Category Archives: Pro cycling

Tour de France podcasts 2013

I have always liked radio, and since the emergence of podcasts, it is the main way that I consume information about professional cycling. Looking at twitter is probably the main way I find news and comment, with online articles coming behind that, then TV and finally print.

Cycling podcasts have been around for a few years and it has taken a while for them to ‘go pro’ as it were. In the past 2 years we have seen more professional output from established broadcasters and traditional media, while some of the new media podcasters have upped their game too.

At Tour time there is a splurge- many shows crop up just for July. Here are a few, but there will be more out there, but these are the ones I’ll be listening to. If there are other great listens out there, please share in the comments below.

Humans Invent
Richard Moore, Daniel Friebe and Lionel Birnie have a Tour preview show on design, science and technology site Humans Invent, the organisation that have been supporting Graeme Obree in his world “Human Powered Vehicle*” speed record attempt. (*basically an innovative aero bike without the UCI restrictions)

If you are a long-term podcast listener you’ll have heard these guys in the past broadcasting for Bikeradar, Cyclingnews and Cycle Sport magazine, and if you aren’t a podcast listener, you’ll certainly recognise the names as well known authors and journalists – some of the best analysis there is.
Itunes feed

BBC 5Live
Last week 5 Live hosted a 100 Years of the Tour show, unfortunately it isn’t available for download any more but it saw a discussion panel with host Simon Brotherton and Richard Moore, Ellis Bacon, Lionel Birnie and Suze Clemitson aka @Festinagirl on twitter, whose 100 Tours 100 Tales blog has proven very popular.

The main Tour preview went out this week with Alex Dowsett and Rob Hayles on ‘the panel’, and interviews with Cav, Froome, Garmin DS Charly Wegelius, Dan Martin and OPQS manager Roger Lefevre.

You’ll get that on the Bespoke podcast feed, along with daily roundup shows by live commentator Simon Brotherton. These shows tend to be quite short and are not always sufficiently in-depth for me, but are good if you need a quick round-up of the day’s action.
Itunes feed

Ned Boulting, Matt Rendell and Chris Boardman provide daily coverage. Their accreditation, and the need to get rider interviews for the TV shows mean that their access is put to good use and you’ll get more soundbites than the BBC. There is quite a bit of humour but it is not as rough around the edges and rambling, as their Real Peloton show, which has a cult following. I probably prefer hearing Matt and Ned pontificate with a bit more freedom and time, but we haven’t had an RP for quite a while. RIP RP

The burning question is: will we see the return of cameraman Liam Macleod’s ukelele?
Itunes feed

Velocast Premium
Scott O’Raw and John Galloway started free daily shows of the Tour in 2009 and refined their format in 2010. After a hiatus they returned in 2012 with a daily subscription show and this year they have ‘gone pro’ – podcasting full time, which is a really interesting development. Their Tour shows will include historical anecdotes from Cilian Kelly on ‘This Week in Cycling History’ and contributions from Suze Clemitson aka Festinagirl.

For me following cycling wouldn’t be the same without these guys and if £20 seems a lot for 3 weeks, you also got the Tour de Suisse coverage. It’s 30 shows for the price of 4 magazines – and I don’t have time to read print these days.

Subscribe via their website.
Works best with Downcast podcatcher app if you are using an iPhone.

Eurosport Cycling Podcast
I have been a long-term fan of the Velocast and Scott and John’s free weekly show is now sponsored by Eurosport. It’s good to see that It will be the best place for a general round-up of the week’s Tour action but if you want their real, in-depth coverage, you’ll have to subscribe to the daily shows. website
iTunes feed

SBS Cycling Central
Journalist Anthony Tan has been the lynchpin of this show from Aussie broadcaster SBS for a couple of years. ‘Tan Man’ as he is known to journalist cronies can be quite a dry commentator who is not short of banter and wit but has his own platform now and his interviews are very good.

