Cycle Sport November is out now, and it’s packed with excellent writing, stunning photography, expert analysis, incisive opinion and snarky banter. This month’s magazine features interviews with Chris Froome, Brian Holm, Laurens ten Dam and Vladimir Efimkin, plus reports from the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and an incredible discovery in the Cycling Weekly archives.
Words by Cycle Sport staff
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Tuesday September 27, 2011
If you saw Chris Froome’s second place in the Vuelta a Espana coming, we’ll give you a job and the keys to the Cycle Sport executive washroom. The Kenyan-born Brit stunned us, his rivals, his team and probably himself with a ride of imperious confidence in Spain, coming second by 13 seconds to Juan Jose Cobo.
Alasdair Fotheringham followed Froome’s progress at the Vuelta, and spoke to him after the finish to get his reaction to achieving arguably the best Grand Tour result by a British rider in cycling history. We also asked about the difficult decision Sky had to make in choosing between supporting Froome, or Bradley Wiggins (who finished in third overall). Froome offered an interesting perspective, explaining that without Wiggins in the race, he might not have been able to get the result he did. “Bradley taught me how to be up there. He’s shown me the kind of rider I need to be,” he said.
When Froome lined up for the Vuelta, he hadn’t yet signed a contract for 2012, and a string of mediocre results didn’t make his employment prospects look good. By midway through the race, he was one of the hottest properties on the transfer market, signing a post-race three-year extension with Sky, for a large pay rise. Can he do the unthinkable and become the first Brit to win a grand tour?
Also in the magazine…
Apart from Chris Froome’s revelatory performance, the 2011 Vuelta was memorable for two other things: its varied route and its return to the Basque Country after a 33-year absence.
The race used to send us to sleep with long stages down wide main roads through dusty, scrubby desert, but the last couple of years have seen the Vuelta searching out roads and finishes with more character and variety. The man partly responsible for this change is former Vuelta winner Abraham Olano, who now works as one of the race directors. In an exclusive interview, he tells us where the inspiration for his innovative route design lies – with the Classics and Italian stage races like Tirreno-Adriatico.
Meanwhile, the return to the Basque Country was a triumph. The region had not hosted a stage start or finish since 1978, when separatist protesters disrupted the race significantly. The overall positions may not have altered during the Vuelta’s long-awaited visit to Spain’s cycling heartland, but the atmosphere and crowds were second to none. And with Igor Anton of local team Euskaltel-Euskadi winning the stage into Bilbao, the return could not have been better scripted.
Down at one end of the Cycle Sport and Cycling Weekly office, behind stacks of back issues, piles and piles of old Campag Super-Record equipment we get sent as freebies and just can’t use, Broomwagon’s desk (with a sign saying ‘do not feed’) and the round filing cabinet in which we carefully file all correspondence, is the Cycling Weekly archive, a treasure trove of old photographs and material covering many decades of the sport.
Rooting around in the archive recently, we discovered a handwritten letter from Tom Simpson, the former world cycling champion. In response to several typed questions from Cycling magazine’s reporters, Simpson had carefully explained his victory in the 1963 Bordeaux-Paris race.
Bordeaux-Paris is a former Classic, one of the most unusual races of the 20th century. It involved riders tackling well over 500 kilometres, the second half of which were ridden behind dernys. Along with the letter, we dug out dozens of previously unpublished photographs taken by Cycling at the race, with the reporter sitting in Simpson’s team car. Here, for the first time, we tell the whole story of Simpson’s win in the 1963 Bordeaux-Paris, and reprint the letter in full.
We sent Matt Walsh undercover at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to give us a behind-the-scenes diary of the Coloradan race. History tells us that Levi Leipheimer was the overall winner of the race, but Walsh also gives us a first-hand account of tense moments with the Liquigas mechanics as they take a hacksaw to a carbon fibre bike just before the start of the prologue, risks altitude sickness at the summit of Independence Pass (a kilometre higher than the Galibier), jeopardises the health of his liver by partying with crazy, disco-dancing fans and listens to RadioShack physiologist Allen Lim explaining how a jaw massage may have won the race for Leipheimer.
Who’s the hardest case in cycling? We’ve got a strong case for Dutch rider Laurens ten Dam, who suffered a terrible crash at the Tour de France, vaulting over his handlebars on a Pyrenean descent and landing on his face. With bandages wrapped around his head, he rode on to the finish, white handlebars stained red with his blood, then went on to complete the race to Paris. But ten Dam is more than a resilient rider who toughed out the Tour – he’s achieved a string of good results this year, including top 10s in the Tour Down Under, Tour of California and Tour of Switzerland. Joe Silva spoke to him at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge just after his latest exploit – an almost-successful escape with Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso and Tom Peterson. “In the end, we f*cked up a little bit,” he says of their failure to win the stage.
We’ve also interviewed HTC-Highroad manager Brian Holm at home in Denmark. Ellis Bacon caught up with the charismatic Dane, who tells him of his love for books, about managing Mark Cavendish, his recovery from cancer, and his new challenge in managing the new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in 2012. Holm also talks frankly about doping. “I thought I was the cleanest cyclist in history, but then a few years went by and I thought, ‘Hmm, maybe I wasn’t so clean.’”Russian rider Vladimir Efimkin has had an unusual trajectory through the sport. He was in the top 10 of the 2008 Tour, but by mid-2010, he’d had enough of the long periods of time away from his family, and abruptly packed it in. But with a twin brother, Alexander, also racing in the highest echelons, he found that he missed it and quickly agreed to ride for the American Type 1 team this year. He’s rediscovering the rhythm of racing, and finished both the Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and now he is looking forward to a successful 2012. He tells James Raia about leaving, then coming back to cycling. “My mind acts like I never left the sport, but my legs don’t yet understand,” he said.
Iconic Places takes a break from the mountains with a visit to the Vallée de Chevreuse, south west of Paris. Rarely visited by bike races now, this picturesque, rolling forested region formerly hosted the Grand Prix des Nations, Critérium International and the final stages of Bordeaux-Paris. Jacques Anquetil dominated racing in the Chevreuse, with his nine wins in the Nations time trial. The roads were the perfect technical test with climbs, descents, tricky surfaces and unpredictable corners.
Chris Sidwells talks to Philip Deignan for Pro Performance this month. The Irishman has a top 10 finish and a stage win in the Vuelta a Espana to his name, but he also has a string of mediocre results and patchy form. Deignan tells us of his search for consistency, and of the frustration of not being able to time his form perfectly. “I have better figures than Jurgen Van Den Broeck in tests. His maximum heart rate is 175, but he can still hit 175 in the last week of a grand tour, where my max goes down as the race goes on,” he explained.
Plus…All our regular features – Graham Watson looks back at the Vuelta; Shop Window features extravagantly shiny bikes and bits; Broomwagon presents Oakley’s latest model, the Oakley Hindsight (rose-tinted only); Any Questions with Richie Porte (sample: “Magpies are really aggressive. Nasty little bastards”); Carlos Sastre’s 26 grand Tours; farewell to the Muur van Geraardsbergen; Radio Luxembourg; Wiggo vs Froome in the clash of the month; Top 10 cycling PR disasters; Geraint’s column and much much more.
Cycle Sport November is a sweeping smorgasbord of journalistic excellence and it’s on sale in the UK for the provocatively reasonable price of £4.25 from Wednesday September 28, and available later in the USA.