Happy New Year

Hello! I'm just back from Belgium and it has been great. 
Thanks to my friend Dirk who introduced us to a serious live cyclocross.
Thanks to Angus Edmond and Lars Van der Haar who raced it on ice, mud and snow and still found the way to be kind and smiling.
Thanks to our host in Brussels who made us feel at home.
I have tons of pictures to edit and tons of stories to write, beautiful memories to share, an empty bottle of Malteni, a new t-shirt...
Just give me some time. So far... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Cyclocross: Keep Calm and Win! Lars van der Haar Solo in Zolder

Embedded image permalinkNo story race: Lar van der Haar went away 7 laps to go and remained solo till the finish. Only one thrilling moment, 3 laps to go, when his chain went off: he kept calm and fixed it.
Behind, no story as well: Kevin Pauwels was the only serious contender: he tried to bridge but couldn't catch Van der Haar. In the chasing group the fight was for 3rd and Van Kessel won.
Bravo Lars!! HAPPY!!

Lars Van der Haar:
“It was a beautiful victory today, and luck was on my side this time. I have been in a good shape recently and I felt strong and was able to finish it off. I saw an opportunity when Kevin Pauwels was behind and there were four of us ahead. I hoped that the group could work together but that didn’t happen so, I thought I would just go for myself with a big attack. I don’t normally do this type of attack but it worked.
It was a hard race, hard at places where you did not expected it, and if you are alone it was even harder. On one point I thought that Kevin come back to me, but I heard that he was also suffering behind so I gave everything and could take some more time on him and that worked out, gave me confidence to finish it off.”

Kevin Pauwels: 
"Today Van Der Haar was stronger. I am satisfied with my second place."

Tom Meeusen:
"I also wonder what was going on. I have no explanation for it. The warming and everything went well. But when the race started, already at the first lap, it was completely over for me, immediately. "


1 Lars VAN DER HAAR NED 23 1:08:11
2 Kevin PAUWELS BEL 30 1:08:56
3 Corne VAN KESSEL NED 23 1:09:20
4 Julien TARAMARCAZ SUI 27 1:09:21
5 Philipp WALSLEBEN GER 27 1:09:37
6 David VAN DER POEL NED 22 1:09:41
7 Gianni VERMEERSCH BEL 22 1:09:44
8 Sascha WEBER GER 26 1:09:45
9 Martin BINA CZE 31 1:09:45
10 Jens ADAMS BEL 22 1:09:49
11 Rob PEETERS BEL 29 1:09:58
12 Marcel MEISEN GER 25 1:10:11
13 Tim MERLIER BEL 22 1:10:18
14 Bart WELLENS BEL 36 1:10:18
15 Jim AERNOUTS BEL 25 1:10:19
16 Simon ZAHNER SUI 31 1:10:25
17 Tom MEEUSEN BEL 26 1:11:27
18 Jeremy POWERS USA 31 1:11:41
19 Fabien CANAL FRA 25 1:11:51
20 Tomas PAPRSTKA CZE 22 1:11:58
21 Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team 0:03:55  
22 Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) 0:03:56  
23 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Project Cross Racing 0:04:13  
24 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team 0:04:29  
25 Bryan Falaschi (Ita) Selle Italia Guerciotti 0:04:30  
26 Ole Quast (Ger) 0:04:36  
27 Michael Boros (Cze) CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor  
28 Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team 0:04:46  
29 Martin Haring (Svk) 0:05:10  
30 Clement Lhotellerie (Fra) 0:05:38  
31 Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned) 0:05:56  
32 Kenneth Hansen (Den) 0:05:59  
33 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott- Odlo MTB Racing Team 0:06:12  
34 Matej Lasak (Cze) 0:06:38  
35 Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team 0:06:43  
36 Josep Betalu (Spa) 0:06:52  
37 Alois Falenta (Fra) 0:06:53  
38 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike 0:07:10  
39 Flavien Dassonville (Fra) BIGMAT - AUBER 93  
40 Ismael Felix Barba Frutos (Spa)  
41 Yu Takenouchi (Jpn)  
42 Agustin Navarro Vidal (Spa)  
43 Aaron Schooler (Can) Focus CX Team  
44 Robert Marion (USA) American Classic Pro Cyclocross  
45 Asier Arregui Dominguez (Spa)  
46 Yannick Mayer (Ger)  
47 Ramon Sagues Portabella (Spa)  
48 Angus Edmond (NZl)  
49 Mark Mcconnell (Can)  
50 Ulrich Theobald (Ger)  
51 Arnau Rota Cano (Spa)  
52 Garry Millburn (Aus)  

