AN UNFORTUNATE CLASH

Only in Britain could the race calendar be planned so that the national time trial championship clashes with the opening stage of the national tour, ruling out arguably the five best time trial riders in the land.

Reigning champion David Millar and last year?s runner-up Chris Newton plus Bradley Wiggins, Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas will all be lapping the streets of London on Sunday afternoon, while the testers are down in Gloucester trying to win a national title.

It?s not even as if the senior men start the time trial in the morning ? at least that would allow someone who was feeling very brave to do a Jacques Anquetil* and ride the time trial in the morning and then take a helicopter to central London for the Tour of Britain?s criterium. Now that would have been a great story.

Michael Hutchinson will be the favourite for the national champion?s jersey having dominated the domestic scene this season. You cannot take anything away from the eventual winner (whoever he is, Michael) because you can only beat what?s put in front of you, as football managers are keen to say when they?ve rolled over some injury-ravaged third division outfit.

But the problem is, when selection for the World Championship time trial comes round the fact that Millar, Wiggins, Cummings and Thomas were absent will be forgotten and the noisy clamour for Hutchinson, or whoever, to go to Varese will start. It?s so predictable I should probably just start the thread on the CW forum now.

The biggest shame is that the white skinsuit with the red and blue bands will not make an appearance at the Giro or the Tour next year.

If the top riders choose to skip a national event, there is often criticism they are not supporting the home scene, and sometimes that is quite justified.

But to schedule the event so that the top riders simply cannot take part is just daft.

NOTE: Anquetil once finished the Dauphiné Libéré stage race and then flew straight to Bordeaux to start the mammoth Bordeaux-Paris race later the same day.

A CYCLO-CROSS SPORTIVE

I rode the Tour of the Cornfields sportive on the Cambridgeshire-Hertfordshire border on Sunday.

What a great event it was too. For those who don?t know it?s a cyclo-cross sportive, partly on road but much of it on the rocky, rutted farm tracks and field edges and woods.

The field of 175 was made up of riders on cross bikes and others on mountain bikes, although I did see one brave (or should that be foolish) soul on a road bike with standard road tyres.

Memories of June?s Paris-Roubaix sportive came to fore as we jolted our way across the rough terrain.

I gather there were a few issues with sign-posting last year, with those who rode it saying that the way-markers were bits of red-and-white tape tied to bushes.

Well this year the organiser Mark Wyer and his team had done a sterling job in putting red arrows out on the 58-mile route. Only one seemed to have been removed, meaning the CW group enjoyed a 15-minute detour.

At the finish, I saw a familiar face and it was really bugging me because I could not dredge up from the back of my mind who it was.

It was only when I saw the results ? sorry, the finishing times ? that I realised it was Sara Symington, who was 10th in the road race at the Sydney Olympics.

She rode the course in 4-06, a good 26 minutes quicker than me, although I wonder if she too went off course and lost 15 minutes in the process? And if she didn’t, does that mean I perhaps should still follow my 2012 dream?

SKY BLUE THINKING

The dust has settled following Beijing and British Cycling is already gathering its thoughts and plotting the first step on the road to the London Olympics.

While the Tour de France was happening, BC announced a partnership deal with the broadcaster Sky. The official line was that the deal did not include the funding for the proposed pro team.

But having read between the lines, observed what?s going on, and after a few off-the-record conversations, it appears that all the pieces of the jigsaw are laid out on the table. It?s just a case of agreeing how to slot them all together.

BC?s hierarchy are keeping tight-lipped on details at the moment but if a British pro team is launched, as planned in the next 18 months, I will eat my hat if Sky is not the title sponsor.

And I wouldn?t be at all surprised if a Sky-backed track trade team is unveiled in time for the Manchester round of the World Cup in October. Just a hunch, but remember, you read it here first.

Anyway, I wrote a comment piece in Cycling Weekly a few of weeks ago, speculating that ITV, which currently shows the Tour de France, would not be too happy at the prospect of its commentators yelling the name of a rival broadcaster when a Sky-backed rider wins a stage.

I don?t think it?ll be a problem, because an insider tells me that Sky is already working on overcoming the obstacle that prevents the Tour being shown on pay-per-view television.

After all, ASO is a sports organisation that loves money, and Sky is a company that pays for broadcast rights. It?s a marriage made in heaven.

Let?s just hope BC can wangle a healthy discount on Sky+ boxes for its members if it turns out to be the case.

TURBO-CHARGED VUELTA

With the weather so awful, I have decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by combining two of my pet hates ? the Vuelta a Espana and riding on a turbo trainer.

Riding on a turbo trainer is not fun, let?s face it.

And neither is watching the Vuelta! Boom boom!

However, when taken together, they seem to cancel one another out, rather like taking two foul-tasting medicines at the same time and finding they combine to taste faintly of cabbage ? not delicious, by any means, but not as offensive as before.

So I have put the static bike in front of the telly for the past couple of days to watch the peloton ride through the browness. The whirr of the wheels doesn?t quite drown out Dave Harmon?s requests for emails. I wind up the pace as they reach the final 20 kilometres and pretend I am the lone Spaniard who watched his 20-minute lead be whittled away to dust.

And then I finish with a bit of a sprint and realise that I have saved myself at least an hour by combining two things that are at best worthy but dull and at worst downright painful.

THE INTERNET IS MAD

Has anyone else seen the internet rumour suggesting that a certain Texan may be about to announce a stunning return to ride for a certain Kazakh-backed team run by a certain Belgian?

The rumour goes that the rider, let?s call him Mr Gunderson, will ride a handful of top events ? the Tour of California, Paris-Nice, Tour of Georgia, Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de France ? in the greatest comeback since that one by Sinatra that time.

It?s nonsense, of course, truly preposterous nonsense. But having said that, it was on an internet forum?. So it must be true [taps side of nose, winks conspiratorially, reaches for medication].

PREVIOUS WEDNESDAY COMMENTS

August 27 ? Defending Great Britain

August 20 – Gold, gold, glorious gold

August 13 ? Gold rush starts

August 6 ? Team LPR in the Tour of Britain

July 30 ? Assessing the Tour

The Tuesday Comment – January to July 2008