Mountain - About accessibility: ferratas, commercial expeditions and lone climbing

It's a prickly problem. Is accessibility a right? anywhere? for anybody? we are supposed to answer yes, sure! everybody has got the right to fully enjoy his or her life and that's include accessibility. I also work as a teacher for students with special needs so I know what I'm about: disability is not an objective condition but always a context-related situation. For exemple, light condition is indifferent to blind people, while it's important for seeing people: complete darkness can represent an handicap for them. Disability shouldn't be an impediment, and removing every kinds of barrier - material and cultural - is a social duty. 
Of course. Still accessbility can require a basic or advanced skill level or at least it can be advisable. Must the access to demanding mountain routes be forbiden to unskilled people? They could be unable to afford the risk and get in serious troubles. But how can this skill be verified? and how can a pubic open place like a mountain be forbiden to access? The answer is: there is no way to forbid the access but it could be sanctioned. Is this useful and desiderable? and why?
Reason is basicly one: unskilled people get in troubles and the cost of their rescue rests on the community in terms of money and risks. For exemple: unskilled people go mountaineering skiing, get lost at night or isolated by an avalanche and have to be rescued. But also: commercial expedition allow relatively unskilled clients to climb demanding mountains like Everest, things go wrong and skilled people like guides or sherpas have to risk their lives to save them. That sounds unfair.
In my opinion mountains must be respected. Humans often behave as if they were the ultimate owner of the world, but it isn't the case. We have the duty to remove all impediments to the full accessibility in artificial contexts like cities and social relationships but natural context is different, we can't treat it the same way. Skill level and disability present two distinct kinds of problem but they are both related with the human presumption that nature is at their disposal. Indead I think that each one has got the right to attempt anything... but that no one has got the right to make it easier. 
I live in Italy and here ferratas are very popular. According to Wikipedia: "A via ferrata (Italian for "iron road", plural vie ferrate or in English via ferratas) is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and certain other locations. The essence of a modern via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route and is periodically (every 1 to 10 metres (3.3 to 32.8 ft)) fixed to the rock. Using a via ferrata kit, climbers can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any fall. The cable can also be used as aid to climbing, and additional climbing aids, such as iron rungs (stemples), pegs, carved steps and even ladders and bridges are often provided. Thus via ferratas allow otherwise dangerous routes to be undertaken without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing or the need for climbing equipment such as ropes. They offer the relatively inexperienced a means of enjoying dramatic positions and accessing difficult peaks, normally the preserve of the serious mountaineer; although, as there is a need for some equipment, a good head for heights and basic technique, the via ferrata can be seen as a distinct step up from ordinary mountain walking. Conversely, the modest equipment requirements, ability to do them solo, and potential to cover a lot of ground, mean that via ferratas can also appeal to more experienced climbers."
That's the point: unskilled people use ferratas to enjoy a kind of 'serious mountainering' they couldn't really afford, while 'serious mountaineers' use them to make it easier. In any case a natural context is permanently modified - sometimes definitely wasted - to suit humans' desire to climb higher. I find it unacceptable.
