Archive for June, 2021

The 900 km drive to deliver faster time trial wheels to Mathieu van der Poel

06/30/2021 12:04

The 900 km drive to deliver faster time trial wheels to Mathieu van der Poel

The first time trial of the 108th Tour de France is nearly upon us, and Alpecin-Fenix is doing everything it can to keep Mathieu van der Poel in yellow just that little bit longer. According to a report from Het Nieuwsblad, part of that plan involved a 900 km drive from Andorra to Rennes, to deliver some faster time trial wheels for the race leader.

Van der Poel is seemingly a natural dominator in many forms of cycling, but the time trial is not yet one of them. He’s only done nine individual time trials in his short professional road career, and while his best result was a fifth at last year’s BinckBank Tour, he’s still largely unproven against the clock. Ahead is the longest time trial (27.2 km) he’s ever faced. Word is he doesn’t have a time trial bike at home to train with. And he’s never been tested in a wind tunnel.

Meanwhile, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) sits just eight seconds behind Van der Poel, second overall on GC. The French all-rounder’s prowess against the clock is far better known than Van der Poel’s. After all, who could forget the time trial Alaphilippe won in yellow at the 2019 Tour? Behind him, other strong time trialists like Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma, +0:31) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe, +0:38) also lie in wait.

If Van der Poel can hold onto the yellow jersey past stage 5, then he’ll likely do so until the peloton reaches the Alps on stage 8. And Alpecin-Fenix’s team manager, Christoph Roodhooft is clearly keen to make that happen. 

The story goes that Meindert Klem, a representative of Princeton CarbonWorks, met Roodhooft on a bike ride a year ago. According to Klem, after Van der Poel grabbed yellow, and after receiving permission from sponsor Shimano, Roodhooft reached out about getting some faster wheels for the stage 5 time trial. 

“I got a sudden call from Christoph on Monday morning asking if a set of Princeton Blur 6560 was available,” said former Olympic rower Klem in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. “Canyon wanted Mathieu to be the classification leader even after the time trial.” 

That quoted Blur 6560 wheelset doesn’t exist, and so it’s assumed that Roodhooft sought a combination of the 60 mm deep Wake 6560 for the front and a Blur 633 Disc for the rear. Both wheels are tubeless or tubed clincher only, and so it’s likely they’ll be shod with Vittoria Corsa Speed tyres.

Van der Poel is expected to be rolling on the two wheels pictured on the left.

The problem was that the Blur wheel is only produced in extremely limited quantities within the United States, and you can bet that availability within Europe is bordering on zero. The simplest path would have been to borrow a pair from Ineos Grenadiers, but of course, the British squad has its own agenda and assisting a competitor with a technical advantage they’ve invested in isn’t likely to happen. And then there’s the fact Van der Poel would likely need a disc-brake version of the wheels, and we know Ineos wouldn’t have that in their trucks.

In the end, Klem located an unused pair with Ineos Grenadiers rider Cameron Wurf and recruited a friend (and obvious fan of cycling) to make the 10-hour drive from Wurf’s place in Andorra to hand-deliver the wheels to Alpecin-Fenix in Rennes. 

“I’m crazy about cycling, and what Mathieu has done in the past few days borders on the unbelievable,” said Mark Putter, owner of the Pyrenees-based hotel Les Deux Vélos. “If I can lend that boy a hand by delivering the fastest wheels, I think that’s a great job. It would be wonderful if he immediately keeps the yellow jersey with a second lead. Then it could be because of those wheels.”

It’s unknown exactly how much time a pair of Princeton wheels will save over the fairly flat 27.2 km course, but it’s clearly enough of an advantage for both Ineos Grenadiers and Alpecin-Fenix to use something other than what team sponsors provide.

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Preview: Your stage-by-stage guide to the 2021 Giro Donne

06/30/2021 12:04

Preview: Your stage-by-stage guide to the 2021 Giro Donne

Despite no longer being a WorldTour race, the Giro Donne – formerly the Giro Rosa – still draws the top riders in the women’s peloton. For most, the demotion doesn’t make much difference – a win at the Giro Donne is still a lifetime achievement. Over the span of 10 days, the women’s peloton will take on blistering heat, mountains, twisty Italian roads, time trials, and secret climbs in the fight for pink.