53 Asier Urdaibai Erauzkin (Spa)

Cyclocross: World Champions in Zolder Marianne Vos (Elite Women) and Laurens Sweeck (U23 men)

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Laurens Sweeck:
"I'm really happy with this victory. It's very difficult to beat Wout and Mathieu, because usually I'm a little less strong than them. I also can benefit from a bit of rivalry between Mathieu and Wout, though I was really very strong today."

U23 Men
1.Laurens Sweeck
2.Wout Van Aert 
3.Mathieu van der Poel

Elite Women
1 Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank-Liv  
2 Kateirna Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Cycling  
3 Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabobank-Liv  
4 Sabrina Stultiens (Ned)  
5 Eva Lecnher (Ita)  
6 Ellen Van Loy (Bel)  
7 Sanne Cant (Bel)  
8 Sophie De Boer (Ned)  
9 Lucie Chainel-Lefevere (Fra)  
10 Martina Mikulaskova (Cze)


Firenze Cycling MeetUp: Cascine del Riccio

Cascina Del Riccio, Firenze Oil Painting - Ulvi Liegi
Cascine del Riccio by Ulivi Liegi
Macchiaioli, Vedutisti, post impressionists. They used to paint dal vero landscapes and the nature, the daily life or modest people. Their style was sober, realistic without naturalism, aware of the lesson of Cezannes, using the colour to build volumes and decomposing forms by a geometrical filter. In the first years of the XX century they brought Paris to Florence and to the villages around the city, rather painting a narrow streat by the river Ema than the new rich square in the Center, rebuilt destrying when Florence was Capital.
By The River Ema by Graziano Marsili
They used to come on foot or also by bike, carrying  easel and palette to represent with a mixed feeling the mixed age they were living in, modernity side by side with the past.
Some of them are famous, like Lega and Fattori, others have been forgotten. It was a large movement, revolutionary in a way because it gave value to simple thing, watching the world with the eye of poor people, workers, village women, children rudely playing in a negletted grass while watching after a suburban herd.
I often think of them while riding by the river Ema from Le Cinque Vie to Cascine del Riccio, so close to Florence but still completely different. The landscape didn't change that much, the sun still reflects his golden rays in the small stream water, or a rosy cloud. There are more cars, especially in the rush hour when Florentines use it as shortcut. On Sunday it's full of cyclists.
I have been there riding yesterday, for the Three Months Celebration Ride of the Firenze Cycling MeetUp. We met at 11 am by the Chiosco Il Tempio, rode up to Piazzale Michelangelo, down to Galluzzo and in the river Ema valley by Le Cinque Vie and Cascine del Riccio. We reached Ponte a Ema and went back to the start by Via Chiantigiana and Via di Villamagna. 20 km more or less, just to get it started.
It's the first time we actually ride together, in spite we are already 14 , and only few came. I know: Winter isn't the best season to start a cycling club.... Anyway, the weather was perfect,  we went as slowly as we were supposed to go and in spite we were riding mixed bikes - race bikes and a mbk - I think it has been amusing.
The next ride will be in January so I wish all my Easy Riders a merry Xmas and a happy new year!
I must bring my camera once, yes I must bring it and try to take some pictures of those lovely places. But I didn't yesterday and looking for images I ran into those two painters I didn't know, Ulivi Liegi and Graziano Marsili. A fortunate occurrence!

Lars Van der Haar's Bike

Superprestige cyclocross race of Francorchamp 2014Cyclocross is a dirty job and riders need to change bike very often during the race, so Giant supplies Lars with a fleet of five Giant TCX Advanced Pro bikes
As you probably know,the Giant TCX Advanced Pro was the first disc-equipped ‘cross bike to win a UCI world cup, with Lars in Valkenburg, last year.
Now lets learn something more about it!

