Posts Tagged ‘chris froome’

Sampler

September 30, 2013

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Our free sampler went down a storm at the Tour of Britain. For anyone who hasn’t seen the magazine before, this taster of issue 39 – the monster 260-page Tour de France special edition – is the perfect introduction to what we do.

“What about free digital copies for American fans,” Tweeted Jim Conrad. A fine idea, Jim. And you don’t have to be American to download it, in case you’re wondering.

We hope you enjoy reading about 100 Tours, Chris Froome, Corsica, Russ Downing, Julio Jiménez and Speedplay pedals.

We trust you will find the writing of Robert Millar, Ned Boulting, Carlos Arribas, Paul Fournel and Colin O’Brien engaging and illuminating.

And we are confident you will find imagery from the likes of photographers Taz Darling, Timm Kölln, Paolo Ciaberta, Robert Wyatt, Daniel Sharp, and illustrator Jo Burt, of the highest order.

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Froome Blog

July 25, 2013

VERSAILLES/PARIS
Words: Andy McGrath Photos: Offside

July 21 2012, final weekend of the Tour, St Pancras station, London. I sat waiting for the Eurostar reading a newspaper with a picture of a young Bradley Wiggins on a first bicycle. Inside were pages and pages on his life story, reflections from his nearest and dearest. The Sun had cut-out sideburns on the front cover.

It felt like the world stopped spinning that Sunday.

A year on, I was struck by the comparatively muted response to Chris Froome’s Tour de France victory. Fans decamped to Paris and broadsheets had a few yellow-jersey front pages, but it didn’t approach the wig-out Wiggins euphoria.

Why does Froome’s win not compare? Firstly, he had the misfortune to win when Britain sits briefly and blissfully in the sporting ascendancy.

His triumph was the summer fait accompli sandwiched in between more capricious mainstream successes of the first Ashes Test, the Lions tour and Murray at Wimbledon.

Is it due to a perceived “plastic Britishness” because of Froome’s African upbringing? Baloney. We don’t cheer less for Samoan-born Manu Tuilagi when he scores a try for England, or for Mo Farah, who lived in Somalia till he was eight.

It’s funny because, in character, Froome is more quintessentially British than Bradley Wiggins. He’s Le Real Gentleman: faultlessly polite, quietly determined, boarding school-educated with a clipped accent and dry sense of humour.

Mirror-gazing honesty time: we’re a nation of Froomes. We wait politely in long queues. We give up our seats to pensioners on buses. And it’s not as fun for fans seeing a reflection of the nice-but-bland national stereotype winning.

Whereas mod Wiggins is more chaotically, engagingly human. He swears occasionally, says a few things he shouldn’t and doesn’t play by the rules the whole time. Fans and journalists like persuasive personalities, shows of honesty and a fallible hero.

There’s the gripping feeling that it’s always a rollercoaster with Wiggins. He can match golden seasons with doldrum months. Even winning the 2012 Tour, he gave hints of fragility, snapping at journalists and seeming to hold back Froome.

It’s not as fun when the overwhelming pre-race favourite doesn’t show any great weakness.

But don’t mistake Froome for being boring or uncharismatic. As a Dutch journalist told me on the Tour’s second rest day – and as our issue 39 interview with the Tour winner testifies – Froome on and off the race are two very different people.

He has to peddle the sensible line at the Tour because there’s the – not unreasonable – perception that a few of us hacks will spin anything other than anodyne quotes into the day’s big story.

The future belongs to Froome. Yes, several more Tour wins potentially await but he could be the responsible, transparent talisman modern cycling craves.

Currently, long-term modern cycling followers are wronged lovers sitting at home in pyjamas with their spoons in ice cream tubs. Every time we were lied to, cheated on and told tall tales, we came back for more.

Enough, we’re sick of it. Automatic trust has been waived by the sport’s history. Look what a fine mess blind trust got us into.

So Froome had to patiently field question after question about his and Sky’s performance. And journalists have to keep asking: every performance changes the parameters.

