ENDURA REFLECT ON TOUR OF THE MED
Considering the freezing temperatures, baptism of fire would be a rather ironic choice of words to describe Endura's gruelling debut on the European circuit. The 50km/h crosswinds and snowstorms made the daunting prospect of mixing it with the ProTour's best no easier in the five-day French event.
"It was one of the toughest races I've been on," manager Garry Beckett reflected. "Without a doubt, the weather made a hard race extremely hard."
He continued: "On the first day, the wind was so strong. I've never witnessed riders being buffeted so much, shoulder-barging because they couldn't do anything about it. It was almost like watching rag dolls on bikes at times. How there wasn't a major pile-up..."
To call Endura's race eventful would be an understatement. James McCallum and James Moss both suffered spectacular crashes in the opening two days, forcing them both to retire. Moss collided with the Ag2r-La Mondiale team car at 60km/h in the first day's brutal crosswinds, and withdrew, hurting with road rash, two days later.
Meanwhile, while descending on stage two, McCallum literally fell off the road and through shrubbery, his bike ending up in a tree.
"I can't explain how quickly my stomach knotted watching one of my lads airborne off the edge - you don't know what's over there," said Beckett about McCallum's crash.
"It was a heart-stopping moment, spectacular to say the least." The Scot can consider himself fortunate to have only sustained a cut ankle.
French sprinter Alexandre Blain was led off course when in a good position on stage two - and then docked 50 seconds, a decision that was later reversed. The next day, the ex-Cofidis man put it all behind him to register Endura's best finish, eighteenth, in the bunch sprint.
The team's six remaining riders battled through the inclement weather to finish the race - even though four were not credited with a time after time-cut confusion on Mont Faron. Officially speaking, Ian Wilkinson and Evan Oliphant placed 70th and 71st respectively.
As new boys in the bunch, Endura's reception from the bunch was thankfully a lot less frosty than the Mediterranean weather. "We thought we might get a bit of stick, but we've been well received. The guys were just allowed to get on and race," Beckett said.
Scottish champion Ross Creber was riding his first UCI .1 race. The 21-year-old battled to the finish and has found the experience invaluable. "It went really well. It was obviously going to be a big step up from winter training," he commented.
"After the first day, I got into the way of things and felt confident in the bunch. I was really pleased to get round and it stands me in good stead for the Tour du Haut Var at the weekend - and the conditions back at home!"
Endura are now training hard on the French Riviera in preparation for their next race, this weekend's Tour du Haut Var.
HUNT RETURNS TO THE ALGARVE
After two weeks spent training in the Algarve in January with his Cervélo team, Jeremy Hunt is scheduled to return to the region to ride the Tour of the Algarve starting on Wednesday.
Hunt recently finished 16th overall at the Tour of Qatar and was often seen at the head of affairs when the crosswinds started to wreak their usual havoc on the race.
Hunt will likely use the Algarve to prepare for the Classics, whilst last year's Tour de France victor Alberto Contador will make his season debut there, a race that he won overall last year.
The race begins on Wednesday with a 157km stage from Algarve Stadium to Albufeira.
MASSIVE INCREASE IN CYCLE PARKING NEEDED SAYS CTC
A massive increase in cycle parking is needed to encourage people out of their cars according to a report published today by the House of Commons Transport Committee.
To make this a reality, CTC believes there should be a substantial investment in providing cycle access, parking, hire and storage at stations.
In addition, there also needs to be space for carrying cycles on new and refurbished trains.
CTC's Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen said: "Currently cycle parking provision at most stations is woefully inadequate, with many cyclists having to lock their bikes to railings and lampposts.
"Secure cycle parking would also reverse the increase in bike theft at railway stations and would actually encourage many more people to cycle to the station."
CTC has also responded to the Government-commissioned Better Rail Stations report, which called for the provision of sufficient cycle parking for 5% of rail passengers - the current figure is 1.6%.
CTC strongly supports this target, but has calculated there will need to be 125,000 cycle spaces available at Britain's 88 busiest stations, up from fewer than 8,000 at present.
In particular, 14 central London stations will need to have 67,612 spaces, 50 times the 1,365 currently provided. CTC believes that a dramatic increase in cycle parking spaces is achievable.
The Mayor of London is planning an additional 66,000 cycle parking spaces for the capital's rail stations; in Holland, where a third of rail journeys involve cycle travel to or from the station, it is common to provide cycle parking for 10% of a city's total population.
RECORD-BREAKER BEAUMONT TO GIVE SPEAKER TOUR
Mark Beaumont, the ex-world record-holder for circumnavigating the globe by bike, is touring the UK with his lecture show, ‘The Man who Cycled the World'.
In the ‘an audience with...'-style shows he will discuss the round-the-world adventure which took him 194 days and 18,000 miles across 20 countries. Averaging 100 miles a day, it took in imprisonment in Pakistan, monsoon rains in South East Asia and his first encounter with a grizzly bear in Canada.
He will also reveal the details of his recent 13,000-mile trip riding the length of America - and climbing its two highest peaks along the way - whilst making the documentary, ‘The Man who Cycled the Americas', which is to be shown on BBC One in March.
The tour takes place this spring; for more information, visit www.speakersfromtheedge.com.
LVRC TWO-UP TIME TRIAL
The LVRC is organising a two-up time trial in Napton in Warwickshire on Sunday March 7.
The event is 19 miles and starts at 10:30am.
Interested parties should contact John Bevan on 01926424056
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