Sunday, 31 July 2011

Toyota-Parlee concept bike

Malaysian team prepares from SEA Games in Chiang Mai

Malaysian road cyclists will set up a month-long training camp in Chiang Mai,
Thailand, from tomorrow to gear up for their hunt for gold medals in the
Indonesia SEA Games in November.
The camp in Chiang Mai, which will end on Aug 28, marks the full swing of
preparations lined up by coach Graham Seers before the team take part in several
races in Australia in September.

The riders heading for the training camp are Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin, Mohd
Saufi Mat Senan (Terengganu Pro-Asia); Mohd Adiq Husainie Othman, Amir Mustafa
Rusli (Drapac); Ng Yong Li (Le Tua); and Mohd Rauf Nur Misbah and Akmal Amrun
(national team).

Meanwhile, the women riders bound for Chiangmai are newly-crowned national
champion Kimbeley Yap, Mariana Mohamad, Masziyaton Mohd Radzi, Mardiana Mohd
Radzi and Ju Pha Somnet.

Shahrul, who won the national meet in Raub last month, said the terrain in
Chiang Mai is quite similar to the one that will be used for the SEA Games in

“From the list of the preliminary riders who got selected, it looks like all
of them have very good climbing ability,” said Shahrul.

“From what we have learned from our reconnaissance trip to Indonesia earlier
this month, there will be a great deal of climbs in store.”

The squad scouted several sections of Bandung, where the road race is
expected to be held.

Malaysia last won the gold medal in road cycling through Suhardi Hassan and
Noor Azian Alias in the 2005 edition in Manila.

In addition to the road race, the Indonesia Games will also feature the
individual and time trials.

“There is no better way than to go to the mountains if you want to win a
tough race. I know that the training camp starts the same day as the fasting
month ... but that won’t stop me from giving my best in training,” said

“We met with the Indonesian national team who were camped in the high areas
in Bandung and that is a clear indication that they too are preparing for a
hilly ride.” 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

O'Grady targets record sixth Olympic Games

2004 Olympic Champion, Stuart O'Grady, will begin his campaign to become the first Australian cyclist to contest six Olympic Games when he heads a five man Cyclones team at next month's Olympic Games test event in London.
Cycling Australia today confirmed the 37 year old South Australian will line up in the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, the official test event being raced on the 2012 Olympic Games road race course on 14 August. Joining him are four of Australia's talented crop of sprinters in Matthew Goss, Leigh Howard, Michael Matthews and Heinrich Haussler.
O'Grady's Olympic career began in 1992 in Barcelona where he collected a silver medal in the teams pursuit. In 1996 he added two bronze medals (points race and teams pursuit) and in 2004 paired with Graeme Brown to win gold in the Madison. O'Grady has also notched up an impressive 15 year pro road career and heads to London after playing a key role in the Leopard - Trek team's Tour de France campaign.
Goss has enjoyed a breakthrough year that saw him make his Tour de France debut while his HTC - High Road team mate Howard kicked off his season with a successful defence of the Madison crown (with Cameron Meyer) at the track world championships. Australian born Haussler will line up with the Cyclones for the first time after last year relinquishing his German citizenship to qualify for selection. The youngster of the team is Matthews, the 2010 U23 road race world champion, who has already scored three stage wins in his first year in the pro ranks with Rabobank.
Like Haussler, Cycling Australia's Professional Men's Road Coordinator, Matt White, is also making his debut but in the directing role. The 36 old is a former professional cyclist who, during a 15 year career, represented Australia at World Championships, Olympic and Commonwealth Games took over the reins at the start of this year and is keen to continue the tradition of excellence.
"It might be a test event but we're definitely going to win and with this group we've got the talent to do that," said White of the Cyclones line up. "All five can do the job and we're going to win in London in August and then we're heading to Denmark in September to win again at the World Championships.
"Every time our pros come together to race for Australia, and it's only a couple of times a year at most, they race to win," explained White. "So when they come into this team they know they're here for business and that business is to win bike races."
The host nation will also be keen to score a victory and is fielding two 'national' teams. Five riders will race as Great Britain and a second team will represent England.
"I was thinking of entering a team from Queensland and one from New South Wales," joked Sydney born White. "But apparently big Mal Meninga (Queensland State of Origin rugby league coach) is busy on the 14th of August.
"The test event provides an opportunity for us to take a close look at the course under race conditions and, even though it's a shorter race than the Olympic race will be, it's the only chance our coaches and staff will have before next year's race for medals," explained White. "We'll take advantage of that to collect as much info as we can."
At the 2012 Olympic Games the riders will compete without the benefit of race radios and White says that could have a significant impact on the race.
"It's a different style of racing and for those who are used to wearing race radios it will be a big factor," said White. "Also they need to understand that next year's Olympic road race will be tricky as it's only five men and unless you're next to each other there's no way to communicate.
"They'll have officials telling them time-gaps but during the race the riders will need to think for themselves, make solid tactical decisions and make them quickly," said White. "It will be the same at this year's worlds but with a team of almost twice as many riders."
The London-Surrey Cycle Classic will start at The Mall in central London and take the riders around the streets, lanes and hills of a course that weaves its way through the capital to the historic Hampton Court Palace. From their the race heads out into the rolling countryside, ancient woodland and picturesque villages of Surrey. Two zigzag circuits around Box Hill will test peloton before they head back into London and a fast finish at The Mall with Buckingham Palace as a backdrop.