Over the course of the race, especially into the last week, he seemed to change from someone whose winning experience threatened to be soured by these repeat demands to recognising his important role.

“This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time,” were his final words in Paris.

But he’s got to keep acting and talking about doping because he means it, not just because it sounds good or because the team spokesperson whispers it in his ear.

What also excites about Froome and the future is his voracity. He very nearly won the King of the Mountains too; the last man to do that was some Belgian called Eddy. The first thing he targeted post-Tour was not a lengthy pub session but the world championships in Florence.

He doesn’t share readily, even when the wise thing to do in cycling is occasionally let someone else win and store it as a favour for the future.

When the season finishes, the big challenge for Froome is keeping his head. He’ll be transported to the very bottom of the climb again to begin the long Tour training trudge again, only with the demands on his time of the reigning champion.

I can only imagine the effect the award cermonies and late nights have. They can toy with training plans and the mind. When people keep telling you how great you are, your sense of self-importance gets skewed.

A repeat Tour win, that’s the real difficult second album. Recent history is littered with one-time champs who failed to do it again.

I’d say Wiggins will be another, but his history suggests it’s stupid to write him off. He’s due a big rise on the rollercoaster in 2014.

FOUGERES/TOURS

Podcast: Issue 40

July 24, 2013

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Editor Guy Andrews and Managing Editor Ian Cleverly chew over the latest issue of Rouleur with Jack Thurston. On the menu is the gravel racing at the Tour of Battenkill, behind the scenes at Milan-Sanremo, the remarkable rise of Chris Froome and a whole lot more cycle sport blather besides.

The Rouleur podcast is brought to you by Mosquito Bikes, London’s custom made bicycle specialists. Ready to ride at Mosquito Bikes are the latest Alchemy bicycles. Their fully custom carbon Arion is the winner of best carbon bike two years running at NAHBS and is available exclusively in the UK at Mosquito Bikes, 123 Essex Road, London N1 2SN or on the web at mosquito-bikes.co.uk.

Issue 40

Podcast: Issue 39

June 6, 2013

In an edition of the podcast recorded entirely in the Welsh Borders, Jack Thurston talks to photographer Robert Wyatt about his first bike racing assigment, following Russell Downing at the 3 Days of De Panne. Ned Boulting talks about his interview with Chris Froome, hot favourite for this year’s Tour de France. Also in the mix, Speedplay pedals, Henri Desgrange and the beauty of ugly riding.

The Rouleur podcast is brought to you by Mosquito Bikes, London’s custom made bicycle specialists. The latest summer collection from french clothing company Cafe Du Cycliste is now available in the shop and online. Designed on the Cote D’Azur and manufactured from the latest Sportwool blends, Cafe Du Cycliste brings together performance and style in one package. Mosquito is at 123 Essex Road, London N1 2SN or on the web at mosquito-bikes.co.uk.

Issue 39

Rise of the Idiots

July 19, 2012

Words: Ian Cleverly Photos: ASO

The former Cervélo man Tweeted these statements minutes after Chris Froome had crossed the line arms aloft at La Planche des Belles Filles and as Bradley Wiggins was about to don his first ever maillot jaune at the Tour.

Seeing as I had only just finished hollering at the telly – not a common practice, I assure you – and resumed a seated position on the sofa, Vroomen got me thinking. Brits were unbearable already. Would the country be gripped by rampant jingoism in the following weeks due to the heroics of Team Sky’s men? As the mainstream media latches onto a sniff of home success and cycling briefly commands the front page, perhaps there is danger of this nation not realising what this sport is all about.

Consider the highlights of what has been a tremendous Tour (ignore the naysayers who plead boredom), for which huge credit is due to Christian Prudhomme for some dramatic parcours and exhilarating stage finishes, blowing away the notion that only the combination of high mountains and time trials can settle the GC.

