man. It was nearly impossible to keep up with my short legs but I tried to follow his steps. After hopping back on the bike I clicked out of my pedal after the fourth stroke while my chain dropped to the small ring. It was already hard to stay on his wheel so it was impossible to ride back to him,” 

Source http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/internationale-hamsgrohe-superprestige-gieten-2013/elite-men/results


In short: the Schleck(s)' schedule

imageThere is an article here (French):
... in English also here:

In short:
1. The Schleck brothers will ride together Paris-Nice, Critérium International, Tour of the Basque Country, Ardennes Classics, Tour of Luxembourg and Tour de Suisse as a preparation for Tour the France.
2. First goals are Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastoge-Liège 
3. Main goal is Tour de France
4. Frank Schleck and Laurent Didier will start their season in the Tour Down Under while Andy is going to start later in Tour of Oman (18-22 Feb). Bob Jungels will be in Dubai Tour (5-8 Feb).
Nothing new I see but nothing bad also. Of course I'm not happy that Andy will not race Tirreno-Adriatico but I already knew... 

Cyclocross: bad luck in Gieten for Lars van der Haar :(

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A windy day in the airy forest. So windy that barriers and banners went down just before the start... A strong wind, some rain, some brown golden leaves swirling on the road. A fast start and a fluid situation, all together laps after laps.
Then a fracture splits the peloton in two big group, with all the main contenders in front but Albert and Pauwels behind. In front Nys, Taramarcaz and Vantornout have got a gap while van der Haar is slightly dropped. Behind Albert is chasing solo.
But Nys fell, his bike is broken, is race is over. He keeps chasing for some laps  at the back of the race then quits. All together again. Taramarcaz is doing a great race, van der Haar is always in front with Vantornout and Walsleben. I can't believe: Niels Albert is back, is in front and leading! what a comeback! He won yesterday in Koksijde, in a hard cross. Lars van der Haar finished 10 - but kept the jersey - and today is lookin g for a win on this more suitable route - and at home. 
Four laps to go Albert attacks with van der Haar and Vantornout. They got a gap, Vantornout is dropped soon and caught by the chasing group. GO LARS! Go taking this one! exciting stuff! the front duo fly and another duo comes outfron the bunch in pursuit: Walsleben and Meeusen. GO GO GO! don't watch behind! the gap is small but the finish is close. I think: van der Haar is faster than Albert if they go to the sprint. Last lap, last meters...
"Haaa and the suckiness of Shimano SPD's cost Van Der Haar a shot at the win..." Dan Gerous tweets. That's sadly true. Waiting to know better what happened, Lars 'lost' his pedal and Albert went to the finish solo. What a bad luck! He was doing great, he deserved to try. Albert for sure deserved to win but Lars didn't deserve to loose in that way. His race had been perfect: he had started fast but saved some energy this time to give it all in the last laps. It was working. 
Disappointed after the finish still able to smile on the podium: a splendid second, a splendid race.

1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team    
2 Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team    
3 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team    
4 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus    
5 Marcel Meisen (Ger) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team

Trek Factory's camp: some good climbing in Belgium

...but it isn't Liège-Bastogne-Liège :)

A pic from Belgium and more

I'm just back from two days in Reggio Emilia by my friend Camilla. Weather was shitty but we had fun anyway. 
My very busy love is still/again away and I miss him now, but we keep in touch and I like his life, so it's fine. 
Trek's camp is over, it has been a good one. Andy's smile is always cute :)


Trek Factory camp's (last) pic spam

So it's over... but after a good night of fun. Cooking, eating and of course CALCINO :D 
It's 10 am and I see they are 'already' up: good guys.
Now back to serious stuff because it's almost December and in 1 months they will be racing.  
On the 10 of January, in Roubaix, there is the Team presentation. And I'm supposed to go. Yes yes, I have been harsh in the last years, but I had my reasons. Instead I like this team: fingers crossed I'm right!


RSLT: Interview with Becca and...

...a cute photo of Andy and Frank Schleck. It's on the luxembourgish magazine Revue.

Trek Factory's camp pic spam

Pic by 'Rabbit bro' Eugenio Alafaci ;)
It looks cold down there... But no worries: the first activity of the day is also a good warming up! I must confess I had never seen 'human foosball' before... After that: 'Fireman's carry obstacle sprint'. 
Then... bo? what's the last one? 'boxes pile-ing'?