The Australian Cyclones for the London-Surrey Cycle Classic are:

Ride Life - Ten Dam... ooougghc

Friday, 29 July 2011

Team Champion System check in from Austria

Bad Boy Racing in Austria

By Steve Thomas/

There was plenty of yodelling, thigh slapping, and beer drinking in Austria this week as the land-locked mountainous nation played host to its annual share of après Tour de France ciritiums.
Each year following the great race much of Europe comes alive with nocturnal bike races. Having seen the show on TV for the previous three weeks fans are eager to see the act and its cast live, in their home-towns. These events are often massive showcases for local and international stars alike, with thousands of fans turning out to get a glimpse of things.
During the past few days Team Champion System riders Chris Williams, Deon Locke and Steven Wong pulled on their track mitts and duelled it out with the cream of the Austrian peloton. The biggest of the week’s events was the Bad Ischi ciritium, which was held on a tight multi-cornered town centre circuit. Early in the race Chris went clear with a small group, lead by Bernard Eisel of the HTC team, a rider best known as Mark Cavendish’s lead out ace. During their ten-laps out front Chris earned himself a couple of lap sprints, but the group was eventually reeled in.
With 12 laps to go a 5-rider group went off the front, with all of the top riders included; plus our own Deon Locke. The group stayed away, and retiring Austrian veteran Gerhard Tramphsch soloed to his final career victory, while Deon came home with Eisel and Co, impressing the Tour de France riders with a great 4th place finish.

1.   Gerhard Tramphsch
2.   Bernard Eisel
3.   Matthias Krizek
4.   Deon Locke

The electric mountain bike has arrived

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Mondraker - the future?

Unique looking build has clean lines running through frame and stem, among other features
Mondraker has released details of what it describes as a 'new standard' in cross-country cycling - it's full carbon Podium.
The brand's engineers have been hard at work creating a build with a lower front end, achieving this with a quirky, yet aesthetically clean 'integrated stem'.
The press release states: "We decided to copy one of the greatest of all time - Mr. Mies van der Rohe (“less is more”). We took off the stem and made it part of the frame. This allows us to shorten the steering tube and strengthen the front area of the bicycle for a better force transmission from your upper body to the trail."
Having used a proprietary fabrication process, the brand has shaved several grams of its predecessor, with a Large frame size coming in at under 1,000 grams fully painted.

A patent is pending on the steering system, dubbed IST, which "limits the steering angle to ensure the frame stays fresh." Riders will be able to fine tune the stem with +/- 5mm in X and Y axis, with an eccentric aluminum insert for the most precise adjustments. 
Thanks to

Nike Tunnel Jam, cool

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Corentin Percier Edit

The value of cycling sponsorship...

This is an extract from a story in the Wall Street Journal,. click the link at the bottom to read the full story...