I used to enjoy his appearances on British-based podcasts but at times the banter overtook the race analysis. Who could forget his 2010 rendition of ‘Beds are Burning’ that teetered between hilarious and excruciating. But for SBS, it very interesting to hear an English-speaking perspective from the other side of the world that doesn’t have to assume the majority listeners are following Sky – you will hear different insights and interviews here. The most recent ones are interviews with Nicolas Roche and Team Sky.

I haven’t found a podcast feed, which is unfortunate as I tend to miss the updates on the SBS website and their soundcloud page. For me a podcatcher like iTunes or the great Downcast app is the best way to stay updated with the shows. You can’t play soundcloud in the background on an iphone, for example, and it cuts out if your lock screen kicks in after a timed period.

Velo Club Don Logan
The VCDL podcast is a relaxed, funny fan’s view of pro cycling. Gary and Graham’s 3-week publishing schedule doesn’t allow for daily shows or anything like that (these are guys with jobs) but I enjoy their analysis and there is almost always a laugh-out-loud moment or two.

Worth noting is that these guys started podding when the Velocast went AWOL in 2010: something that always impresses me. New media is social, and you often get more out of it the more you put in, and the fact that they just started their own podcast when their favourite one stopped is cool.
ITunes feed

The Bike Show
Jack Thurston’s the Bike Show, which runs fo a couple of series’ a year for London community radio station Resonance FM, usually gives an alternative view of things and this is why I like it. Although a lover of cycle touring and country lanes, Jack also digs the pro scene. His podcast special on Tour de France books covers titles you won’t have heard of and is really interesting, with contribution from expert (a serious understatement) Feargal McKay, reviewer on Podium Cafe.

iTunes feed

Velovoices is a new podcast from fans Panache, Kitty and Tim. It is very emphasised on the joy of cycling fandom, with each host having their favourites and little talk of doping scandals or corruption. There is more to their output than the audio show – although this will probably appear more frequently during the tour, there will be daily blogs and content on their website.

Related link
Tour de France podcasts 2012

Nationality and the nationals

Today it is the National Road Race Championships in Glasgow. I looked at the course a little while back and the Spokedoke blog has done as good a preview as I could aspire to, so I thought I would post some alternative thoughts that have been rattling around my head.

As I began to establish my blog I looked for a niche angle to focus on – there were already numerous bloggers covering the international pro scene better than I ever could. Even in 2010 it was clear that Inner Ring was a cut above, and I thought that if I had no hope of writing pieces as good as that, I’d be better off staying local and focusing on Scotland.

Allez l'Écosse

A minority of people eschew their national allegiances when it comes to sport. For example, I have heard writer Daniel Friebe say he has no real interest or passion to see British winners in cycling. As he grew up, Italian riders and racing were what excited him and is where his support still lies.

One of Scotland’s greatest riders, Robert Millar, seemed to distance himself from Scotland and Glasgow as his early pro career took off, seemingly seeing himself as an outsider and apart from his own country. However after retirement he was quoted as saying he would vote SNP if he lived in Scotland. [Richard Moore, In Search of Robert Millar]

I am proud to be Scottish – it is a beautiful country, despite the weather and our achievements down the centuries in all manner of fields, from science to literature, as well as sport, are distinguished. I was born in Edinburgh, but my mother is Welsh and my Father English. In primary school I was slagged for my accent, as my R’s pretty soft, so I made a concerted effort to change the way I spoke to avoid the jibes. How Scottish does that make me?

Sport under a national banner is a powerful thing that can unite a country. Gino Bartali was asked in 1948 by politicians to win in France to boost a fragile post-war Italy, and his victory eased the tensions of internal feuding. But the nature of sport is that it is played out within the bounds of certain rules, and the place where national lines are drawn is different to other walks of life.

David Millar custom Scotland shoes

Contrast myself with David Millar, leaving aside the Grand Canyon-sized gulf in ability for a moment. Born to Scottish parents in Malta, he grew up in various places around the world;  ‘more Scottish’ than me by blood, but arguably with less of an affinity to the place.