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OMG Trek Factory!

"The five neo-pros at the camp! Zoidl, Silvestre, Alafaci, Watson and Stuyven! Another paintball session?"

Trek Factory's camp pic spam

So do you wonder what they did exactly? 
Some climbing.....
...some exploring...

Trek Factory's camp pic spam

...and today? what can we do? lets go paintballing!

...and a pic from Belgium with Andy Schleck

Embedded image permalink 
Posting it, Cyclefit UK tweeted: "Working late into the night at Belgium Team Camp and Cap'n Jules takes a mould of feet" Not a bad job in my opinion, not at all! :)

Trek Factory's camp pics spam


Embedded image permalinkNothing official yet, but some pics are out so we can have an idea of what they are doing around Durby. First of all they gathered, then took a bus - not The Buski it seems - and went to an adventure park or something like that. Later they had some fun gokarting
And staff had fun too I see ;)

Ronde's route 2014

A new look for the Ronde but looking to its glorious past. It will be
259 km, on April 6th, start in Bruges, finish in Oudenaarde. It will include 17 hills:
1. Oude Kwaremont (cobbled) 109km
2. Kortekeer (asphalt) 119km
3. Eikenberg (cobbled) 127km
4. Wolvenberg (asphalt) 130km
5. Molenberg (cobbled)142km
6. Leberg (asphalt) 163km
7. Valkenberg (asphalt) 171km
8. Kaperij (asphalt) 181km
9. Kanarieberg (asphalt) 189km
10. Oude Kwaremont (cobbled) 205km
11. Paterberg (cobbled) 208km
12. Koppenberg (cobbled) 215km
13. Steenbeekdries (cobbled) 220km
14. Taaienberg (cobbled) 222km
15. Kruisberg (Oudestraat) (cobbled) 233km
16. Oude Kwaremont (cobbled) 243km
17. Paterberg (cobbled) 246km
...and 6 cobbled sectors:1. Ruiterstraat 130km
2. Kerkgate 133km
3. Holloweg 136km
4. Paddestraat 147km
5. Haaghoek 160km
6. Mariaborrestraat 219km

There is a good article here with more info: http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/15853/Koppenberg-takes-centre-stage-in-2014-Ronde-van-Vlaanderen-route.aspx#ixzz2lCHuYLUC


Trek Factory's Fan Club

You can join it here:
...and it seems it's worth of it.


Gino Bartali 'Righteous among the Nations' today

The awarding cerimony in memory of Gino Bartali as 'Righteous among Nations" has been held this morning by the Florence Synagogue. 
During the last part of the II World War, when Italy was occupied by Nazists and Allies' Army was fighting to get to the north, Bartali has got a special pass to train and used it to help people to escape the savagery of racial laws cooperating with the Italian Resistence.
Florence Major Matteo Renzi pointed out that racial laws had been made by the Italian Fascism not by Hitler or Nazists, not imposed but decided by Italians and deeply got in the daily life of Italian people. Renzi added Florence will never forget those moments, dramatic but also beautiful because of the courage showed by so many men and women, like Gino Bartali, in the name of the human dignity.
Source: Controradio Firenze

Trek Factory Racing Team: meet & greet in Durbuy (Belgium)

There we go. Technically season 2014 is already on. Many teams are holding in these days their first team building camp and that's specially important for new teams. 
Trek Factory isn't completely 'new', its core being Fabian Cancellara, the Schleck(s) and a large part of the Radio Shack + Leopard Trek + Leopard (continental) team, that is a big ambicious project badly ended. The new team however is new because finally - HAPPY FACE :D - it has got a serious financial management (Trek) and a sport management without shadows (Luca Guercilena and co.) This time it's the right time. Or... there is no more time, especially for Andy and Frank Schleck. I'm sure they know that and are ready to start this new chapter of their career with commitment.
The meet & greet is in Durbuy (Belgium): "Known as the smallest town on earth Durbuy is also one of the prettiest. The old town dates mainly from the 17 th century. Its pedestrian streets, winding between the ancient houses, are narrow and cobbled. Durbuy is a very pleasant holiday resort renowned for its excellent food." You can read that and more here: http://www.visitbelgium.com/index.php/our-cities/durbuy I have been many times in that area but never there so I was curious and googled it.
It looks a nice place. No doubt they are going to have fun. As I said, the most of riders and staff are already good mates and often good friends, the new entries are very young or well known riders so they will have few problems to merge into the new group. 
This first meeting is supposed to last one week
Yes, I think it should work this time. Good luck!