The most of 'via ferratas' is in the Alps as they were created during the First World War, when Italians and Austrians fought a long cruel battle in the mountains. According with Wikipedia "The origins of the via ferrata date back to the nineteenth century, but they are often associated with the First World War, when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops." It was a massacre. Imagine unskilled soldiers who had never seen a mountain, burdened with an heavy military equipment and forced up wild slopes covered in snow, icy or made torrid by the summer sun. Of course they needed the aid of artificial supports. Those ancient via ferratas are a wound and a monument as well, an open air museum about the humans disdain of themselves. 
But "Many more" ferratas "have been developed in recent years, as their popularity has grown and the tourism benefits have been recognised." That's quite a different thing. That's about accessibility as a right or as a pretense.
"Simple protected paths, with ladders and basic protection aids, have probably existed in the Alps for centuries, helping to connect villages to their high pastures." Wikipedia's article explains "Construction of what could be seen as the precursors of modern via ferratas dates back to the growth of Alpine exploration and tourism in the nineteenth century. In 1843, a route on the Dachstein was constructed under the direction of Friedrich Simony; it included a range of climbing aids with iron pins, hand hooks, carved footholds and ropes. In 1869 a rope was fixed between the summits of Grossglockner, and in 1873 fixed protection was installed on the Zugspitze. In the Pyrenees, iron climbing aids were installed on the Pic du Midi d'Ossau in 1880, and in the Ordesa in 1881. The Northern Limestone Alps saw the first routes still in use today as via ferratas: the Heilbronner Way in the German Allgau Alps was constructed in 1899, shortly followed by the Eggersteig (1903) and Wildauersteig (1911) in the Wilder Kaiser in Austria. In the Dolomites, the climbing path up the West ridge of the Marmolada (German: Marmolata) was installed in 1903, and the Possnecker Path up Piz Selva in the Sella Group was completed before the First World War."
Arguing against 'simple protected paths' would be extreme: they were a part of a whole culture, the Alpine traditional way of life R. Messner often talks about. They are now the net of hiking tracks used for leisure traveling on foot, marked and numbered by signals more or less intrusive. Iron climbing aids for explorers and moreover tourists... are too much in my opinion: are you unable to get there on your own? try something else. Because somebody else could be, now or in the future, and you have no right to prevent him or her to placing permanent aids.
Mark Wellman
Via delle Bocchette illustrates a moderate concept of 'ferrata': "In the 1930s, the Società degli alpinisti tridentini (SAT) together with the CAI began working on shortening and improving access to the popular climbing routes in the Brenta Dolomites, by installing artificial aids and protection. Natural lines and routes in the rock were linked up and a system of routes began to be developed, work continuing after the second world war.  [...] In developing the Via delle Bocchette, a certain ethic was followed - climbing aids were kept to a minimum, and the routes deliberately do not access any summits, an approach which is sometimes but not always followed by modern via ferratas. The Via delle Bocchette helped establish the idea of doing via ferratas in their own right, rather than as access to summits or to climbs." I agree that this concept is better, still I'd prefer a more respectful approach to the mountain, and no ferrata at all.
Sianagh Gallagher
In the 70ies some mountaineers started questioning supported climbing in all its forms, from supplementar oxygen use to special nails and of course 'ferratas'. However "In the 1990s and 2000s, development became more commercial and involved more organisations: via ferratas began to be seen as a useful way to encourage tourism and increase the range of activities available to visitors, and so new routes were developed by local communities, outdoor activity centres, cable car companies, mountain refuges and others, as well as continuing involvement by the Alpine clubs." I remember a campain by Mountain Wilderness Italia against 'ferratas' and personally took part in protests against the realisation of new cabbleways in the Alps. The battle has been lost many years ago though and the Italian mountains are now a kind of Disneyland for unskilled skiers and wannabe mountaineers. 