Team Giant-Shimano technical expert Tom Davids:
“Lars is riding the same bike as he was on last season when he won the World Cup, the TCX Advanced Pro, but with some key changes that we identified. The frame is made from Advanced-grade composite material, making it very light yet stiff and responsive to the needs of a cyclo-cross race. We looked at what we could improve on an already strong design, with the main change coming in the front end with an upgrade to the front wheel with a thru-axle to further increase stiffness.
It has a Giant’s D-Fuse composite seat post design, built to dampen vibration. The lack of a bridge on the seat stays allows for more mud clearance, and a thin, flat top tube improves shoulder comfort yet maintains stiffness.
It has race proven geometry together with asymmetrical chainstays for optimal power transfer. He has five bikes all of which are built with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Shimano R785 hydraulic disc brakes. It is then finished off with the PRO Vibe stem and bar, as well as a PRO saddle. It is then completed with Shimano XTR M-980 XC pedals.
The circumstances Lars is riding in are of course the best testing grounds that you could ask for in terms of performance and as well durability, something that is of course important for the consumer.”

Lars Van der Haar:
“I have ridden this bike for the past few seasons now and know it very well. We have changed what needs changing and the bike has some great technologies. It’s smooth when it needs to be smooth and stiff when it needs to hold its ground. I really like this bike.”


Cyclocross: An Off Camber Traverse

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Namur Mon Amour...
An easy rhyme for an hard race: technical and brutal. Tough climbs, a tough descent and moreover a nasty off camber traverse: exactly there the race has been won, when Lars Van der Haar made a few mistakes and Kevin Pauwels dropped him from his wheel.
But lets start from the start: Namur is an intimidating, crazy race, something like the assoult to a fortress. Well, yes, just that.
The top riders approached it with respect and for the first laps there was Sach aWeber in front with Wildhaber. Then Meeusen attacked and made a huge selection: only four remained in front: Meeusen, Van der Haar, Pauwels and Van Kessel.
Four laps to go Walsleben bridged from the chasing group. Van der Haar decided it was time to go solo. Three laps to go Pauwels managed to join, while Walsleben dropped Van Kessel, then Meeusen and kept pulling, closer and closer.
At this point strategy counts: Van der Haar tried to drop Pauwels but couldn't so decided to stay on his wheel. They crossed the line together at the last lap and Pauwels wasn't happy because Van der Haar wasn't collaborating and Walsleben was very close. 
The last lap was frantic. Van der Haar still glued to Pauwels' wheel. But on that off camber traverse he had rocked in the previous laps he did too many mistakes and Pauwels went solo. Till the line.

Kevin Pauwels:
“Before the off-camber section I looked back and noticed I had a small gap on Lars. I rode it well and I was gone. It’s looking good for the World Cup with two races left that suit me well.”

Lars van der Haar:
"No win but a second in WC Namur. Happy or not happy, undecided. Mud in the eyes last lap, couple of misstakes and he was gone. #that'scross"