Peter Sagan’s brilliant three stage wins, each one different from the next, each with its own accompanying victory celebration. Thibaut Pinot, this year’s youngest rider, soloing across the line, his apoplectic directeur spoftif Marc Madiot behind, hammering the car door in frustration, encouragement, sheer nervous tension. (The left arm of my sofa also took a serious battering, a cloud of dust emerging as my every smack echoed the manager’s.)

The Tour’s oldest rider, the fabulous fruitcake Jens Voigt, hauling his creaking bones up the final kilometre into Bellegarde-sur-Valserine in the most painfully drawn-out slow motion sprint you will ever see. And that day’s winner, Thomas Voeckler, outwitting his breakaway companions with typical panache, his Europcar teammate Pierre Rolland pulling off a superb solo win 24 hours later. And Voeckler again, at Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Not forgetting David Millar’s wily fox routine at the end of a dull day on stage 12, the anniversary of Tom Simpson’s death and a fitting tribute to a great rider.

Cycling fans appreciate great performances, first and foremost. Nationality is secondary. We stand by the side of the road for hours on end to cheer guys who have been riding their bikes for hours on end, and – though we may reserve that extra shout for our favourites – we applaud each and every one (apart from Ivan Basso, obviously…)

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule: certain stretches of Alpe d’Huez; some of the Pyrenean climbs frequented by disturbingly inebriated orange-clad fans; the pissed-up hordes of the Carrefour de l’Arbre at Paris-Roubaix. Sky’s Michael Rogers took abuse from fellow Australians at the roadside as he paced Wiggins up the Glandon on stage 11. The morons thought supporting Cadel Evans would be better served by mouthing off at their countryman. Wiggins would probably have a word for them. It begins with C.

As for the bizarre incident with the tacks, there appeared to be no dubious nationalistic intent behind it. Just wanton malicious damage. Very effective it was, too. A moron working alone it seems.

So as a combination of Austrian, Australian, German, Norwegian and (let’s face it) Kenyan riders coax and tow a Brit along at the head of affairs towards Paris, put it in perspective. If Wiggins does become the first winner from these shores of the Tour de France in Paris on Sunday, it will be a great moment for the country. Just remember who helped put him there. It is our duty as long-time supporters of the sport to educate those – and there are many – not so au fait with road racing’s many peculiarities, alliances and tactical nuances. Teams are not built around national lines, and neither should they be supported as such.

By all means be patriotic, but not to the detriment of other nations. Share the love.

Angliru

September 21, 2011

Words and photos: Ian Cleverly

I decided that to get a true fans-eye view of the Angliru, the famously fearsome climb first used by the Vuelta in 1999 and growing in mythical status ever since, I should really walk up the mountain, 12.5kms of it, 23.5 per cent sectors and all.

Several things transpired to turn me against this carefully laid plan. It was raining. It was cold. An old woman collared me as I wandered the town of Riosa at the foot of the Angliru issuing dire warnings of atrocious weather conditions on the mountain and the inadequacy of my clothing. She may have said something about wolves and killer sheep as well, but I was struggling to translate.

Besides all that, there was a press bus leaving for the summit in half an hour. I’d have been a fool not to, surely?

The entrepreneurial townsfolk of Riosa were flogging rather sad-looking rain capes that may or may not have kept the water at bay for a few minutes. I decided against a panic buy and boarded the bus.

As it turned out, conditions at the top of the climb were less than apocalyptic, even if visibility was far from perfect. I wandered down the mountain from the anticlimactic finish area in search of the party. Prime positions had already been taken, walls on the outside of hairpins providing a place to rest for the next five hours before Juan José Cobo would loom out of the mist and wrestle the red leader’s jersey from Bradley Wiggins.

The 23.5 per cent section of Cueña les Cabres was, as expected, quite brutal. Streams of cyclists passed in various states of distress, notably those on road bikes with insufficiently low gearing. The one guy I saw who seemed to have got his gearing spot on was, unbelievably, a unicylist (exhibitionist, mentalist, depending on your viewpoint). I did not take a picture of him. Such behaviour is not to be encouraged.

