Posts Tagged ‘garmin-cervelo’

Millar’s Time

May 11, 2011

Words: Ian Cleverly

I was just about finished with my piece on David Millar for the next Rouleur when things changed dramatically. The subject of my 3,500 words was on the attack at the Giro and in imminent danger of riding himself into the maglia rosa, making him the first Briton to have taken leader’s jerseys in all three Grand Tours. This would be an historic occasion. It would also require a major re-write to the end of the feature. Damn.

As we now know, Millar’s feat understandably paled into insignificance with the news that Wouter Weylandt had crashed on the Passo del Bocco and died immediately. I never had the pleasure of meeting Wouter, and feel enough has been said and written by those who have without my input. The picture I have formed is one of a determined, fun-loving, all round good guy – as are the overwhelming majority of professional cyclists I have met.

Interviewing Millar in Switzerland before the Tour of Romandie, I formed a similar opinion. We all have our preconceptions of famous people’s characters from TV soundbites and magazine interviews, yet rarely do they match the reality. Some have the gift of being utterly charming, both on and off-camera (step forward, Sir Chris Hoy). Others know how to turn it on. And some struggle to portray their true selves; are uncomfortable in the spotlight; fail to find the words to adequately express their feelings. And why shouldn’t they? Cycling’s stars are just like you and I, after all.

I had pigeonholed Millar in the latter category, based on nothing in particular – just an overall impression. A bright guy but potentially spiky, I thought, who would rather be anywhere else than talking to some cynical old journo for two hours over a coffee. I was wholly wrong, and happy to admit it.

What should have been David Millar’s great day in pink on the road to Livorno was washed away as the peloton paid tribute to Weylandt. Yet by his dignified and respectful leading of the day’s proceedings, Millar did the maglia rosa and the profession of cycling a great service. Long may he continue to do so.

A sad day for cycling in many respects, yet a moving and uplifting one at the same time.

The Pavé Buzz

April 13, 2011

Words: Ian Cleverly  Images: Kadir Guirey

I have seen my team win at Wembley – and lose, for that matter. I have witnessed the Tour de France at close quarters on many occasions: from the roadside, inside a team car, in the mountains, on the flat, at the finish.

But nothing – and I mean nothing – comes close to the experience of seeing Paris-Roubaix in the flesh. Standing amidst the crowd at the top of the banking in the velodrome, applauding each and every finisher of this true monument of a race with equal enthusiasm to that accorded winner Johan Van Summeren, brought a tear to the eye that caught me totally unawares.

It was hastily wiped away. Pull yourself together. Man up. That is no way for a Millwall supporter to behave.

The thing was, I had no intention of being in the stadium for the finish. Lazing by a sector of pavé with a picnic and a cold bottle of Duvel was the plan, but the offer of a ride with Team Europcar was too good to be missed (thank you, Richard Goodwin from Hutchinson for sorting). Having the team doctor, Hubert, at the wheel seemed like no bad thing. Being a nervy passenger no matter how many times I travel in the race convoy, the imagination runs riot when you are hurtling across the cobbles in a dust storm, just feet away from the preceding car. I figured we were in safe hands with the good doctor. Or as safe as could be reasonably expected under the circumstances.

First stop was the feed zone at Solesmes, home to Rue Jean Stablinski (as I discovered while wandering around), the former miner and World Champion whose bright idea it was to include the tortuous Arenberg Forest in the parcours. Nice one, Jean.

No major dramas at the feed and Europcar were happy enough, with their Canadian David Veilleux sitting pretty in the break, so we stormed ahead to Sector 19 at Quérénaing à Maing, held up wheels and bottles and hoped the wheels would not be needed. Any rider requiring mechanical assistance from this ham-fisted, left-handed luddite would have to be desperate.

The editor, meanwhile, had taken a more relaxed approach to the art of Paris-Roubaix watching. Guy was holed up in a well-appointed camper van with Rouleur’s good friend Kadir Guirey, enjoying the spectacle at the relatively quiet Sector 11 at Bersée. He’s done the whole chasing around from point to point thing enough times before, so decided to park up and take it all in. Good call.