Wild mountaineerig and free skiing are considered as dangerous, inconsiderate or fool activities and even banned in some areas, especially during the ski season and for an evident economic interests by cabble car companies. Sadly intensive skiing on ski slopes, often with the use of artificial snow, already left a deep mark on the Alps landscape. 
'Via ferratas' had a big impact on mountaineering itself: "While high mountain via ferratas have continued to be developed, the modern era has seen the rise of more "sporting" routes, sometimes closer to the valley and often more challenging in nature, with severely steep sections and requiring high strength. Routes have been built in new dramatic new locations, alongside waterfalls or in canyons. Other new routes include features such as wire bridges and even zip wires, designed to increase their appeal to visitors. Climbing via ferratas has come to be recognised as a valid mountain activity in own right, with its own guidebooks, equipment, grading system and enthusiasts." Indead. 
Mountain Wilderness protests against eliski on the Marmolada
Talking about accessibility: as a child I climbed several times and without aids Monte Procinto, in the Alpi Apuane. My dad used to bring me there almost every summer during our holyday in Versilia. When I came back there with my husband in the late 90ies we got scolded because we didn't wear helmet and harness. More that once we got scolded because we were crossing a ski slope on mountaineering skis, that's without using the cabbleway = for free. Indead on ski slopes walking is forbiden and ski slopes are private areas. And yet we are skilled people.
I mean: to modify a natural context - permanently and intrusively - is right in name of accessibility for unskilled people or people with special needs BUT private companies can bann skilled people who don't need any aid. By the way, mountaineering skiers don't represent a bigger risk than other skiers standing on the ski slopes...
On The Himalayan Times an article  informs that "Nepal is considering to ban lone mountaineers from climbing peaks, including Mt Everest, to minimise accident risks on the Himalayas. In addition to a ban on lone attempts, the government is also mulling over restricting people with complete blindness, double amputation, as well as those above 75 years of age, from attempting to scale mountains. [...] Only those mountaineers who have successfully summitted at least a peak above 7,000 metres in Nepal shall be allowed to apply for a permit to climb mountains above 8,000 metres, including Mt Everest, the draft reads.  [...] The draft states that climbers shall not be allowed to fly to higher camps for summit attempt and every climber must trek to summit point from the base camp of the expedition peaks. However, choppers can ferry rope-fixing equipment and conduct emergency evacuations." The article is worth a reading. And a reflection.
Every year commercial expeditions allow a large number of persons to climb the highest mountains in the world. Some of them are profesional mountaineers, experienced, trained and skilled. Others are just rich enough. I wrote about this topic already by a different point of view and I share Anatoli Bukreev's opinion that money can't buy anything, not the summit, not the survival. To scrutinise this consumeristic banalisation of mountaineering seems fair enough. 
I'm happy to see that the proposal comes from Department of Tourism: commercial expeditions means a lot of money for Nepal and this is a brave move. But about one point I don't agree: solo ascents are a part of mountainering's history you can't canceal. An experienced healty profesional mountaineer must have the right to go solo. Of course it's risky. But it's a calculated risk. Preparation and a correct approach to the climb is the only way to minimise accidents. The rest is fortune, fate, the mountains' gods or the weather. You have the right to push your limits and, yes, to face death. 
I have the right to climb as far as I can. Not further, not closer. And this is my opinion about accessibility in general. I'm sure a para-olympic athlete can do better than me in many situations. On the other hand I'm persuaded that accessibility doesn't justify the permanent modification of a natural context, never. 