Tour of Rwanda: a new success for Team Qhubeka

Season isn't so off, not for everybody. Team Qhubeka is racing indead and is racing well. Yesterday they won the besr team classification, today a stage. Read how:
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung PRESS RELEASE:
 Jay Thomson topped off an incredible day in the first road stage of this year’s Tour of Rwanda. The South African national champion crossed the line solo after attacking a reduced lead group as the race entered the Kirehe city.

Louis Meintjes also made the podium rolling across the line third. Not to be overlooked, Adrien Niyonshuti finished ninth on what was a tough stage with over 1449 metres of climbing. A visibly exhausted Thomson collapsed after the finish line and immediately described the day as the hardest victory he’s ever achieved.

“The racing was super negative for the first 50 kilometres, then I made a conscious decision that we should start attacking. The guys did a great job. We were a unit. We all followed moves and shared the work equally and took turns to be in the action,” Thomson said.

He went on to explain that as the race entered the last hour, Rwandan, Niyonshuti made the first move that put the team on the front foot.

Embedded image permalink “We hit the last climb and we were going hard and I said to AD he should go. He attacked and made a real dent as the group went from 35 guys down to 20. Then Louis attacked and put it down to a group of six guys. The South Africans were on the backfoot and had to chase. As they caught Louis, I went on what I thought was the last climb. I got a gap but every bump that followed hurt. I was praying for the finish line to come those last 12 kilometres but I knew Louis was in the group behind so I knew I could give everything and if I exploded, Louis would go for the win,” Thomson added.

The result moved Thomson into the overall lead with Meintjes in second place, two seconds behind. Johann van Zyl and Songezo Jim finished safely in Niyonshuti’s group.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung placed all riders in the top 20 on the stage and all riders are also in the top 20 of the general classification.

Tuesday’s stage 2 is seen by many as the queen stage as 151km await the peloton. The start takes place in Niyonshuti’s hometown, Rwamagana.

Well done! A woman on each UCI Commission

Press release
The UCI today announced the new composition of its commissions. (Click here for UCI Commissions)
Members of 18 commissions have been appointed. In an unprecedented decision in the organisation’s history, at least one woman will sit on each of the commissions newly-designated under the Presidency of Brian Cookson.
In line with the manifesto commitments, three new commissions have been set up: the Women’s Commission, the International Development and National Federations’ Commission, and a Constitutional Review Panel.
The Cycling for All Commission has been separated into two bodies: the “Mass Participation Events” and “Advocacy/Cyclist’s Rights” Commissions. The UCI means to place particular emphasis on the development of these two areas.
Seven weeks after his election, Brian Cookson continues to implement the initiatives contained in his manifesto.
UCI President Brian Cookson declared: “I am delighted by this announcement, which helps reinforce the presence of women in cycling. It was one of the priorities of my mandate along with the international development of cycling and the reform of the governance of the UCI. Today we continue working to ensure our pledges are met.”
UCI Communication Services