While everybody talks about winning the Tour, only a half dozen of the 22 teams have a realistic chance of landing their leader on the top step of the final podium in Paris.
But, in a game where the rider is a walking billboard, the next best thing for sponsors is riders who win jerseys for sprinting or climbing or winning a leg of the race. And short of those victories, riders—and their sponsors—hope for breakaways that can keep a half-dozen riders on TV for hours.
The epidemic of crashes that has sunk contenders like Jurgen Van Den Broek and Chris Horner this year has inflated the number of teams who need a Plan B. "When you lose your big guns, you go for other things," says Philippe Maertens, a spokesman for Radioshack, Mr. Horner's team.
In the early years of sponsoring a cycling team, Jon Casset, director of sponsorship for navigation-system maker Garmin Ltd., confesses, he was enthusiastic about each breakaway. He says he would call Jonathan Vaughters, the chief executive of Slipsteam Sports LLC, which runs Garmin-Cervelo, as the team is now known. "I'd say we should always be in those three or four guys going for it," he says.
Later, though, "as the team has improved, we no longer let business interfere with tactics," Mr. Vaughters says.
This year, Garmin has cashed in by winning a team trial. In addition, Tyler Farrar, an American on the team, won a sprint stage on the Fourth of July, and Thor Hushovd won a stage with a spectacular downhill ride. Events like that offer "billions of eyeballs of exposure," Mr. Casset says.
Mr. Hushovd's victory, in particular, had niche value, because he credited the win to his new aerodynamic bicycle, the Cervelo S5. "We'll be able to use that moment to communicate the attractiveness of our product" to amateur cyclists, says Tom Fowler, corporate development officer for the Toronto-based company.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Malaysian MTB Championship report

National cyclist Mazyiaton Mohd Radzi came out tops in the National Mountain Bike Championships in Tampin, Negri Sembilan yesterday.
The 23-year-old Kedahan, who was second in the same meet last year, was relieved to finally lay her hands on the title this year.
It was also a sweet victory for her, as she came in second in the national road cycling championships in Raub last month where Kimbeley Yap outsprinted her and former champion Mariana Mohamad down the finish line.
“It was a tough course today especially the final climb in the race. But I’m happy to bag the title today,” said Masziyaton who finished the 20.1km race in 1’20:22.
Sarawak’s Junaidah Juss came in second in 1’24:55 while Maszyiaton’s younger sister, Mardiana, was third in 1’32:19.
“My focus, however, is still on road cycling as we will have a training camp in Chiangmai next month to prepare for the Indonesia SEA Games in November,” said Masziyaton.
Meanwhile, Selangor’s Shahrin Amir bagged the men’s title after edging out former national road cyclist Mohd Fauzan Ahmad Lufti from the Police team.
Shahrin clocked a total time of 1’34:57 while Fauzan finished in 1’35:47 for the 28.2km race.

Men -- 28.2km cross country: 1 Shahrin Amir (Sel) 1:34.57.02s, 2 Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Police) 1:35.45.67s, 3 Hafiz Rozli (LeTua) 1:41.15.30s, 4 Mohd Shafari Abdul Malik (KL) 1:44.57.05s, 5 Jeoffrey Jerry Jemie (Sab) 1:45.44.99s;

Juniors -- 16.1km cross country: 1 Mohd Zulhafiz Saipuddin (Ter) 55:58.02s, 2 Mohd Zulashraf Zamlan (Ked) 59:28.10s, 3 Mohd Iskandar Fitri Ahmad Sabti (Ter) 1:00:11.81s, 4 Amirul Asyraf Abdullah (Ked) 1:00:57.60s, 5 Mohd Asyraf Hadi Azmi (Ter) 1:02:44.25s;

Women -- 20.1km cross country: 1 Masziyaton Mohd Radzi (Ked) 1:20.22s, 2 Junaidah Juss (Swk) 1:24.55s, 3 Mardiana Mohd Radzi (Ked) 1:32.19s, 4 Laura Avila Adrian (Sab) 1 lap behind, 5 Natahsya Soon (Sab) 1 lap.

