Posts Tagged ‘tourdefrance’

Look Mum No Hands – Tour mugs

Want: Tour de France jersey mugs

Want: Tour de France jersey mugs.

£15 for the set – only from Look Mum No Hands on Old Street.

Man the Tour is close. Stupid Wimbledon has been distracting me.

Chasing Legends

I went to see a screening of Chasing Legends at the Empire Leicester Square last night with two of my long-time riding compadres Ewan and Millsy. Essentially it was a biopic of Team HTC Columbia during the 2009 Tour de France. This was the one with 6 Cav sprint wins, the big Jens Voigt faceplant (I can’t believe I had to watch it again), the Hincapie-Garmin blowout, and Contador getting his second overall victory.

The production was high quality – there was great rider-POV footage of fast sprints and especially the team time trial in Montpellier. Cav was the star of the show, and he came across well on camera. Phil Liggett, veteran of 30-something tours, was awesome. The highlight was possibly an interview with the old-timer (what was his name?) who finished 7th in 1950 having competed before the war, fought the Germans during the war, then returned to competitive cycling.

I could have done with seeing more footage of the mountain stages; but aside from Tony ‘Panzerwagen’ Martin’s perfomance on Mont Ventoux, HTC Columbia kept a low profile on the climbs. I enjoyed the comic banter between directeurs sportif Rolf Aldag and Brian Holm.

But if I experienced a few minor adrenaline wibbles during the 90 minute film, I bonked during the live Q&A. This was billed as the highlight of the evening – a live satellite broadcast beamed to screens across the country, Phil Liggett interviewing sprint legend Cav with support from the film’s director and the Chuckle Brothers Rolf and Brian.

I’m afraid it didn’t really work out. Liggett performed stoically in front of the blazing white lights of the O2 theatre; Rolf and Brian cracked a few jokes; the director contributed something or other – but we always came back to Cav. I actually rate Cav more highly than I used to, I think he’s cooler than everyone reckons – but the panel was crying out for the intelligent insight of a David Millar or a Michael Barry. We all sneaked out before the end.

I’d really love to see Rapha make a similar film using archive footage from classic Tours de France (1989 for example). Or perhaps a series of Tour Legends docs focussing on each member of the Club de Cinque: Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Indurain and Armstrong.

Tourmalet showdown

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s stage finish up the Col du Tourmalet delivered a Tour battle to rival any I can remember. As @rich_mitch observed, it wasn’t quite Lance vs Pantani, but Contador vs Schleck, mano-a-mano through the mist, was tense and gritty stuff.

No-one but Andy Schleck could have restrained the accelerations of Contador, even though, in the end, the Spaniard made only one significant move. On the face of it, however, he didn’t need to win: with only 8 seconds separating first and second place, Contador’s time-trial pedigree means he’s sure to take overall victory on Sunday. Schleck had to attack, and he did all he could, riding a savage tempo up the mountain that had both riders grimacing in pain. Ultimately, they were so evenly matched that they crossed the line together – Contador generously, and wisely (given the events of Tuesday), handing the stage win to Schleck.


I rode up the Tourmalet in 2002, while traversing the Pyrenees on a week-long charity ride from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. On a day of drama that will mean nothing to anyone bar the protagonists, I can vividly remember flashes of that punishing 90-minute ascent (the same, tougher, side as the Tour went up today).

To recap, we were a group of 7, that included university mates Ewan, Si and Joe, plus some older blokes, one of whom was Mike B.

Mike was a keen club rider; we were an odd assortment of fitness levels, ranging from Joe, a natural talent, to Ewan, who despite radically transforming himself in recent years and completing an Ironman in 2008, was at that time shambolically out of shape. But it was a charity ride, so racing was hardly on the cards.

That is, until the first morning of the trip, a tough, drizzly leg out of Biarritz, when Blakeney rode off the front for 50 miles. Who did he think he was, Eddy Merckx? Suddenly, in the microcosm of the group, Mike B (who is actually a good guy all round), with his carbon Trek and beer gut, was the villain of the piece. Revenge was brewing, and the Tourmalet – which we hit on the Thursday – would be our showdown.


We stopped for lunch in a town not far from the foot of the mountain. I remember taking Joe to one side and briefing him for the climb: he was not to hang back with us, he was to ride at B’s pace, and keep up the tempo until B cracked. Joe and B rode off together, leaving us to await the outcome.

It goes without saying that the climb was hard. For the first time, I experienced all the usual side-effects of long, hot mountain climbs that I’m now pretty familiar with: the pins-and-needles face, the slack jaw, the aching back. I dropped Si after 20 minutes – a minor victory – and then it was me and the road.

I initially thought it was a product of my own super-heated brain when I looked up after 10km and saw Mike B, dismounted at the roadside, helmet off, pink-faced, puffy, a Dead-Elvis grin on his face. But he said something – it could have been ‘Help’ or ‘Water’, I can’t recall – and I realised with a surge of adrenalin that Joe had buried him. I was intensely delighted, not only by this reckoning, but also by the fact that I was now number two on the mountain. A celebratory hot chocolate was my reward at the summit.