1 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team 1:07:43  
2 Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Development Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:10  
3 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Bkcp - Powerplus 0:00:19  
4 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea 0:01:24  
5 Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet - Fidea 0:01:38  
6 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team 0:01:46  
7 Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team 0:02:05  
8 Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team 0:02:10  
9 Sascha Weber (Ger) Veranclassic - Doltcini 0:02:24  
10 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - Kwadro 0:02:30  
11 Francis Mourey (Fra) Fdj.Fr 0:02:31  
12 David Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp - Powerplus 0:02:37  
13 Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon - Kwadro 0:03:21  
14 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Corendon - Kwadro 0:03:28  
15 Fabien Canal (Fra) Look - Beaumes De Venise 0:03:33  
16 Jeremy Powers (USA) 0:03:34  
17 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:03:41  
18 Jonathan Page (USA) 0:03:56  
19 Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Cycling Team 0:04:00  
20 Simon Zahner (Swi) 0:04:01  
21 Lubomir Petrus (Cze) Bkcp - Powerplus 0:04:04  
22 Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:04:07  
23 Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga Ibanez (Spa) 0:04:08  
24 Michael Boros (Cze) 0:04:22  
25 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea 0:04:29  
26 Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team 0:04:42  
27 Tomas Paprstka (Cze) Remerx-Merida Team Kolin 0:04:58  
28 Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet - Fidea 0:05:08  
29 Andreas Moser (Swi) 0:05:09  
30 Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa)  
31 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet - Fidea 0:05:36  
32 Ian Field (GBr) 0:05:59  
33 Mariusz Gil (Pol) Corendon - Kwadro 0:06:09  
34 Severin Saegesser (Swi) 0:06:13  
35 Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze) 0:06:31  
36 Lukas Winterberg (Swi) 0:06:44  
37 Ole Quast (Ger) -1Lap  
38 Martin Haring (Svk) Ck Banska Bystrica  
39 Clément Lhotellerie (Fra)  
40 Kenneth Hansen (Den)  
41 Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels  
42 Josep Betalu (Spa) -2Laps  
43 Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon - Kwadro  
44 Michael Schweizer (Ger)  
45 Marco Bianco (Ita)  
46 Michael Wildhaber (Swi) -3Laps  
47 Joachim Parbo (Den)  
48 Aaron Schooler (Can)  
49 Yu Takenouchi (Jpn) Veranclassic - Doltcini -4Laps  
50 Agustin Navarro Vidal (Spa)  
51 Matej Lasak (Cze) -5Laps  
52 Mark Mcconnell (Can)  
53 Ramon Sagues Portabella (Spa)  
54 Angus Edmond (NZl)  
55 Garry Millburn (Aus)  
56 Jeremy Durrin (USA) Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies  
57 Robert Marion (USA)


Cyclocross: I feel for Sven Nys! see what he says (translated) and my opinion

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There is an interview here.
Sven Nys:
"I'm riding at 50 % of my strength. Today I had the same feeling than in Overijse. I'm going to skip Namur, tomorrow. And no, I do not know when I'll be back in competition.
I need to know what's wrong. The training camp didn't bring what I had hoped for.
I look at the World Championship day by day. Maybe Heusden will come too early.
After Overijse I have been looking for causes, had blood tests done and so on, but I didn't find a reason for my poor performance. Actually, I know as much as you, and that is the fact that it just isn't right. Something happened after the Superprestige in Gavere and I can't get it back on track.
I'm only human, hey I tried to do everything that I needed to be good in the past few weeks, but I see that it's still just as before. I'm not up to my level for the first time in fifteen years."

I feel for Sven Nys, really! It isn't easy to be The Champion, Especially when personal life becomes complicated. It isn't easy to be always up to the expectations of media and fans, especially when you are normally the top one. And it's definitely bad when you can't performe and you don't know why. 
I'm not an athlete but Nys situation remember me when I was suffering for a severe anemia... and didn't know it. I spent almost one year feeling deadly weak AND miserable. When I found out the reason it was a true relieve. When you know what's wrong you can start working on it.
So I really feel for man from Baal and I wish him to find soon his way back on trak! He had a splendid, amazing career so far. Maybe his body and his soul are calling for some rest? for a different life? Not easy to stop but better to stop when you are good. 

Cyclocross: Van Aert Kills It in Essen

Embedded image permalinkNOT Lars van der Haar's day: the fastest at the start got immediately a mechanical problem, chased all race and finished out of the top ten. Better in Namur hopefully!
Van Aert's day DEF: he killed it. He simply smashed it. As fast as Van der Haar, luckier, strong. He went away with the team mate Peeters in the 2nd lap already and never quited the front. Tom Meeusen quickly joined while it took a while to Pauwels to arrange a chase. When Pauwels attacked trying to bridge, Van Aert went solo and solo crossed the line at the last lap. 
Embedded image permalinkThe front group exploded: Meeusen followed but never cought the leader. Finished 2nd at 1'! Peeters couldn't chase so Pauwels joined him who remained on his wheel. But at the last lap Peeters attacked, dropped Pauwels and gained a well deserved 3rd.
It was windy out there. And muddy. Large puddles were reflecting a warm rosy sun set light.