Earlier in the year Giro Donne organisers promised 30 minutes of live coverage for each of the 10 stages. On the eve of the race, though, they’ve announced that only the final 15 km will be shown live. It’s not a good start for a race that lets us down time and time again. Still, it’s a race with history and stories to tell at parties long after retirement. It’s a race that has earned its reputation as the only women’s ‘Grand Tour’, or as close as we are going to get.

On July 1 there’ll be a team time trial in Fossano. Ten days later the riders will roll into Cormons, some with smiles and dreams fulfilled, others barely able to taste their gelato over the bitter sting of disappointment. Here’s a breakout of every stage.

Stage 1: Fossano team time trial (26.7 km) | Thursday, July 1

The Giro Donne has a history of kicking off proceedings with a team time trial. This is one of only two TTTs the women do during the year. The other – the standalone Postnord Vårgårda – was unfortunately cancelled for 2020 and 2021.

Trek-Segafredo won the 2020 opening TTT in Fossano, finishing only three seconds ahead of Boels-Dolmans. In 2019 it was Canyon-SRAM who took top honours.

In 2021 it’s a game between a handful of top teams. FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope had a special team trial training camp ahead of the race, while other teams are flying by the seat of their pants. For some general classification hopefuls, a disorganized team could put an end to their goals before the road racing has even kicked off.

Stage 2: Boves to Prato Nevoso (100 km) | Friday, July 2

A team time trial to start and then directly into a real general classification stage. With the 19 km climb to Prato Nevoso ski resort there is no messing around on stage 2 of the Giro Donne.

The climb is one thing, but it’s not an easy run-in. All day the road will ascend or descend, making it one of the most crucial days of the race. Luckily for any climbers whose teams couldn’t deliver a day before, the long climb lends itself to a comeback. Although, with the way Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) rode at Vuelta a Burgos, it’s hard to see anyone beating her to the top.

Stage 3: Casale Monferrato to Ovada (135 km) | Saturday, July 3

Another hilly day is on tap for the peloton for stage 3. With a flat(ish) start to the stage a breakaway is near-inevitable. The final half of the stage is where the real fun hits, with little climb after little climb. If some adventurous souls can get enough time before reaching Prasco, 70 km into the stage, it’s hard to see the peloton bringing them back.

Stage 4: Formazza to Cascate ITT (11 km) | Sunday, July 4

Another day for some general classification action! This individual time trial calls back to that of the 2019 Giro Rosa when Annemiek van Vleuten won by nearly a minute over 12 km. Although the 2019 ITT looked gradual it harboured a secret brutal climb through a small village. The Giro Donne is famous for its faulty stage profiles.

Could the stage 4 ITT this year feature something similar? Only time will tell.

Stage 5: Milano to Carugate (120 km) | Monday, July 5

The first day for the sprinters comes five stages into the race. With so few options for the fast women, the day will surely come down to the bunch. Once the race gets outside of the city they will complete four 26 km circuits before sprinting for the win.

Stage 6: Colico to Colico (155 km) | Tuesday, July 6

At 155 km stage 6 is the longest stage of the 2021 Giro Donne, but it will not be a flat cruise to the finish. All day the peloton kicks up over small steep climbs – the perfect stage for a breakaway.

By this stage in the race the legs are tired, the general classification has had a few hard days, and the big teams will happily let a group slip away.

Riders from small teams, or domestiques who haven’t been able to fight for themselves, will bookmark this stage for glory. Luckily that makes for exciting viewing at the start. Oh wait, there is no live viewing of the first 140 km.

Stage 7: Soprezzocco di Gavardo to Puegnago del Garda (109.6 km) | Wednesday, July 7

Who doesn’t love a circuit race? Stage 7 starts with a descent into a circuit the peloton will complete five times before finishing atop a 690-meter kicker.

A day like this has Marianne Vos’s name written all over it, and with one potential breakaway day immediately in the rearview, teams with punchy uphill sprinters will make stage 7 a fun one. Bonus? The stage is short, sweet, and to the point.

Stage 8: San Vendemiano to Mortegliano (129.4 km) | Thursday, July 8

The second stage for the sprinters and possibly the last.

Stage 9: Tavagnacco to Matajur (122.6 km) | Friday, July 9

Barring any crazy complications from stages 5-8, stage 9 will be the next big GC fight. Two monstrous climbs lend themselves to the top climbers, with the finish coming after a 14 km ascent.