Gran Piemonte - Daniele Bennati 3rd: "This race was my last one in Tinkoff colours and I really wanted to win"

Daniele Bennati:
"Today was a very special day for me as this race was my last one in Tinkoff colours and I really wanted to close this chapter of my professional career with another win. In addition, I have already won Piemonte twice and I would have become the record holder with three victories. That victory would have a special value because it would also be a way to thank my teammates, the staff and, of course, Oleg Tinkov. I joined the team in 2013 and after four incredible seasons, Tinkoff will always hold a special place in my heart.
Our plan today was for me to try to win. It was a very fast race with an average of 47km/h. I went in the early break of 38 riders and stayed at the front for more than 100km. In the last climb we were part of a group of around 35-40 riders and I had Michael Gogl there who helped me until the final kilometre. I stayed on the wheel of Gaviria but we got boxed in and Nizzolo grabbed the opportunity to pass us on the right.
I'm very happy with the final result and even if I missed the victory, I'm very satisfied with my form and the podium place I achieved. Once again, thanks everybody at Tinkoff and thanks Oleg! I will never forget these four great years."

Gran Piemonte - Fernando Gaviria 2nd: "Overall, I am happy, because I could continue the race and keep my focus, despite crashing"

Pic by @TDWsport
Fernando Gaviria:
“I had good legs, but not powerful enough to beat Giacomo, who was better today and deserved the victory. Overall, I am happy, because I could continue the race and keep my focus, despite crashing. It wasn’t easy, so to get second is still a good result and I want to thank the team for their work. To me it’s important that I’m on the right track, especially as I’ll race Tour de l’Eurometropole, Binche-Chimay-Binche and Paris-Tours in the space of just one week, before going to the World Championships”

Italian victory in Gran Piemonte - Giacomo Nizzolo: "Worlds are close, this victory increases my motivation"

Giacomo Nizzolo:
"It's a great victory because it comes after a day of very fast racing. I'm very happy about my feelings on the climb too: I wasn't feeling good this morning when I woke up, I was having a temperature, then during the race I felt better and now I'm really happy. Worlds are close and I'm showing a good shape, this victory increases my motivation."
"É una grande vittoria perché arriva dopo una giornata corsa a ritmi velocissimi. Sono molto contento anche delle sensazioni che ho avuto in salita: stamattina quando mi sono svegliato non stavo molto bene, forse avevo qualche linea di febbre, poi in gara mi sono sentito meglio e ora sono molto contento. In vista del Mondiale sto dimostrando di stare bene e questa vittoria aumenta le mie motivazioni"

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) Italy 4:25:21
2. Fernando Gaviria (COL) Etixx - Quickstep +00:00:00
3. Daniele Bennati (ITA) Tinkoff +00:00:00
4. Juan José Lobato (SPA) Movistar +00:00:00
5. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) Bardiani - CSF +00:00:00

Cyclocross: Lars van der Haar to start season in Gieten Superprestige

Stopped by an ill-timed sickness, my favourite crosser is ready to go. He had to skip the first two races in the USA, Cross Vega and Jingle Cross, but the cross season is just started! 

Lars van der Haar:
"It's hard to set a goal. Main contenders have raced in America in the last week-end, maybe they are tired, that should play in my favor. But I'm not 100 % fit yet. I think it will take a month. To get a result in the Superprestige overall i's going to be hard because I will lose ground in the first crosses. At the end of October I hope to be there to defend my European jersey."


Hiking Itineraries: Alpe Tre Potenze in Val di Luce

Climbing those little rocky spurs was nothing special, still the sky was stunning blue, the view amazing below my feet and the peak appealing, few steps above. For the first time after many years I was sharing the way up with my husband Tiziano.
In red our way up
Mountaineering had been our first love and we were supposed to go living in the Alps to run a refuge, I was 21. It was a life ago. 
Things went differently and we split. Now we are back together and we must trust each other. We do, and it's fun.
Val di Luce is an Italian mountainous area in the Appennino between Toscana and Emilia, not far from Pistoia.  Its name was Valle delle Pozze untill the 60ies, when the Abetone ski resort has been created. 
I was eager to climb so phoned to Tiziano and we arranged to meet in Pistoia. As always he was late. He arrived on his big old camper while I was strolling in the city center, my boots hanging on my backpack, and we went sleeping in Le Regine, at the start of the path.

It wasn't cold at night. We talked about our project, and of course I told him about my research about Anatoli Boukreev: a man he had always admired, his peer too.
We woke up at about 8am and after a good breakfast by "Tosca" we walked to the start of the chairlift. It was still and closed because in summer it just works during the week-end and it was Monday. We climbed the last part of the steep ski slope covered in dry short grass, then got in the beech forest looking for the 102 CAI path to Lago Nero. 
Lago Nero
From Le Regine (about 700 m) to Lago Nero (1730) it's a long demanding way. The path costantly climbs by the stream called Sestaione, and finally ends by a small beautiful lake surrounded by high peaks, including Alpe Tre Potenze (1940 m). From there a crest runs to Passo della Vecchia, Monte Dente della Vecchia, Passo della Fariola and Monte Gomito (1892 m)
Our ledge 
We didn't stop in Lago Nero, where there is also a small refuge, but aimed to reach the Tre Potenze summit. The path goes to Gomito and then follows the crest, or you can climb the slopes covered in blueberry bushes, now reddish and dry, in the watershed. 
"We should climb those rocks" I suggested "They look fine". Tiziano immediately agreed. 