I have heard the fairly cynical view that he only rode the Commonwealth Games as a route to the 2012 Olympics, but this doesn’t square with the pride and cameraderie that was obvious in his statements and those of his team-mates after his bronze medal in the road race Dehli 2010. In any case, there was no guarantee of London selection at that point, with the BOA’s lifetime ban for dopers still to be challenged. With the cynical hat back on, why would he bother with the national road race in Glasgow today? He has won it before and I’d expect him to avoid risking a crash ahead of the Tour de France. But his appearance today might show that he would be proud to win in Scotland. On balance his allegiance to Scotland still seems to be more of a sporting one rather than a cultural or social one, but maybe a return for Glasgow 2014 would tip the balance.

Kilmacolm Kermesse 5th May 2013

Ben Geenwood is a domestic rider who will be riding in Glasgow today for his Hope Factory Racing team. He was selected for the Ras recently and came under some harsh scrutiny for his English nationality. He has lived in Scotland for a while, has close family connections and is as much a part of the local scene as Scottish-born pros Evan Oliphant and James McCallum. Scottish Cycling, under pressure to justify their funding, will select the strongest national team from the riders available, with the best chance of posting a good result in a big race. Ben is popular in the Scottish cycling community and will have plenty of support if he is selected for Glasgow 2014. There will be some who feel that without Scottish blood or birthplace he is ‘not Scottish enough’, but we aren’t playing by those rules.

While the rules and moral interpretation of sport are not always clear-cut at the international level, politics also come into it on a personal and at a local level. It all depends how nationalistic you want to be.

Kenta Gallagher Wins XC Eliminator in Nove Mesto

Scottish XC rider Kenta Gallagher won the XC Eliminator at the World Cup in Nove Mesto at the weekend. A great win at international level.

Kenta had been on the British Cycling performance programme for a few years and been supported by the Braveheart Fund. Lately I had begun to wonder about results, with younger compatriot (and fellow BC Performance rider) Grant Ferguson seemingly overtaking him. However it’s easy to forget the Braveheart and BC Performance might be more about developing athletes than getting on the top step of the podium. As an armchair follower who isn’t plugged into the MTB racing scene, I don’t have much of an idea what the performance path and the expectations really are but this result is obviously a step up at elite level.

Below is the press information from Endura, cycle clothing sponsor of Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team for 2013 and 2014. I get a sort of squeamish feeling running press releases – I should really be doing the stories myself – but time is tighter than a carbon post fused in a seat-tube right now.

Kenta Gallagher of the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team, sponsored by Endura, won the XCE in Nove Mesto last Friday. The second round of the UCI MTB World Cup Series kicked off last Friday with the new Sprint Eliminator (XCE) discipline. The Sprint Eliminator begins with a time trial around a short urban course filled with obstacles. The top 32 women and top 32 men qualify for competition and then race in heats of four, with the top two in each heat moving on to the next round. Eventually, the top four riders race for the World Cup title. The IOC came over to Nove Mesto na Morave to see if this young and dynamic form of mountain biking can be added to the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. A final decision will be made in September later this year.

Kenta Gallagher XC Eliminator win
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Brian Smith: surviving the Giro 1994

Brian Smith is a two-time British road race champion and rode for Motorola in 1994. He now provides analysis on pro cycling for Eurosport and other channels. I spoke to him to find out his memories of riding the 1994 edition, and how he survived to finish the race.

Brian Smith – British champion in 1994 for Motorola, picture taken by, used with permission.

I asked Brian if a good showing in the spring season was integral to his selection for Motorola for the 1994 Giro. He had supported the then-world champion Lance Armstrong at Classics such as Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and took a win himself at the Grand Prix Herning in Denmark.