Compared to other editions of the Giro Donne, the 2021 race isn’t actually that climbing heavy, so stage 9 will be an even bigger deal for those playing the long game. The Matajur climb hasn’t been featured in the Giro Donne before, at least not for the last 15 years.

Only one stage remains after stage 9. For any rider who hopes to be within spitting distance of pink, Friday is their last chance.

Stage 10: Capriva del Friuli to Cormons (113 km) | Saturday, July 10

The final day of the Giro Donne is another day for the sprinters, or a breakaway, depending on how the race has gone so far. There’s a few short and punchy climbs thrown in but a downhill run to Cormons will make for a speedy end to the 2021 Giro Donne.

Just like in 2020, the final day will be a circuit race, and in 2020 the peloton gave it to the breakaway. That stage was won by young Evita Muzic, who is now the French national champion.

At this point, the top general classification will be done and dusted, but for those who only need to find a few seconds to make all the difference, there’s a sliver of hope.

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Exclusive: A mid-Tour de France interview with Geraint Thomas

06/30/2021 12:03

Exclusive: A mid-Tour de France interview with Geraint Thomas

Spare a thought for Geraint Thomas. As every cycling season reaches its climax with the Tour de France, he can’t escape the sport that made him a household name, pressed down by the accumulated public weight of expectation.

It’s almost oppressive. Cycling fans flood into his DMs, they subtweet him, they offer tactical advice and sometimes – cruelly – they tell him his days as a GC contender are over. 

There are all the questions, too. So many questions! Does he have the kick to contend with the Pogs and the Rogs of the world? Is he feeling alright after that touch of wheels? Can he make back the time he just lost? Can he recommend them a bike? Is he ever going to win the Tour de France again? 

All year long: tweets and Instagram messages in their thousands. It’s just one of the side-effects of being one of British cycling’s most cherished stars and a Tour de France champion. 

There’s just one problem. They’ve got the wrong guy. 

Since 2009, when Internationally Known Bicycle Cyclist Geraint Thomas was still riding for Barloworld, before Team Sky (or Ineos, or the Grenadiers) even existed, another Welshman called Geraint Thomas has had the Twitter handle @geraintthomas. And as the cycling Geraint’s star has risen, The Other Geraint has been forced to grapple with a sport that he’s got no particular interest in. Meanwhile, @geraintthomas86 – the one with the blue tick and the yellow jersey – valiantly competes for the glory of Wales, Britain, and Jim Ratcliffe’s silly derivative 4WD

The Other Geraint Thomas.

Now it’s time for a confession: I’ve been slyly watching this happen for a couple of years with a voyeur’s fascination. In fact, I reckon a whole subset of the cycling world has. This absurd situation is, after all, a victim-free, low-stakes diversion from the maelstrom of the world’s biggest bike race. Even better, The Other Geraint Thomas gets it, and is pretty funny. 

So this year, after Bicycle Geraint Thomas hit the deck (again) and The Other Geraint Thomas responded with a terrific meme (again), I decided it was time to get in touch: to find out what it is to be mistaken for a world famous cyclist and Grand Tour winner multiple times a day. To try to understand what it is to 100% be Geraint Thomas, but simultaneously not ever be Geraint Thomas enough, and absolutely not the correct Geraint Thomas.


CyclingTips: When did the confusion with Bicycle Geraint Thomas really take off? 

The Other Geraint Thomas: For as long as I can remember being on Twitter I’ve had the confusion. [It was] a little confusing at first as I had no idea that there was another Geraint that was famous, so getting random comments from strangers asking about my wellbeing was a little odd. Endearing at first, then plain weird, then creepy … and then the penny dropped.

The Other Other Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) is sitting in 18th position on GC as of stage 4, 1:07 off the pace.

You seem to take it with pretty good humour … has it ever been annoying, or a problem, or have you always been able to take it in your stride? Did 2018 bring you to the brink?

I did have a moment where I thought that it would start to grind on me, which funnily enough the cyclist Geraint has put in his first book, including a few of my early outbursts of not being a cyclist. 

Then 2018 happened [when Bicycle Cyclist Geraint Thomas won the Tour] and I didn’t have much choice … I was now known as ‘the other’ Geraint. Charming, but it’s all fun and games. Well it is for me, the other one is going through blood, sweat and tears, while I reply to his misdirected comments.