Cyclocross: Walsleben doesn't give up in Gavere

Nys won. But he had to fight till the end because the German champion, true revelation of this cross season so far, didn't allow him an easy win.
The forest was splendid in fall's colours - red brown and gold - the route was muddy but still fast. 
Lars van der Haar was again the fastest at the start, fighting for the leading with Klaas Vantornout. Aernouts was quickly out dued to a mechanical problem while Vantornout excaped with Walsleben. Van der Haar tried to chase solo but got caught.
It wasn't over yet for anybody: a very open race. Albert, already a bit dropped, took wrong a curve and went against a barrier. Pulling the chasing group, van der Haar contributed in annulling the gap. A new front group formed, including again Vantornout and Walsleben plus van der Haar himself. Behind Nys had started chasing and very soon they were all together. Vantornout crossed first the line, then Walsleben, van der Haar, Nys, Peeters and Van Amerongen.
At this point Walsleben went away solo! ....then Nys, Vantornout and van der Haar. The chase was superfast. Walsleben's face looked twisted but he didn't give up, kept attacking instead, resisting to Nys' rude approach. Shoulders touched a couple of times. The least you can say is that Walsleben has guts. They fought till the end, went together to the finish and Nys won but didn't rule. 3rd Vantornout with a large gap, 4th Peeters, 5 Albert who passed the line shaking his head in disappointment, 6 Lars van der Haar, probably not happy but still able to put out a smile in the after race interview. 
Great cross! great duel!
But I'd like to ask Lars a few things... I'm not a cross expert, you know. He always attacks since the start and it often works... but maybe on less flat and fast route he should wait a bit - like Nys always does - to save some energy for the last laps? or would that mean to lose positions he can't get back later? Of course I see that Nys has got a terrible power, so he can easily open the gas at the last lap and join the head of the race... Anyway, a change of strategy could maybe be tried sometimes...
I'm looking forward to check http://cyclephotos.co.uk/ photos: always beautiful!
1 Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan KDL Cycling Team 1:02:13  
2 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus 0:00:01  
3 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:00:31  
4 Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:00:38  
5 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team 0:00:44  
6 Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank Development Team 0:00:56  
7 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:01:15  
8 Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team 0:01:48  
9 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:01:54  
10 Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank Development Team 0:02:12  
11 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team    
12 Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team 0:02:29  
13 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:02:51  
14 Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa) 0:03:04  
15 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan KDL Cycling Team 0:03:16  
16 Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team 0:03:23  
17 Egoitz Murgoitio (Spa) Grupo Hirumet Taldea 0:03:31  
18 Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team 0:03:44  
19 Marcel Meisen (Ger) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team 0:04:31  
20 Micki Van Empel (Ned) Crelan KDL Cycling Team 0:05:13  
21 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team 0:05:16  
22 Martin Bina (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team 0:05:20  
23 Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles 0:05:26  
24 Javier Ruiz de Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) MMR Spiuk 0:05:40  
25 Jonathan Page (USA) Fuji-Spy-Competitive Cyclist 0:06:59  
26 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team  -1lap  
27 Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) DNCS-Pro 2012 Cycling Team    
28 Yannick Mayer (Ger) Team Baier Landshut  -3laps  
29 Christoph Amborziak (Ger)    
30 Ivan Jovanovic (Srb) DNCS-Pro 2012 Cycling Team  -5laps  
DNF Davy Commeyne (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty Cycling Team    
DNF Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team    
DNF Patrick Gaudy (Bel) The Barracuda Company    
DNF Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games Cycling Team    
DNF Wietse Bosmans (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus Cycling Team    
DNF James Spragg (GBr) Team Bergamont Bicycles by BMC Group    
DNF Radomir Simunek (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah Cycling Team    
DNF Michel Vuelta (Spa)

Cyclism'Awards on Cyclism'actu

Time of polls and prizes. Everybody know the Cyclingnews Readers Poll, I just posted about De Telegraaf and now I want to share this one. It's a bit more complicated because there are many categories and you must vote in different days. There isn't only the readers' vote but also a jury. Find all here:
27/10 you could vote for the best sprinter of the year. 3/11 the more promisng neo-pro. 10/11 the best 'rouleur'. As far as I get it, it's still possible to vote.
Today is about the best rider for classics and you can vote for: Fabian Cancellara, Gerald Ciolek, Rui Costa, John Degenkolb, Tony Gallopin, Enrico Gasparotto, Robert Gesink, Roman Kreuziger, Daniel Martin, Daniel Moreno, Joaquin Rodriguez, Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde and Greg van Avermaet.  
I must confess I didn't vote for Fabian Cancellara. I voted for Daniel Martin. Cancellara has been splendid also this year but there is nothing new in that, Daniel Martin has been impressive and touching. That's why. But Cancellara's fan have no reason to be worried: I guess he's going to win that one... again and again!

Next polls:
24/11 best climber (I want to vote for Andy Schleck and if I don't find him here... I'm not going to vote. But I'd understand :) )
1/12 best Belgian rider
8/12 best French rider (this one is hard!)
15/12 best team
22/12 rider of the year
Results with jury's vote on New Year's Eve.