Lars van der Haar:
"Not a good day in Essen. But the bad result was mostly to blame to a twisted ankle in the last 3 laps. Mud was so deep. Hope it recovers! :(
Me: :( But what did happen just after the start?
Lars: Stuck in the rope with my shifter.
Me: Arg! :( Better tomorrow! "

1. Wout van Aert 
2. Tom Meeusen 
3. Rob Peeters 
4. Kevin Pauwels 
5. Philipp Walsleben
6. Gianni Vermeersch 
7. Sven Vanthourenhout 
8. Joeri Adams 
9. Jens Adams 
10. Tim Merlier


Share The Road: "Tommy Sapeva Correre" presented

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Tommaso Cavorso was 13 yo when a car driver killed him doing a forbiden move to pass some other cars. He was training with his team, Aquila, the same time of Gino Bartali (and my son's too). 
After four years the court still have to give a final verdict, the killer paied nothing yet and never stopped driving. 
Tommaso's father is fighting not only for his personal justice but for safety on the roads for alls.
The ex rider Paolo Alberati wrote this book that today has been presented in Autodromo del Mugello. Many people was there, including some Astana's staff, and many young cyclists, including my son. They ride two laps of the track, then watched a bike show by Alberto Limatore, bike trial Italian champion. Finally the book has been presented by the author, Tommaso's dad and Maurizio Fondriest. Copies has been sold for charity.
Tommaso's story will remain forever with us, impossible to forget.
I'm just a little disappointed about the writer, under investigation for doping, and honestly also for the special guests from a special watched team (Astana). 
Also, I think it would have been better to hold the event in a place closer to the city, where kids could have gone by bike, in the week-end. 
As for me, I allowed my son to exit school earlier to take part and he came home excited and thoughtful. He told me: "Mom, Fondriest told us that once a car driver killed two apple trees in Trentino and had to paid more than another one who killed a person. It isn't fair."
No, it isn't.

Tour de France: Best Fan Pic Winner is...

...Bauke Mollema's little girl! So sweet! I definitely agree :D
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Cyclocross: In Short (and translated) Vantornout skips Essen and Namur

The sexiest man in the cross peloton is sick, so forced to skip the Bpost Bank Trophy-round in Essen and probably the World Cup in Namur.
There is an article here, together with this stunning picture.
On Wednesday Vantornout was supoosed to race the Sint-Niklaas cross, but didn't. He's struggling with a viral infection.

Klaas Vantornout:
"After my poor performance in Antwerp and Mol last weekend had to be something going on, On Monday and Tuesday I didn't feel all right, On Wednesday the illness came out the. The doctor told me that I have a viral infection. Rest is the only treatment because antibiotics are useless in a viral infection.
It comes at the true wrong moment, just before the busy holiday period. Essen and Namur races seemed talilored for me. Unfortunately I will have to skip at least Essen. With two nights ahead, I hope to be at the start in Namur to defend my 2nd place in the World Cup, but then everything should go well. Maybe I'll have to delete some competitions between Christmas and New Year."


Hour Record: Alex Dowsett Goes For It! and for little bleeders

Embedded image permalinkWOW! I'm looking forward! really I am! Alex is one of 'my' riders and I'm sure he's going to do things right. As the press release says: "British time trialist from Movistar Team -Commonwealth Games winner, 3-times National Champion- to take on current 51.852km mark at London's Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome on Friday, February 27th, 2015". And I'm considering the idea to fly there to watch.

Alex Dowsett:
"Things like the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics, the Tour de France and world championships hit home with the general public, but I truly had my eyes opened during my offseason this year when I travelled around Europe with the Miles for Haemophilia campaign. The campaign was simple: just to raise awareness and promote a healthy and active lifestyle within the Haemophilia community. What I realised quite quickly tough was the impact my story was having. As a young haemophiliac things were tough, even more so for my family than I. There was only a predicted gloomy outcome, talk of wheelchairs, crutches, joints fused in place or replaced, a far cry from the Alex you see before now.
On these trips I saw my story was spreading hope: their boy or girl could in fact lead an ordinary life. So I thought: what more can I do to bring a positive outlook on the future to them, alongside my own personal career ambitions? Everyone understands a world record, so I wanted my next target to be the hour record. The Hour is something I've always been interested in; the simplicity of it, mostly: no tactics, no hiding, just you and the bike. Now I've got a new sense of drive as I know that the more success I can achieve, the more hope it will give everyone in the whole rare disease community. We spend our childhoods being told what we can't do, so I'm going for the record for anyone that gets told what they can't do something and goes out to prove themselves otherwise. I'm training a hell of a lot harder because of it.