We rested looking at the mountain, imagining an easy line up the spur. Painfully walking through the bushes we got to the foot, just under the crest leading to our aim. We trod a ledge to the begining of a narrow way up on mixed terrain. 
We started climbing, Tiziano as first. It wasn't difficult, still thrilling considering the increasing empty distance from the ground. Now and then I glimpsed the splendid view, at each step up larger, while the lake became smaller and smaller. Nobody in sight, a perfect silence!
Once on the crest, we walked to the summit. The view was breathtaking, reaching Alpi Apuane and Monte Cusna. Three men arrived from the other side, we said hi and took each other a picture. We didn't fancy to talk, we sat and just look at the peaceful greatness of nature.
Quite soon they left, we ate our lunch and started descending toward Passo della Vecchia, where we took the path to Monte Gomito, steep and a little dangerous because some passages are 'exposed'. From Gomito we descended to Selletta and back to Le Regine by the confortable path in the forest called 'Sentiero dei doni'. 
It was almost 4 pm when we rose two beers by "Tosca". Time to go home!
Val di Luce is a lovely place. In the ancient time it was barely inhabitated by few woodcutters but or by shepherds in summer. Nevertheless it has always been an important for travelers, merchant or pilgrims. Passo di Annibale and Passo della Vecchia, both near Alpe Tre Potenze, are ancient passages linking  three valleys that used to belong to three different countries: Granducato di Toscana, Ducato di Lucca and Ducato di Modena. The name 'Passo di Annibale' recalls the story of Carthaginian leader who in 217 b.c., crossed the Appennnini with his army of about 50.000 men... From this passage wood for the navy of Pisa was transported in 1600 and 1700. 
Atop Alpe Tre Potenze
In 1935 Valle delle Pozze was acquired by the 'podestà' (major) of Abetone, Lapo Farinati Uberti determined to make of it a touristic resort. A big hotel was built by Passo di Annibale. The Second World War interrupted the project but it went on in the 60ies. The Abetone ski resort, including Val di Luce, had his best years untill the '80ies, when it lost importance. It was easier now to travel to the more famous  Alps by cars for a 'Settimana Bianca' than to go by bus to spend a Sunday on the Abetone's snow. Things improved recently but it isn't easy.
As far as me, I like it as it is.

Time: 6 hours
Elevation: 1402 m
Where: Val di luce, Abetone, Tuscany, Italy
Start: Le Regine (700 m)
End: Le Regine 
Signals: CAI 102 (red and white) to Lago Nero. 
Things to see: Lago Nero (1730), Alpe Tre Potenze (1940), Gomito (1892).
The crest toward Go

'Lo slittone' in Selletta
Monte Gomito


Sonny Colbrelli wins Tre Valli Varesine: "Heavy race and five stars contenders have made this race really hard."

Sonny Colbrelli:
“This is the most important victory of the season. Heavy race and five stars contenders have made this race really hard. Two years ago I got very closed to win it, today I had my payback thanks to a great support of my team and a great team director, who managed the race in the best way. 
Since the first kilometers we understood it should be a hard race. At five laps to the finish, few attacks opened the fire and race rhythm increased. Final action of Uran has been decisive. I followed him with Ulissi and Gavazzi, saved much energy as possible and waited for the sprints. Everything was perfect.
I want to dedicate my win to the team and to Reverberi family. They have a big merit If I achieved this level of performances. It was not an easy choice change team next year, because I feel this group like a family, but I had a big chance to make a new quality step in my career. Any chances to be part of Italian team at Qatar World Champ? Honestly, I did my best to persuade CT Cassani and I don’t want to think too much about this right now. If I’ll receive a call, I’ll be super-happy and proud to wear the Italian team. If not, I’ll be the first supporter”.

1. Colbrelli
2. Ulissi
3. Gavazzi

Procycling - Taylor Phinney to Cannondale-Drapac: "I’ve changed the way I see things, the way that I approach things, the way that I appreciate things."

