Cycle Sport July is out now, containing the very best writing and photography of professional cycling. This month’s magazine features Bradley Wiggins, Jens Voigt, Tejay van Garderen, Taylor Phinney, and much more.
Words by Cycle Sport staff
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Where is Bradley Wiggins going to come in this year’s Tour de France? Frankly, we haven’t got a clue. As soon as we remember the brilliance and energy of his fourth place in 2009, we also recall the flatness and the anticlimax of his 24th place last year. (That said, Wiggins’s result in the 2010 Tour was still the joint 13th best result by a Brit in the race’s history – only Robert Millar, Tom Simpson, Brian Robinson and Graham Jones have finished higher).
For this revealing feature, Edward Pickering went to Switzerland to interview Wiggins as he competed in the Tour of Romandy. Wiggins talked a lot about both 2009 and 2010 – where he’d gone wrong and where he’d gone right, and how he was going to try to organise 2011 around what he’d learned. It’s going to be a challenge, but Wiggins and Sky are trying to recreate the spirit of the Brit’s 2009 Tour while taking full advantage of learning from the mistakes they made last year.
In a way, 2011 will define Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France rider. With a better thought-out build-up (skipping the Giro in favour of the Bayern Rundfahrt and Dauphiné), and a more relaxed approach to the sport from both rider and team, Wiggins has his eye on the spread of riders from third to 10th. Can he be one of them?
We’ve dug up an interesting statistic – Jens Voigt has won at least one race every year since he turned professional in 1998. That’s a record few other riders in the peloton can boast, partly because there are so few riders who’ve been around as long as the German veteran, but also because he’s so strong.
Our writer Ellis Bacon went to Voigt’s house in Berlin to conduct a fascinating interview with the man who is possibly the most popular rider in the peloton. Voigt has endeared himself to generations of cycling fans, with his positive outlook, aggressive racing, quirky sense of humour and quotability. Journalists always know that if they need an interesting angle on a story quickly, Voigt is the go-to guy. Given the boundless energy with which Voigt approaches everything in life, it’s impossible to believe that he’s going to be 40 before the end of the year. It’s also impossible to believe that he won’t pick up his annual win some time before the season is out.
Edit: Thanks to Cillian Kelly for pointing out that Acqua e Sapone rider Stefano Garzelli can also boast at least a win a year since 1998. Both Voigt and Garzelli are waiting for their first of 2011 – Voigt’s best so far is a sixth in Paris-Nice, while Garzelli’s got two sevenths, at Tirreno and GP Larciano. Oscar Freire’s run stretches from 1998 to 2011, and even more impressively, Robbie McEwen’s got a winning streak going back to 1996.
It’s a well-known fact that Girona, in Spain, is where most of the US pros live when they are based in Europe. But maybe that’s not going to be a state of affairs which lasts much longer. A younger generation of American riders have made Lucca, in Italy, the new Girona. Cycle Sport’s Andy McGrath flew over to Lucca, where he was hosted by Tour of California favourite Tejay van Garderen, world pursuit champion Taylor Phinney and BMC’s Chris Butler. Lucca’s newest residents took us out for a cappuccino and a chat, talking cycling, racing, Italian swearwords and man purses, before we set out for a ride on the superb local roads.
The Tour of Flanders was probably the best race of 2011 so far. It was a superb demonstration of how tactical subtlety, a bit of luck and no small amount of racing nous can counter brute force. We’ve got an exclusive interview with the winner, Nick Nuyens, conducted by Gregor Brown at the rider’s home in Belgium, Nuyens was set to be the next big thing in his home country, winning Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne as a young professional. But he’s suffered from a couple of lean seasons. He tells us how joining Saxo Bank this season has revitalised his career, and explains how confidence, both his own and that of his new team, took him to victory in one of the biggest races in cycling.
Behind every leader in cycling is a team of unsung heroes – the domestiques. Cycle Sport decided to look at the Cobbled Classics through the eyes of Saxo Bank rider Kaspar Klostergaard in our Diary of a Domestique. Klostergaard explains the joy of contributing to a high profile win like Nuyens’s in the Tour of Flanders, but also the daily grind and boredom of the down time between races. Klostergaard shows us a side of cycling that is rarely seen, but fully deserves exposure – without riders like this, team leaders don’t win races.
Move over Mark Cavendish, the most successful British sprinter so far this year has been Sky’s Ben Swift. Swift has already won four races in 2011, and his team is looking more and more like it may put him on the shortlist for the Tour de France. Andy McGrath travelled to Swift’s home in South Yorkshire, risking life and limb in the face of the friendly attentions of Swift’s increasingly famous bulldogs, Max and Molly, who are renowned for showing up at races in Sky kit. Swift gave us the inside line on having to improvise his first Tour Down Under stage win – he was informed by Geraint Thomas that he would be the one contesting the sprint with 900 metres to go. He also told us about freezing eight-hour training rides in winter, getting disciplined by Rod Ellingworth at the infamous British Cycling Academy boot camp and why he couldn’t get his defeat in the world U-23 championships in 2008 out of his head.
It looks like 2011 is going to be one of the best years ever for cycling publishing – it seems more books about cycling than ever before are being written. We’ve got a full round-up of this summer’s best cycling reading, including reviews of Maglia Rosa by Herbie Sykes, Slaying the Badger – LeMond, Hinault and the greatest ever Tour de France and Sky’s the Limit – British Cycling’s Quest to Conquer the Tour de France, both by Richard Moore, Pedalare! Pedalare! – A History of Italian Cycling by John Foot, and How I won the Yellow Jumper by Ned Boulting. We’re also hotly anticipating David Millar’s book Racing through the Dark, which is out in June, and One Way Road, Robbie McEwen’s autobiography, which is out later in the year.
2011 is also going to be the year of the Team Time Trial, with every one of the three Grand Tours featuring one, the first time this has happened since 1988. We’ve already seen HTC-Highroad win the Giro’s team test, while the Tour’s stage two clash looks set to dominate the opening week of the race. Ellis Bacon takes a look back at the history of the team time trial in professional cycling, including the strange editions of the 1927 and 1928 Tours, where the majority of stages were actually run as team time trials, in order to prevent large bunches of riders riding conservatively and finishing together.
Iconic Places looks at one of the Tour’s unsung great climbs, the Col de la Croix de Fer. It’s one of the most difficult and beautiful climbs in the Alps, with both north and south ascents including significant descents and interruptions to climbing rhythm. It’s often used as a transition climb, en route to a summit finish, meaning that it misses out on race-defining action. But it’s still got a fascinating history, which Chris Sidwells explores fully in this feature.
Plus…All our regular features – Pro Performance looks at odd-shaped chainrings; Shop Window, with the latest ostentatious bling in professional cycling; Graham Watson on the Spring Classics; Broomwagon has a copy of the UCI’s Agent’s Examination, and follows the Classics on Twitter (never again); Geraint Thomas takes us through his Tour of Flanders top 10 placing; Q&A with Simon Gerrans on why altitude training is better than the Royal Wedding; Phil Gil’s great Spring; Worst year ever for sprinters; We say nice things about the Tour of Britain; Classics stat-o-rama; GreenEdge abuse the English language; Top 10 stage racers who’ve never won a stage race; plus the best photography of professional cycling and lots, lots more.
Cycle Sport July is almost too good, and it’s on sale in the UK at the outrageously reasonable price of £4.25 from Wednesday May 11, and available later in the US.