Eventually I descended below the cloud level to a broad meadow, home for the day to several thousand Spanish fans, blue and yellow flags of Asturias proudly displayed, beers in hand and a big screen to follow the Vuelta’s progress for the next few hours. I settled in for the afternoon. This was shaping up to be a great day.

 A more considered view of the Angliru, with proper photographs by Timm Kölln (as opposed to my iPhone snaps) will appear in Rouleur issue 26, coming soon.

Viva La Vuelta

September 8, 2011

Words: Christian Vande Velde Photos: Yazuka Wada

Garmin Transitions’ Christian Vande Velde loves the Vuelta. And this is why. Extract on the 2010 edition from the Rouleur photography annual volume 4.

La Vuelta Espana is the least known Grand Tour of the ‘big three’. It lacks spectators, TV ratings, the massive ambition that the Tour and the Giro bring, and of course, the history. However, almost all of these traits are because of where it falls on the calendar year. And we all love it for that. Smashing through the arid countryside at speeds unfathomable to almost anyone (including myself sometimes), all for the sake of racing. If you are motivated, fresh and have goals past the month of August, at the Vuelta you have already won.

September is an interesting month in the cycling world. Most of us have been on the road for the better part of 10 months by this time and although the body is still working properly, the mind is exhausted. Airports, hotels and skype calls with the family lead to an unhappy and unmotivated athlete (not to mention family). So thank God we have the Vuelta to fool us into racing our bikes when we can’t bear the thought of doing another interval up some random hill. We have an organiser who will take us up every goat path with gradients over 20 per cent in Spain. Believe me, should you happen to be the owner of a construction company with the means to make a road that is ridiculously steep, chances are the Vuelta might come to your back yard. The ultimate brainless training.

That said, I love the race. It has a laid-back attitude, bright sunshine, amazing scenery, nice people, good hotels and great food. Plus the hardest racing you can get that close to the off season. And the sleep? My lord, this is where riders with children come to rest up before the off-season with their families.

It is also the perfect race for spectators. There is practically no crowd control at the starts and you can pretty much walk around and meet any cyclist that you care to name; ride the course on your bike before the race without being thrown off by an over ambitious police officer; refuel with a great dinner and some local wine; and – if you aren’t too tired – take in some night life, where you may rub shoulders with one of your heroes who is racing the next day. No shit, it happens.

The Vuelta is hilly, hot, and not easy. The first week this year the thermometer never went below 100 and the ‘sprinter’ stages had 7,000 feet of climbing. So if anyone ever says that the Vuelta is easy, they are ignorant, misinformed or both.

Ambition is the key word here. There are Spaniards whose likeness will be cast in bronze in their respective villages after any sort of breakaway (doomed or otherwise), stage win or halfway decent performance. There are riders without contracts for the following year killing themselves to get into breaks, others who need to turn around a horrible season. And, of course, the guys trying to prepare for the world championships. (Most of them know full well that they wouldn’t be able to come close to training properly if left to their own devices at home.) Then there’s a final ten per cent who weren’t given a choice in the matter and needed to fill out a roster. All of this gives the race a unique feeling of opportunity.

It also makes for the perfect storm of insane tactics and racing. Anything goes. Take yesterday for example. I would be hard pressed to find more than a handful of harder first hours’ of racing than yesterday. Now, depending on which side of the sword you fall, that could be good or bad. I loved it. It is what racing is all about. The radios don’t come into play because everything is happening too fast. And everyone is racing. Everyone – the GC guys jumping into breaks and the guys at the back, racing their hearts out to survive another day.

As for me, La Vuelta serves a purpose second to none: getting a massive block of racing back in my legs, regaining the confidence that has left me over the past few months, and enjoying being a bike racer again – all things that are taken for granted until you crash…over and over and over.

The lack of preparation that I had going into this race would have left me struggling anywhere else. But at the Vuelta, anything is possible, and if you had the opportunity to see an unknown kid from Bratislava launch himself onto the podium yesterday in the TT, and the well-known race leader go from first to fifth over a 46-kilometre course through the some of the best vineyards in the world, you would agree.

This is a great race.