There was a battle in the team, because Lance was world champion and he wanted things his way, and Hampsten was towards the end of his career, and was looking for people to help him. I think showing up with a win like that (in Denmark) I think that did gain me selection for the Giro, although I thought I merited it myself. It was always a constant battle to get into the right races, even before that, before Amstel, I did gain selection for Fleche Wallone and Liege but was unable to ride because I was sick.

It was always a battle to get into the Grand Tours, even the Tour de France that year, because of the job I did for Andy Hampsten at the Giro, then becoming national champion for the second time, I found myself first reserve for the Tour de France. They asked me to ride the Tour de Suisse which was two weeks after the Giro but in the end I never got the chance to ride it.

When you got the selection, was it a feeling of elation to ride your first Grand Tour, or was it something you were expecting, due to the form you had?

Obviously I was happy to get the selection but it had been talked about at the start of the year, that that was a main race that Andy was going to ride, so I half-expected it but it was never confirmed to me. One of the main preparations for the Giro was the Tour of Romandie, and I never got selected for that team, so then it had me thinking. I took my opportunities, I went to the Grand Prix Herning in Denmark and I wasn’t having to ride for someone, because a lot of domestiques don’t get the opportunities, and I took it with both hands. It worked well for me.

Into the Giro that year, I started at the bottom. As you know, the best staff look after the best riders, and the less experienced staff look after the newbies and the domestiques, so it took me probably a week into the Giro, and the next minute the top guy was massaging me, I was on his list. I asked him the question “why are you massaging me?” and he told me that the powers that be in the team, i.e I think, Andy Hampsten , had said “he has helped me a lot, I wouldn’t be in this postion without him, so we need to look after him”.

The support role to Hampsten- was that carrying bottles and riding alongside, or was there anything more specific?

Most of it was positioning and looking after Andy. Even in the last week of the Giro he put me and Michel Dernies (a Belgian domestique) in a position where we had to race for our life to get back on and think that if we hadn’t got back on, we wouldn’t have finished the Giro.

Andy was a person who needed to stop for a natural break, and I remember one day – the race started at the Lauteret climb and went towards Briancon [stage 21].

Giro d'Italia 1994
Giro d’Italia 1994, image by Pat Carroll, Velo Veneto

We were coming down Les Deux Alpes (in the neutral section) and he stopped at the bottom, and we had to stand there and wait, and fortunately Michel stayed with us, normally it was just me. We got him going, and started towards the bunch and a lot of the directors were shouting at us that the race had already started, so myself and Michel Dernies got him to within 100m of the back of the group and he jumped us and got across the last bit, and me and Michel were in no-man’s-land, dropped on the Lauteret.

We managed to catch a couple of riders, Giovanni Lombardi and Davide Bramati from Lampre at the time (Bromati is a DS with Omega Pharma – Quick Step), and one other rider, and we chased the whole way. We were in the cars for the next 30 or 40km and I managed to climb the Mont Genevre and got back on with Michel. Then it started snowing, and Alvaro Mejia was another climber on the team, and Alvaro was struggling. Andy said he was fine so he went on, and myself and Michel stayed to try to nurse Alvaro to the finish. He was a Colombian rider, who had finished 4th in the Tour de France the year before, so we had to help him.

We went up Sestriere, down the other side and then back up Sestriere and finished in 2cm of snow at the finish. For me that was one of the hardest stages, having spent the pretty much the whole stage helping someone or chasing to get back on.

When I look back on it, if I hadn’t had chased and got back on [I wouldn’t have finished], I know many riders had climbed off that year, I think there was about 99 finishers. In 1994 there were no rest days- it was 22 stages in 21 days. The rest days for me were the time trials.

I can remember the time trial up the Passo Del Bocco [Stage 18], I was in 39×23 for most of it and I think for anyone to ride that gear up a climb, that’s not a rest day.

Brian Smith Giro d'Italia 1994

For me there were specific stages, where I thought “if I can get myself over this climb, you’ll make it to the finish”, but the major day for me looking back on it was in the last week of the race , twice up Sestriere in the snow, having to stop with Andy, getting dropped earlier on, having to chase and having to look after Alvaro. That was the day I realised I was lucky, and I got round the Giro.