Taylor Phinney:
“I have some close friends that race for the team. And it just generally seems like the team itself has a good vibe. I also met with [Vaughters] earlier this year and really connected. One of the major reasons is to work with Cannondale, as an American bike sponsor. My first bike I got was a blue Cannondale that I got from my parents. My family, we used to have closer ties to Cannondale — when I was a kid, those were the bikes that we rode as a family. So it’s cool to return to that.
This opportunity presented itself to bring my career into a full circle in one way. It definitely feels like a fresh new start, which I’m excited about. The last few years have been pretty trying, though super rewarding. But at the same time, I’ve been putting a lot of energy into recovering from this ultra-broken leg that I had in 2014. And BMC supported me through that whole process, and I’m really grateful to them for that … But I’ve changed the way I see things, the way that I approach things, the way that I appreciate things. Once the idea came into my mind of making a big change in my career, trying something new, trying a different environment, it was just something that felt really right to me.
I just want to win. Because that’s what it’s all about. I feel like I’m to an age where I’m more comfortable with myself and who I am. I really feel like recently I’m coming into this vast, general acceptance of exactly who I am. And not feeling self-conscious about embracing who I am. I find that by sharing that and just being true to yourself you can inspire other people and unite a group around a certain cause. I love the idea of being able to step into that role a bit more also and let my personality shine through in a new, fresh way. I’m doing it already, I’ve been doing it my whole career, but I’m more mindful about it now.
I feel like I just got back to a point with my body that I’m able to think about goals and not just think about surviving these races. And that’s powerful. It’s easy to set goals. Yeah, Roubaix, Tour de France. Because everybody says that. But I want to get that hunger back, that fire, that real commitment to what I’m doing — that fully engaged, intentional, every-second-of-the-race, you’re in it. But if I think about the coolest thing I could do next year it would be to win the opening time trial at the Tour de France. To race the Tour de France. Because I’ve never done it.”

GP Beghelli - Nicola Ruffoni: "At 150 meters I opened the gas and crossed the line."

Nicola Ruffoni:
“Most of the credit for today’s win belongs to my teammates. Our goal in the morning was to create the right conditions for a sprint and I was the appointed leader, but the finale was a really hard challenge for my legs
When the peloton split, we were 35 riders in the leading group. Orica started an incredible forcing to put the sprinters out of the game. Teammates supported me on the final steep climb, then took me in the leading positions. I had to sprint at least in third position I would take the win. Simion and Colbrelli managed the final km in the best way. At 250 Sonny was first and I was second. At 150 meters I opened the gas and crossed the line.
My season so far has been pretty good. The start was not so great, then I found the right continuity in my performances and at Tour of Austria I broke the ice. The second place at Coppa Bernocchi was a pity, but today’s win was a good way to forget it. I’m happy for what I did, but I want to go further. I know I can grow again. My goal is improving the level of my performances in the most important race of the calendar. The #GreenTeam showed to believe in me and I want to payback their trust."

1. Ruffoni
2. Pozzato
3. Keukeleire.

Niki Terpstra wins Eneco Tour: "The Muur van Geraardsbergen has a special place in cycling and it means a lot for me to seal the overall victory here."

Niki Terpstra:
“I’m extremely happy and proud to finish off this great job of the team, who was incredible today! The Muur van Geraardsbergen has a special place in cycling and it means a lot for me to seal the overall victory here. 
We were aware of the fact that we had several cards to play in the general classification at the start of the day and we were keen to make use of these numbers. 
When it started to rain, we were already on the attack and we gave it our all to keep tht advantage. We rode a really smart race today and Bob did a fantastic job at the front, so I must thank him for his huge pace setting. In the closing kilometers of the stage, my focus was to stay with the other riders and make sure I win this beautiful race, which I did in the end. It’s a great day in my career.” 

Eneco Tour 7 - Edvald Boasson Hagen: "The wet made the race difficult so you had to stay focused."