A pic from Luxembourg

Frank Schleck enjoying some good Italian food  :)


VOTE on De Telegraaf for The Best (Dutch) rider of the year

Wie is de beste wielrenner van het jaar?  Who is the best? you can vote here:

I already did. 
There are three categories: among men you can vote for Matthijs Buchli, Lars van der Haar, Bauke Mollema, Pieter Weening or Joost Wichman
Among women you can choose among Anna van der Breggen, Ellen van Dijk, Laura Smulders, Marianne Vos and Kirsten Wild. The last category is about young talents and you can vote for Dylan van Baarle, Elis Ligtlee, Wilco Kelderman, Mathieu van der Poel or Mike Teunissen.
It has been not easy  for me to choose between Bauke Mollema and Lars van der Haar but I voted for Lars because at his 1st year in the elite category he finished on the podium in the World Championship and, in general, did very well. Among women I had no problem because I'm a big supporter of Marianne Vos. As far as young talents are concerned... I voted for Wilco Kelderman because I know him better - as a rider - and really like him, but probably the best one in this bunch is Mathieu van der Poel: impressive! However he's so young that he can win this poll another time!! 
So it's your turn! who's your favourite?


Yes we like... Kenny Elissonde

He doesn't need an introduction: he's one of the purest young talents in cycling. Born in 1991, pro since 2011, always defending team FDJ 's colours, this year he won the Angliru's stage in the last Vuelta a Espana and that's something, isn't it? ;) 
If you want to know more about his results, go here:
...but if you want to read something more personal... go on!

Ilaria: Hello Kenny, thank you for this interview. We are at the end of the season [collecting answers took a looong time] are you satisfied? did you miss anything? 
Kenny: Yes, I'm satisfied,  satisfied because at  the end of my season I see I have managed to get my main goal: to finish my first big tour, and, obviously,  to have won the 20th stage at the summit of Angliru makes me really proud and happy .
Ilaria: What has been your best day? Kenny: My best day was so far the stage of the Angliru. From the beginning to the end I had the feeling that something big was possible.
Ilaria: A great feeling for sure! and your worst day? 

Kenny: Finally my worst day was during the Vuelta as well, during the stage of Andorra, an epic stage, with an horrible weather, a lot of rain, just 3 degres at the summit, after 14 really hot days. It don't like the bad weather to be honest, and this day was one of the worst days on the bike of my career,  I was the last one fighting with the timecut during maybe the last three hours.
Ilaria: Not nice at all...  Tell us, please: how did you start racing? 
Kenny: I don't really know how, just for to try, for the feeling to be free, to discover the world, different landscapes, and maybe also because I'm born on the 22 of July 1991 .... during the Tour de France ahahah!
Ilaria: What's your dream race, the one you dream to win? 
Kenny: Hum, my dream race... a mythical race like the classics: Liege-Bastogne-Liege,  Lombardia etc, this is the kind of race I can race, because I like to look at the cobbles classics, Milano.-Sanremo etc. and of course for a French... the Tour de France. I have some wonderful memories of the TDF with my parents, waiting 5 hours for to see the riders 30 sec ... but I had really some good memories of those summers. I dream to win a big mountain stage of the TDF after a long long breakaway: pure pleasure !!
Ilaria: Ah! I'm looking forward to see that! Those are the kind of races I like to watch ;) What has been so far the more emotional day of your career? but I guess I know... 
Kenny: My more emotional day was the Angliru... what a day... I still have no words to describe this day... magic.
Ilaria: And if you weren't a cyclist what would you like to be? 
Kenny: I don't really know because cycling is my life but maybe a job in the art, I love art, maybe to have a gallery or a workshop.
Ilaria: What do you like the most in cycling? 
Kenny: I like to be free, I like the travels, to discover some country's culture, I like all the training, the preparation etc and of course the race, particulary in the mountain.
Ilaria: What is the thing you don't like that much in being a pro-rider? 
Kenny: Sometimes it's hard to leave home for 2 or 3 weeks and to be far from my familly and my girlfriend.
Ilaria: Yep, I agree: it must be hard, also for them. And finally: favourite food? favourite music? favourite country? 
Kenny: Favourite food: home made hamburger, rumstek or beef with potatoes the good wine, good cheese. I love the greek islands, it's so beautiful and quiet. I  like electronic music and a lot of sort of music !!
Ilaria: Thank you very much and good luck for next year: I hope I'll interview you again... for a special win.


