Vik’s spring rant: Ed Hood has been in conversation with (lectured to) cycling’s Nostradamus – Viktor. He’s not impressed with the finals of Milan-Sanremo, Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, comes down hard on the older riders and Sky’s ex doctor, plus the price of bikes these days!
Viktor’s Dutch cousin
Some readers doubt the existence of Viktor, PEZ’s resident soothsayer and mentor, they think he’s a figment of my imagination and vehicle for me to make controversial statements. Wrong, exist he does – I have the damage to my right ear to prove it; the phone calls come when you least expect them.
All down to the Poggio
Let’s talk about the most recent call; whilst I love the race, Vik’s not a Milano-Sanremo fan, he reckons the Primavera should start at the bottom of the Poggio and finish on the Via Roma. However, even he had to admit that the finale we had this year, topped off by Jasper Stuyven’s epic victory was the stuff of cycling folklore. But the thing with the Primavera is that there are so many possible permutations once the race hits the Poggio.
This leads me into the first object of Vik’s most recent ire, and one I have to agree with. Flèche-Wallonne; the break goes, is ‘controlled,’ brought back and a huge peloton arrives at the foot of the final climb up to the zoo at Huy. There then follows a slog up the ramp from which a skinny guy who can go ‘deep’ emerges as the winner. It’s tired; move the finish a couple of K over the top so there are more possibilities for the finale or else the 2022 finalé will be just like the 2021, the 2020 one. . .
Wallonne – All for the final metres
Vik’s next target was professionals who are past their ‘sell by’ date, Vik brands these riders, ‘imposters.’ However, his rant does have a serious point, as riders slide in to their mid then late 30’s and the wins dry up – Valverde excluded, obviously – they still, ‘get round’ but contribute very little to the races they compete in. One could argue that they’re performing a mentoring role but Vik’s point is that their day is done and they’re denying young up and coming men a ride. The solution? That’s a difficult one; as long as a formerly ‘Big’ rider isn’t embarrassing himself and he’s still attracting the cameras, column inches and social media attention then why would a team dump him in favour of an untried young rider? Answers on a postcard please.
‘Cav’ on the come-back
And on the subject of ‘older riders,’ Vik is telling me not to get ‘misty eyed’ about Cav’s, ‘rolling away the stone,’ in Turkey and taking four stages. Vik informs me that he beat no one of any standing to win those stages in Turkey. I did point out that Jasper Philipsen, who won two stages, isn’t exactly slow and won the Scheldeprijs just the other week in front of Sam Bennett and Cav. As ever, Vik had his riposte ready; ‘if Cav hadn’t been there at the final of the Scheldeprijs then Bennett would have won that race, Cav’s presence confused the issue, compromising the Deceuninck lead out.’ He has a point, so those who think that the Manxman should go to le Tour in search of that 31st stage win, put yourself in Deceuninck management’s position for a moment. Do you bring Cav along for, ‘old times sake’ and the chance he just might perform or do you put all your eggs in the Bennett basket, the man who won the green jersey in 2020; also winning the last stage on the Champs Élysées with it on his back?
Philipsen beat Cavendish and Bennett in the Scheldeprijs
But irrespective of what Cav rides next, yet again Patrick Lefevere has pulled off another massive PR coup at minimal cost. Vik and I share an admiration for the West Flanders Maestro; and another two men who Vik has a lot of respect for are Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador; with their names they could have attracted ‘names’ from the peloton but instead chose to fashion their EOLO-Kometa ProTeam largely from younger riders – they are to be applauded.
Basso and Contador
From applause to deafening silence, back in March the papers were full of the Freeman/Brailsford/Sky saga; ‘The Guardian’ devoted three pages to it on Saturday, March 13th; ‘Sky falling in, Freeman’s guilty verdict puts cycling in the dock,’ with the paper’s Sunday incarnation, ‘The Observer’ devoting a further page to the story. There were strident calls on social media for Sir David’s head to be displayed on a spike outside the Tower of London. His reaction? Say nothing, keep his head down and remember the old mantra; ‘all things must pass.’ And before we knew it the Classics came along and there were better things for cycling pundits to talk about. ‘Silence is golden,’ for sure. But like that man Vik says; ‘doctors up to no good on a professional cycling team – what a surprise. . .’
And it wouldn’t be a proper rant without the price of equipment popping up. The latest hot property to emerge from Australia is 20 year-old Luke Plapp. He was second to Remco in the 2018 World Junior Time Trial Championship and this year beat strongman and four times champion, Luke Durbridge to the Australian Elite Time Trial Championship. Plapp also won a stage in the Santos Festival of Cycling and finished second on GC to Richie Porte – he has five World Tour teams courting him but it looks like he’s going to INEOS on a seven figure deal.
But back to his win in the Aussie TT Nationals; his bike was a Giant Trinity equipped with 3d-printed titanium ‘bar extensions custom made especially for him by small Melbourne firm Sync Ergonomics. The cost? A mere 6,000 Australian dollars – $4,600 US or £3,360 Sterling, yup, just for the ‘bars. . .
I received an email about the HPS Domestique 1-21 Launch Edition electric bike the other week, weighing in at 8.5 kilos and looking just like any other high end carbon machine with none of the lumps and bumps some e Bikes manifest. I’ve been thinking about the Ribble electric Bike which weighs in at 12 kilos and costs around €3,000 – but 8.5 kilos sounded good to me. However, the price difference for those 3.5 kilos is some 9,000 Euros, the HPS coming in at €12,000 – a Ribble it shall be for me. But even 12 grand is eclipsed by the Czech, ‘carbon filament wound’ tubed Festka Scalatore Disc, a snip at €16,000 – that 20 grand bike is getting closer. . .
The HPS Domestique