Is July the peak month for your Twitter mentions, or does it trickle in year-round? 

June/July is peak turn-off-your-phone month, but things do come through all year round. It’s not just Twitter mind, it’s Instagram too; I have the same handle across most of my social media platforms.

Has Bicycle Geraint Thomas or his management ever been in touch to try to acquire your Twitter handle? 

Quite the opposite. I contacted Team Sky (at the time) to see if he wanted the handle to save confusion. They replied by stating that he’s well acquainted with his current handle and that it wouldn’t be necessary. A week or so later, Team Sky themselves tweeted me by accident. I wish they could have seen my face.

Have you picked up any insight into cycling by osmosis, or is it utterly baffling? 

Both. It’s baffling, but seems to tick all of the boxes for something that I’d enjoy. Racing, scenery, mechanics and a passionate following, so I technically should like it. My brother-in-law and my Dad are both fans and it’s usually through them that I catch glimpses of cycling. As much as I say I’m not into cycling, I do find myself not wanting to look away.

When you’re not not winning the Tour de France, what is your profession and what are your interests? 

I’m a university lecturer by profession and teach Visual Effects at the University of South Wales, after having worked in the TV industry in multiple TV studios since 2010. Truth be told, my job is one of my main passions and is somewhat of a dream job, so I do consider myself lucky to be in the position that I am. 

Outside of work I’m a big motorsport fan, and am currently putting together a track car to participate in track driving/racing myself. So technically there’s two Geraint’s that race, but one’s got two more wheels and smaller calves. I’ve a number of other hobbies and interests but for fear of falling asleep on your keyboard, I’ll end it here.

Do you have any questions about our silly little sport? 

An endless amount. Why isn’t a ‘peloton’ called a ‘peddle-ton’? How do they pee mid-race with the amount that they drink? Do they drink water or energy drinks? Does the car up front cause a slipstream? I could go on, but with my current cycling knowledge I may need a notepad and a crayon to understand.

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All Mark Cavendish needed was one more chance

06/30/2021 12:03

All Mark Cavendish needed was one more chance

They say sprinting is as much a matter of belief as power, that desire can be as good as any leadout. That victories are defined most of all by decisions made without time to decide, by positioning, by bravery. They say that in sprinting, wins beget wins. And losses make more losses, until a sprinter slowly disappears. 

This has always been Mark Cavendish. Flying high when his numbers said he shouldn’t have; dropping low when his personal pendulum swung the other way. Too hot or too cold, never comfortable. It was July 16, 2016 when he last won a stage of the Tour de France. Five long years between his 30th Tour win and his 31st. Years full of headlines for the riders who overcame him. Viviani and Démare, Greipel, Kristof, Ewan. Sam Bennett. All as Cavendish slowly, quietly faded. First the victim of Epstein Barr virus, then a victim of losses begetting losses. 

Last fall, Cavendish was handed a lifeline. The deal came together just weeks after we watched him, in real time in a live interview, stare with wide eyes at a future without bike racing. We watched him recoil in terror. It was a future he couldn’t yet imagine. 

For 2021, he would ride for Deceuninck-Quickstep, his old team, for almost no salary. Other sponsors would take care of him. Team boss Patrick Lefevere, for all his faults, was willing to giving Cavendish another chance and reconnect him with the best leadout in the business. He just wanted to race, Cavendish told us. His teammates confirmed it. The guy just wants to race his bike. 

Still, the Tour was never really in the cards. Sam Bennett is the sprinter of the moment, last year’s green jersey, an affable and popular winner. A sure thing at this Tour, with an above-average number of sprint-friendly stages. 

A knee injury (or not, if you ask Lefevere) derailed that plan. Just two weeks ago we still weren’t sure who would sit at the end of the fearsome DQS leadout, who would have the wheel of Michael Morkov, the world’s greatest leadout man. Cavendish took a good win at the Baloise Belgium Tour over Tour de France sprinters, but the smart money was still on Bennett. 

Cavendish has been sticking his middle finger up at the smart money for a decade. In 2008, his second Tour de France, he barely made the team. His numbers weren’t there. They never had been; he’d almost been booted from British Cycling’s development programs. Team High Road Director Rolf Aldag saw something there, maybe it was bravery or positioning or the ability to make the right decision without the time to decide, and brought him. Cavendish won four stages. 