Thanks to MNCF

its all about the OTLs

Inside the German Madison Champs

Paved Paradise

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Malaysian Mountainbike Championships XC


1st - Shahrin Amir (Selangor)
2nd - Muhamad Fauzan Ahmad Lufti (PDRM)
3rd - Moh Hafiz Rosli
4th - Mohd Shafari Abd Malik
5th - Jeoffrey Jerry Jemie (Sabah)


1st - Masziayaton Mohd Radzi (Kedah)
2nd - Junaidah Juss (Sarawak)
3rd - Mardiana Mohd Radzi (Kedah)
4th - Laura Avira 
Adrian (Sabah)
5th - Natahsya Soon (Sabah


1st - Mohd Zulhafiz Saipudin (Terengganu)
2nd - Mohd Zul Ashraf b Ramlan (Kedah)
3rd - Mohd Iskandar Fitri b Ahmad Sabti (Terengganu)
4th - Amirun Asyraf b Abdullah (Kedah)
5th - Mohd Asyraf Hadi b Mohd (Terengganu)

Copenhagen bike parade

Team Champion System, the first half...

Half time scores

By Steve Thomas/

Given the overwhelming success so far it’s hard to believe that Team Champion System is just 6 months old. The team was officially launched back in mid January, during a pre-season training camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where many of the riders and officials got to meet and test their new Champion System bikes and gear for the very first time.
In registering with the UCI (International Cycling Union) the team became Hong Kong’s first ever commercial Continental ranked team, and opened up the heavy gates of opportunity for aspiring riders from Hong Kong and the entire region, something which had been seriously lacking in the past.
The Hong Kong/USA sponsored team set out to blend together a mix of experienced European riders with up and coming Australian racers and then to spice things up with a seasoning of Hong Kong’s finest road racing talent, a true Eurasian mix with a little extra on the side. With a racing schedule that spans three continents and a mixed bag of races and conditions it would surely test the new set up, and provide vital international racing experience and conditioning for the young Hong Kong riders too.
Hopes are always high when setting out on a new venture, but experience has shown that it takes some time for sporting teams to develop and find their way, and few could have realistically expected that the team would take some 13 victories and 16 other podium finishes inside their first half a season on the road, an amazing opening score card, which only just begins to tell the full story.
Things started out with a waterlogged Tour de Langkawi, where despite missing out on the top slots the team showed its fresh new colours on several stages, largely thanks to some aggressive riding by Australian rider Deon Locke.
A slight slowing up of the Asian calendar allowed Mart Ojavee of Estonia to open the teams victory account with a win in the Hong Kong Road Cycling Series event in February, where he took a fine solo win. This maiden victory was to be the first a long line for Mart, who has scored an impressive 9 wins, so far this season. These wins also include both the Estonian Road Race and Critirium Championships, plus he also took the points competition in the Tour de Taiwan and the equivalent “King of the Dirt” title in the GP Herning in Denmark, which combined with his long list of additional podium and other top finishes mark him out as the teams top scorer so far this year.
Back in Southeast Asia and Matthias Friedemann took the King of the Sprints title at the hotly contested OCBC critirium in Singapore, after which the team headed across the water to Malaysia for the Jelajah Malaysia, where Ojavee also scored podium finishes.
Following a successful Tour of Taiwan, where Ojavee took podium finishes and took the points title, a few close calls were also had in the Tour of Hellas (Tour of Greece). Then came team captain Jaan Kirsipuu’s first victory of the season; Stage 4 of the Tour of Korea. The veteran sprinter also went on to win the Jurmala GP in Latvia and a stage of the Saaremaa Velotour (the unofficial Tour of Estonia), a race that was won overall by Mart Ojavee.
During late May the team headed to the USA for a series of high calibre races. Few gave them much hope of scoring here, yet that’s exactly what they did – and in fine style; Swiss rider Joris Boillat opened the play by taking victory in the Hills of Somerville RR, the teams first ever race in the USA. In the following weeks Matthias Friedemann was also to take a slice of the American pie when he won the Tour de Pitman, while Wu Kin San and Jaan Kirsipuu also earned podium slots, making the sortie something of a success, to say the least.
In recent weeks the teams racing program has slowed down some, although Holger Burkhardt, Roger Beuchat and Jaan Kirsipuu have still taken top three finishes in races around the world. The annual racing lull continues for a few more weeks now, but the team will be hoping that “part deux” of their debut season will be equally as fruitful as the first half.