The second feed zone, coming some way after Arenberg, saw a dramatically changed field of riders passing through. Most of the pre-race favourites had hauled themselves into contention. A succession of smaller groups, caked in dust and grime, reached out for musettes and pressed on, knowing they were effectively out of the race, yet determined to finish. A battered and bruised Geraint Thomas, a solitary figure in the no-man’s land of Northern France, pushed on regardless. There goes my £10 bet…

Another mad dash cross-country (with just the one near-miss exiting the motorway) and we were in the velodrome in time for the finish, Van Summeren pushing for all he was worth whilst trying to keep on the blue interior band of the track due to his flat tyre, Cancellara and co entering just half a lap adrift.

I’m still buzzing four days later. And planning next year’s trip. Now, where’s the number for that camper van hire company?

Always Read the Label

January 27, 2011


...turn to the left.Unveiling of the new season’s team kit invariably attracts a disproportionate amount of comment. There is little else to discuss over the winter before racing starts in earnest, so the designers of what the pro peloton will be sporting this year undergo close scrutiny while we twiddle our thumbs.

Race commentators and fans alike will have their work cut out if Garmin-Cervelo, Sky and Leopard-Trek are all on the front setting up their sprinters for a bunch gallop. (By the way, that’s pronounced ‘LAY-oh-pard’, not Leopard. Even thinking the word wrongly is punishable by sulking from the management. You have been warned). It seems black is the new black. Telling yer Boasson Hagen from yer Haussler for yer Hushovd is the new challenge.

The days of garish jerseys and shorts that made the unfortunate wearers objects of ridicule are long gone – and no bad thing – but at least you knew who was who. Pantani and Chiappucci’s attacking antics garnered hours of TV coverage for sponsors Carrera jeans, the predominantly white jersey seemingly always on the front. But it’s the shorts that everyone remembers; faux-denim abominations that preceded the current ‘jeggings’ look by some 25 years. It took a brave man (or an Italian fashion victim) to carry off a look wearing those babies.

Yes, the Carrera shorts were pretty special, but the entry of French DIY chain Castorama into cycling sponsorship a few years later raised the bar much higher. Even the late, great Laurent Fignon, a man with a certain je ne sais quoi style-wise, struggled to maintain his dignity in those shocking approximations of a workman’s overalls. The kit had the effect of turning the wearer into a cross between a children’s TV presenter and Bob the Builder’s assistant. Only the mullet-supreme of Laurent Brochard seemed to suit the image, but for all the wrong reasons.

Robert Millar was saved from the ignominy of wearing Le Groupement’s multi-coloured cock-up of a jersey for any length of time by the collapse of the pyramid sales company within months of the team’s launch – a blessing in disguise if ever I saw one. Mario Cipollini’s many crimes against the world of fashion should have received close attention from the Lycra Police, yet are somehow beyond ridicule. It’s Mario: let it go.

As for the early years of mountain biking apparel, that is an article in itself. Close examination of photos from the era should come with a health warning; if flash photography warrants one, then so do images of multi-coloured car crash designs of the era.

So, no garish clobber in my clothing cupboard. Less is more when it comes to kit design, especially in the shorts department. It’s got to be black, although that is not without its drawbacks. I splashed out on a reassuringly expensive pair in the summer and felt understandably distressed wearing them the first time that they felt less than comfortable. Closer examination at the roadside revealed the leg grippers had been stitched to the outside; the machinist obviously had an off day. A thoroughly indignant email was being composed in my head on the ride home.

Mrs C got the whole story in the kitchen (apart from how much the shorts cost, of course). With years of experience in imbecilic behaviour, and without so much as a backward glance from her laptop screen, she said: “You have checked they’re not inside-out, haven’t you?”

Perhaps faux-denim shorts have their advantages after all.

Ian