Twenty six stage wins later, Cavendish entered this Tour de France with few expectations, but the punditry shifted. Tacked onto the back of Morkov, with a recent win in his back pocket, we all wondered what he could do. Did he have the belief? Would a win beget wins? 

On a slowly sweeping right hand corner in Fougères, as the peloton overhauled an anguished Brent Van Moer, Cavendish looked boxed in. He took a short pause, spotted a small gap, made a decision faster than decisions can reasonably be made, grabbed the back wheel of Alpecin-Fenix’s Jasper Philipsen, dropped his head down toward his bars, and won. 

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Dynaplug launches shortened repair tools for road tubeless tyres

06/30/2021 12:03

Dynaplug launches shortened repair tools for road tubeless tyres

It was back in 2017 that we reviewed Dynaplug’s clever range of tubeless plug tools. Fast forward to today and Dynaplug has announced two new repair tools that answer one of our earlier complaints in relation to fixing road tubeless flats. 

The Dynaplug tool range has long been effective at fixing punctures in road tubeless systems, but one ongoing issue is that the length of the plug insertion tube (which is optimised for larger-volume mountain bike and gravel tyres) can bottom out on the rim when used with low-volume road tyres. 

Ever since our original review, Dynaplug has teased a shorter road-specific version of the tool, and finally, they’ve added such a product to the range in the form of the Air Road and Carbon Road Racer. The new additions will work across most tyre types, but they are optimised for use with road tyres ranging from 25-32 mm in width.

The Air Road is simply a 7 mm-shorter version of the original Air, a patented tool that combines a tubeless plug with a CO2 inflator. You can use it simply as a tubeless plug, or you can use it to inflate the tyre through the hole before leaving the plug to seal it. The tool also comes with a separate hose that allows you to use it as a regular CO2 inflator through the valve, too. This kit sells for US$75. 

And then there’s a shortened “Road” version of the Carbon Ultralite Racer (US$48). Made from a composite material, this epi-pen-like tool weighs just 14 grams and provides loaded plugs on both ends of the tool. However, where the regular Racer tools offer both regular and oversized plugs, the Road version provides the same regular-sized plugs on each end with 7 mm shorter insertion tubes. This tool includes a mount that fits under a bottle cage.

The Carbon Road Racer. Cute.

While the two new tools do work with Dynaplug’s regular-length plug inserts, the Californian manufacturer has also released shorter road-specific plugs, too. These aim to leave less plug material exposed after the fix, something that should benefit tight-clearance road bikes. The plugs also feature the company’s revised “soft nose” design that removes the sharp point from the brass tip. A five pack costs US$12. 

The two new road-specific tools and matching plugs retain the same pricing as the original offerings. That pricing is certainly at the premium end of tubeless repair tools, but the product remains the benchmark in the eyes of many CyclingTips team members. 

More information can be found at dynaplug.com.

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TOUR History: Scots Who Rode la Grande Boucle

06/30/2021 12:03
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Scottish Tour Riders: Ed Hood has been following the Tour for many years and having one of his home Scottish riders in the Tour peloton added a certain sparkle. There has only been half a dozen Scots at a Tour Grand Départ, but all were champions.

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Scotland’s top Tour rider – Robert Millar (Philippa York) – Puy de Dome TT Tour’83

With le Grande Boucle starting last Saturday in Brittany – which shares Celtic culture with Scotland – we thought we should have a look at the Scots who have participated in the biggest race on the planet, over the years.

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Ian Steel – Peace Race winner and Tour de France rider

1955: Ian Steel.
It was 1952 when Ian Steel pulled off a win that very few Westerners have emulated – he won the Peace Race against stiff East European opposition on the coal dust coated cobbles between Warsaw, Berlin and Prague. In 1951 he’d had a stellar season which included winning the Tour of Britain, whilst in 1952, the year of his Peace Race win he took the BLRC National Championship beating top English riders like Bob Maitland and ‘Tiny’ Thomas. He tackled le Tour in 1955; he rode for the Viking team in the UK but most of his Tour team mates were from the rival British Hercules team. The Tour team was managed by Syd Cozens, a man of whom it was said; ‘he could fall out with anybody.’ Steel rode was riding well but on Stage Eight Cozens ordered him to go back for team mates, telling Steel that if he didn’t comply then he’d send him home. Steel’s morale was shredded and he abandoned. I had the honour of interviewing Ian Steel back in 2011, a real privilege, he died in 2015 aged 86.


