|Me on the Stelvio’s ‘easy’ side.|
For me, stage 16 is where this year’s Giro properly begins (assuming the weather holds), and where many of the competitors will be sorely wishing it properly ended: the mountains — the really, really big mountains. Continue reading “£0.00004 Per Metre”
|Erik & Rolf in hell|
In 2004 I went to the cinema in Edinburgh to watch Hell on Wheels (Hollentour, in its native German). The movie is a documentary by French director Pepe Danquart’s and tells the story of the 2003 Tour de France through the eyes of the T-Mobile team and two of their riders, sprinter Erik Zabel and his faithful domestique, Rolf Aldag. Continue reading “High-Mountain Heroes”
|pic from cycling-passion.com|
The late Marco Pantani was a cyclist I greatly admired, a climber whose exploits further fuelled my admiration of the cycling climber and stoked my ambition to go to Europe and try the mountains for myself. He was also the cycling inspiration of Drew, my companion during the travels that make up my book, The Breakaway – Cycling the Mountains of the Tour de France. Without Marco I might never have ridden Alpe d’Huez, the Stelvio, Mont Ventoux, et al. Continue reading “Remembering Marco”
The thunder and lightning currently blasting my neighbourhood of Edinburgh into submission is pretty scary, but none will ever be as scary (I hope!) as that which nearly welded me onto the tarmac of the Col d’Aubisque:
Whilst I clung onto Drew’s back wheel and chuckled at what I saw as an irrational fear, the lightning caught up and cracked directly overhead. That explosion of noise was the loudest thing I have ever heard, hopefully the loudest thing I will ever hear. The air turned bright blue as its water content sizzled to the boil. The hairs on our necks stood on end as if we’d stuck our fingers into a electric socket; those power lines I had so recently joked about hissed, buzzed and visibly jerked on their pylon mounts like a sack full of body-popping snakes — the danger I had dismissed suddenly all too real. I shifted up a gear and raced passed Drew, no longer as brave nor as forthcoming with suggestions as to what the lightning might do next. It was all too bloody obvious: we were about to be cooked alive!
One of the great things about having ridden a load of Tour climbs is pretending to know how the peloton feels as the Tour cruises and crawls over the same roads. Stage 19 takes in the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Madeliene, both of which I tackled during The Breakaway. For me the Madeleine was a total and utter nightmare. I suffered like a dog (trapped inside a hot car) the whole way up. The Glandon was that day’s second ascent and, surprisingly, I recovered enough to find it, dare I say, enjoyable.
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