You mentioned that a lot of guys climbed off, and we know now, looking back on it, that around that time the pace of the peloton was beginning to be enhanced so it’s a good achievement to have stuck it out.

I think what a lot of people don’t realise is that at that time, the Motorola team were a clean team – bread and water, and I don’t have any problems saying this. When I looked at the teams and the riders [ie of the other teams competing],I thought, I will be OK here. Even on the first stage there was a big crash because of the speed they were going round the corners at. I remember going round the corners on the first stage and my wheels were actually skipping round, we were going so fast.

Moreno Argentin 94 Giro

It was when the Gewiss team, we used to call the Gee-Whizz team, were on the front, with Bjarne Riis and Berzin and all these guys, that was when a lot of big questions were being asked. 1994 was the year that Pantani won two stages in the last week, Indurain went there to try to do the triple- the Giro, the Tour and the World Championship, and even he was blown away by Berzin and Pantani that year. The racing was just, phew, there were probably 40 or 50 guys who were head and shoulders above everyone else. The grupetto that year was probably 60-strong and that was a big grupetto. We were the real race, and the other riders in front were just killing it. The thing is, I don’t think that there has been a Giro that I have known that hasn’t had a rest day.

Pantani 94 Giro

There were guys outclimbing me – OK, I had a job to do which was to get Andy to the front, ride the first 2 or 3km of a climb and then pull off to the side and let him go on – but there were people in that group who weren’t climbers, they were sprinters with big legs. It was a wee bit demoralising for me, the Giro in 94, because I thought I would be OK and everything would be fine. But it’s only looking back on it now that you see the performance enhancing drugs that were evident in the early 90s, although it is speculation. I look at it now and I think I wish it was 94 again, so I could get a ride and perform.

Someone taped the television coverage and sent it to my Dad, and he saw a few glimpses of me, as well as finishing in Milan, and he took that to his grave, that his boy rode the race. My mother and father were cyclists, who used to tour every year in Italy for a month, so for me to ride the Giro was a great privilege and an honour for them.

Despite the regrets it was a good achievement, there are positives there. But Hampsten was 10th and was he let go by Motorola and you too?

Andy was a former Giro winner and he finished 10th, and he turned round to me and said ‘I can’t compete now with these guys’. It was a new era of cycling, as we look back on it now with the Lance Armstrong thing and other things that have come out. It was definitely the start of a new era. Looking back on it I am proud to have finished the Giro and proud to have helped Andy, but at the end of the day, sponsors are sponsors and 10th wasn’t good enough, so Andy had to look for another team, and unfortunately he wasn’t a big enough name to take me with him and I had to fend for myself.

The Giro is a special race and I have still got a lot of passion for it. I’d love to have ridden the Tour but for me, the history, the passion – the Giro will always hold something in my heart.

Brian Smith finished 95th @ 3hr 22min 35sec with 99 of the 153 riders finishing the race.

1994 Giro on Bikeraceinfo
1994 Giro on Wikipedia

Brian Smith’s views on the Giro

Brian Smith was a two-time British road race champion and rode for Motorola in 1994. He now provides analysis on pro cycling for Eurosport and other channels. I spoke to him before the start of the Giro d’Italia to find out his thoughts for the 2013 edition.

Hi Brian. I’m not much of a pundit – is ‘Wiggins v Nibali’ too simplistic a way to look at the GC battle or do you think it will come down to those two guys?

I think it is very much looking that way. With Wiggins it is all about calculations, he has looked at the parcours through his coach Tim Kerrison and they reckon he can do the double. He’s going to the Giro d’Italia to win it, that’s obvious.