Ian Steel

1960: John Kennedy.
Kennedy was a pioneer; he turned pro in 1957, after several successful seasons as an amateur in Belgium. It was just as hard to sign a pro contract then as it is now; there were hundreds of young Belgians keen to stave-off the inevitability of the coal mines or steel works as long as they could. Kennedy rode as a professional for six seasons; with Bertin-d’Alessandro, Bertin-Milremo, Flandria-Wiels, Wiels-Flandria and Bertin-Porter 39.A British rider was still very much a rarity in the pro peloton and the fact he had contracts for six years says much about his ability – the rabid Belgian media is still quick to criticise a lack lustre ‘buitenlander’ who’s denying a young Belgian rider a place on a team. Kennedy’s Tour participation was confirmed just three days before the start, hardly ideal. He gave good account of himself in the early stages with team leader, the late, great Tom Simpson telling team mate Brian Robinson; ‘I’ll tell you what, Brian – that John Kennedy is strong, he was riding like ten men today when we were coming back from that puncture.’ But with a background of Belgian kermises Kennedy was no man of the high mountains and the Pyrenees saw him off on Stage 12 of the race.

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John Kennedy and Tom Simpson

1961: Ken Laidlaw.
The Hawick man was a talented road, time trial and cyclo-cross rider, winning Scottish championships in all three disciplines as well as taking overall victory in the Tour of Scotland before riding the 1960 Rome Olympics. He turned professional in 1961 with Margnat Rochet Dunlop and became the first Scot to finish the Tour. He had his time in the sun during the race, attacking on the monster climb of Superbagneres and netting himself the, ‘most aggressive rider’ prize for the day. He would end the race in 65th place overall, quitting the sport the next year, disillusioned with tough, Machiavellian world of professional cycling.

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Ken Laidlow

1977: Bill Nickson.
Yes, we know, he came from Liverpool and couldn’t pronounce, ‘Kincardine’ but spent several years living and racing in Scotland in the colours of Dunedin CC and as such we’ve included him. A prolific winner as an amateur, including the Manx International, Lincoln GP, British Amateur Championships, Girvan, Milk Race and prestigious GP della Liberazione he turned professional with Peter Post’s mighty Ti Raleigh formation for season 1977.

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Bill Nickson, TI Raleigh, chats to Paul Medhurst before the start of the GP Antibes 1977

It was never going to be a marriage made in heaven; Post with his iron fist and Bill with his affable, laid back demeanour but he made the ’77 Tour team and was surviving. But on a day of savage racing during the 17th stage to l’Alpe d’Huez he joined the gruppetto and ignored Barry Hoban’s warning that they were going to miss the time cut. To jeers from his fellow ‘autobus’ passengers, Hoban headed off up the road, his former companions back in the gruppetto believed that because the group was so big – some 30 riders – that they wouldn’t be eliminated. They were wrong and the race would end with just 53 finishers in Paris, Nickson not among them.

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Bill Nickson, Joe Waugh and Phil Griffiths, Majorca 1978

1983 – 93: Robert Millar.
He participated 11 times, finishing eight times, winning three stages, a king of the mountains title and just missing the GC podium with fourth overall in 1984. Millar turned pro with Peugeot for season 1980 after a stellar amateur career including two British Amateur Road Race Championship victories, a highly fruitful sojourn with the legendary Paris ACBB club and fourth place in the 1979 amateur Worlds.

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Worlds 1984

His debut was highlighted with a brilliant 11th place in the 1980 Professional World Championships at Sallanches, regarded as one of the toughest ever and won by a rampant Hinault. His progression was good, by 1982 he was second in the Tour de l’Avenir to Greg Lemond and he was in the Peugeot squad for the 1983 Tour de France. His debut was stunning, 14th overall, third in the king of the mountains and a brilliant win on Stage 10, Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon. His progression continued in the ’84 Tour with fourth on GC, a stage win and the polka dot jersey of king of the mountains. I believed that Scotland had a Tour de France winner in waiting.