Edvald Boasson Hagen:
"I am really happy with how the stage went today. I was always in the right place at the key moments thanks to my team. The race was hard but that suited me well. I was feeling strong but the wet made the race difficult so you had to stay focused. We got away with a very strong group and it was important to not waste energy. I came to Eneco with the goal of possibly winning a stage and the overall but the overall didn't go to plan. So I was really motivated to win today's stage. I knew Terpstra would be going for the overall so I tried to ride clever, using that to my advantage but Naesen was there and he was very strong. In the final I tried save all I could for the last 200m. I am happy it was enough to win the stage."

1. Boasson Hagen
2. Terpstra
3. Naesen
4. Dumoulin
5. Van Avermaet
1. Tersptra
2. Naesen
3. Sagan


Giro dell'Emilia - Esteban Chaves: "In the last 500 metres when everyone was without fire I tried."

Esteban Chaves:
“It was a really good day for the team. I know the climb because I did this race four years ago so I know that everyone usually attacks early in the final. 
I stayed calm and just followed Fabio Aru because his team Astana were working a lot. In the last 500 metres when everyone was without fire I tried.
It is good that I had the legs to win as the team today was unbelievable. We had Keukeleire in the break and then Jack Haig, Damien Howson and Amets Txurruka put me in good position before the final circuit so it was really good.”

1 Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 5:27:28
2 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:02
3 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:03

Eneco Tour 6 - Luka Pibernik: "At 250 meters to the arrival I prefered to begin my progression and it was the winning choice"

Luka Pibernik:
Photo published for Pibernik surprises sprinters in Lanaken“I won my first World Tour race, I’m very satisfied. LAMPRE-MERIDA approached each stage of the Eneco Tour with a battling spirit, today it was my turn to try to join the breakaways and I succeeded in joining the right one.
The cooperation between the breakaway’s members was very good, we were only focused on defending our advantage on the peloton.

Only when we entered in the final kilometer, I realized that we had the opportunity to won the stage: in my opinion, Gougeard was the strongest rider in the breakway, so I decided to begin the sprint following him, however at 250 meters to the arrival I prefered to begin my progression and it was the winning choice“.


1 L. Pibernik
2 M. McNally
3 B. Van Lerberghe
4 A. Gougeard
5 C. Haga
1 R. Dennis 18:09:37
2 T. Phinney '16
3 T. Martin '24
4 P. Sagan '27
5 N. Terpstra '27


Eneco Tour 5 - Rohan Dennis: "There is a reason why we are the number one team in the world when it comes to the TTT"

Rohan Dennis:
"We finished with 8 riders and we showed that there is a reason why we are the number one team in the world when it comes to the TTT. 
We weren't too stressed about performing. It was more about how much time we would take out of Sagan and Tinkoff. I am pretty satisfied with how we did. It wasn't perfect today. We still have some stuff to work on and you never win easily so everyone in the team suffered a bit but we worked really well together. I would have been happy to finish the TTT with an advantage of anything over 20 seconds and I was aiming personally for around 30 to 40 so to get 34 seconds in the end and bring me to a 27 second advantage in the GC was good. Although it is by no means a given that we will take the win, it will make it a bit easier.
I don't race in Belgium or Holland that often so I have to look to riders like Greg Van Avermaet, Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss for direction and the best thing to do at certain stages at the race. We have Taylor Phinney, Van Avermaet, Quinziato and myself in the top ten so we have a lot of cards to play in that sense and if one of us wins that's great. If that means the team wins but I lose it doesn't matter if it is still BMC on the podium."