In short: interview with Frank Schleck by Le Quotidien

Ardennes 2011: Andy and Frank side by side...
It's here (french):
In short and translated, as far as Andy Schleck is concerned:

1. Family: Granny Gaby is going to be very busy: not only Andy is waiting a baby but also both his brothers. It's the sencond one for Frank and Martine and the first one for big bro Steve. Congrats!
2. Together: Andy and Frank are just back from Fuerteventura where they trained but had also some good time together.
3. Saison 2013 could start with Tour Down Under but also - more probably - with  Tour de San Luis.  
4. Schedule: Frank is going to race Paris-Nice, then Critérium international, Tour du Pays basque, Ardennes Classics,  Tour de Luxembourg, Tour de Suisse and Tour de France. PN is sure, all the rest must be decided by the management. Frank doesn't tell that but Guercilena said his schedule will be the same as Andy.
5. Algarve: Martine's parents has got a small house in Algarve so they'll train there if in Luxembourg is bad weather. Frank also says he'd like to race Tour of Algarve (2/19-22).
6. Tour de France: Frank thinks that Andy can win the next Tour de France: "This route is perfect"


Three Days in Casentino

Walking in silence in the misty forest, sweating and feeling some pain in my legs. I was in need of that so I got the first chance to leave and went in a three days trekking in Casentino. It was supposed to rain but it didn't. We were a well builded group of nine including also my son and my ex, plus our guide. We were all good walkers so all worked absolutely smoothly.
Casentino is a large area on the mountains between Toscana and Emilia-Romagna, on the way to Forlì. Coming from Florence, you have to cross Consuma and Calla, two passes very popular among local cyclists, in the heart of the thick Casentino forest, of fir trees, beech, maple, ash, elm and linden. More cultivated in Tuscany, wilder in Emilia-Romagna, this forest is very old. For centuries monks and paesans took care of it, living in the secluded hermitage of Laverna or scattered in isolated houses. More recently a dam has been builded on the river near the acient abandoned village of Ridracoli and from there we started our trip.
The first day we had to climb 700 m to reach our refuge for the night - Ca' di Sopra. We walked 7 km. A bit brutal but worth of it. The second day we walked for about 7 hours up and down, 15 km from Ca' di Sopra to Casanova crossing the beautiful forest of La Lama. There is also a dirty road from Cancellino (near Badiaprataglia) to La Lama, good to ride by bike. 
But walking into the forest it's different. You feel small under the tall trees, you smell the Fall from the soft rug of leaves under your shoes: brown, red, golden. gray and dark. One hundred of tones and shade. You hear the wind making clash the tops of the trees with the same sound of masts of ships in a small harbour: I love this song from my childhood, when it used to enchant me on my house-on-a-tree, floating in a sea of green chestnut leaves. 
In the forest you listen to the hidden, shy animals, to the far, secret water jumping from stone to stone, snakeing in the wild grass, feeding wild flowers: dark pink cyclamens, white saxifrages, yellow meadow goat's-beard... The path goes uphill, dug in the hard rocky ground, then down, large and soft of leaves, then uphill again following a ridge. You walk without thinking, just deeply beathing, just watching, just feeling you are part of it, a small part of something huge and alive. 
It's a great feeling. Like this good exhaustion at the end of the day, physical, not mental, when the sun sets and it's completely dark ouside, completely silent, a fire is ready in the fireplace and white deers come to eat the gentle grass on the mow yard around the refuge. 
It's a great feeling to share a well deserved dinner and some chatt, to sing - quite badly - half songs and laugh because nobody can remember lyrics... Better of all, it's great to go finally to sleep in your sleeping bag, cold face in the cold air but warm body inside, while wolves are howling in the night.
The last day we flanked the lake and walked on the dam's wall. It was so windy that in bed, in the early morning, we thought it was a rain storm. But no: it was a savage wind harrassing trees and waters. When we left it had calmed down a litte but on the dam's wall we had to struggle to keep standing and walk.
As far as me, I had started this trip fed up and angry. I had sent an angry message before I left from home but the answer had come in the morning of the second day, when the phone signal was about to die. It was a good one, so calm, so balanced I had felt ashamed. And I spent the next two days walking and thinking of it. It's hard when you understand you should believe but you can't because you have been too badly hurt before. I'm forcing myself to believe, to give credit... not easy.