I’m really enjoying le grimpeur blog’s series on Défaillance (links below). I love this image of Greg Lemond, bent over his handlebars as his strength ebbs away on Le Col du Tourmalet in the 1991 Tour de France. It reminds me well of going up Alpe d’Huez on July 4. Now that most of my posts fall into the armchair category, it feels apt to reflect on a waning of form.


Défaillance. A sudden weakness. A synonym: un jour sans. A day without. All cyclists experience it sooner or later, from the most hardened professional to the lowliest amateur pretender. It differs from the ‘knock’, when the body runs out of energy, and the remedy for the knock is simple: take on more sustenance. Défaillance is something else, more insidious, its symptoms like a creeping dread. On a climb, one struggles to find one’s rhythm, or settle into the saddle and spin, to find a gear that feels comfortable, to follow wheels as they pull inexorably ahead. The remedy is also not immediately obvious. Overtraining? Undertraining? A myriad of other possibilities, physical or even mental.

By the way sort out your post tagging grimpeur!

Jonny emailed the link to the Hell of the Ashdown 2010 this morning. Registration is open for the first sportive of a new season. It begins.


Bradley Wiggins you living legend.


Having read his autobiography earlier this year I feel like know the man (at least a tiny bit) personally. All the better to see him doing so well in this year’s Tour. His form in the mountains has been unshakeable, and to see Armstrong grimly talking about ‘the threat of Wiggins’ is a bizarre sight.

Since he moved up from 6th to 3rd after the Verbier stage Wiggo has been interviewed every night by ITV, and has provided a calm voice of reason amid the chaos and politics of the race. He’s like the everyman among demi-gods – an impression reinforced by the certainty (having read his book) that Wiggins is not on drugs. 

[As a side issue, is this a reflection of a cleaner Tour? In years past would Wiggo have been able to hold his own amid a fully doped peloton?]

As I write, in the middle of today’s highlights programme, Wiggo is still holding his own and still lies 3rd in the GC. Here’s to a podium finish on Sunday…

Project Le Tour

Telekom TT by Brent Humphreys.

Telekom TT by Brent Humphreys.

Project Le Tour by Brent Humphreys is worth a look. There are some fantastic observational shots of the Tour over the last couple of years, which really capture the spirit of the event and the people who watch it. Thanks to Chris for the link.

On a web note, this is an example of a Flash website, which, rather than creating an immersive, fluid experience for the viewer (which I imagine was the aim), actually just forces the viewer to do what the site wants him to do. 

  • The intro is ridiculous. I was frantically clicking to try and escape it and view some actual content.
  • The site forces you to view full screen. Sure, you can ESC to exit but why not just give me the option?
  • Images pop into view from the right hand side. I had to figure out what was going on, it’s not immediately obvious.
  • What do I do if I don’t want to view the images in the order Brent has decided? They aren’t chronological, so how do I quickly flick through, how do I see the whole lot to figure out how many there are, how do I go back and find the one I like at a later date? Er – I can’t. 

If you’re going to use Flash – make it useable!

Team Time Trial Live

A rider from the Cervelo team fires out of the bend at Cournonterral.

A rider from the Cervelo team fires out of the bend at Cournonterral.

Last Tuesday I watched Stage 4 of the Tour – contre la montre par equipe – live in Montpellier. It was awesome, check out the full Flickr set.

I and a couple of others were stationed at Cournonterral, a spot about 27km into the 45km route. We’d been recommended the place by local Tour rider Stephane Goubert, and it was ideal: we could watch the riders coming at us, then looping through the bend, then heading back out up a slight incline. We cracked out the rosé and baguettes and settled in.

I spotted Cavendish in the green jersey, but sadly couldn’t recognise either Wiggo or David Millar. However I did see Lance powering the front of the Astana train. The highlight of the day was probably seeing Fabien Cancellara ride through in the yellow jersey amid his Saxo-Bank teammates. La Maillot Jaune really gleams in the flesh, it was quite a sight.

Here’s some vid:

The Ride of the Living Dead

Poster design by Cricket Press.

Poster design by Cricket Press.

Another bike-related find courtesy of Christian‘s Colourschool blog. The poster is hand-printed by Cricket Press, and you can buy direct from their website (although, sadly, this particular poster is no longer available).

I like the mention of ‘Al’s Bar’ at the finish.

Do zombies’ legs feel pressure or do they ride without pain? I’m thinking of Tom Simpson’s final moments on the Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France. Ripped on amphetamine and half a bottle of brandy, he demanded to be put back on his bike when he fell off the first time. The second time he fell off he was probably already dead from heart failure, his hands gripping the bars so hard his fingers had to be prised off by the Tour doctor. My guess is Simpson had long since stopped feeling pain on that brutal mountainside – his ascent was indeed the Ride of the Living Dead.


I’ve become slightly addicted to watching video clips of Lance Armstrong riding the Tour. I like the really blurry ones with bad, tinny house soundtracks. Like this one:

Alpe d’Huez – the finale of La Marmotte. Yep, it’s going to hurt.