27.02. OJAVE Mart, Hong Kong Road Cycling Race – Series 5 (nat.)
18.04. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Stage 4 Tour de Korea (2.2)
30.04. OJAVEE Mart, Pärnu National Criterium Championships stage 2 (nat.)
01.05. OJAVEE Mart, Estonian Cup Road Race stage 1 (nat.)
14.05. OJAVEE Mart, Elva National Criterium Championships stage 4 (nat.)
14.05. OJAVEE Mart, Overall National Criterium Championships (nat.)
15.05. OJAVEE Mart, Estonian Cup Road Race stage 2 (nat.)
20.05. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Jurmala GP, LAT (1.2)
28.05. BOILLAT Joris, Hills of Somerville Road Race, USA (nat.)
12.06. FRIEDEMANN Matthias, Tour de Pitman, New Jersey, USA (nat.)
13.06. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Saaremaa Velotuur Stage 1 (TTT), EST (nat.)
13.06. OJAVEE Mart, Saaremaa Velotuur Stage 1 (TTT), EST (nat.)
17.06. OJAVEE Mart, Saaremaa Velotuur General Classification, EST (nat.)
22.06. OJAVEE Mart, National Championship Road Elite, EST (NC)
Wins in special categories
28.03. OJAVEE Mart, Green jersey (best sprinter) Tour de Taiwan (2.2)
05.03. FRIEDEMANN Matthias, Sprint competition OCBC Criterium Singapore (int.)
23.04. OJAVEE Mart, Winner Dirt Road Sections GP Herning (1.1)

Second places

27.02. WU Kin San, Hong Kong Road Cycling Race – Series 5 (nat.)
08.03. OJAVEE Mart, Stage 1 Jelajah Malaysia (2.2)
19.03. OJAVEE Mart, Prologue Tour de Taiwan (2.2)
19.04. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Stage 5 Tour de Korea (2.2)
02.06. BOURGEOIS Guillaume, Road Championship Romandie, SWI (nat.)
12.06. WU Kin San, Tour de Pitman, New Jersey, USA (nat.)
15.06. OJAVEE Mart, Saaremaa Velotuur Stage 3b, EST (nat.)
09.07. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Stage 8 Tour of Qinghai Lake, CHN (2.HC)
10.07. BURKHARDT Holger, Ingolstädter Strassenpreis, GER (nat.)

Third places

20.03. FRIEDEMANN Matthias, Köln-Schuld-Frechen, GER (nat.)
22.03. OJAVEE Mart, Stage 3 Tour de Taiwan (2.2)
01.04. TAZREITER Georg, National Championship Track Omnium, AUT (nat.)
16.04. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Stage 2 Tour de Korea (2.2)
02.06. KIRSIPUU Jaan, Base Camp International Criterium, USA (nat.)
11.06. BEUCHAT Roger, Stage 2 Flèche du Sud, LUX (2.2)
20.06. OJAVEE Mart, National Championship Individual Time Trial, EST (NC)

Rider's Statistics

Rider with most wins: OJAVEE Mart (9)
Rider with most UCI wins: KIRSIPUU Jaan (2)
Rider with most podium placings: OJAVEE Mart (14)
Rider with most UCI podium placings: KIRSIPUU Jaan/ OJAVEE Mart (5 each)
Most wins in special categories: OJAVEE Mart (2)
Number of different riders on podiums: 9
Number of different riders on UCI podiums 3
Rider with most breakaway km at UCI races: OJAVEE Mart
Rider with most race km in UCI races cat. 1 + above: BOURGEOIS Guillaume (3400.8 km)
(km count if race was finished by rider)
Rider with highest percentage of UCI races finished: BOURGEOIS Guillaume (91.7%)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Australians ready up for BMX World Champs