I know Wiggins, and he wants to be a legend within our sport. Last year he won the Tour, which made history in the UK, and he won another Gold medal, but he wants to be known as a legend in the sport, that’s what inspires him. He wants to win the Giro and the Tour, and I don’t think that has been done since Stephen Roche in 1987. He looks at history and that’s what motivates him.

I think the tifosi will be behind Nibali and will do what they can to crack Wiggins, I think it goes back to the Vissentini – Roche thing. (in 1987 where Roche ended up riding against his team leader, and was attacked by the Italian fans) I think Wiggins is not so strong mentally and that the tifosi know that, and even the press will try to put pressure on him, so he will have to stay focused. If he thinks he can go to the Giro and have it easy then he has another thing coming. I think there will be so much more pressure on him.

There is a team time trial, which Sky are very good at, and Sky will probably take the jersey there. With the parcours, it is set up for Wiggins to take the pink jersey at the first time trial, either the team time trial or on stage 8. This will mean that Nibali can sit back and Hesjedal can sit back and let Sky do all the work.

The last few days of the Giro are very very hard and that is where there is a weakness in Wiggins if he is attacked. The Italians are very proud and you will get combines- people will ride to help Nibali and hinder Wiggins, and Wiggins will have to have a really strong team. If he can keep the team strong together then he can win the Giro.

Remember, Uran was 7th last year and best young rider and now he has to ride for another person. He was maybe thinking he would have his opportunity. For Sky to win the Giro, the team have to really pull together because they will be up against it. My experience of this race is that the Italians stick together. They will combine together to try to make sure there will be an Italian winner.

There is no doubt it will be a great race, I love the Giro. Anything can happen, it is a very difficult race but this test is probably bigger than the Tour de France last year for Wiggins.

My thanks to Brian for taking the time to share his thoughts – this is a brief view on this year’s Giro but I hope to bring you some more substantial insights soon, covering his own memories of riding the Giro in 1994.

British National Road Race course in Glasgow revealed

Yesterday British Cycling announced the course details of the National Road Races and time trials which will take place in Glasgow in the week of June 20-23.

The time trial will run through East Ayrshire on Thursday 20 June – it is the first time the time trial is being held the same week as the road race.

Glasgow 2013 nationals 1

The road race: course
Previously on Scottish forums, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the rumoured city centre course, with purists not happy at the lack of hills or the lost opportunity to explore the ‘traditional’ cycling terrain of central Scotland such as the Trossachs or the Campsies.

However the pros of having a city course mean that the race is taken to the people, there will be many more spectators than there would have been and the atmosphere should be fantastic. The city centre course is a bold move but is clearly looking to capitalise on the cycling boom and the increased interest amongst the general public. Of course it is a dry run for the Commonwealth Games 2014 but that event will be run on the same principles: take the racing to as many people as possible, die-hard fans or not.

The 14.2km circuit is like a long criterium and with 13 laps there are a lot of tight corners to deal with- especially around the Merchant City and Woodlands. There are some cobbles up in Park Circus, with the architecture and greenery up there will look good on TV. However it’s not clear whether the Park Circus section will take in the cobbles or skirt round. Similarly the University Avenue will provide another opportunity for the cameras to linger on our fantastic architecture. If we don’t get a shot of the cloisters I’ll be disappointed.

The race will actually go through Kelvingrove Park, rather than down Kelvin Way – possibly avoiding the undesirables – which is a fascinating inclusion. How they will do this I am not certain – surely it will have to be full barriers – in which case it will be narrow. Will team cars be able to get through here? Despite the lack of major climbs there will be other ways for teams to shed their rivals, and crashes, punctures or mechanicals may be key to ruining the chances of some riders.

Alan Anderson has already mapped the circuit on Strava: I wonder if any pros will upload their data?

The road race: riders
How it unfolds will depend on who enters- opinion is divided about Cavendish as he will be focusing on a big performance at the Tour for his new Omega Pharma Quick Step team. But he has often ridden the National RR in the past, but on hilly courses he tended to climb off after he was distanced. This time the course is more favourable to sprinters.