1. BMC
2. Etixx - Quick-Step
3. Lotto NL-Jumbo
1 Rohan Dennis 13:40:47
2 Taylor Phinney "16
3 Tony Martin "24
4 Peter Sagan "27
5 Niki Terpstra "27

Mountain: On Boukreev's Track 4

Image may contain: 1 person, mountain, outdoor and natureSee also part 1, 2 and 3

"Above the clouds" by Anatoli Boukreev is a true gold mine. I read it in few days and I'm reading it again and again. 
Bukreev wasn't just a very strong mountaineer, but also a curious man, profound and passionate, eager to understand, looking at the world with wide open eyes. His English wasn't good, moreover English didn't suit his way of expressing a complicated inner world, shaped by a different language. Russian's structure is mostly based on hypotaxis while parataxis is definitely more common in English. I guess the translation has been not easy but here finally readers can apreciate Boukreev's nature and point of view. 
Indead he suffered for the acute awarness he couldn't be really understood, fairly judged, contacted in his solitude. That's probably why he always was so understanding toward others: "But I understand" is one of his most frequent saying, about Sherpas not willing to work, about journalists prising sensation more than the truth, about Indonesian generals using mountaineering as a weapon in their power war against Malaysia. Bukreev was going to shake his head in silence or to reply with a caustic sense of humour.
Mountaineering was his religion, a kind of spiritual practice. A mix of nature and education made impossible for him to consider it otherwise. In December 1989 he wrote: "Now, recalling Kanchenjunga's storehouses of snow makes my heart ache like memories of a love that has been lost. Six years, not six months, will pass and I know that I will feel the same way. She possessed a purity and a grandeur that are incomparable. Her summits provide reasons that make the human struggle for physical and spiritual perfection meaningful, motivators that are more profound that vain aspiration for fame or wealth. Perhaps this sound idealistic, but my experiences on Kanchenjunga make those reasons seem shallow and vulgar.
Confronted with the petty concerns of my ordinary life, I feel empty, as if I am wasting a priceless gift... the brief time that is allotted to each human for creativity" (p.36)
Note that in Russian grammatical genders exist: in this passage Bukreev uses the word 'gorà' (mountain) that is feminine. The translator's choice to use the pronoun 'she' is therefore correct, rather necessary to mantain the sematical relation with the word 'love'. The mountain is described like a loved woman in a way that remind the troubadours' poems and the medieval knights' quest
Indead Anatoli Bukreev's concept of mountaineering was the 'quest': "It's about man's struggle to overcome his innate weakness." he wrote in the next page (p.37) and again, in words that have become famous: "Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfay my ambition to achieve. They are cathedrals, grand and pure, the houses of my religion. I approach them as any human goes to worship. On their altars I strive to perfect myself physically and spiritually. In their presence I attempt to understand my life, to exorcise vanity, greed, and fear. From the vantage of their lofty summits, I view my past, dream of the future, and with unusual acuteness I experience the present moment. That struggle renews my strength and clears my vision. In the mountains I celebrate creation, for on each journey I am reborn". (p.36-37)
He remained loyal to this romantic concept and many years later, in Novembre 1997, during an in interview he denied the verb 'to conquer' is appropriate to describe the ascent to the summit of a mountain. "To me conquer means something like rape" he said "to take by force. I don't think anyone should aim to conquering anything, and it is the wrong word to apply to our climbing achievements. At best a person is able to rise to the same level as a mountain for a short time." As well as the Dame whom knights devote their courage and mystic love, Boukreev's she-mountain demands respect, humilty and submission. She decides who's allowed to the summit, and who must die.
That sport is an evolution of spiritual strive for perfection, it isn't new. You can find more here about the Tour de France and procycling modern knights. Something more can be added about the communist, Soviet version of this topic. Ernesto Che Guevara has written a book whose title is "The new man", proto-socialist Ludwig Feuerbach stated that 'god' is indead 'humanity' in its perfection, recalling a concept shared by all time mystics, from Lao-Tzu to Meister Eckhart and Rumi. Karl Marx wasn't far from here when he wrote humans just have to retrive their own goods dilapidated in Heaven, meaning they alienated in god their own human perfection. And that's what Anatoli Bukreev had been educated to in the Soviet Union. Rethoric or reality, that was his ethical background. He tried to live up to it.
......................................MORE TO COME...............