BMX Cyclones ready to race

The Australian BMX Cyclones have wrapped up their preparations today at the Sleeman BMX Supercross Track in Brisbane ahead of their departure to the 2011 UCI BMX World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Queensland Minister for Sport, Phil Reeves and State member for Chatsworth, Steve Kilburn were on hand to wish the riders good luck.
“This is Australia’s only Supercross track and hopefully their recent training camp and access to this brand new facility, will give them the edge when they line up against the world’s best," said Mr Reeves “Australian sports people always punch above their weight on the international stage and I’m sure our team for the world’s will be no different."
Australia will travel to the World Championships as the number one nation in the latest (12 July) UCI world rankings in women's elite competition and only 75 points off top ranked France in the elite men's division. Eleven riders will line up for the Cyclones team spearheaded by six riders ranked in the world's top ten across elite and junior men's and women's competition.
National BMX Head Coach Wade Bootes said the team has had a solid preparation and is in top form.
"The expectations for the program are high, (because) we've set a high standard this year," said Bootes. "We have four people in the world's top four and a lot of guys on the podium this year so, everything going well on the day, we should have a few on the podium in the finals and in the time trials."
The BMX Cyclones will be one of the strongest teams on the starting ramp and South Australian Brian Kirkham says that spurs them on.
"I don't think it's pressure," said Kirkham. "People expect us to perform because we're good riders so if we just ride to our potential we're going to get results basically.
"I'd love to get a podium, a top three finish but there are a lot of good riders out there," he said. "I'll be aiming for the skies but we'll see what happens."
Canberra's Caroline Buchanan is ranked number three in the world and last month scored a podium finish at the Dutch round of the Supercross Series in Papendal.
"I knew I always had the potential but needed that extra little confidence boost that I am up there with the best girls in the world," said Buchanan who is the reigning Australian Champion. "I want to be world champion and I'm going there to win gold for Australia but I'll be happy to get on the podium.
"I'm excited to race," said Buchanan. "In the past few years I've had some injuries and missed a few (worlds) and last year was really bad with my pants getting caught on my brake lever so this year I'm ready to go there and race and I'm feeling prepared and confident."
The Australian team has been to Denmark for track reconnaissance which Buchanan believes will give them an edge.
"We did the recce a few weeks ago and that I think will be a huge advantage for us as we have all our lines dialled and we know what to expect."
The team will fly to Denmark on Sunday.
Editors please note photos from today's training session for editorial use are available on request.
The BMX High Performance team Cyclones for the World Championships is below for reference:
(please note Willoughby, Young and Goodwin are already overseas and will join their team mates in Denmark).

BMX 20" - Elite Men
BMX 20" - Elite Women
BMX 20" - U19 Men
  • Darryn GOODWIN (Swan View, WA, 02.08.1993 | UCI Jnr Rank #1)
  • Bodi TURNER (Bayswater North, VIC, 18.09.1994 | UCI Jnr Rank #18)
BMX 20" - U19 Women

Small town boy

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Berlin Pro Race

The begining

A chat with Stephen Roche

Just before the Tour de France started we chatted with Irish former Tour winner Stephen Roche - for a story on, here's what he had to say - he's not usually wrong on these matters, so will be interesting to see how significant that final TT will be...