QSPS’ other British rider- Andy Fenn, who is qualified to ride for Scotland is another fast finisher who can last the distance over a long, tough championship course.

Spokey Doke blog is tipping BMC’s Adam Blythe and I am expecting a considered preview over there.

Could we see hardman Ian Stannard, who won many plaudits for his riding in the early classics attack from a long way out? Or if David Millar can get fit and healthy, and he is riding, he might be firing on all cylinders ahead of domestique duties at the tour, and could do something similar. Imagine a breakaway with those two.

Team Sky have the strength in depth – Wiggins, Froome, Thomas, Rowe, Kennaugh, Tiernan-Locke – to put all the others under pressure, but it remains to be seen how many of them will ride. Sky may be out to rectify their failure to live up to expectations in the one-day classics so the tactics will be interesting, but the onus will be squarely on them to ride, chase and control the race. Who will their leader or leaders be? Ben Swift has the fast finish and some big stage wins to his name. Maybe Thomas or Stannard could escape towards the end.

The tactics
I am of limited experience in analysing races or predicting outcomes but Sky will need to shed Cavendish to win. How you do that over a course with 6 lumps of only 40-50m in height on the profile I am not sure. It will have to be very fast, but Cav should be able to get to the finish. His lack of teammates may hinder him (he only has Andy Fenn I think) but we have seen him wheel-hop and win when he was isolated last year, when Sky were concentrating on their GC contenders.

What do you think? There is already an established thread on Braveheart but I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

Rab Wardell in Germany and Bike the Rock MTB race

Rab Wardell is often good at promoting his sponsors in different ways – such as the West Highland Way ride for Kinesis Morvelo.

Here he is riding his Trek Superfly on the trails and paths from the Burg Teck, situated at 2544 feet, high above Dettingen unter Teck in the district of Esslingen in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The film was shot by Johny Cook.

“Wie in Deutschland” – “Like in Germany” from Johny Cook on Vimeo.

Rab is racing the Bike The Rock Elite MTB XC race on Sunday, along with fellow Scot Dave Henderson of GT Muc-Off Racing.

Dave described the XC course as a bit like Inerliethen- savage up and savage down. It is a strong field with the likes of Nino Schurter, Florian Vogel, Manuel Fumic, Marco Fontana and Fabian Giger – all riders who compete in the World Cup series.

Good luck lads!

Follow the tweets on #biketherock

Video courtesy of

A Play about The Pirate

Marco Pantani’s life will be examined on the boards of a proscenium arch as opposed to a velodrome – Stuart Hepburn’s third play, The Pirate will be directed by David Overend for Oran Mor and will be onfrom Monday 13th of May until Saturday 18th of May.

Stuart has been acting and writing since graduating from the University Of Stirling in 1982. A look at his website reveals the extent of his work – TV, films, plays, as well as being Programme Leader of a Contemporary Screen Acting degree at the University of the West of Scotland.

What drives a man to the pinnacle of professional cycling, yet leads him to the depths and of squalor despair? “The Pirate” traces Marco’s journey from the poverty of his upbringing in the streets of Cesena, to his ultimate tragic end at the age of cruelly early age of 34.


Tedious opening question, but what is your Background in cycling?
I had a bike from Halfords when I was 14 and used to cycle a few miles. About 15 years ago I decided to raise some money for Enable, the Scottish mental health charity, and I went on a sponsored cycle ride down the Nile, so I had to get fit. I cycled up and down Glen Artney on a very ill-fitting mountain bike. I’ve just kept going, I do it to keep fit and I commute when I can and take it on the train but I’m not a member of a club or anything like that. But I have got more and more interested in the psychology and the history of cycling.