Eusebio Unzué:
"It's very emotional for me, due to several reasons.  Dowsett's attempt means looking back to what Miguel Indurain's hour record meant to all of us, 20 years ago. Back then, it wasn't really usual to pursue such record, of all goals you could go after, and there weren't many riders who dared to take such challenge, either. After some attempts prior to ours, Miguel relied on his chances to beat the mark, we got our hands into it and, after many weeks of hard work, the day came - and it was really emotional: the velodrome in Bordeaux, full of people, the TV camers showing it live... it was really different from what we were used to. I always remember that day as one of the hardest for Miguel: I found it completely broken, out of energy after such a hard attempt in conditions he wasn't accustomed to at all.
Alex's attempt reflects the globalization of cycling and the internationalization of our team. Taking the chance with a British rider, at the Olympic velodrome in London, and adding that social drive, with Alex taking such efforts to support those ones with rare diseases, himself being an ambassador of Haemophilia... I already find this attempt perfect and positive for everyone, all circumstances put together. On the other hand, without our partners, especially Canyon and Endura, we would have hardly made it to the start line. The marks that two track riders, big time trialists, like Bobridge and Rohan Dennis will set will make it really difficult for us, but I hope this will become a further drive for Alex to tackle it."

UCI President Brian Cookson:
“I am delighted that an experienced time trialist such as Alex Dowsett is attacking the UCI Hour Record just months after Matthias Brändle’s tremendous performance on the UCI World Cycling Centre velodrome, in Switzerland. After Brändle’s new record, I said that I was convinced that many other riders would try to add their names to the prestigious list of legendary UCI Hour Record holders, and Alex did not wait long to announce his attempt. It will take place at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome, the venue of the 2012 Olympic Games, which will add to the excitement of the event. Dowsett’s attempt gives credit to the amendment of the regulations we introduced several months ago. The recent changes have sparked an exciting series of challenges, which is exactly what we hoped would happen when we decided to authorise the use of track bikes with modern designs and technology. The UCI Hour Record has been revived and is capturing the imaginations of riders and fans alike.”

Practical info:
Tickets for the UCI Hour Record attempt are already available through See Tickets. Details on the attempt's exact timetable, press accreditations and TV coverage will be announced in the coming weeks. Fans will be able to follow the preparations for the event through the hashtags #PerfectHour and #UCIHourRecord, at Movistar Team's Facebook page and on Twitter accounts @alexdowsett, @Movistar_Team and @UCI_cycling.


In Short: Wilco Kelderman about Tour and Team

Giro 2013 (Ischia TTT)
Another great interview by Barry Ryan here

In Short:

1.TdF Grand Départ round the corner: “It’s really near my home so it’s a really big motivation. I think it’s a good opening time trial for me, because it’s a bit longer than a prologue. Last year, the time trials were good for me but I think I can make more progress with the bike and material.
The route looks OK for me, although the first week with the cobblestone stages and the Mur de Huy is going to be really important. I just like to ride the French races so I’m really looking forward to riding the Tour in the coming year.
I hope to begin really good at the Tour and then I hope to go for top 15, top 10. That’s going to be my goal, as high up as possible, but it’s hard to say which place. Anything can happen, especially at the Tour with the crashes and everything, but I am going for a high classification.”

2. Team Lotto-Jumbo: “It’s really a Dutch team now. All of the Netherlands is looking to us and all of the riders are speaking Dutch. Only George Bennett maybe not. Of course, we looked to other teams and there was a lot of interest but I feel good on this team and the first choice was to stay with Belkin and now with Lotto-Jumbo. Of course it was necessary to talk to different teams but my first choice was always Team Lotto.
No one expected that Belkin would stop so it was a little bit of a surprise for the whole team when that happened. Then during the Tour, it was announced that there would be a new sponsor and the situation was already a lot better. I think we are a really special team, especially in the Netherlands.
In a lot of races I am one of the leaders and outside of the races I’m one of the bigger guys on the team. I’m more important now, I feel it already.”