It was some 24 years ago, in 1987, that Irish cycling hero Stephen Roche won the Tour de France; it was his and Ireland’s only ever Tour victory – if you can actually be so blasé as to use the word “only” in the same sentence as a hard earned Tour de France victory; the culmination of a life’s work and ambition for any cyclist.
Now he was packing his bike once more and making for a new challenge; the London-Paris ride, a major annual cyclo-sportive stage event, which he’s ridden before in aid of charity (leukaemia research); “I’m flying straight form my Majorca cycling camp (one of his business’s) and will be riding the London-Paris, and then I start work at the Tour de France for Skoda France, so I’m busy enough.”
Since his retirement at the end of 1993 Roche has continued to have a close involvement with the sport, both through his son Nicolas and numerous roles he still has within cycling. Roche has always been known for his no-nonsense straight talking, a strong will and discipline, and for having had bundles of class and tactical sense as a bike rider.
Few will ever forget his precisely calculated ride to La Plagne in the 87 Tour, where he pegged back Pedro Delgado on the final climb, to effectively put himself back into contention for the race, and in doing so ended up on oxygen and in hospital. This kind of tactical astuteness and such guts characterized Stephen Roche as a rider.
These heroic acts are seen less and less these days, as riders often seemingly race as virtual robots, controlled by directors back in their team cars, an issue that has caused much controversy in recent months; “I think race radios should be abolished. The reasons from the managers for keeping them (to me) are not viable reasons. I don’t think having a radio in every rider’s ear and yelling at them helps in their reasoning (largely safety led). I think looking at cycling long-term that they (radios) will kill it off because it makes the racing less spectacular. People outside often wonder if the riders are men or machines. There’s seemingly no rider thought behind actions; it’s basically the DS in the car behind calling the shots, it makes it look like all the riders have to do is ride their bikes and not think.”
The “radio-controlled” system often starts at junior level; “I had the opportunity to speak to some young riders last weekend and they were saying that sometimes you have to take a step back to step forward, agreeing with my thoughts. I think you have to stop it at junior level. Lots of riders have never really raced without them, and don’t know how to. They have to learn to think and race. One guy actually said; “Who’s going to tell me what to do?” That’s exactly the point, and I recognise that, and it will take time to learn. But I think for the future good of the sport they have to go.”
When Roche won the 87 Tour it was sandwiched right between a Giro d’Italia win and a Word Road Race title, something that only the great Eddy Merckx had achieved before, and that nobody since has come close to. Can it be done again? “First you have to get riders who will do both the Tour and the Giro, and then the course for the world championship has to be demanding enough for these tour riders to attempt it; and for example, this year’s world’s course - I can’t see it suiting Contador, so it’s not going to be done this year. Then they’re talking about next year suiting Gilbert, and so on. But yes I’m sure it can be done. I was just fortunate that it fell my way. This suits me well, as it means there’s less chance of more people doing the triple.”
How exactly did it fall his way back in 87 “As I rider I was an all-rounder. I was more of a tour rider, but I was also capable in the classics. I had good form at the Giro, which was ideal preparation for the Tour. Then the world’s course and the conditions suited me (He didn’t go to the race win, but an attack designed to take the sting out of the break for team-mate Sean Kelly was never reeled in, and Ireland won their only word professional road race title).”
Having won both the Giro and the Tour, which does he rank as the toughest to race win? “They’re two totally different concepts and challenges. At the Giro you always had a lot of small Italian teams that nobody’s ever heard of and will maybe never hear of again. While at the Tour you have the crème de la crème of cycling, all racing each other on every mountains and going for every sprint, and they’re the best, and everybody is on their best form. But having said that, the itinerary of the Giro was always harder for me; it is more demanding, and the climbs were hard for me.”
There’s seems little doubt that Alberto Contador is odds-on favourite for this years Tour, and the Tour-Giro double (which he also did in 2008); can he be beaten? “Looking at the field and itinerary (barring accident) I think that Contador has the upper hand, and I can’t see Andy Schleck beating him - because of his form at the Giro, and he’s been and recced the climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees and the time trials. I went and checked the time trial course myself, and I think that if Schleck wants to win that he will need at least 2 minutes advantage on Contador for that final TT.”
Unlike many riders, who shun the Giro & Tour combo Contador seems to thrive on performing well at both; “He does things right; I think the Giro is ideal preparation for the Tour. You don’t need to go off and worry about the Tour de Suisse and Dauphine and then prepare for the national championships. He knows this, and is very good at preparing well. After the Giro he quietly goes away and recovers and prepares mentally and physically. He’s under a lot of stress, and it’s more important to arrive at the Tour 100% mentally prepared and a little bit off physically, that will come back with the racing. You need to cut off from cycling for a while between the two.”
There’s much mooted about the Schleck brothers challenging Contador at the Tour, yet at times (especially in Liege-Bastogne-Liege) their tactical attitude seems flawed. How do you rate their riding? “I don’t rate the way they ride tactically very much. They’re good riders; they have a lot of muscle power and horsepower. But I think they can be over-estimated, and they don’t use the power right. I think Frank probably has the better tactical head, but I think they look too much to each other rather than getting on with the job.”
The Roche name will of course be represented in the 2011 peloton Tour by Stephen’s son, Nicolas, who has progressed steadily through the ranks, and finished 15th overall lat year, and then went on to take 7th overall at the Vuelta a Espana. Unfortunately he suffered a nasty early season crash and then another crash in the recent Dauphine Libre; how’s he shaping up? “Looking at the negative he had a bad crash in the Dauphine, and was pretty badly cut up. He’s nursing his wounds which is hampering his training and final preparation. But on the other side I’ve said to tell him that it could turn things into a positive; he’s crashed, he hasn’t raced much this year, so now there will be less expectation and less people looking to him. If he can stay upright and in contention for the first week then things get more complicated. He could well be fresh and play a major part in the end. For sure he hasn’t had a good start, but maybe he can make the most of it.”