Posts Tagged ‘geoff waugh’

The Joker

June 20, 2013

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.47.38

Words: Tom Southam Photos: Geoff Waugh

That great British institution, the national road championships, takes place this weekend in Glasgow. Photographer Geoff Waugh captured the quintessentially English 2010 edition in Lancashire, while Tom Southam tells of an earlier time and a newcomer to its peculiarities. Extract from Rouleur Annual 4, available here for £10.

I clearly remember Max Sciandri’s one and only attempt at the nationals in 2000.

Being Italian and used to some semblance of order to the pattern of a race, he had spent the first few hours hiding at the back, concentrating on looking cool. When he did eventually slide gracefully to what he thought was the front, he was stunned to be informed by an Addiscombe CC rider that this group was in fact already several minutes down on the leaders. Furthermore, there was not one break down the road, but several groups of riders, all plugging away at different time gaps, and that no, there certainly would not be any kind of cohesive effort to reel these groups in for the finale.

Max’s day was over before it began, and was curtailed swiftly at the next feed zone where, cursing these odd English amateurs, he swore never to return.

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.46.49

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.47.05

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.47.19

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.48.04

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.48.17

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.48.55

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 12.49.12

Advertisements

Wide Eyed and Legless Revisited

August 17, 2011

words: Ian Cleverly photos: Geoff Waugh (www.waughphotos.com)

“Connor got the job because he was the only sports writer at the Daily Star who didn’t smoke.” Paul Watson

And so a national daily newspaper sent one of its journalists to France for three weeks in July, and one of the finest books ever written on cycling emerged. Wide-Eyed And Legless, Jeff Connor’s boils-and-all coverage of the fateful 1987 Tour de France undertaken by the hopelessly under-prepared ANC-Halfords team, chronicles the misfortunes of the first British squad to tackle the grand boucle in 20 years. Connor spent the entire Tour with them, initially as an observer, but before long as a helper, giving him unprecedented insight into the machinations of ANC’s adventure.

From the prologue in West Berlin, run off in searing heat without time trial bikes or aero helmets, the hapless Tour debutants were on the back foot, struggling to hold wheels on the opening stages due to the ferocious pace of an EPO-fuelled peloton. Competitors returning positive drug tests for known banned substances were effectively slapped on the wrist and fined. No surprise, then, that the 1987 Tour went off at an alarming pace that only relented once the Champs-Élysées had been reached. No surprise that only four of the ANC nine made it to Paris.

Connor had unwittingly stumbled on a brilliant story, packed full of bickering, backbiting and cock-ups: a writer’s dream. And team boss Tony Capper – a bear of a man who would, according to directeur sportif Phil Griffiths, squeeze behind the wheel of the team car surrounded by copious quantities of food for the day ahead – was a gift to a journalist looking for an angle. Connor’s remit from the Star was to cover the Tour and the (hopefully) glorious debut of this British professional team. If he could ride a stage or two himself – hence the non-smoking requirement – that would be a bonus. Both the Star and Connor clearly had a few things to learn that July.

Capper was a man in a hurry. His ANC parcel delivery company was looking to expand into the Continent, so what better way to advertise than via the vehicle of the Tour de France, with a TV audience of millions? What often reads in Wide-Eyed as a rich man’s ego trip was based on sound business principles. Another year and ANC might have been in a position to at least survive the Tour intact. As it transpired, the race finished the team off forever. ANC-Halfords crashed and burned as spectacularly as any dot-com startup at the turn of the 21st century.

Yet the squad had prepared for the main event that year with a series of European races starting in February and gained sufficiently impressive results to earn a Tour place on merit. How did events take such a calamitous turn for the worse in such a short time? Was the team’s performance actually as bad as Connor portrays in Wide-Eyed? After all, Malcolm Elliott came within a whisker of a stage win in Bordeaux, and ANC was not alone in having only four finishers: Sean Kelly’s KAS squad and two other teams were in the same boat, while Supermercati and Ryalco only managed a pair apiece. It was a brutally fast race, covering 800 kilometres more than the 2011 edition. It left grown men broken at the roadside – ANC’s Graham Jones and Adrian Timmis, for differing reasons, remain convinced that the 1987 Tour was effectively the end of their cycling careers.

The team selection for the Tour consisted of five foreign riders (Steve Swart, Shane Sutton, Kvetoslav Palov, Guy Gallopin and Bernard Chesneau) and four British (Graham Jones, Adrian Timmis, Paul Watson and Malcolm Elliott). We gathered together the British contingent, plus directeur sportif Phil Griffiths, to revisit the ’87 Tour and discuss the effect of Wide Eyed and Legless on the team.

Extract from Rouleur issue 25, on sale now

Home win

November 5, 2010

Image courtesy of Geoff Waugh www.waughphotos.com
Image courtesy of Geoff Waugh http://www.waughphotos.com

Helen Wyman has won ‘cross races all over Europe and beyond. Switzerland, Italy, the U.S. and, of course, the Britain. Probably more besides.

Yet, until this week, there was one almighty glaring omission from her glittering palmares: a win in Belgium. Bearing in mind Belgium has been Wyman’s base for the past six years, the big win on home soil was a long time coming, but all the sweeter on arrival for being just down the road from her house in Oudenaarde at the Koppenberg Cross.

For those of you unfamiliar with this race, it is quite the most brutal course on the calendar. Koksijde’s dunes pose a myriad of potential pitfalls, but Koppenberg on wet ground is barely rideable. The bunch swings off-road before the infamous cobbled climb rears up appreciably, but that’s where the fun begins. There is plenty more climbing to be done on decidedly claggy ground, made treacherous by the preceding day’s rain. The snaking descent may be better approached with a snowboard than a bike. But bikes are a prerequisite.

Seeing Helen slip and slide her way down the hill in second spot on the opening lap seemed about right – she finished second last year and in the previous day’s race in Zonhoven – but two laps later she had dropped Sanne Cant and was totally in control while everyone else floundered. It was a genuine joy to behold.

To stand on that podium juggling one very heavy cobble, one extremely large bottle of beer and a bunch of flowers was a triumph of persistence and optimism. I have interviewed Helen seconds after crossing the line at the World Championships when her hopes have been dashed by less competent bike handlers crashing on the very first corner, and she was, understandably, pretty miffed. But it doesn’t last long. She learns and moves on, and that smile is soon back in place.

And what Helen has learned this week is that her handling has improved, she is in the form of her life and she can win in Belgium. And (let’s face it), if you can win in Belgium, you can win anywhere.

Also, a cobble looks great on the mantlepiece…

Rouleur photographer Geoff Waugh was also at Koppenberg. See his tremendous gallery of the men’s race here.