Cyclocross: Mathieu Van der Poel as Sint Niklaas

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1 Van der Poel Mathieu 
2 Pauwels
3 Bosmans 
4 Adams 
5 Taramarcaz 
6 Meisen 
7 Bastaans 
8 Van der Poel
10 Wellens


Here She Comes! Sarah Storey for Women's Hour Record

Sarah Storey:
"Excited to announce I will be attempting the Women's Hour Record @RevolutionUK on Saturday 28th February. Training is going well! ‪#‎paincave‬ "

In Short: Sep Vanmarcke is ready for cobbles

For  Igor Decraene
You know I belove Barry Ryan's writing style, and  Sep Vanmarcke is one of my favourite riders. 
In spite I normally support Fabian Cancellara I wanted Vanmarcke to win that fucking Roubaix when he got beated in that fucking velodrome. Sorry for the vulgarity but it has been a fucking shame!
I like  Sep Vanmarcke's attitude, not an easy one. He was the only one protesting against the reduction of the pavé sections in the last Tour de France for safety reasons in that hellish weather. Very unpopular, but Roubaix riders look the Hell into the eye, so I get his point. 
Now  there is a splendid interview with Sep Vanmarcke by Barry Ryan, read it  all HERE.

In Short:
1. Strong: “I don’t think about it a lot but, yeah, if I think back, I was really strong in those races – like Cancellara, of course. And if you count those races together, then we probably were the strongest two in the field, although if you look separately at the Tour of Flanders, then Van Avermaet was also really strong."
2. Want a win: "Straight after the Classics season I wasn’t overly happy because I really wanted to win a big race and it didn’t happen. But now after, what, half a year, I have to be satisfied because I was strong in every race, not just a few races. In every Classic I did, I was up there and I’m still only 25. Each year I’m getting better and better and now I’m looking forward to next season. I hope to make another step.
3. Tour of Flanders: "[In 2014] I waited too long: I wouldn’t say I was going to win but I lost my chances there because of my own mistake. I think mostly I just need to have patience and just get a little bit stronger. As for tactics, you can always change something. Maybe as I get older, I’ll get more relaxed and I’ll just take the right decisions more often."
"[Now training in SpainWhen I go back next week I will do it [the finale of the Tour of Flanders] a few times again. It’s close to my home so it’s a perfect training route. Time goes fast when you ride on it, it’s interesting and every time you do it you get to know the course a little bit better. Nobody can know the road as well as I do. I know every rock and every hole in the ground because it’s just my training location.
I don’t need a lot of races. One small stage race is enough for me because I can suffer enough in training if I want and that’s how I prepare. I don’t need those ten or fifteen race days."
4. Sole leader: "I think this year it was the first time that I was a [sole] leader and my teammates said that it was the first time that they had a real leader who they knew would be fighting there at the finish for the win. So they’ve got a lot of confidence and experience now and it’s the same for me. If they have confidence in me, they will work harder for me and then I can have more confidence in myself too.”
5. Opponents: "I don’t know, but I don’t think Tom [Boonen] will be stronger than in the past. For Tom and for Cancellara, the maximum they can do is to keep the level that they have. I can’t speak for Tom because I don’t see him in training, I only see him in races. It’s difficult. I’m sure the races are more open now. Like I said, they [Boonen and Cancellara] are definitely not getting stronger and people like me and, for example, Degenkolb and Van Avermaet, are getting closer to their best level and still getting better. The gaps were getting closer last year and it will get even closer this year I think.
I don’t know if Sagan will get stronger, I expect more of the same from him. Alexander Kristoff was only a little bit behind the strongest guys on the cobbles this year so one day he will be there. For me it’s a big problem to beat him the sprint, and it’s the same with Degenkolb and a few more guys who are just faster than me. I need to get rid of them… I don’t think I have to be alone to win but I just need to have a super day, like when I beat Boonen. To win a sprint, I need a day like that. That’s the problem but I don’t think it’s impossible."
6. Other cobbles: “I think every time I have a chance to have a stage on the Tour de France that goes over cobbles, I have to try to win it.  [Cobbles are also in RR Worlds in Richmond] I think it’s almost time that Van Avermaet and I can change positions with Boonen and maybe Gilbert. We’re getting better. We’re up there in every big race, in the finals, fighting for the win. So I think for me as well, I’m ready to take another step.”