So was Pantani one of your favourite cyclists?
I think I’m a bit old for favourites, but what intrigues me is characters. How this came about was, I was in Rock and Road cycles, and my mate Tom McGovern, who is an actor, said- I’ve got a play for you: Marco Pantani! So I started researching him, and this was about 4 years ago. We were thinking Tom might be in the play, what was it going to be about and what was the angle, and I started and stopped several times. And then, horror of horrors… the whole thing was going to be a juxtaposition of the clean guy and the drugged guy, and we all know what side of the fence Marco was on… but then everything got muddy and blurred and the more I researched about the supposed clean ones, the more I realised it was a lot more complex than I previously thought. And one Lancelot Armstrong was a major character in it, and he was meant to be Mr Clean. The whole thing was up in the air because it doesn’t really work, after you hear rumours, and by the time the whole Greg Lemond thing came up, with the accusations and everything, you realise that it wasn’t only the French, saying he was “at it”.

Then I had a chat to a friend, a colleague, David Overend and we said, don’t make it about drugs, why not make it about heroes? Obviously everything came into the public domain about Armstrong, and after that things started to flow and I knew what I wanted it to be about. So now ‘it’s not about the drugs’, it’s about heroes, and why do heroes fail?

We talked to David Maclennan of Oran Mor, and A Play, A Pie and A Pint, who thought it was a great idea, as no-one had ever written a cycling play up here before, so they decided to put it on.
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Breast Cancer Care cycling team launch

I had hoped to attend the launch for the Breast Cancer Care cycling team at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome on Saturday afternoon but after putting my back out, I missed it and the Revolution track meeting in the evening.

The information that was released from BCCCT was of personal interest, therefore, as well as important for the Scottish Cycling community in general and hopefully Drum-Up readers. Scottish Cycling had been involved in Team Ibis in 2012 and the news that this team was to fold was met with great concern late in 2012. I understand a great deal of work went in to securing the sponsorship and organisation for this new team, so hats must be doffed to SC and whoever else was involved for making it happen. Of course there are English riders and other nationalities, but my main interest is in some of the riders who will be familiar to us on the local scene.


Looking to Glasgow 2014, the team will provide top level competition for the Scottish women, primarily on the road in Holland and Belgium, but I should expect we will see them on the track in Glasgow too.

On Saturday the 2nd of February the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome played host to the team launch of the Breast Cancer Care cycling team, the UK’s number one domestic women’s cycling team. In these impressive surroundings in one of the venues for the 2014 Commonwealth games, the team, its riders and its sponsors were presented to an assembled crowd of media, supporters, friends and family. The presentation was hosted by well-known cycling commentator Anthony McCrossan of Cyclevox, himself a big supporter of women’s cycling.

Anthony McCrossan speaks to Eileen Roe
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Grant Ferguson U23 CX champ for Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team

Grant Ferguson had a great start to the 2013 season for his new Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team, winning the U23 CX national title. Teammate Marek Konwa also won the Polish National Champion title in the Elite Men category.

Grant Ferguson, newcomer to the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team, won the U23 CX National title, overcoming a brave ride by defending champion Steven James and an aggressive performance from Ben Sumner who finished third. It was Kenta Gallagher (also a new recruit to the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team) who made the first impression on the race, leading the charge away from the start with Nick Barnes, Adam Martin and Ferguson close behind. By the end of the 2nd lap a six rider group had formed, including Ferguson. It was Ben Sumner who finally broke up the race with a big effort at the start of the 4th lap. Ferguson was the only rider to go with him. With the bell approaching, Ferguson finally made his move and he broke clear, able to stretch his lead to around half a minute at the finish line, as he claimed his first national CycloCross title. Kenta Gallagher finished in a strong 6th place on 1.35.

Grant Ferguson: “I’m really pleased. This has been a big target for me. Since the MTB season has stopped I’ve been working to get faster and improve a few things. It was a really tight race and then it split up a couple of times. I had a few little goes and someone got away, so I just went for it on the last lap and a half.”

Scottish based clothing sponsor Endura, who is the official cycle clothing sponsor of Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team for 2013 and 2014, will also no doubt have been pretty pleased.