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Robert Millar – Tour KOM

But in ’85 his progression at le Tour halted as he slipped to 11th on GC and third in the king of the mountains; hardly surprising given he’d already ridden an excellent Vuelta – which was held in the spring in those days – where he was second overall but which had been stolen from him late in the day by Delgado with a deadly mix of bad luck, bad team management, Spanish combines and skulduggery.

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The Vuelta’85 farrago

For season ’86 he was with Peter Post’s Panasonic team, it saw him ride the Vuelta and again finish second – many would say that two Grand Tours was too much for such a slight rider and so it proved with illness forcing him out of the Tour late in the day on Stage 21 of 23. Season 1987 saw him 19th on GC but this time with the Giro in his legs, in the ‘Pink Race’ he was second overall, king of the mountains and won a stage. The ill-fated Fagor team was ‘home’ for ’88 and his Tour ended when injuries from a crash on Stage 17 forced him out on Stage 18 but not before he looked to have a stage win in the bag at Guzet-Neige when he was sent the wrong way in the closing metres with Italy’s Massimo Ghirotto stealing the stage. The ’89 season saw him with Z Peugeot and no Vuelta or Giro participation prior to the Tour, where he bounced back to 10th on GC, fourth in the king of the mountains and won Stage 10 to Superbagneres.

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The Tour’86 with Panasonic – Suerbagneres

A win in the 1990 Dauphine boded well for le Tour but there is a DNF posted against his name for that year; however he rode strongly in defence of Ronan Pensec’s maillot jaune on the climb to l’Alpe d’Huez before he left the race. In ’91 he was with Dutch squad TVM and fourth on GC in the Dauphine and fifth with a stage win the Tour de Suisse looked like good portents but the Tour saw his worst ever finish position – 72nd place. The ’92 race saw him inside the top 20 with 18th spot but no real highlights. His final Tour was the ’93 race which yielded fifth and seventh places on mountain stages and 24th place on GC.

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Tour’90 time trial

2000 – 2013: David Millar.
Millar started 12 tours and finished 11, winning four stages along the way and wearing every classification jersey at some stage in his career. A talented junior – he won the RTTC Junior 25 mile title with a championship record 52:05 in 1995 – he moved to France and soon caught the eye of the pro teams, signing with Cofidis for the 1997 season.

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Millar in yellow, with…

His 2000 Tour debut for Cofidis was stunning, he won the opening 16.5 kilometre time trial, beating Lance Armstrong in the process and holding the yellow jersey for three days until ONCE depth charged the TTT; Millar finished the race in 62nd place. Season 2001 has a DNF against his name on Stage 10 to l’Alpe d’Huez. The following 2002 season he took a stage win at Beziers en route a final 68th place.

Paris - Nice, Chaville - Vanves = Ind. Time Trial = 13,2 km - David Millar, Cofidis , foto Cor Vos ©2004
David Millar – World TT champ

The Paris prologue in 2003 should have seen another maillot jaune but he dropped his chain – riding a single ring with no front changer or guide – late in the day to cede the win to Brad McGee by less than a second. He finished the race gloriously though, winning the final TT ahead of Hamilton and Armstrong; his final GC placing was 55th that year. His next participation was with Saunier Duval in 2006, having returned from his drugs suspension, unsurprisingly there were no highlights and he ‘got round’ in 58th place. The 2007 race saw him in 69th place whilst 2008, by now with Garmin, saw him lose out narrowly to Kirchen in the Cholet TT – original winner Schumacher having been declassed for doping, there was a lot of it about back then – with a final finish in Paris of 66th. He was 85th in 2009 and in 2010 158th.

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David Millar – Tour’14

The 2011 race yielded him a Garmin win in the TTT en route 76th place. A year later in 2012 he was back to winning ways, taking Stage 10 ahead of JC Peraud. His last Tour, where he finished in 113th place came in 2013.

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Stage win Tour’12

2021: Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Making his Tour debut and despite being ‘Hackney born and raised’ the 2020 Giro winner is of ‘Irish and Scottish’ ancestry – it says here. . .

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Tao Geoghegan Hart, Scottish?

# And next Scot to ride is. . . ? #

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Tour’84 Guzet Neige

The post TOUR History: Scots Who Rode la Grande Boucle appeared first on PezCycling News.


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